Live show and Interview: Zoom with me!

This Thursday, March 18, 2021 I will be live on Twitchstream! Follow Your Bliss, the program that has rapidly climbed to have thousands of viewers with the theme of ‘Don’t Say Maybe’ and its host, Zoe Duff-Hawksworthweeds and I will be talking about 2020, A Journal of a Plague Year, StarkLight Press, new opportunities coming from StarkLight Press, recent publications and how the last year has lead to both a time of thoughtfulness and a great burst of creativity despite the pandemic.

Join Zoe and I for a conversation on how to Follow Your Bliss, even during a pandemic. Hear about how StarkLight press and I personally have handled the Covid 19. We talk about collaborations, short story contests (including ones that are announced for the first time here, live on Twitchstream!)

Join us for a live watch party and get to be part of the conversation ❤ See you all soon!

Two Poems Published!

Poetry Publication!… yes, for money!

Upcoming publication for two of my poems for the magazine Polar Starlight! It’s the offspring of the longstanding Canadian Award-winning magazine Polar Borealis.

It’s exciting to have one of my poems, ‘Her Wings’, in the inaugural issue of what I feel will become a Canadian icon much like the well known Polar Borealis. I rarely make announcements when something gets published, let alone a few poems; so, what makes this so special?

In this I’m going to take you deep into the subconscious and the origins of poetry… even sleep writing and how we all become twins through poetry.

First of all; it really is good form to announce publication as an author. It is important to show pride in your accomplishments. This is not just something to do for your own ego, it is something to do for the other writers who are published alongside of you and to promote the publication as well. If we do not celebrate our accomplishments, what is there to motivate us to keep on trying?

‘Her Wings’ is a poem that I had forgotten about and I’m truly happy that it’s finally getting some air time. A lot of poems are about emotions, lately many of my poems have been directly inspired by people. Just because I forgot about a poem does not diminish its value or how ‘good’ it is. I’m a prolific writer and one of the main reasons I write is to get things out of my head and onto the page!

I was searching through my poems for poetry themed for science fiction and fantasy and I found this one on my phone’s notebook feature. It’s a common place for me to write poems because it’s almost always close at hand when inspiration strikes. Perhaps even more useful, I’m less likely to lose it than the endless streams of napkins I’ve scrawled bits and pieces onto since childhood.

All the organization and elegance of my writing days as a barista XD

A friend of mine asked me about the meaning of ‘Her Wings’ and, I honestly don’t like to give my meanings away, because I’ve learned that my meanings can impinge on the meanings that others ascribe to them. I would go so far that it can even impose my will onto others. Perhaps it could be argued that it is an authors right to impose their will onto their writing, but I disagree. If a something helps someone because they relate to it in their own way, I feel that I’m taking back a gift that I’ve given to them by insisting that they see it my way.

With ‘Her Wings’, I couldn’t recall the exact situation where I had written about it in. Usually, I recall something about my poems, if I wrote it during poetry month, during a marathon, something… but there are some poems, very special poems like, ‘Her Wings’ that are likely written in the middle of the night while I’m mostly still asleep or in the car, partially triggered from PTSD by a set of headlights, or maybe even sleep typing! Yes, that’s right, I’m a sleep-writer and believe it or not, the writing I write while ‘sleeping’ makes sense.

My friend, Carol asked me, ‘why do we care so much about the meaning of poems if not even the writer understands the meaning?’. I loved the question and I love the visits that Carol and I have because our conversations float free-form over all sorts of topic and subjects. It’s a rare person that you can have conversations that wander across fenceless meadows so freely, but Carol is one of them.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about the nature of writing that we don’t always understand, not everyone is a sleep writer! My answer: poetry like this speaks to our deepest subconscious. When we hear a poem that’s compelling, or a song, or a story, it speaks to the parts of our brain that we don’t always use in day to day life. A poem that is written on the level awakens our subconscious and speaks to it on a level that some part of us understand even though our conscious mind is only intrigued and craving more.

I suppose, poetry, completely uncontrived poetry, is much like ‘the language twins teach each other’. It’s a language where every word is a multi-faceted symbol and it can change in meaning from one day to the next as our understanding of the world changes. We become united with everyone else who is compelled or inspired by that poem, or that song, or a painting or even a dance or other work of art. This is the nature of interpretive art, art that we allow people some room to interpret instead of dictating to people what they will understand from our art.

