Social Media And The Dreaded Clique

I debated on whether or not to post this, but here goes nothing…

You’ve decided to do it. Everyone else seems to be doing it, so why shouldn’t you, especially if you need to get your name out there to promote <insert product or service>? Therefore, you decide to go ahead and set up that Twitter account, Facebook profile, Google Plus profile, and just about every other damn social media platform you’ve been told to try. After all, you have to get your name out there, right? How else are you going to peddle your product to a large audience?

So, you’ve established your profiles. Over time, you’ve met some people and everything seems to going well; you’re chatting, mostly about superficial things here and there and meeting other people through the relationships you’ve already established. You’re just freaking swell and chugging along on the little social media train. People genuinely seem interested in what you have to say…. Until one day you start noticing little things here and there. It’s all subtle of course. No one is overtly saying I’m not feeling you anymore or that your content sucks. Yet, you notice actions, or rather inactions. People aren’t reading your blog posts or sharing them anymore. People no longer comment on the silly memes or articles you’ve linked to your profile. Ah! Somewhere along the line, people you’ve regularly conversed with are fading into the abyss of the Internet. It gets worse though. Not only do they seem to fade away from you, but they also seem to regularly converse with the same group of people. You know what I’m talking about. They share and comment on each other’s posts, comment on each other’s silly memes about work and life. Hmm. That’s when that dreaded thought first crosses your mind. Dare I say that social media is cliquish?

Ha! Pretty much summed up my sentiments.

Let’s face it. Cliques happen. But why are people cliquish? Is it just the nature of the beast that we call human socialization? Maybe. Ok. So I know you’re probably thinking; Stephanie, cliques only exist in high school. Or, how could they exist virtually? Ha! Walk on any college campus and stay for a while. You’ll soon see that cliques are very real. You could argue that they are just remnants of high school and that they fade with each subsequent year of college. Yeah. Tell that to those people who go to a fraternity or sorority “meet and greet” or “open house” and don’t get selected to pledge. From what I hear, the answer (if any is provided) is that the “would be pledge” wasn’t a good “fit” for the organization. {Side note: Surprisingly, or perhaps not, I’ve heard of this happening after failed job interviews as well.} As far as virtual cliques are concerned, hang out on a social media platform for a while and I’m sure you’ll start seeing certain people interacting more with the same group of people.

Recently, I was chatting with a fellow blogger/indie author/cool person of the social media community. I asked if she also noticed that people tend to form cliques on various social media platforms. She commented that it’s a trend that happens and you soon get used to it [clique forming] and you’ll move on accordingly. Damn. I guess. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that it sucks.

And with that, dear reader, I continued to mull over social media group formations. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that perhaps my observations were too harsh and that clique wasn’t the right word, or rather description for what I observed on social media. After all, people naturally tend to be more friendly towards some more so than others, mainly due to commonalities. Furthermore, the more you have in common with someone, the more likely you are to repeatedly interact with that person and vibe with what they have to say. I don’t think that behavior is necessarily cliquish, but rather the natural progression of friendship once you get beyond the superficial layer(s).

As such, I decided to not dwell in the pit of social media despair. Instead, I thought my musings would make a great post on the blog. Who knows? Maybe there’s someone else out there who’s feeling similarly. I guess my fellow blogger/indie author/cool person of the social media community was right; you get over it and move on. I’m sure my words will gravitate to people who will connect with them.

Well, what are your thoughts about social media? Do you think that it promotes cliques? Groupthink? Harmony? Peace? I want to hear it all; the good, the bad, and the down right ugly. Leave your comments below.

Guest Blog Post

Love is love!

Hi everyone! I have great news! I was asked to guest post on fellow independent author, Dicey Grenor’s, blog. I interviewed her on one of my indie author interviews. You can check that out here.

Over on her blog, I was asked to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart; interracial relationships and the need for diversity in novels. Peep out what I had to say here: https://diceyblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/indiethursday-s-m-dahman-author-guestpostinterracial-romance-in-fiction

10 Random Yet Scary YouTube Videos

I really would if I didn’t get zits from sweets!

*** Initially this post was going to contain 10 videos, but midway through, I couldn’t take it anymore. Therefore, it’s been amended it to 6 videos. ***

Ghost! Goblins! Aliens! Monsters! Oh my! I enjoy a good scare… occasionally and since Halloween is around the corner, I decided to list 10 of the scariest videos I’ve found on YouTube. Now, when I say scary, I don’t necessarily mean blood, guts, and monsters under the bed scary, but rather real life,  twisted, scary… stuff. So, if you dare to wonder, “could that really be true” or, if you’d like to get the poop scared out of you, check out these videos below. WARNING! Viewer discretion is advised (HA!):

  1. The 10 Creepiest Websites on the Internet by Matthew Santoro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDTqh1U8izw Ok, so this isn’t really make you jump scary, but Santoro does list a load of creepy and downright weird websites. By the way, this is probably the least creepy video on this list. In fact, I don’t think it’s that creepy in comparison to the other videos listed below.
  1. 5 Disturbing Deep Web Stories by Top 5 Unknowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaXn8uR9Ybg Soooooooooo…. I’m not sure where to begin with this one. If you want to hear some twisted stories, check out this video.
  1. 10 Creepy Unsolved Kidnappings: Twisted Tens by Rob Dyke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfrvN-3ISWo Rob Dyke always has strange real-life terrifying stories. This video is no different.
  1. 5 Things That Cannot Be Explained by Top Trending https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b55j-DrN4S0 This one is more so interesting than scary. It’s another one that probably won’t freak you out too much.
  1. 6 Most Terrifying 4Chan Posts REACTION by Blastphamous HD TV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgyiHBnCQKs Ok, this video is equal parts funny and creepy. It’s funny seeing the guy’s reactions and hearing his comments regarding the stories. It’s creepy because the stories are disturbing as hell.
  1. 6 Terrifying 4Chan Posts Part II by GloomyHouse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQBrtOpb5eo …and this is where I’ll be ending my tour of scary videos on YouTube. The last story told on this video is just disturbing on many levels.

