Friday, June 5, 2015

Beauty is Not

(Okay, this is the first poem I've written in nearly two decades, so please be kind ^_^. I didn't even mean to get back into poetry, this just popped into my head and I knew I had to write it, and hoped it was worth sharing)

BEAUTY IS NOT
By Gerilyn Marin

I submit to you that beauty is not a color.
It is not a shape.
It is not a weight.
It is not a length of hair, nor a shade of locks.
Beauty is within.
It is a feeling.
It is an essence.
It is an air,
A grace,
A state of mind.
If a person seems to possess none,
Then I submit to you that you do not truly know them.
You know not the battles they've fought.
You know not the scars their hearts bear.
You know not the burdens they carry with a smile.
You know not the harsh realities
Which have carved the hard edges you call
Ugly.
I submit to you that if you cannot find beauty in another,
Then perhaps the fault lies in you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

At Peace With My Path

Every now and again in life, we come to what seems a difficult decision, but once we've made that decision, we realize it wasn't hard at all, and we're perfectly at peace with the new path we've just created for ourselves. I've just reached one such juncture.

As I watch author friends gush over this award and that list placement, I'm excited for them, but at the same time I realize that I don't mind not being there, ya know? I always knew I was going to have a tough go of it due to the limitations I place on myself because my suffocating social anxiety. Yes, I just admitted I place them on myself. No, that doesn't make them easier to overcome. I always worried I was going to miss out on something because I couldn't force myself to speak up, or reach out to this person, or that entity, or because self-promotion after a while makes me feel like I'm just slapping people in the face with my book.

Those feelings were a heavy burden. Until I realized none of that mattered to me. I don't care about awards, I don't care about the market climate. I don't care if I'm ever on a best sellers list, or not. I know that seems completely mad, but it's true.

I care about my stories. I care about writing. I care about sharing my work simply because some people out there just might enjoy reading my words as much as I enjoyed crafting them. I don't care if they're read by 10 people, or 10,000. Now, this is not to say that authors concerned with awards & list placement don't care about their stories or their writing, quite the opposite, I know they love their stories as much as I love mine. I only mean those other things outside of the stories don't matter to me.

So, I've made the decision to go back on my own, publishing-wise. I know my publisher doesn't have an easy time of it with me, either, because I hold myself back from things that the other authors do without complaint. In fact, I'm surprised they've put up with me this long. And I also know they're bound by concerns of the market, I don't want to be dependent on that any longer. This is not a negative reflection on them in any way, shape, or form, its simply something I must do for my peace of mind. I want to write, edit, and (depending on test-reader feedback) publish the story when it is ready, not when the market is, and that's something I can only ensure happening if I'm free to make my own choices, entirely.

I'm completing the stories I owe them, because I do love them, and trust them, and I do want to part ways on a good "we both held up our ends of the deal" note. After that, I'm on my own.

Maybe someday I'll make a different choice, but for now, for this moment in my life, this is where I feel at peace.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Feminism & Gender Equality: It's EVERYONE'S Responsibility

*links to articles follow post

Yes, for those keeping up with the news, this is in response to the threats against Emma Watson following her eloquent, beautiful, thought-provoking speech on Gender Equality. She stated the truth-she said things that needed to be said for a LONG time. And yet . . . people have come out and threatened her for it. More mind-boggling, still, others are congratulating and back-patting those who made the threats.

I'm not going to state anything as beautifully, or eloquently as Ms. Watson did, because I'm too angry. And my anger is justified. But I will use the words necessary to explain, not threats, nor belittlement, to express this feeling.

Let's make one thing clear: Feminism is not man-hating. Feminism is not wanting to be better, or superior, or "more than" a man. Feminism is wanting to be EQUAL. The term was vilified at some point, and has received a negative stigma ever since, and its time we stop that. Its the idea that feminism somehow leads people to think 'female supremacy' that gives rise to ridiculous things like "men's rights"

Okay, news flash, any man reading this who supports that movement: You already have rights. You have them ALL. You have the rights that you are keeping from the rest of the human race, and then you're wondering why we're angry. Allowing others those rights doesn't somehow take them away from you.