In this way, I have learned to be more humble over the years. A poem that may have been written in jest may be a lodestone of hope to someone else. Who am I to tell anyone that something is anything other than what they make of it? I have had other people assert that simply ghastly poetry I’ve written about something that may be a symbol turned into a personification is actually about someone, maybe even about them or their family members! The one place I draw the line in this is when people assert that something I’m writing about a fictional character or a personification is a cry for help for myself or about me.

I’m well aware of the characters who are based off of myself and my husband. I wrote one poem in the heart of a northern Canadian winter, it was called, ‘The Wind is a Sociopath’. The day that I wrote that, the wind was acting like a true sociopath, it was deadly, uncaring, numbing and being around it was enough to make you feel like you were going mad! I got a deluge of messages asking if I was alright and if I was sure that this was really about the wind and if it wasn’t maybe about my husband!

If someone wanted to take that poem and use it as an assertion to escape an abusive spouse, that would be something I would be happy for them to do. I wouldn’t have expected it when I wrote it! But after the reactions to it, I now would not be surprised. What I won’t do, is allow people to put my writing onto me. Even the characters I admire, who aren’t based off of me, I can’t possibly take credit for being them, it wouldn’t be fair!

I can accept that writing is a powerful tool and the more it taps into the subconscious, the more affecting it is. Once I was able to accept this, I found a deep sense of humility. Some of my poetry inspired people, one poem that most people found inspiring, another reader commented, ‘those in a suicidal mindset, should never read this poem.’. This is a why it is important to never take either criticism or praise with too much emotion, for every person who loves a poem, there’s going to be someone who hates it and vice versa.

I believe that the only poetry that is ‘bad’ is poetry that is written to mimic other sentiment. Poetry that is written in self-consciousness. Poetry that doesn’t come from the heart or that special, dark place in our brains where we all become each others’ twin. I believe everyone can write poetry, the only trick to it, is to find what is important to us and then get rid of the ‘between’ words that we use to fill the voids in our synapses (for more on this, see ‘What I Learned From Teaching Poetry’ and ‘Why Writing Marathons Will Blow Your Mind’ as well as, ‘Kill Your Inner Critic and Create Your Own Inner Hitman, Ask Me How’.)

The world of writing and the world of art can be a harsh world and Polar Borealis and Polar Starlight are exceptional in their choice to help writers with nothing on their resumes to be published for their first time. Resumes are important for writers and it can be hard for writers to get that first one out the door. This press is one that I can recommend to first time writers.

 StarkLight Press is another Canadian press that I can recommend people to for first time authors to look at for contests, they have a different structure and encourage longer formats of writing. They also have many themed contests.

Black Hare Press in an American press that also encourages first time authors and has a range of themed contests.  Black Hare is, in fact, prolific in contests, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the number of contests that they have available to submit to ranging from drabbles to novellas.  I’ve published with both presses previously and had International Bestsellers with the one and Award Winning Novels and short story anthologies with the other.

Both presses are fairly random about which contests they pay for, but they do have paying contests if that’s your main, ‘thing’. Polar Borealis and Polar Star both pay consistently but their windows for submission are extremely narrow. They’re all great people to work with and I do content editing for StarkLight Press (don’t send me queries, I’m NOT in charge of submissions!!). I can say that with all three presses, it’s easy to be friends with the people involved whether I’m writing for them or not. It’s a huge thing and they’re good resources to have to just talk to as well.

*tip! Don’t randomly hit people connected with presses that you don’t know up for writing tips or other favors! Make friends before you ask for favors, if they don’t have time, don’t be a pain in the butt. Writers are busy writing if they’re getting their job done and don’t have time to answer every messenger message.
I get way too many people asking me to read or even edit (or even publish) their work because I’m associated with a press. It’s super annoying and I generally recommend against working with them because if they’re that much of a pain before we’ve signed a contract, how demanding will they be AFTER? DON’T contact someone on LinkdIN OMG so annoying XD
If you want to form a connection, actually READ someone’s work. Send fan mail. Writers never get tired of fan mail. Know what you’re talking about and make the small investment in someone’s writing if you want a favor. If you don’t want a favor enough to read a writer’s work, why should they take the precious time to help you? *

I am not a new author, but any writer is grateful when they send out one of their ‘babies’ and it gets accepted into a Publisher’s  arms and hopefully between the embrace of two covers of a book! It’s always a wonderful thing to be accepted and all the more so in a publication where I know and respect so many of the other writers that I’m published alongside of.