So, that’s all. I refuse to venture further down the darker alleys of YouTube. If you dared to watch any of these (especially the last 2), leave your thoughts and comments below.

Meet Sean Schultz and Invisible Wounds

always a vet

Hello dear readers. It’s been a few days since I’ve last chatted with y’all. I’ve been busy reading (interesting stuff out there), chatting (should really do less of), and trying to plug away on my sequel (whenever inspiration hits *sigh). Anyway, I’m taking a mini break from all of that this morning because I want y’all to meet a pretty cool guy who’s on an important mission. His name is Sean Schultz.

Hi Sean! The red filter serves as a reminder of everyone deployed. Hopefully I'll start a trend like the rainbow colored profile pics for the LGBT community

Hi Sean! The red filter serves as a reminder of everyone deployed. The intended goal is to start a trend similar to the rainbow colored profile pics for the LGBT community.

Sean is one of the nicest people I’ve met on social media. He popped up in my Twitter feed one day due to an indie author Q&A I did with his father, K.G., who’s also pretty cool (you can check out his Q&A here). Over time, I’ve found out that Sean has eclectic taste in music (awesome!), four tattoos (dope!), and he likes to bring a smile to someone’s face with his twisted sense of humor (again, awesome!). While chatting with him one day, he shared with me that he is a Marine veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Naturally, I had a few questions about his Marine background. Graciously, he was kind enough to answer them:

Question 1: When did you join the Corps?

Answer 1: I joined the Corps in August of 2001 right before the attacks on September 11th, which definitely changed the pace of training once that happened. We knew then that the majority of our brothers and sisters we graduated boot camp with would be deployed at some point to a combat zone. For me, that was Iraq in 2003 with 1st Marine Division 11th Marines Regiment during the initial march to Baghdad.

Q2: When did you first begin experiencing PTSD symptoms?

A2: The fight with PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression is a daily struggle I am still dealing with. I believe I started having symptoms when I was still in the Corps and for the longest time I was using marijuana as my solution for masking my illness, which in itself does have some incredible benefits in treating my symptoms. However, it is a depressant, just like alcohol, and it got to a point that I became addicted to it. Like alcohol, or a lot of the psychological pharmaceuticals that are out there, I was using it to mask the pain. It wasn’t until my most recent suicide attempt, after I stopped smoking that I realized I had a problem that I needed to face. I finally reached out and got the support from my family and friends. I have also started hormone supplement therapy through a doctor here in San Diego in conjunction with my antidepressants and antianxiety medication, which we hope to wean me off of at some point.

red boots

Q3: What has personally helped you combat PTSD?

A3: A large help for me personally was moving to San Diego with my parents, who have been a huge support system for me. The change in scenery and the amount of resources available to me out here versus back in southern Indiana are extremely different. It also helps that there is a more positive and artistic vibe to the Normal Heights area in which I currently reside and am a member of the community association.

In addition to the change of scenery, my incredibly talented mother, who outside of her day job, is a phenomenal painter and I don’t just say that because I am her son. She got me addicted to yoga, which is where the majority of the healing began. I am very thankful for that and to the instructors at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga here in Normal Heights as well as the studio in North Park. The practice of yoga is incredibly spiritual and allows you to connect, and for me, start to love myself again.

Another huge help for me has been the starting of this movement [see below], which has forced me to get out of my shell and be motivated. I spend most of my day online talking with fellow veterans, researching, and trying to network with similar organizations to create a unified front and decrease the dramatic statistic of 22 veterans that take their own lives everyday. I have also started to network within the community and begun sharing my story with whoever will listen in order to raise awareness and break the notion that “you are fine, suck it up.” Mental health awareness, in general, is on the rise because we are finally starting to see the side effects of this “war” we have been involved with for over a decade. It has taken a terrible toll not just on the veterans themselves, but their loved ones as well.

As previously mentioned, Sean started a movement to spread awareness of PTSD along with the alarming rates of suicides among veterans. Please read more about his movement below:

The Invisible Wounds Tattoo, donated by Pete Walker of Allegory Tattoo in San Diego.

The Invisible Wounds Tattoo donated by Pete Walker of Allegory Tattoo in San Diego.

The #InvisibleWounds movement was started thanks to a woman I have never met, whose life dramatically changed due to an unfortunate event. Because of her, I have made it my life’s mission to help spread awareness of PTSD and suicide that plagues veterans, like myself, because the VA [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] doesn’t do their job in a timely manner. We [veterans] feel as though it is a sign of weakness, and suffer rather than seek the help we need. We feel as though life would be easier, not for us, but for our loved ones, if we just removed ourselves from the picture and decreased the burden.

I know first hand how crippling this can be. No matter how badly you would like to get up off of the couch and just do something to participate in life, you feel you can’t. You wonder why you are the way you are and how you got so broken. The worst part is you do your best to hide it from those you love. If they knew and understood what was really going on with you, they would be willing to drop everything to help you in a heartbeat because they love you.

Not to get too deep into my story, because this isn’t about me. If you want to read my story I invite you to go to my page. Because of Stephanie Mason Lembo’s video, I have been able to let go of all my built-up self-hate and have begun to love myself again. I have seen the light and that life is worth living since my attempts on my life resulted in my best friend and fellow Marine convincing me to seek help. His name is Alan Kissinger, and he discovered me in the middle of one of these attempts; he literally saved my life.