You don't have a room full of women deciding whether or not you can use Viagra, or telling you whether or not you can/should get a vasectomy. You can go out and buy condoms at any corner store. So can we, sure, but the less worrisome option, the one that better protects us against the unthinkable happening to us has to be 'okay' with our bosses. There aren't countries in the world were women are controlling the reproductive rights, AND organs, of men. But there also never WOULD be, even when gender equality finally becomes real and changes the world. Maybe because we know what it's like to have our rights denied us. Doing to others what's been done to us wouldn't solve anything. And we need to stop wasting our time with grievances.

When a man knows what he wants, and has ideas on how things should be, in a work, or social, environment he's viewed as "assertive" and a "go-getter", even an "alpha-male." All positive things. When a woman knows what she wants, and has ideas on how things should be, she's seen simply as "bossy", and "pushy," and, sometimes even "a bitch." Why? Because she's a woman, and women 'aren't supposed to' be that way? But once you say that, the discussion circles right back around to the question "Why?"

We are ALL human, and when you decide that anyone wanting to be treated the SAME as you, wanting the SAME freedoms as you is somehow a threat, the one you should be turning your vitriol-spewing spotlight on is yourself. The one you should be angry with is yourself. For not caring enough about humanity, as a whole, to see that the world is bigger than the things that scare you.

YES, I said it. It SCARES you. FEMINISM SCARES YOU. Why else would you be so angry about it? I'm not saying this to be mean, or to appear tough, or to belittle. I'm stating a fact. There is something about this concept that intimidates you, and you probably don't even know why.

And you can go ahead and threaten me. I'm utilizing my Freedom of Speech. I'm a nobody, and I don't have nude photos anywhere to be leaked (for the record, I don't think Emma has any, either, but even if she does, who's business is it but hers?). And, by the way, if you have nude photos of someone, and you think putting them in the public view will get someone to back down, or retract their words, then not only do you misunderstand feminism, you misunderstand what strength is. Strength gives you the ability to stand up amidst people trying to push you down. The ability to speak when others fight to silence you. Scaring someone, or hurting them, doesn't take the truth out of their words. It doesn't make the world any more the way YOU want it to be. It shows the rest of the world how bitter and petty YOU are, that's all it does.

Male, Female, Black, White, Red, Brown, Try this . . . HUMAN. We're all the same thing, with differences on the surface. We need to accept the differences, instead of trying to stamp them out, or make anyone higher, or lower than anyone else.

If we ever want a better world for our children, for ourselves, for anyone, then we need to realize this. All of us.

Money, politics, war, religion . . . none of that matters. Not when we let it distract us from the most basic component of life, and our existence on this planet. And that's compassion. All that really, really matters is how we treat one another. We complain that we're 'starving' if we haven't eaten in three hours, while there are children all over the world literally dying of hunger. Logistically, there is no reason anyone on this earth needs to be homeless, or starving to death. Or dying of diseases for which cures exist.

But the first step to fixing ANY of this, is to first start seeing each other without labels of gender, or color, or anything that gives us the sense that something separates us from one another. Feminism is the desire for us all to be equal. And there isn't any reason we shouldn't all want that.

(And should this post ever, somehow magically, end up before the eyes of Emma Watson, then I apologize whole heartedly that I was unable to maintain your grace and composure, and that I could not make my words on the matter poetic. I spent too many years being silent, being scared to speak, worrying what others might think of me if I did, that now that I've found my voice, I sometimes can't stifle the words that strike me in a fit of pique. Thank you for bravely, and honestly, stating for the world things that everyone needs to hear. And if what you said made some uncomfortable, that is only because those 'some' are the people who need to hear-and understand-it, most of all.)

One final thought: I read this a while ago somewhere, and it blew my mind how true it was, but how little it occurs to us to consider it this way. We teach our girls and young women how to behave, and dress, who to associate with, in the 'best hopes' of not being raped. Why is it that we don't teach our boys and young men NOT to rape? This probably seems like a sidetrack to some of you, but it's not, it goes straight to the heart of this issue. We view things as 'man vs. woman', and 'woman vs. man', rather than "humans." And that needs to change if anything better is ever to come.