Keep sending things out into the world, accept the rejections; rejoice in the victories and keep plonking on those keys between times! Remember we are here for the joy of the words we write, not ultimately for fame or fortune. If you can wrap your head around that, you can get a lot closer to writing with your whole heart and mind.

The Puzzle Box: Part 1 of 3

Virginia Carraway Stark

Yes, I have a puzzle box. I don’t THINK I’m in a Clive Barker novel (or movie)… although a lot of things in my life would make sense if I were…

The fact of the matter is that I have an honest too goodness puzzle box. The problem isn’t opening the box, that’s easy to do. I can open and close it and look through the contents without any problem at all. The problem is the mystery of the contents.

This really is novel worthy and I’m going to put this blog into two parts, because I need to explain the situation and then… I need to make the discovery. Perhaps a third part is in order: Consequences.

Here is a picture of my puzzle box:

I’m not sure if it is a disappointment to you. It looks quite intriguing to me and I’ve gone back to it dozens of times over the years, looking for ways to try to interpret its contents.

So much of my life was stolen from me. I don’t have a lot of the things that my mother, grandmothers or grandfathers left behind. I didn’t come from a happy home and like so many people of my generation, I’m left with little connection to the past. This box is one link to the past, but it is written in a maddening, outdated set of codes that no one translates anymore.

I bought a light board to see if it would literally illuminate the situation, but it didn’t help much. I could make out a detail here or there and even bought a magnifying glass… still, little help.

You see, I don’t have many pictures of my family. My dad felt that removing family pictures would alert the authorities that he was burning down the house on purpose. Hmmm. Yes, sociopaths do make life difficult for their children, especially the ones who wanted to do things like go to university and have a linear, normal life.

My dad was a smart sociopath and he knew that photo albums missing from the house would be rather obvious, but a little tiny metal box, fiiled to the brim with negatives… who would notice if something like that wasn’t in a burned down house?

Eventually, the box ended up in my mother’s keeping and I managed to get it out of the neurotic grasp of my brother’s hoarding. One small box. It wasn’t a lot to ask from someone who wasn’t even old enough to remember the people or places in the pictures that were in there. My brother didn’t know anything about those times. He told me he didn’t even remember a time when our parents had been together (although he did testify to the police about a time he would have been in diapers to protect sociopath daddy. The fact that he looks older than me was enough to convince the police that he was a credible witness somehow despite the fact that he would have been about two when he suddenly remembered what he was told to remember and contradicted my testimony. Maybe he finally got that, ‘I’m proud of you, son’ he had been waiting for his whole life.)

Back to my puzzle box.

I admit that I have a lot of layers of feeling around my puzzle box. Has there ever been a puzzle to unfold that hasn’t been wrapped. That’s the nature of a puzzle. It starts off looking like nothing at all and slowly, a picture resolves until the moment of clarity comes when we say: Oh, of course, it was a —-

I was ecstatic to discover technology, while making it so that searching for someone to develop negatives had made the concept obsolete… had caught up to put the solution into the palm of my hand.

And here it is!

I bought it off Amazon (I attached a link, I’m not an affiliate so I don’t get money for you using the link, but feel free to use it)

Stay tuned for my part two: Resolution. I turn this device on and see the past in colour! How bizarre and beautiful of a world we live in that after all of these years of trying to solve this puzzle box, a piece of technology can solve it with the click of a button. It’s a little/ a lot like magic.

More and more often there are things like record players, cassette players, all sorts of things that can play and digitize the things that would mean nothing because our parents tossed out those outdated devices. I don’t know why it never occurred to our parents or grandparents that some of us might be sentimental, might want something that was theirs… but I’m glad that I can get some of those pieces.

(See links to record player and cassette player/walkman that converts files to MP3 files as well. I’ve been having fun with these as well and I’ll see about writing an entire blog about them, it’s pretty cool.)

The Arkellan Treaty

This Galactic Arms Federation (GAF) Collaboration, like so many of the StarkLight collaborations of late has turned into (gasp) more than a collaboration, but actually, a REAL story!

It’s a novel, not a hodge podge of perspectives from a collection of writers who don’t take the time to read what is going on with the other writer’s who are involved.