But that’s enough about me. This post is simply to spread the awareness. Hopefully it will reach those that are struggling and afraid to seek help, to let them know that there are options and programs outside the VA that can help them get better, and participate in this glorious thing we call life again. My hope is that this post will inspire someone else like it did me, to tell their story, face the demons they are hiding, and finally close those old wounds that no one can see. I can tell you first hand it is a terrible feeling to have to constantly wear a false smile for those you love, or go to work to support your family (if you are fortunate enough to have one) while you are completely falling apart and screaming on the inside for change and help. You feel as though there is nowhere to turn except toward the barrel of a gun or, in my case, a noose around the neck, a knife to an artery, or even a bag over your head.

That being said, this movement’s first mission is to spread awareness of the terrible tragedy that has befallen our nation. On average, there are 22 Veterans that take their lives every day. That statistic does not sit well with me. We at Invisible Wounds are no longer going to stand by and do nothing. The time is now to spread awareness. As this movement grows, we will collaborate with similar organizations to create a unified front and bring down those numbers.

We thank you in advance for any support you are willing to offer to help our cause, and salute you for your efforts. If you have any questions on how you can be of assistance, we invite you to send us a message. We are very responsive and open to any help and suggestions we receive.

Sean C. Schultz

“Uncle Sean”

USMC Veteran

du3O_JUZ.jpg-large

Startling statistic!

Q4: What support has Invisible Wounds garnered so far? 

A4: I am currently manning the ship solo, but am picking up resources as I go along, like Byron Rogers (USMC Vet, Motivational Speaker, and founder of Meaning After Military), Katie Kyle (brainchild behind Kome Together, which focuses on general mental health awareness), and Mark Zambon, the San Diego County Veteran Representative for Congresswoman Susan Davis. I’m trying to gain support from the local, state and national VFWs [Veterans of Foreign Wars USA] as well.

Thank you for your service and for sharing your story, Sean. I’m sure Invisible Wounds will help save many lives. If you want to learn more about #InvisibleWounds, please contact Sean from one of the links below:

Email: Sean@invisiblewoundsllc.com

Twitter: @Invisibl3wounds

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/InvisibleWoundsLLC

Facebook: www.facebook.com/InvisibleWoundsLLC

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/Invisibl3Wounds/

Instagram: invisiblewoundsllc

Website (coming soon): www.InvisibleWoundsLLC.com

 

 

 

Ten Songs That Started My Day

I often start my days off with music. As mentioned in the previous post, it gets my mojo flowing by allowing me to brainstorm or just relax and collect my thoughts. Therefore, I decided to share 10 songs, plus a bonus, that got my day going:

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The cover reflects the simplicity of the musical arrangement. Just a guy and his guitar.

The Beautiful People by Lee DeWyze – “It’s not your fault that you’re always wrong. The weak ones are there to justify the strong.” Wow, what a statement. This song makes me think of politics, but more so economic systems, especially with lines like, “capitalism has made its way, old fashioned fascism will take you away.” Hmm. The downside of capitalism. Obviously, in a free market society, you’re going to have haves and have nots. That’s just the way it is. However, if the scale tips where there’s a massive economic downturn and the have nots turn into don’t have shit, then scapegoating and hateful ideologies rear their ugly little heads (having a middle class is important). There are plenty of examples of that in world history. Anyway, I would love to know what his inspiration was behind this song.

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Blackbird Song by Lee DeWyze – Clearly I was feeling Mr. DeWyze this morning. In celebration of the premiere of the new season of “The Walking Dead” this coming Sunday, I decided to play this song. It was featured on an episode on one of the previous seasons (for those who watch, I think it was the scene where we saw what Bob was up to before coming across the group). His raspy voice is quiet alluring and I love the folksy, bluesy sound of the song. Also, whoever played the fiddle in this song played the hell out of it. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the song.

 

She also kind of reminds me of my grandmother.

She also kind of reminds me of my grandmother.

La Guarachera by Celia Cruz and Tito Puente – This is currently one of my favorite jams! Wow! Ok. So sadly it really wasn’t until I took a Caribbean cultures class in college that realized the African diaspora extends well beyond the U.S., Jamaica, and Haiti (who knew Brazil had the highest population of people of African descent in the western hemisphere?). As such, I discovered salsa in general and Celia Cruz in particular. The foundation of salsa music is the drum. This song emphasizes that to the max. I love the drum solo towards the end of the song. Freaking amazing. (On a side note, listening to music in español also really helped me learn vocabulary and syntax when I was a Spanish major once upon a time.)

 

His blank expression conveys a lot.

His blank expression conveys a lot.

If I Ruled The World (Imagine That) by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill – I’m sure you can imagine from the title what this song is about. Basically, if Nas had his way, there wouldn’t be social or economic injustices and the have nots will, well, have. I don’t think I need to elaborate more. “Black diamonds and pearls… living for today in these last days of times.”

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Uninvited by Alanis Morissette – Ha! So you know how you’re just kind of doing your thing, not really looking for anyone, and then… BAM! Someone comes out of the blue and you’re like “wow, I’m really feeling him/her” but then you think about how you don’t want to like said person because you don’t want to get screwed over in the end (ergo, that person is uninvited). Yeah. Ms. Morissette nailed that in this song. Additionally, the instrumentation is sick! I love the rock mixed with the classical orchestra. It’s heavenly music to my ears.

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Work That by Mary J Blige – “Just because the length of your hair ain’t long and they often citizen you for your skin tone, go on and hold your head high because you’re a pretty woman…” Awesome! This song is just great. It’s all about appreciating your given beauty and flaunting what you have, no matter what society says about you. Don’t bleach that skin. Don’t feel pressured to straighten that hair (unless you’re on an interview for a job, lol) or wear those extensions. This song is all about self-esteem building. It’s also an ode to diversity. Without it, life would be monotonous.

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There For You by Damian Marley – “Vexation of spirit is a waste of time, negative thinking don’t you waste your thoughts.” Now this is a great opening line! Ah! If I were a smoking woman, this is one song that I would smoke one to while listening. It’s just a really relaxed, chill out song. It also makes you think about all the people who have supported you throughout your life and how you should appreciate them being around, even when you’re at your darkest. Well-said Jr. Gong.

