Monday, February 1, 2016

#WritersForHope Take Three!

Hello, friends!

I am over-the-moon excited to announce that the 3rd Annual Writers For Hope Online Auction is officially in the works - and shall be held on Monday, April 4, 2016 from 12:00am - 11:59pm!



The donor list is growing (by the hour!) because book people are the best people. We have lots of Writers For Hope returners, as well as some exciting new faces. 

I, very honestly, don't know that I will ever get over the extreme generosity of people - not just a willingness to give, but an excitement over it. One response I received to a donation request began simply with "YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES!!!"



This year's auction is going to work the same as previous events. Readers, writers and book lovers get twenty four hours to bid on this year's fantastic items. The only difference is that this year, the auction will take place at the brand-spanking-new Writers for Hope website! Meander on over and check it out. 

I'll be listing updates there and here, plus don't forget to follow #WritersForHope on Twitter. And, for all those of you who are interested in donating to a fantastic cause, but can't wait for the auction - you can donate here at any time!

Finally, THANK YOU, to everyone who has made this event so successful in the past and to everyone who's planning on participating this year.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Putting Realities in the Back Seat

I'm working on a new story. I'm two chapters in and it's in that tender chrysalis stage, where it could blossom into something beautiful, or it could erupt into a cloud of fairy glitter. That's what chrysalises do, right? Something like that.

I've found that the best way to sidestep glitter eruptions is to write from a place of possibilities - which generally means having to get Little Kid Kelly involved in the process. This isn't to say that I don't still believe in all sorts of possibilities, but the whole being an adult process can sometimes get me a bit distracted by realities.

This doesn't work for me when I'm writing. Keeping track of word counts and making goals for the same is helpful, but if I'm writing to that goal rather than to the story, I never get as much done. Basically, I need to get my grown up mind to take the back seat - letting the little kid mind run rampant through this new world discovering whatever she can.

Sometimes, this requires a push. And for this, I generally turn to childhood favorites - books, TV, or movies. Those fictional worlds that first made my developing brain explode in wonder. It doesn't matter if these things are no longer my favorite in their category, what's important is the reminder of feeling like absolutely anything is possible.

Here are some of my go-tos when I need reentry into the world of Possibilities:




This series was a staple of my childhood - the books that I was most likely to smuggle under my coat so I could sneak off and get some reading in at roller skating parties. And the books that left me with a never-to-be-fully-extinguished (but-thankfully-so-far-resisted) urge to wander through deserted construction sites in the hopes of meeting a kindly alien looking to gift me with powers.




Nothing gets my brain working like a dance party, and no song gets me back in my younger mind set like this one. This may or may not be because my sister, friends and I learned the dance to this...I can neither confirm nor deny. One thing I can say without reservation - I wish I could rock a turtle neck like these ladies.




There are very few rough scenes that can't be figured out over a pile of Legos. Something about working with your hands while your mind wanders...it gets the job done. Particularly, if what your hands are working on is building a Lego Hogwarts.



Chewandswallow remains one of my ideal vacation spots.




My childhood was a revolving door of the original movies and extended universe books. I don't know that there will ever be another fictional world that so opens my mind to the beauty of never-ending possibilities.


So, what inspires you when you need to get creative?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Year in Book Titles

Happy New Year's Eve, folks!


2016 is knocking on the door and waiting not-so-patiently for us to welcome it in. But we'd just be rude hosts if we didn't take at least a moment to remember all the good times we've had with 2015.

*cues up "Through the Years" and tries to make it not-so-plural*

And, for someone like myself, who spends most of her reflective time staring at the calming, peaceful sight of an overcrowded bookshelf, what better way to think about these last twelve months than through the tomes I so adore?

So, based solely on their lovely titles, here's what 2015 looked like for me....

JANUARY



FEBRUARY



MARCH



APRIL



MAY



JUNE



JULY



AUGUST



SEPTEMBER



OCTOBER



NOVEMBER



DECEMBER



Okay, you're up. How was your year?