It was a long journey; however, to get to this point. It’s a rare author that can be worked with for long collaborations and who can keep the sort of laser focus required. That is why the first book is filled with talent, but some of the authors do not repeat into the second part of The Arkellan Treaty. The stakes get raised in the second part of this book and we had to call in writers with a lot of experience in the GAF universe to write these roles and to keep up with the seasoned, hardcore GAF writers already on board.

Our appreciation to these fantastic writers in the first half is over the moon, but like any specialty, some thing require years of dedication to hone talent in, the GAF is one of those things and so is the general land of science fiction. Many of the authors who were writing were from genres such as fantasy or even romance and they bravely stretched their wings into some advanced science fiction in this series.

Because of this, we had to take a good long pause to decide where to go with the character, the writers and the rest of the book. Unfortunately, a few arcs had to be scrapped and some hard edits had to be done where science fiction wasn’t understood.

The important thing for everyone, is that we are coming to the end of those hard edits and hard choices and are ready to announce that we can at last start on The Arkellan Project, Part 2.

We will be going to another planet, uncovering massive conspiracies and meeting epic characters that people have whispered about since the start of the GAF. Where will it all end? That’s the joy of a collaboration, there will be quite a few bumps and jolts along the way.

Stay tuned for the release of The Arkellan treaty in time for Wrycon2020!

Find Me at An Online Writer’s COnvention, This Weekend!

Starting tomorrow at 7 PM Pacific, I’ll be co-hosting a panel on what it’s like to be an Author in Quarantine, followed at 8 PM by a panel on where and how to submit short fiction.

These are both interesting topics and, like with any panel I’ve hosted or interview I’ve given, a lot of thought goes into it before hand. I’m not talking about copious notes, I’m talking about actually thinking about and analyzing my own processes in a way that perhaps I haven’t done before.

That’s the cool thing about panels and interviews, it’s often as informative for me as it is for anyone tuning in.

The interesting thing about being an author in quarantine is that I’ve been in some form of quarantine since before the pandemic because of my accident. I had to learn to adapt to a new way of connecting online long before everyone else did.

But, this is also a lot different than just my own body limiting me. Having the world change fundamentally has brought on strange thoughts that perhaps only a writer would have. I’ve been keeping track of a lot of them in my ongoing work, 2020, A Journal of A Plague Year.

I plan on releasing it for early 2021, but the weird thing about writing it, is that I have no clue at all how it will end, or if it will even be over by the end of 2020. Even if the ‘plague’ continues into 2021, I plan on putting out the book as is. Defoe, the originator of A Journal of A Plague Year, wrote his book as a retrospective. He was fascinated by what he had lived through as a child and by his Uncle’s notes and made his plague year as a slightly ficticious conglomoration, whereas mine is rather more of just a plain old journal of the extremes of this year.

I had no idea that June would be all about protests and looting. I have no idea what sort of wings that may or may not give to the plague. Not being able to dictate my story do as it is told is a new sort of experience and it’s frightening. Not as scary as actually living through a pandemic, but still scary!

Saturday is stacked full of panels and I have a few Sunday as well. Stay tuned to FaceBook and here for links to panels and watch parties!

See you soon 🙂

The Importance of Being Bloggy

Recently I was interviewed by author and Cycon organizer Richard White about blogging and why or even if blogging is important.

You can watch that here

We were later joined by Leslie Conzatti, someone who is more professionally organized about her blog. I’m a scatterblogger. I blog about what’s on my mind, sometimes that’s beauty tips, sometimes that’s an exciting win in life or in writing and other times it’s a hard earned life lesson. Sometimes, it’s just something really cool I found out about (like that one about Lyndon B. Johnson and maybe the rest of the world knew about him playing with his junk, but it was news to me!)

It’s an interesting subject, because I don’t blog with any regularity but my blog gets a lot of views despite my neglect. I should blog more. I should do a lot of things 😉

I started my blog because everyone kept asking me for my author’s page when I did writing for them or submissions. I realized that it wasn’t a lot for them to ask for, essentially an online resume… oh, I can do that.

(Don’t look at my online about me… it’s hopelessly out of date, I promise I’m going to fix it! Now you’re going to look at it XD I know you are… d’oh!)

It seemed so simple. But then there came a time when I realized that people were actually interested in me and what I had to say. People were excited for new posts and were subscribing and checking out my new blogs. I guess I better get blogging.