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I love her smile!

 Daydreamin’ by Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott – So, this song is definitely a gaping metaphor about a robot where the robot represents life, particularly urban life. Lupe makes tons of critiques on society. One of my favorites is where he’s speaking ironically about rap videos and all the “props” they should have (e.g. scantly clad women, guns, coke, blunts, “bling”, etc.) It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a video so I’m not sure if those same mainstays remain. However, something tells me that they’re still there and have probably gotten worse over time.

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Love of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop) by Common and Erykah Badu – Yet another metaphorical song. I love the allegory of hip-hop as a woman, or a relationship in general. When you love whatever craft or hobby you have, it kind of does feel like you’re in a relationship with it. There are ups and downs, good and bad, and sometimes you just need some distance from it to see if it’s something you’re really into, or, to find much needed inspiration.

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You’re So Vain by Carly Simon – I find this song to be hilarious! Clearly Ms. Simon had to get some things off her chest about a certain someone who screwed her over in the past. What better way to vent than to write a passive aggressive song about the bane of your existence (at the given moment)? Gotta love the arts!

 

The Legend!

The Legend!

**Bonus: Thriller by Michael Jackson – Because who doesn’t need a little MJ to start their day off! We’re getting closer to Halloween and this video was a Halloween staple. I remember seeing it on Mtv as a kid and being terrified. With my adult eyes, I now marvel at the choreography and the concept behind the entire video. Definitely avant garde for the time.

Well that’s what got me going today and inspired this post. What are some songs that get your day going? Leave a comment below. Who knows? Maybe I have it in my iTunes as well.

 

 

Music: The Muse Behind the Madness

It’s true!

Hello dear readers. I’ve been plugging away on the computer, pounding out the words to the Twisted sequel. If you’ve been keeping up with my previous posts, then you know that this hasn’t been an easy journey for me.

When I began the story, I had a certain trajectory in mind. I thought that there needed to be a “certain progression” to maintain story logic. However, I really wasn’t feeling the plot as it, well, progressed. It was almost like torture trying to get the story out. Therefore, I backtracked and decided to look at it from another angle. Once I made that commitment, the words began to overflow.

So far, I’m loving this “new” story in this “new” world! I feel that with the current rendition, I’m able to take my characters to places I previously couldn’t in the first version. I’m very excited by that. 🙂

With that being said, I am digressing (sort of) from today’s topic, which is… Music!

Music served as my muse for the current rendition of the sequel (currently untitled). I don’t like to listen to it while I write, yet I do prefer hearing music as I brainstorm. So today, I’ve come up with a list of 10 songs that have helped frame some of the current storyline. They are listed below by genre:

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Dancehall: This genre helped me to write the very first scene of the story, but it will probably go somewhere in the middle once I coalesce all the scenes (I don’t write in a linear fashion. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me). I don’t know how familiar you, dear reader, are with this genre or the culture from which it derives. But if you ever get the chance to YouTube some of these songs below, you may be amazed at how the dancers move their bodies to the music.

Gimme Gimme by Beenie Man -> This was my jam when I used to run on the track and it brings back a ton of memories! If you ever need a good song to run to, this up-tempo beat is the one.

You’re No Good by Major Lazer -> has no official video, but I love beat.

We Be Burnin’ (Legalize It) by Sean Paul

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Rap/R&B: Basically, every song listed under this genre is associated with AJ is some shape, form, or fashion.

Fancy by The Dream -> Don’t want to comment on this one too much because I’ll give away a major clue of what’s going on in the story. However, I will say that it plays in my head when I write scenes with two particular characters.

So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast (hometown group!) -> Oddly, this song plays in my head whenever I’m describing something AJ is wearing or when he’s in his car.

When I See You by Fantasia

All I Really Want by Rick Ross

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Rock: or maybe alternative? Not sure of the differences between genres. Anyway, this genre fueled a lot of scenes between two particular characters. If you’re familiar with Possum Kingdom, then you’ll probably deduce that these scenes take a walk on the dark side. You would be correct.

Creep by Radiohead

Jeremy by Pearl Jam

Come As You Are by Nirvana -> one of my favorite songs in general

*Bonus Possum Kingdom by Toadies -> creepy song that also makes me think about vampires.

There you have it. I have no idea why these particular songs inspired the ideas or themes in the sequel but they have. Surprisingly, the number 1 song played in my iTunes did nothing for me (which is Kings of Leon’s Back Down South, I love Caleb’s slightly raspy voice and the instrumentation throughout the song. Plus I’m from the south).

Does music inspire your creativity? Or, if it doesn’t, what’re some of your favorite songs? Leave your comments below with the song title and the reasons why you like them.

Meet Adele Archer

Adele!

Adele!

…and just when you thought the chin wagging stopped, I now present to you Adele Archer! Of course I met Adele on G+ because apparently that’s the only place I meet people as an adult. (Someone once commented on Twitter that trying to make friends as an adult is creepy as hell. I agree.) A random post shared by someone in my circle floated my way (Thanks Mir Fleur!). What first caught my eye was the picture accompanied by the post; it was a picture of a woman seated in front of a typewriter with her hand extended out to a lamp (or it might have been a candle). Her head was down as if she were exhausted or exasperated (same difference right?). Crumbled pieces of paper littered the desk. Hmm, what’s this all about? So, because pictures work to attract clicks, I clicked on the link. I’m glad I did. Her post was a riot! She spoke about the difficulties of blogging and her thoughts on why even bother? Now, as a writer, of course I connected with that picture and the content. What writer hasn’t felt like “what’s the point of blogging?” I know I’ve been there a few times. Ok, maybe a few times more than I really care to admit.