Friday, December 4, 2015

#NoExceptions

Since yesterday’s historic decision regarding women in combat, I’ve heard a number of different responses, but I feel compelled to respond to one of them. There are some who are citing the occurrences of rape of women in the military by fellow officers as a reason why they should not be allowed into combat situations.

I so appreciate that these people are coming at this from a place of concern, but the way to stop rape from happening is not to deny women the same opportunities as men because some men are predators. In terms of allowing women into those conditions, every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted

These dangerous conditions for women are not exclusive to the military, they are an every day reality in the world in which we live. And if we’re arguing that women should not be allowed into situations where this is a constant threat, we’re arguing that women should not be allowed to live in this world. But this is the only world we’ve been given, making the only viable option to work to change it.

Removing possible victims from the situation does not stop rape, it merely postpones it. It is also impossible to remove all possible victims, as men are victims of rape as well – a fact which this argument of protecting women from combat situations ignores and devalues.

The way to stop rape is to show that we, as a society, have a zero tolerance policy toward it. That we, as a society, do not marginalize the victims rather than dealing with the perpetrators. And that we, as a society, fully believe in and support equality between men and women.

Rape must stop happening in the military and it must stop happening in all other areas of the country and world. And the only way to stop it is to make a conscious and constant effort to change the way society views women and sexual assault.

I’ve heard some people saying that they are all for equality, except for combat situations. This is a mutually exclusive sentence. One can not be all for something except for when they’re not. And if we want to live in a world where rape is not a constant threat we must be truly all for destroying these double standards and this culture in which women continue to be placed on a different level than men.

As a woman, I don’t want to be looked down on as less than. And I don’t want to be placed on a pedestal to be adored and protected.

Equal footing. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else perpetuates the toxic aspects of our culture that feed into the frequency of rape.


Women having equality in combat situations is one step closer to that changed world. And I am excited and proud to see it on the horizon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sometimes When The Curtain Falls, The Show Goes On

Hey folks! In the mood for some ghosts and ghouls this Halloween week?

I'm over at the Opera House Arts blog every day this week blogging about different folks who have made the after-life decision to spend all their time in theatres. I don't know about you, but I can see the appeal...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Letters From My 5th Grade Journal

Hello my long neglected friends!

I'm so excited to be back on the blog. Way back when I last posted I mentioned the craziness of the upcoming summer season here, but I had every intention of at least posting occasionally during that time. Silly, silly Past Kelly and her outlandish goals.

But it's fall now, and as I've mentioned in the past, winter is my favorite time for writing and revising, which makes it very convenient that fall is when I feel my most creative. All my best researching and outlining gets done as the weather gets gloomier. My guess is that its all the season's ghosts clamoring to have their stories told...or something like that. Regardless, the old brain's a-percolating, which is always exciting.

Recently, during one of my customary where-did-I-put-that-thing-I-suddenly-can't-live-without searches, I came across my old fifth grade journal. I gave it a quick once over and decided that in this chilly weather/warm brain season, what better way to start my writing sessions than with a quick trip back to the early days....

video

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Things learned: As the story goes on characters shouldn't always love the same things they loved in the beginning. Life happens. Things lose their shine. However, characters shouldn't turn their back on all their original interests. Some loves are forever.

Case in point: I no longer have an affection, or even patience, for soccer. The Best Friend Formerly Known As Roomie can attest to this. Hocus Pocus, on the other hand, still rocks.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summertime, and the Livin' is Busy (& Awesome)

I have officially embarked on my first summer season with Opera House Arts. And it is ALL THE THINGS.


First off, it's always fun being the new kid on the block.


The folks I work with are buckets of awesome and completely the right kind of crazy - casually dropping into conversations their love of Empire Records and Step Up 2: The Streets.



Plus, they frequently request mid-day singalong/dance breaks.