Emma Watson's UN speech on Gender Equality

The Backlash (article 1)

The Backlash (article 2)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shaming Erotica Writers & Why it's a FUCKING NO-NO!

I know, it's been a while since I've posted. I can't even try to make an excuse, often enough, it's simply that I forget in the grind between being mom & getting some writing done. But today, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and tripped over something that couldn't be ignored (from a writer's standpoint, I mean . . . on any given day someone shares some inflammatory thing that 'can't be ignored'). She'd shared her latest blog post, entitled: I was fired over erotic romance.

Yup. So that you all understand exactly what the problem here is, I'll give you the rundown, but I've also gotten permission from my friend (fellow Curiosity Quills author, Ayden K. Morgen) to post the link to her post on the matter.

Ayden was a stellar employee, never a write up, never a complaint, had a larger workload than her coworkers, but handled it without assistance, and during myriad personal issues. Yet, she was fired because . . . wait for it . . . she emailed her erotic romance novel to . . . HERSELF.

Was it her work email? Yes. BUT she'd done this four times over the space of a year and a half, so there was room for a warning. There was time for whomever oversaw such things to alert her that this was not acceptable. Where in that 18 months, in sending & receipt of those other three emails, was this person?

The document was not in the body of the email, open for everyone to see, it was an attachment. It was not shared in any way, shape or form with coworkers, or clients. Yet everything about how she did her job was forgotten in the wake of someone going through her work email, opening the attached file, reading it, and in the course of reading ('cause it wasn't on page one!) found erotic content.

That was it. Is she fighting it? Of course, but here's the thing, she shouldn't have to.

How is it that we've come to an age where we can be more open about reading erotica, but people are still shaming the writers of it?

This was my response, posted to the FB share of the link:

I think it's shameful that you lost your job over some bullshit like this. Honestly, it's not as if you were sending or receiving inappropriate messages- you were emailing your literary work to yourself, and they had to dig through the attachment to find the thing that offended them. They should be embarrassed- it shouldn't even have crossed your mind to be the one embarrassed in this.

I remember from my late teens knowing in my heart that when I grew up, I was going to write, and a lot of my stories would contain erotica. I struggled for years with simply putting pen to paper (it was the 90's folks, laptops weighed as much as a desktop pc & tablets hadn't been invented, yet), because inevitably there were the friends who'd ask to read what you're working on, and I couldn't hand it over without wanting to crawl under a rock. Even as I became more secure in my abilities as a writer, I was still gun-shy about letting people see that I wrote something with 'adult content'.... 

But now, I've stopped caring. I simply caution certain people in my life that I don't want them to read 'this' story (like warning my mom not to order the After Dark anthology, 'cause the last thing I want a woman reading is a vampire/fallen angel one night stand written by her daughter-that was a fun conversation). But I'm so done being embarrassed, or shamed. It's frankly exhausting- the shy glancing away when asked what we write, the air quotes as we clear our throats and say "mature content", the gritting of our teeth as we brace for judgment. Cuz you're correct- the people who judge us most harshly usually turn out to be the ones reading our work. And it takes a while to realize that it's got nothing to do with us. They're afraid of how they will be looked at for enjoying those stories- they are afraid that others will condemn them if they remain silent while said others condemn our work.

After a while, you have to accept the calling to write things the way they unfold in your mind, or you stifle your natural writer's instinct and churn out crap. Erotica is an art form (trust me on this- there is a difference between erotica & literary porn- don't believe me? Read Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy.... And then muck through 50 Shades). I repeat: erotica is an art form, and it's time that those of us who are skilled with writing erotica stand up and say "Yes, it's an art, and I'm a goddamned master." 