Any who, I love Adele’s humor! Every blog post, or even comment that I’ve read of hers has produced either a smile, a chuckle, or flat out laughter. Without further ado, get comfortable (with your cuppa) and get to know a little more about Adele below. Hopefully you’ll get a good chuckle in too:

Question 1. Name one surprising thing about yourself.

Answer 1. As a kid, I used to kick and scream on the floor, and cry myself to sleep about not being born a boy. Being born in the 70s, I had it in my head that life for a girl was substandard to the life and opportunities one was presented with as a boy (and I was kind of right at the time). But don’t worry, I’m delighted to be a girl now!

Q2. What’s your favorite food?

A2. That is such a tough question (being that I can put away food faster than anyone I know – so fast, I barely taste it), but I’m going to plump for Thai. I like the little taste explosion you get in your mouth with every bite – savoury, sweet, sour. Mmmm….food. I wish you hadn’t brought it up…

Q3. What’s your favorite movie and why?

A3. I love all Alfred Hitchcock movies but it would have to be The Rope. I love the way the entire movie is filmed in one shot (they just pan in and out of people’s backs or furniture as a change of scene – but there never really is a change of scene). And I love that the film is just like a stage play, all set in one room. I’ve got a thing about films etc being set all in one place (there was an episode of Seinfeld where they spent the entire show wandering around a multi-story carpark whilst looking for their car which I loved. You really have to be a clever writer to make that work – a piece set only in one area. I digress…). Plus I love Jimmy Stewart. Also, I love the subject matter of The Rope; is one person really more expendable than another?

Q4. Who is your favorite author and what is it about his or her work that resonates with you?

A4. That’s a difficult question too because my favourite genre would probably be fantasy series…ies…ies (like The Farseer Trilogy, Game of Thrones etc), but it’s actually going to have to be Bill Bryson. Because I always thought of him as a travel writer (which of course was quite wrong of me), I didn’t think he’d be my cup of tea. But I love everything he has ever written, and I love how his gentle humour flows through every paragraph – no matter what the subject. And it wasn’t until I started reading Bill Bryson that I realised I had to write with my own voice – I really credit Bill with that. It was futile to write like other people; using flowery, verbose language that wasn’t natural to me. I’m a cockney girl from the East End of London. So his writings taught me to play to my strengths, because it was okay to be myself. In fact it was essential.

Q5. What do you think makes a story good?

A5. If you ask me (which you just did), I’d say a good story needs to get going pretty damned quickly. I have the attention-span of a goldfish so as a reader and a writer, I like a story to grab your attention as soon as humanly possible. But perhaps more importantly, the character-development needs to be plausible. People are deep and complex in reality, so rounded, fully-functioning fictional characters need to mirror this. Oh, and I personally need to like at least one character in a book; we all need somebody to root for (but don’t do that if you’re reading Game of Thrones; everybody you care about dies. Spoiler alert.)

Q6. What’s your writing style (outline vs. free flow)?

A6. I always write with a more-or-less fully formed story framework in mind. I don’t think I could function if I didn’t know where the narrative was heading. Sometimes things will change in the process of writing but on the whole, I stick to the plan and get in done; like the pouring-forth of a big ‘splat’ of ideas on a page. Like vomit (but good vomit, mind). If I didn’t do that, I’d never finish anything. Then I go back and make serious alterations as necessary. And they’re always necessary, SERIOUS ones…

Adele's book

Adele’s book

Q7. Are you currently working on any writing projects?

A7. Always. I’m in the process of editing book two and three of ‘International Relations’ simultaneously. They’re both finished and the story is just about the way I want it, but there’s a fair bit of housekeeping to do! Once this trilogy is done and dusted (hopefully before the year is out), I’d like to write something completely different – like a fantasy book as that’s what I like to read. But I’m not 100% sure I have it in me. Of course, I’m blogging weekly too – which is a never-ending project in itself. So it’s safe to say I keep busy.

Q8. What is your most interesting writing quirk, if any?

A8. At the risk of sounding self-absorbed, I’d say my most interesting quirk is my quirkiness. I had to sit down one day and assess what would make me comfortable in actually putting my books out there for people to read rather than keeping them as a secret hobby on my laptop. And I figured that although I’ve always been adept at telling a good yarn, there was something missing from my work. And that thing was ‘me’. So I went back in and put myself in the books; i.e. my patter-of-speech, my idiosyncrasies, my neuroticisms and mostly, my stupidly childish sense of humour. [S.M. side note: which I love! Don’t lose that sense of humor! I’ve chuckled a few times so far.]

Q9. Where do your ideas come from?

A9. I used to play a lot of very elaborate games as a kid; being one of six, I went to great lengths to go off and be alone. All kids play but I’m fairly sure my games were a bit odd. I had an old biscuit-tin of soldiers and I invented an entire intricate story (with backstories and subplots) about how these soldiers were imprisoned in this tin (jail) and their various thwarted attempts to break free. I’d sit there murmuring to myself doing their dialogue. And this quickly transpired into me writing these and other narratives down. So a lot of my ideas were formed in childhood. I’ve been writing stories in my spare time since I was a girl and those ideas (I still maintain) were very good ones. I just needed to be a grown-up to give them validity and life.

Q10. What’s the hardest thing about writing to you?

A10. Time. Boring but true. I don’t get writer’s-block, thankfully. I pretty much always know what to write about, but it’s just finding the time to do it. Fitting in a part-time writing career around work and family isn’t easy but it’s the only creative outlet I have so I always find a way.

Q11. What was the inspiration behind your novel, International Relations?

A11. ‘International Relations’ came about as a spin-off from something I used to write about in my early teens. I used to love all the American 80s soap operas – Dallas, Dynasty, The Colby’s – I liked stories that didn’t have to come to a conclusion. So I wrote a soap-opera of my own (God, I was a bit of a weird kid, wasn’t I?) and ‘International Relations’ was just a follow-on story from some of the characters in that.