And very little could eclipse the collective joy we felt when Magical Intern tracked down that taxidermied seagull we all wanted.


Then, of course, there's the place itself. Seriously, look at this view:


Which sometimes includes pirate ships.


It's July, which means that it's not completely freezing in Maine anymore.


And the summer artists are arriving.



There are so many amazing shows coming up, it's bananas. Of course, this means we're a little bit busy...


...but that just has us holding ourselves to a higher standard...



...and forging forward together....


...as a team.



So, all in all...my new job? I'm okay with it...



And what are all of you up to this summer?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Can't Understand

Every one of us is a storyteller.

Each day we set out to tell our tales. And we like to believe that in at least our own stories, we are the heroes. I believe that this is a very achievable goal. Issues crop up when we start to think of our stories in relation to all the other stories unfolding around us.

The truth is, no matter how awesome we are in our own stories, we are very unlikely to be the hero of someone else's. That doesn't mean that we're the villains. It's just that at best we're supporting characters, while most likely we're really extras. Background to that person's story.

But we want to be heroes.

So, when we hear about the obstacles cropping up in other people's stories, we rush to defend ourselves.

We did not cause that obstacle. Because we are heroes. And we understand everyone's obstacles, whether or not they're ours. Because we are heroes. And it is important that other people know that the obstacle in question was not created by us. Because...well, you know. The whole hero thing.

Except that isn't really important. And we have no real way of understanding the obstacles of someone else's story.

But we act like we do, because heaven forbid we look ignorant.

When I was a kid, my little sister would ask me all sorts of questions. More than half the time, I wouldn't know the answer, but there was no way I was telling her that. So, instead, I made crap up. Because I was her big sister and it was my job to have answers for her.

I went through two years of pre-school, K-12, four years of undergrad and a two year Masters program and never managed to shake the fear of a teacher asking me a question to which I didn't know the answer. Most of the time, I didn't even care whether or not I'd retained the knowledge I was supposed to. I just didn't want everyone else knowing if I hadn't.

Because no one wants to look ignorant.

But even for the smartest, most well-educated people, it's impossible not to suffer some degree of ignorance when it comes to other people's stories.

I identify as a lot of things. Here are a few:

Female. White. Heterosexual. Catholic. Daughter. Little sister. Big sister. Aunt. Godchild. Godmother. Friend. Niece. Cousin. Rape Survivor. Writer. Reader. Storyteller. Development and Communications Director. Former Federal Employee. New Yorker. American University Alumni. Star Wars Fan. Obsessive Quoter of Movies. Nerd. Scrapbooker. Greeting Card Giver. Owner of Embarrassing Number of Adult Onesie Pajamas. Christmas Nut. Superhero Wannabe. Believer That Life is a Musical If You Make It a Musical. Baker. Pie Lover. Turtle Mom. Nutella Consumer.

Now, maybe one of you is reading this and thinking, "Yes! I am every one of those things." To you, I say, "Hello, soul sister." More likely, you're looking at this and thinking, "Yeah, I can relate to some of that."

That's really the best we can hope for. That we'll find things in other people to relate to. Because there is not a person in this world who can fully understand my story, as they haven't lived it. And there is not a person in this world whose story I can fully understand, no matter how close I might be to them.  Because I haven't lived it.

There's danger in claiming that we understand things we haven't experienced. It puts us in a position to dismiss or cut off a conversation that wasn't really ours to control.

When someone complains about the obstacles in their life and we use it as an opportunity to jump in and explain how we are not part of the problem - because we're heroes and we understand - we're hijacking someone else's story to make it our own. Which might not necessarily make us villains, but certainly doesn't make us the solution of obstacles.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is take a break from heroics. To settle in momentarily to being someone else's extra. To say, "I can't understand your story, not because I don't want to, but because it will never be my experience. I don't know whether or not I'll sympathize with it. I don't know whether or not we'll agree with each other when it's over. But I'd like to listen to it anyway." And then to do just that. To let that story take center stage, even when you want to distance yourself from the obstacles. Even when you want to say, "That might be true, but not about me." To play a supporting role.