We shouldn't have to duck and hide. Just because someone can't admit to reading our work doesn't mean we should be made to feel bad for writing it. We're not forcing them to pick up, or download, that book. We'd have written that story with or without that particular reader's purchase of it. And if it wasn't our work, it would be another writer's. It's socially accepted that men watch porn, that they read Playboy & Penthouse, we don't see it, because there is still such a thing as social propriety, but it is widely known and accepted. Women are still expected to read period romances with floofy-dressed, virginal heroine on the cover being rescued by some muscly dude with long hair, and that's it, but even then we're supposed to cower and jump to hide the book when someone 'catches us'. It's supposed to be accepted that we read smut, but it's really not, because gods forbid someone finds your 'girly-smut' novel. There are those who still look at you like there's something wrong with you  . . . before they go home and, away from prying eyes, do exactly that for which they've just condemned you.

If you wouldn't shame a writer of any other type of fiction, then don't shame writers of erotic fiction. Our work takes just as much effort, takes just as much of our energy, and time, and focus. In some cases, just as much research-sometimes more! And the story surrounding the much murmured about 'adult content' is the point, not the erotica, itself. There's an actual story unfolding that just so happens to contain sex. Sex that may be described in eloquent fasion, but still that's what it is. Stories that may have sex as an equal part of the tale to the mystery, and danger, or horror, or intrigue, or whatever-the-fuck-else the writer is giving you. 

It should not be the case that if your name isn't that of a bestselling author everyone would know off the tops of their heads, then you should feel ashamed for what you write. Accepting that you are a writer at heart, and developing the courage to share your work with others is hard enough. We shouldn't have to keep stumbling over new hurdles. Writers, in general (unless one is what I call a literary diva [you can't give them constructive criticism without them imploding & accusing you of being jealous of how ZOMG fabulously talented they are, and informing you that their story's just so deep that you 'don't get it']), are hard on themselves. They're imposing their own hurdles, trying to constantly grow, and overcome and push. And that's a process that doesn't end. If any writer thinks they're grown as much as they're ever going to, and there's no way to improve (no matter how long they've been at it, this will always apply), then, watch out, Literary Diva Alert. Yes, even long time, established writers can turn a corner one day and BAM, suddenly they become LDs

I'm sidetracking, but my point is, with all that we put ourselves through, why try to make us feel bad about the very thing we're called to do? We don't sit down one day and go "I think I'm gonna write me some smut!" Ever writer has storytelling in their heart, and with that is their expression of that story. We have to follow our instincts & our muses on how a story will unfold. So, in a way, if that story contains erotica really isn't even up to us. So will, some won't, but they do or not, don't make someone feel bad for doing the very thing they're meant to do.

Ayden's original post here.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ye Olde Nemesis: Mary Sue

*NOTE: The following links are from Springhole.net, I am in no way affiliated with that site, or anyone connected with its creation, or maintenance.

Okay, so a lot of folks out there already understand what the term "Mary Sue" (or, in the case of male characters, Gary Stu--yes, this is a thing), means. For those who don't and are curious, but don't want to ask for fear of feeling silly here's a helpful page to give you the rundown on this.

What is a Mary Sue?

Now, for the record, before anyone does any clicking, be aware that Mary Sues don't just appear in poorly written fanfiction (and, also for the record, the term 'poorly written' does not apply to all fanfiction--yes, I'm looking at you, people who have never even glanced at a fanfiction story [or read, literally, half of the first chapter of one fanfiction] but decided they must all be terribly written, Sue-infested rubbish). They also pop up in role playing games, and original fiction. Trust me, when you learn what a Sue is, and go through the test for your own character(s), you will read things that make you go "Wait, *insert best-selling author here*'s main character does that all the time/fits most of these things!" I, personally, already know who my "best selling authors who write Mary Sue main characters" are. Unfortunately for me, as I started focusing more on my own work, and understanding what was expected of me as a creative entity, I noticed more and more poor or lazy writing, and Mary Sue tendencies in those 'great books' I once so loved, and it took me out of the story too many times to find the book/series enjoyable, any more.