Q12. Where can readers find out more about you and your work (e.g. blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, etc.)?

A12. Well obviously I’m all over FaceBook, Twitter and Google Plus – but I’m always more than happy to provide a handy link! I’m very thoughtful like that!! [S.M.: LOL]

 

Global Amazon Book Link:  InternationalRelations

 

Adele Archer Writes Blog:  adelearcherwrites

 

My AboutMe Page (all my social media links):   about.me/adelearcherwrites

 

Goodreads:  goodreads.com-international-relations

 

Thanks for participating Adele! It was nice getting to know a little more about you. 🙂

Whelp, we’ve come to the conclusion of our mini British explosion… just in the knick of time. I think talking to Brits as inspired the weather to act up. It’s been raining nonstop for the past two days. Coincidence? Eh, perhaps, but we’ll see if this rain lets up later today or tomorrow.

It has seriously looked like this for the past two days

It has seriously looked like this for the past two days

British Invasion!

The Union Jack: Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The British are coming… To this blog over the next couple of days! Two lovely people from the UK are dropping by and chatting for a bit. First up, we have Kieron, who I met on (drumroll)… G+! If you’ve been keeping up with previous posts, then that should be no surprise. I meet just about everyone on G+.

Kieron is a bloke from England that runs a blog discussing all things movies and television (surprisingly, he watches a ton of American stuff). He kindly stopped by to talk shop. Today, we’re comparing British vs. American slang.

So, sit back, get comfortable, and grab a cuppa. It’s time to do a little chin wagging with Kieron:

General Expressions:

Wind me up = annoy me -> I think this would be the equivalent to someone here saying “are you kidding me”, or “are you trying to piss me off?”

Grab a cuppa = to get a cup of tea -> I don’t think we have anything directly comparable to this aside from “get something to drink.”

Cheers = goodbye or thanks -> We just say thanks or in some instances, “appreciate it” or “appreciate you.” Now we have many ways to say goodbye: deuces, peace, I’m out, see ya, I’m about to bounce, I’m leaving, etc. It’s endless!

Cock up = a mistake -> We’d say “I, or, so and so fucked up or messed up.” Sometimes we’ll say something is “jacked up” although I haven’t heard someone say that in a while.

Chuffed = pleased about something -> The closest word I could think of that’s similar is “stoked” or “excited.”

Ace = something that is good or awesome -> We’ll say that’s “dope” or “cool.”

All right? = Hello, how are you? -> Ok, what?! That must definitely be determined by voice inflection! We’ll say: “What’s up”, “[are] you good” or, what’s happening?”

Bladdered/Pissed = intoxicated from alcohol -> We say: “I’m drunk”, “I’m fucked up”, or “I’m pretty lit, tanked up, smashed,” etc.

Me and Kieron

Me and Kieron putting our heads together to come up with some slang comparisons.

Let’s get pissed = Let’s get drunk (together) -> “Let’s get tore up, tanked, smashed, trashed,” etc. I think we even say the vague “let’s go out” that implies drinks will be involved and subsequently, drunkenness.

Buggar = another word for bloody as in “bloody hell.” -> Maybe how we say “damn” out of exasperation or anger? I can’t think of anything that’s similar.

Cheesed off = Pissed off/angry -> We just say “pissed off” or “ticked off”.

Twat = a swear word -> We have a bunch of those. Take your pick! Lol!

Chin wag = chatting -> I don’t think we have anything cutesy for chatting except maybe “let’s chop it up,” or “let’s talk shop.”

Gaff = a small place to hang out ->  I wasn’t sure what to make of this one because Kieron insisted that it’s a small hang out spot. I asked if he meant like an apartment (or a flat as all my British peeps call it). He said it’s smaller than a house, but not necessarily an apartment. The first thing to pop into my mind was a treehouse, but I don’t think that’s what he meant. So, I think we know this as the vague “chill spot”, which can be anything from a house to an apartment, or even a public space such as a bar or park.

Bunking off = to deliberately miss school -> We say skipping school.

Mate = friend -> Buddy, homeboy/girl, or homie

Girls vs. Boys:

Bloke = a guy -> We say dude

Bird = a girl -> We say chick

Slag = a promiscuous girl -> We say slut, whore, hoe, skank, hoebag, etc.

Bollocks = testicles -> We’ll say balls

Well that’s all that we could come up with. Of course slang differs by regions, cultures, and other factors. Therefore, I’m sure I’m forgetting something from the American perspective. Anyway, thanks for dropping by Kieron! You can follow him on Twitter and G+. If you’re looking for a breakdown of scenes within TV and movies, then I’d suggest you head over to his site.

The British invasion isn’t over! Fellow indie author Adele Archer (also from England) is stopping by the blog tomorrow. Hopefully she’ll read this and add some more words Kieron and I didn’t think of!

If you know any more slang, either British or American, leave it in the comments below!

Cannabis Innovations

Davon!

Davon!

It’s all about the green… At least according to my main man, AJ! He’s not alone. Between green money and green weed, most people are concerned with either one or both forms of green. In some states, having one form of green leads to the other. As such, the legalization of cannabis is on the tip of most people’s tongues (for better or for worse) nowadays. Turn on the TV, read a news article, or scope out a random blog post (clears throat) and you’ll eventually come across the debate on whether or not to legalize weed in the country, or at least in a particular state. Depending on which state you reside, you could see the legalization of weed on your ballot this fall (even though it’s still illegal at the federal level). The fact that state governments are even entertaining legalizing recreational (and of course medicinal) use of cannabis can be attributed to one state in particular, Colorado.