Because, every one of us is a storyteller. And every one of us deserves at least one commercial free telling of their story.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Five Superheroes of Grief

I’ve been layering on sweaters for the past week to guard against the chill. That’s right, the chill. Because apparently being within two and a half weeks of the first day of summer isn’t enough to get Mother Nature to stop giving Maine the cold shoulder. My only recourse is therefore to focus on large-scale summery thoughts.

And what’s more large scale and summery than superheroes?

Who, let’s face it, are half-assing their jobs. For all their strengths these super-individuals seem to lack a certain amount of staying power. Sure, they show up and save the day (and scores of lives) time and time again. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great, but what is the quality of these rescued lives?

Undoubtedly, everyone’s feeling pretty elated about the whole being alive thing at first, but what happens when that survivor’s glow wears off? Everyone has to deal with the fact that their entire concept of reality has just been blown to crap. Where, might we ask, are the superheroes then? Maybe they’ve flown the coop for a romantic getaway with that special someone or really had to book it back to school for their U.S. History midterm. Perhaps they’re just settling down for a well-deserved post-averting-the-apocalypse snack.

It doesn’t really matter because the result is always the same – the mere mortals are left to Kubler-Ross it up themselves and put their lives back together piece by piece. Which is particularly unfair when you consider that these five are so equipped to help humanity deal with the various stages of grief:


Denial – Hindsight

In the wake of total and utter destruction, sometimes it’s nice to pretend that none of it ever happened. Everything’s still fine. And who better to help with that than an individual whose claim to fame is his ability to accurately analyze how events could have ended if different choices were made? Carlton LaFroyge can listen for hours while humanity goes on and on about how things are still totally the way they were – no big. And each time he’ll just sagely nod and say, “They could have been.” The main reason Mr. LaFroyge will probably be willing to tackle this somewhat thankless job is for his own safety. I can’t imagine that there is anyone the other superheroes want to punch more in the face than this guy while he’s Monday-morning-quarterbacking their most recent supervillain defeats. Additional bonus, the fact that this gentleman is so intensely punchable will eventually catapult humans to the next stage of their grieving.


Anger – Hulk

There are a lot of angry superheroes. I’m pretty sure that all job listings for the career path state, “Qualified candidates must have a constant, barely contained fury simmering just close enough to the surface that it ruins any personal relationship they endeavor upon.” However, it would be foolish of me to pretend that there is a better face for Terrifyingly Overpowering Rage than Dr. Bruce Banner’s alter ego, the Savage Hulk. Childlike and temperamental, this hero is an expert in the navigating the physical manifestations of anger, aka breaking things. Thankfully, because Dr. Banner is a self-sacrificing sort of person he’ll probably be willing to help us humans smash out our issues and because he’s a genius, he’ll probably take us in controllable groups to a place where we’re less likely to do more damage than necessary to our established infrastructure. Now, odds are pretty good that the whole of humanity will tire before the Hulk does. So, when all the anger has been forced out of you, leaving nothing but an exhausted husk, it’s time to advance to the next stage. But, let’s keep it in the family, shall we?



Bargaining – She-Hulk

When everyone gets to the bargaining stage, Jennifer Walters is who we want in our corner. Generally, a little bit more chill than her cousin, Ms. Walters is a skilled and versatile attorney. She’s represented the whole spectrum of clients – victims of crime, criminals, corporations, superheroes and supervillains. And, she’s won. A lot. Not all that surprising, when you consider her talent for seeing various perspectives – even within herself. After all Ms. Walters and She-Hulk don’t always agree on the issues and they’re the same person. This is a lady truly gifted at the art of debate. Ready to try regaining normalcy through negotiation? Call her immediately. But if you’re feeling more like getting into bed and pulling the blankets over your head for awhile, maybe it’s time to move on.