I suggest this test for anyone writing anything, honestly. I do find some of the questions a bit ". . . Are you serious?", but even so it is a decent gauge for when you need to dial your character back a notch. Like, "wait, I can't even dress the character in a style I like?" or "yeah, I do wish I looked like that." In general, a little wish-fulfillment in your stories isn't a bad thing, this is more about "everyone wants them, they're super-special and can do no wrong, even when they've done something very wrong," type of characters. Yeah, even when the writers give you a reason for this super-specialness, you then have the task of sitting there and going "Wait, is the character super special because of 'plot point here'? Or did the writer construct 'plot point here' to justify character's super special qualities?"

Now, here I'm going to give you the link to the test, itself, for those who did not need to click on the above link, because you, like me, are already familiar with the dreaded Mary Sue (and who struggle not to foam at the mouth when forced to explain the fell creatures)Those needing the "What is a Mary Sue?" info can link to the test directly from that page once you're done reading.

The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test

Newcomers & versed folk alike, read the test introduction carefully. There are certain circumstances wherein an otherwise Sue trait does not actually count. For example, your character having pink hair, when in the world you've created for your story, people have green, blue, purple, blood-red, and so forth natural hair colors. Sueness is relative to each individual world & character.

Here is my personal example of this: I got into it one time with this chick in an MMORPG because I had an anti-Sue rant in my character bio, and my character had wings and purple hair. The characters in this game ranged from demons, to aliens, to gods just passing through. She declared me a hypocrite, and refused to listen when I tried to explain the character's race had wings (not dissimilar to Hawk Girl & Hawk Man's race, so really?) and for them, hair colors like brunette & blonde were 'unnatural'. Apparently, she also refused to take a good look around the room; she just fixated on me because she was rabidly anti-Sue, and by announcing myself as a Anti-Sue, as well, how dare I have non-human traits . . . in a game where even the humans have glowing eyes, fiery auras & magic tattoos >_>. Yeah, I'll give you guys a minute with that. In a setting where characters walked around with bios that stated they emitted pheromones which made anyone within *set amount of distance* of said character lust after them uncontrollably (a condition that was expected regardless of gender or race, or even your consent on your own character's behavior, mind you), I don't think technicolor hair is the real thing anyone should be taking up grievances about.

All right, so that last part is more a personal pet peeve of mine in regards to RPGs  If you can't role play a trait, don't give it to your character, or don't give your character a trait to get around the fact that you can't role play some particular aspect- its not rocket science. This is specific to personality traits- if your character is a hacker, but you personally don't know anything about computers, that isn't the same thing, you can still portray them as a tomboy, or a flirt, and give them social/ physical skills to reflect that. However, you're not going to be a tomboy who can't fight or climb a tree, but could charm a man out of a tank, nor are you going to be a flirt who couldn't convince a horny, drunk man to sleep with her, had she a copy of "Seduction for Dummies" in her hand, but she's so skilled at hand-to-hand combat she can take people twice her size in a fight-- can the character be both? Absolutely, but let's stay on point, here).

I know that last paragraph might have come across a little ranty, but the basics apply to fiction characters, as well. How? Because you want your character to have balance. You can absolutely have a seductive tomboy computer hacker. So long as you don't just state that without actually showing it, because then, what is the point of them having the trait? Unless the entire point is that the character is taken completely out of their element and has to learn how to adapt to their new situation to survive, which in its essence, is probably the most cliche, and yet still fantastic platforms for character growth ever. Cliche because it is done all the time; fantastic because it can be done in so many different ways (thus sort of taking away the 'cliche' of it by default), and can have such dramatically different affects on different characters. Or, similarly, they have traits that they are prevented from using by the story events & (similarly) have to think around the loss of said skill/trait to overcome the issues in the story.

What it comes down to is this (I stated this on FB previously & am restating it here, because it was a perfect sum up of what's here): The perfect character is not the character who is literally flawless, but the character who the reader can believe is a real person.



Friday, May 30, 2014

A Note About Social Anxiety

Recently, I thought I'd been making strides, but then something happened that made me realize I hadn't come nearly as far as I'd believed. I received a very nice message from a book group, asking me if I'd like to add my book to their list, which was fine, but then the woman went on to talk about a possible opportunity to organize and lead book discussions.