With the new legalization of cannabis in the Centennial State, companies are making massive profits off its decriminalization. Of course this isn’t going unnoticed by other entrepreneurs itching to get their hands on some greenbacks in this “new” market. One of those said individuals happens to be one of my besties, Davon. I’ve known Davon for almost 15 years now. (Wow!) He was my road dog back in high school before he up and moved back to his home state of New York (side eye!). Anyway, I knew he had a weed business, but I wasn’t sure what all it entailed. So, I sent him a text inquiring about it. Before I knew it, we had a full fledged conversation about what’s been happening on the ground in Colorado. Apparently, loads of people, particularly children, have been ingesting too much candy that contains cannabis resulting in overdoses (AKA hellish trips, been there, done that). Most of these accidents stem from lack of proper labeling on the product. This is a problem. But, when there’s a problem there’s a solution. In steps Davon’s business, CannaMark. Check out more about how his business is innovating the cannabis market:

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Question 1. Tell me more about your company, CannaMark.

Answer 1. CannaMark is an FDA approved product that goes directly onto cannabis infused edibles. For example, once a Cannabis cookie or piece of candy is opened and left outside of the wrapper, there’s no way of telling it has Cannabis in it. Cannamark solves that problem because the CannaMark [logo] itself is edible; it is a tasteless and odorless application.

Q2. So you don’t actually make edibles, just the logo imprinted on them?

A2. Yes, like the Hershey’s logo on a candy bar.

Q3. How did you come up with the idea behind your company?

A3. Initially our company was compliance based. Once we knew that New York would be passing a stringent medicinal marijuana program and few licenses would be rewarded, we decided it would be best to focus on the market as a whole and find solutions to problems that were sure to arise. Fortunately for us, the west coast was already booming. With Colorado’s edibles market gaining traction, it wasn’t long before we noticed news reports of accidental ingestion and over-ingestion due to the labeling and potency of the products. It wasn’t long after that we realized we had a solution that worked: label chocolates. Even though we didn’t have a solution for non-chocolate edibles, chocolates made up enough of the market for us to begin patenting our product and reaching out to companies out west. Simultaneously, I began focusing on different applications to label popularized edibles so that we’d be able to better service clients and the industry as a whole.

Q4. You have political advisors on your team right?

A4. Yes.

Q5. How did they become involved with CannaMark?

A5. Multiple cannabis meetings and groups began to form when the bill passed in New York. [S.M. side note: Starting in January 2016, residents of NY will be able to consume cannabis, but they can’t smoke it. Interesting.] While I didn’t attend as many [meetings] as I should have, I was lucky enough to attend those that also drew the attention of political bodies. Grassroots efforts are always a great component to building a business, but in an industry that walks fine-lines, knowing the politics and laws associated within a given state helps tremendously.

We had also done business in the past with someone who would become a partner in our company. We had no idea how extensive his political contacts were because our business relationship with him had formerly been solely in the music industry. Everything seemed to gel together for us, especially given that our product didn’t contain cannabis.

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Q6. What are your hopes for the future of the cannabis industry?

A6. While the cannabis industry continues to experience tremendous growth, scalability for companies is still constricted due to the inability to ship products containing THC across state lines. I’m looking forward to the day when that becomes legal. I also hope to see the cannabis industry become widely viewed as a respectable industry without the current stigma attached to it. Of course there’s an education process that comes with that, but over the coming years I believe we’ll see a shift in acceptance towards the “herb.” The public will have to rethink [what they know about] cannabis since we’ve been programmed over the past seventy years to view it as a dangerous and harmful drug.

Q7. Can you please elaborate on what you mean by scalability? 

A7. Basically we’re a printing company, not a marijuana company. Lol! So, unlike marijuana companies, who can’t engage in interstate business transactions, we can.

Q8. What are your fears for the cannabis industry?

A8. My only fear for the cannabis industry, specifically at this juncture, is companies and consumers not working in unison with respects to public safety and health. It would be a shame to see such progress go to waste due to a few irresponsible parties. While it’s a fact that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, it’s still under close scrutiny. With that, everyone needs to do their part in self-compliance as best they can. It’s good to see states working closely with their local businesses to address problems that may arise.

Q9. What challenges are there for the legalization of cannabis nationwide?

A9. On a national scale, cannabis faces a few challenges. Two of the biggest, in my opinion, are dealing with imprisonments [due to possession] and the battle against “Big Pharma.”

On Prison Reform: Existing medicinal and recreational laws specify where people can consume [cannabis] and [the] amounts they can have on them. While those with extensive drug charges may not be considered, individuals who are currently imprisoned for minor drug charges will have to be released. Many records will have to be expunged. Without getting into the politics behind prisons and numbers, we all know what that will do for their business.

On Pharmaceutical companies: The story is not much different with regards to the pharmaceutical industry. We’re already experiencing doctors, along with parents of children with severe illnesses, and patients alike, expressing their preference to medicinal cannabis use as opposed to traditional medications. There are far fewer side effects, and as we dig deeper into the benefits of CBD’s [cannabinoids] its only a matter of time before the pharmaceutical industry is turned on it’s head. Either that or they become early adopters to developing cannabis medications of their own. Either way, we know pharmaceutical corporations have a hand (a very heavy hand) in politics. [S. M. side note: Thanks lobbyists!]

We live in a world of information today. You don’t have much digging to put it all together.

Q10. I believe you mentioned that licensing is tough. Could you expound on the issue/problem with licensing as it pertains to your business?

A10. Licensing isn’t tough in all states with marijuana programs. It may be an extensive and expensive process, but not all states are difficult. With regards to CannaMark, we do not sell or touch cannabis, at all. That eliminates the need for us to have a license. Since we’re providing labeling solutions that go directly onto edible products, we’ve luckily addressed scalability and the ability to do business nationally.

 

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Q11. Finally, where do you see CannaMark in the future?

A11. We want to become the industry standard. We’re currently working for our stamp to become a mandate so that all edible snacks have to have CannaMark stamped on it. We’re also working closely with state laboratories in testing to ensure products have exactly what they say they have in them.