I tried at first to delineate between my personal feelings and my professional ones. I felt like a tool. My personal feelings attracted interest, my professional feelings read like what they were, sales pitches. My personal feelings, ironically, were what made sales, unlike the sales pitches that tended to drive away subscribers. The reason was painfully obvious to me before I even posted for the first time, I wasn’t being authentic in my professional posts.

That’s what being professional is about, it’s about hiding our authentic selves and appearing as pristine and well pressed as possible. But it’s not the truth about us. No one is like that in their real life, and if they are, who wants to read what they have to say? They’re boring. We want to hear about the people who are passionate, we want to hear about the people who have a story to tell and who are fearless in telling their story. They want it to be authentic and they want to be as involved as possible without getting the messy parts of the story onto their own lives.

It’s just the way it is. Kinda messy, filled with sorrows and triumphs and reality.

That’s the importance of being bloggy. It’s the same as the famous play I’ve punned this blog after, it’s the importance of being earnest. It’s the importance of sharing yourself even when it hurts. It’s the importance of letting yourself be judged and standing up to those judges and bullies and saying, no, this is the way I am and I have a right to be that way.

I knew a woman who was a poet. She published with StarkLight Press but was told that her success hinged on whether or not she held up her end of things. That end included being public minded. Being seen. Doing book signings, all the things that authors and writers and artists need to do to form relationships with their audiences. She didn’t make any sales but she wrote some angry emails demanding that she be remunerated for sales… she also didn’t do the book signings, she didn’t have a blog, she didn’t do much. She then angrily unfriended me.

You can hire an agent, but if you don’t go to the places that you’ve been scheduled to go to, if you don’t do interviews, if you don’t do book signings, if you don’t let people into your world, why should they want to pay money to spend their time looking into your world?

A wise author friend told me that when someone buys your book, they aren’t just paying a bit of money for an item, they’re also committing a period of time, energy and of their creative energy and mind to the world you’ve made. It’s a huge thing for someone to do, a sign of trust in you as a human being as well as a writer. It isn’t an issue of, ‘a book costs the same as a latte, support local authors’, it’s an issue of you are asking for more than money. You are asking for the greatest comodity of the twenty-first century, people’s time.

I’ve been to quite a few book signings, on both ends of things. I remember going to one book signing at a large event where there were authors of varying levels of fame. Two of the authors were international celebrities, the rest were middling to first time published. The famous authors did a really good job of repelling me from their writing. I got my books signed by them, but I never read another book of theirs after that.

One of the first time published authors was in the washroom when I came out of one of the stalls. I had her book in my purse. It was an intense book, an excellent read named, ‘Gemma’. I thoroughly recommend it. I had been treated in a high handed way by the other authors and was about to give up and go home but she had read her work out loud and as we both washed our hands, I remembered the tears that sparked in her eyes during her reading.

We glanced at each other and I shyly asked her if she would sign something for me. She was surprised. She hadn’t had a lot of attention, despite the fact that, in my opinion, she was one of the most heartfelt and most stirring authors at the event. She said, “of course!”

I got her book out of my bag. It was dog eared and well loved, she stroked the cover and looked at it in surprise, “you’ve read it already.”

I nodded, “a few times.”

I recognized the nervous behavior of someone who wasn’t used to signing a book and gently guided her through, giving her my name and thanking her. We chatted for awhile and I told her how much of an impact her book had made on me.

This isn’t blogging, but it’s the same principal, it’s truthful giving of yourself. It’s conversations, ‘just between girls’ in the lady’s bathroom. It’s conversations around the table with a pizza and friends. It’s watching a movie or playing a game around a table in the basement with people you can tell anything to. It’s intimate and at the same time, anyone can read it, anyone at all.

When you blog, pretension will get you nowhere. People will be far more likely to trust you and want to hear more about you and your writing if you bleed in your blog the same way you do on the page.

I couldn’t ever get past the pretension I saw in those famous authors and I heard it ringing from their words the same as it had rang in their readings of their own work. Don’t be like that. Just be you. People will like you, and if they don’t, it was never meant to be.

That’s the importance of being bloggy.



The Celestial Snail #5wordshuffle

Five Word Shuffle Fun for July 11, 2019


The game is simple! Using the five words below, I am to write a flash fiction piece under 500 words. This piece is 495.