And I froze.

That was it, that was all that happened. I thought about talking to a group of people and my heart was in my throat, my stomach twisted up in the most gods awful knot, and I had to remind myself to breathe.

Social anxiety is not just shyness, it's not "oh, you're just introverted, lots of people are." I've spent my life with people telling me to get over it, or that it's in my head, it's not a real thing. In fact, when I didn't know what it was called, I used to try to explain it away as shyness, myself, but my friends (the people who really knew me) didn't believe me, because they didn't see that side of me when I was with them. They didn't realize that I was only able to not run and hide in a corner because they were there with me. Any loudness, or apathy I showed was a front; a facade I purposely constructed to hide me from anyone I didn't know seeing the real me.

What it is, at its very core, is a fear of other people. That's the only way to describe how it feels. I never wanted to speak up in class, even if I knew that I had the correct answer, because people would hear my voice. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I was able to call for a food delivery, because whoever picked up the phone would hear me. If I walked down the street and there was a group of people (which meant more than 2) I would cross the street to avoid passing them. When I was in girl scouts- I couldn't have been more than 9 or 10 at this time- we were sitting around, drawing and coloring pictures, and I saw that on one of the other tables there was a color I wanted to use. So I got up, went to my mother and told her. She just shrugged, and said "So go ask them if you can borrow it." This terrified me. I became so scared, so fast, that I started crying.

Don't get the wrong idea, though. I can get up on a stage and act, or sing . . . but there's a separation. You're not showing the audience you.

The worst part of it is that people, inevitably, get the wrong impression. They see you standing off to the side, not talking to anyone, not socializing, looking off into the distance, or burying your nose in a book, and they assume that you think you're better than them, that you're too good to talk to them. That's not true, at all, and it's painful to know what's going through their heads, but not have the strength to force yourself to correct that notion.

I know I'm missing out on a lot of opportunities because of this issue, but I can't help it. No matter how I try to force myself, that fear always bubbles right back up.

I hope that by sharing this, those who have social anxiety realize you're not the only ones, and those who have no idea what it's like will have a better understanding of what this feels like.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

RELEASE DAY: The Devil's Flower by Lisa Collicutt

In a town called Nowhere, angels and demons battle for salvation—who will win—and what will be the cost?
 Killing isn’t exactly on Rosalie Lockwood’s list of things to do when she runs away from home. But despite her search for peace; guns and motorcycles become her latest fashion accessories as Divine interference leads her to Steele, co-leader of the Fallen Paladins motorcycle club.
Leathered and tattooed, Steele’s presence scares off most people he comes in contact with — but not Rosalie. She’s immediately drawn into the dangers of his biker world—and into his heart.
But Steele guards a secret that if Rosalie knew, could shatter their new love — along with destroy the human race. And the truth comes at a price.
Will Rosalie risks her soul to prove her loyalty to Steele?
The Dark and Light Realms collide as Rosalie chooses between life, death, and the ever-after to become that which she is fated to destroy.



Teaser - Chapter One - Divine Union:

Darkness descended over the freeway. Rosalie turned the key in the ignition a final time. Nothing. A string of unladylike words flew from her mouth as she bashed the side of her fist on the steering wheel. Her only result was pain. Two states from home, her car had run out of gas, her cell phone was dead, and she had to pee so badly she could taste it.





Lisa likes to write dark and twisted tales of magic and romance. She has a passion for Young Adult and New Adult Paranormal

When she's not conjuring tales about witches, demons, and other magical beings, she can be found leathered, and bound to the back of her husband's Harley, touring her homeland of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Enter Lisa's imagination where light ends and fantasy begins. But heed these warnings . . . it's dark, it's magical, you may experience tingles.




Get The Devil's Flower at Amazon
 Add The Devil's Flower to your Goodreads list.
Coming 2014 - Books two and three of The Eternal Beings Trinity - The Demon's Wrath & The Angel's Retribution.