Depression – Yellowjacket

Sad Henry Pym is sad. Crime fighting just doesn’t hold the same allure it once did. He hasn’t made a big scientific discovery since those Pym particles. Even worse, his failures seem highlighted by the successes of all those around him and it’s throwing him off his game, not to mention making for a fairly miserable home life. Which kind of explains why he jumped the gun and screwed up Captain America’s plan to calm down the Elfqueen, leading to his subsequent court-martial. Spoiler alert: Things for Dr. Pym are going to get worse before they get better, making him the perfect choice for the public when they reach the stage of melancholy and despair. This guy is an expert in those feelings. Just a little tip for humanity – when Pym starts talking about how much greater the world would be if we could all just build a giant robot to attack our friends, you might want to think about scheduling a meeting with our final hero.



Acceptance – Oracle

Barbara Gordon kicked quite a bit of ass as Batgirl. Then the Joker shot and paralyzed her, ending her crime-fighting career. So, what did she do? Built a new freaking crime fighting career – continuing to help Batman, joining up with the Suicide Squad, forming the Birds of Prey, and serving as a member of a little group of well intentioned souls called the Justice League of America. Because when the going gets tough, the tough like to work with Barbara Gordon. Why? She keeps her shit together. Babs doesn’t pretend things are great – whenever her world is totaled, she acknowledges the astronomical level of suck and then keeps on moving forward. Who better, then, to help the general populace reach that final step of accepting that their old lives are over and it’s time to rebuild? Think of how full of purpose they’ll be. 

Right up until the next villain causes countless casualties and trillions upon trillions of dollars in property damage and everyone needs to start this whole damn process all over again.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Laura Salters Edition

Good morning, friends!

I'm very happy to welcome Laura Salters - Writers For Hope donor, upcoming Pitch Wars mentor, fantastic beta buddy, and an all-together swell lady - back to the blog. She's here today to offer us a
little insight into those things she'll always love no matter what.

And I'm here to tell you about something you'll love...Laura's debut novel is out! RUN AWAY is a basketful of awesome. But before you run off to read that (as you should), get to know Laura a little better...

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

1) Sleep. I am a prolific sleeper. I need 10-12 hours a night to function as an actual human being. And I won’t wake up unless I set an alarm—I’m not kidding. If I want to get up at midday, I have to set an alarm for midday. I have issues, okay?

2) Nutella. ON ALL THE THINGS. Pancakes, fruit, a spoon. Give me a jar of Nutella and I’m happy.

3) Cheesy 90s music. Hitting “shuffle” on my iPod is a treacherous experience. You could get cutting edge, super cool indie music, awesome rock…or 5ive’s Keep On Movin’. 

4) Pokemon. I am 24 years old and still play Pokemon on my Gameboy. I think I took the catchphrase “gotta catch ‘em all” too literally and I’m still at it twenty years later. 

5) Gin. Specifically a Hendrick’s with tonic and cucumber. It’s so refreshing and so delicious. And I’m a really giggly, happy drunk, so it always puts me in a great mood. Not so much the next morning, but still…




Drenched in blood and sitting in the sweltering interview room of a Thai police station, Kayla Finch knows that Sam, the love of her life, is dead. It doesn't matter that there's no body. All that blood can only mean one thing.

It isn't the first time Kayla's had blood on her hands. After finding her brother dead by his own hand, she tried to outrun her grief by escaping to Thailand. Heart-broken, the last thing she expected was to find love on the smoggy streets of Bangkok. But everyone Kayla loves seems to wind up dead. 

Returning home to England, Kayla is left with a barely-functioning family, a string of gruesome nightmares and the niggling feeling that nothing is as it seems. And as she confronts her brother's suicide, she starts to suspect that something is very wrong.

Three months. Two tragedies. One connection: there's more to both cases than anyone is willing to admit. And Kayla’s determined to uncover the truth…no matter what the cost.

Social Media Links

RUN AWAY Links

Now get out there and do some reading!