We’d like to become to BBB [Better Business Bureau] of the cannabis industry, or the official stamp [of edibles]. No mail can be mailed without a stamp, right? Then no cannabis product should be sold without an official seal. Essentially, that will also help crack down on government-approved products vs. black market products. People who like insanely potent products can deal with the black market at their own risk! Lol!

Thanks for taking the time to participate in my Q&A! 🙂

After speaking with Davon, I have a fresh perspective on the legalization of weed. I always thought it should be legal; hell, I’m not sure how it’s illegal and yet alcohol is legal. I’m sure that stems from the cultural demonization of it (thanks culture wars!). Once again, it all boils down to regulation. Much like alcohol was regulated after prohibition, so too does cannabis. I think it will ease parents’ concerns about their children and teens gaining easy access to it.

What do you guys think? Leave a comment below or find me on social media. If you’re interested in finding out more about Davon’s business, check out his website: www.cannamarkusa.com

Meet Dicey Grenor

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Spicy Dicey! Dicey is one of the few people I’ve actually met on Twitter first. I don’t remember how, but I think it was probably from either one of us tweeting or commenting on something. Dicey writes “spicy” novels that she describes as “sexy, wild, daring, and risky.” I read one of her novels, Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers, and enjoyed it. Not only did I learn a little something about the BDSM subculture (I’m one of those rare women who did not read 50 Shades nor saw the movie), but it also reminded me of my undergrad years at the University of Tennessee (and no, not because of the kinky stuff, lol).

I participated in a foreign exchange roommate program where I lived with ladies from abroad. One of my roommates was Irish and she was a riot! I had a blast hanging out with her. I learned things about Ireland and about British culture in general (including a band called The Streets). When I discovered one of the main characters in the story was Irish, and that she stayed true to British slang and syntax, I was hooked! I suppose nostalgia has the power to do that.

Any who, what’s cool about Dicey (aside from her jokes and the fact that she balances writing with being an attorney, mom, and wife… whew!) is that she’s always supportive; she retweets random stuff from my timeline and she always comments on something I say, which was especially nice in the early days of my Twitter experience since I didn’t have many followers; I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself. Lol! Get to know more about her below:

 Question 1. Name one surprising thing about you.

Answer 1. I love Marilyn Manson. Anyone that knows me knows this, but new friends always find this shocking. I even went to my first mosh pit experience to see him perform a few weeks ago. Best rush ever.

Q2. What’s your favorite food?

A2. Shrimp. I enjoy seafood.

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Q3. What was your inspiration behind Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers? 

A3. My infatuation with Robert Sheehan’s character, Nathan Young, on Misfits (BBC). I thought he was hilarious, gorgeous, and was an all-around compelling character with a hot Irish accent. It was hell trying to nail a culture/nationality I knew nothing about, but when the muse hit, I had to succumb. I ended up building a whole world around his personality. Since I was going to lots of rock concerts at the time, it just naturally evolved that his character would be a rocker. *insert universal rock sign* [S.M. side note: Tommy is quite the hilarious character and she freaking nailed the culture!]

Q4. Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want your readers to grasp?

A4. I’m not preachy about any particular message, but I’d love for people to feel how diversity, love and acceptance for all is a driving force behind my characterizations. I deliberately channel characters that aren’t mainstream, because I like for traits that society sees as “weird” or different to just be another thing that makes us special. I’d like for our differences to be celebrated. I’m attracted to characters that teach me something new about the world from a perspective I don’t naturally see things. I’d love for readers to feel that too.

Q5. When and why did you begin writing?

A5. I’ve been writing since I was first able to hold a pen…or at least that’s the story I’m sticking with. I didn’t get serious about writing fiction until 2009, when I needed the outlet. I like to craft my words to sound as intelligent, hip, snarky, or consoling as I intend them to be. Writing is a healthy form of therapy. Fiction lets me do it creatively.

Q6. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

A6. The hardest thing about writing for me is finding time to do it. There just isn’t enough time to get it done. I already stay up late and get up early. I operate on little to no sleep just to get my daily tasks done. The only time I can write is somewhere between eleven at night and two in the morning. As you can imagine–I’m tired by then. But I do what I must.

Q7. Did you learn anything from writing your books? If so, what was it?

A7. I’ve learned A LOT. 1. My writing continues to improve with each story. All the more reason to keep doing it. 2. My target audience is even smaller than I expected. That means I don’t take my readers for granted. I make sure to respond back to each email, each text, each call, FB message, blog post, Tweet…you name it. I make sure my readers know how much I appreciate them. 3. My books must become films in order to garner more attention. I love films, so that works either way. 4. I love interacting with fans so much; I feel like they are friends. In that regard, I’ve learned that being an author is sharing pieces of my soul with everyone that reads my books. It makes me vulnerable, not just to criticism, but to the good and bad connections I develop with my new friends/readers.

There’s so much more. I also learn a lot from other authors (good and bad) and lot of cultural nuances while researching for my characters.

Q8. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk, if any?

A8. My manic writing phase is pretty insane. The characters speak to me loud and clear, and they write the story. I probably struggled through the beginning of the story to find the right voice. Then BAM. My fingers just move. I eat, sleep, and breathe the story until it’s done. During one such manic phase, I actually wrote fifty thousand words in one week, including editing. It was a finished product by the time I was done. [S.M. side note: I’m similar. I can get manic when the flow is running strong.]

Q9. What do you think makes a story good?

A9. Compelling characters and unpredictable plots. Even if I don’t like a particular character, if the character’s development is good, that will make me feel something. If I feel something, it’s a good story. If it has a plot that I can’t guess what’s going to happen next, that suspense makes it a good story for me.

Q10. How can readers discover more about your works (e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, website, etc.)?

A10. I’m everywhere under Dicey Grenor: Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus. My website is www.diceygrenorbooks.com.