  • triangle
  • incident
  • quota
  • snail
  • total


five word shuffle

This is a story concept I’ve been writing on for awhile, but this piece is brand new and written just for this shuffle!

The Celestial Snail

Virginia Carraway Stark

The Celestial Snail appeared at Belle’s side, nuzzling her with his eye stalks and interrupting her train of thoughts. She shut the book she hadn’t been reading anyhow and rubbed Herman’s head, ignoring the pearlescent goo that came off on her hand and cooing at the snail. His total size was about five times the size of the slight girl, but she had never been afraid of Herman or of any of his Celestial friends. Her father had taken the first incident where she had seen a Celestial squid as something to celebrate and since that day that a squid tentacle had swept her off her feet, she’d received a regular quota of visitors, always of the aquatic variety. It seemed that was where her talents lay.

Other than her father, it was unlikely that anyone would ever see Herman or her other friends. His eye stalks nuzzled against her, nudging her to stand up. She tried to give him a pat and hoped that would be the sum total of the incident, but of course, he wanted more.

His eyes closed on their stalks and formed a persuasive triangle, good for prying girls off the ground where they’d rather be reading than following slime trails (no matter how pretty the Celestial Slime may be). Belle stood up and tried to get some of the goop off of her.

Her father, love him as much as she might, always tried to get her to bring back anything Celestial she might find, but coming home with hands covered in slimes was an incident that was asking more of a young girl than any father had a right to ask!

“Herman, I don’t think today is a good day for an adventure. I think you have more than your quota of adventures for a snail, even a celestial one.”

He looked at her mournfully and Belle put a stalk of grass in her place in her book. Her father never really expected her home at any time at any rate and he’d be disappointed if she turned down an opportunity to become closer to the Celestial beings that Belle attracted to herself in droves.

Little was know about the beings, they made wherever they were fruitful and they filled the air with moisture, healthy, happy clouds blossomed where celestial beings flourished. Most people couldn’t see them, but those who could either attracted the Heavenly Celestial Beings, like Herman the somehow beautiful giant snail, or… diabolical beings. Those beings dried out the soil and caused destructions. The Celestial Beings would vacate an area wherever the Diabolical beings invaded.

The sunshine was fading and a raindrop pelted Belle’s cheek. She looked up and saw black clouds rushing towards where she had been resting moments before. Herman moaned and nudged her again.

“I should warn my parents,” she murmured.

Herman pushed her, there’s no time. We must leave now. They’re coming.

The clouds were as Diabolical as Herman was Celestial.five word shuffle

The Pretty Lifeguard

I want to talk about a pretty lifeguard.

She is a very pretty, blonde, willowy lifeguard who is also a good friend.

pretty lifeguard

We always had a lot in common. We were both whimsical, liked to sing, to dance, to swim, to run and play.

Some of my favorite memories together were coming into her living room (which always smelled like coconut) and she was resting upside down in an easy chair. Her head was balanced on the floor and her hair was cascaded around her. Her feet were pointed with excitement and she tensed them and relaxed them in the air above the chair’s headrest. Her body was poised with excitement, but her face was serious and studied. She held a pad of paper and a pencil in her hands that she rested on her chest.

writing pad

“Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you’re here!” She exclaimed when she saw me.

I had no idea why. I hadn’t seen her for quite awhile and I was surprised from things that had been whispered in my ear that she was excited to see me at all.

“What are you doing?”

She flipped her legs over her head and tumbled to her feet. She reached out a hand and I steadied her. The dizzy fit passed as quickly as it came on, it seemed and I didn’t think about it, or the fact that she’d never gotten dizzy like that before.

She clambered back into the chair, this time upright. If I had known more, I would have realized that was a symptom of her invisible illness.

invisible illness 2

“Alright,” she was breathless. “Listen very carefully to this, and tell me what you think.”

She read the short poem she had on the pad, her blue eyes were large with expectation when she looked up at me. It was a couple of sets of rhyming couplets, something romantic. I wasn’t sure what to say. It meant a lot to her, I could tell that… but what was I supposed to be listening carefully to?

I pulled my hair back and thought about what she had just read to me.

“Do you want to hear it again?” She asked anxiously.


“That might be a good idea,” I agreed. What on earth… don’t talk to someone for a week and then this happens?

She clambered upside down again, perhaps more blood to the brain was called for or it read better that way?

I wish I could remember what the poem was, I asked her if she remembered it and said she didn’t. She said that if she’d written poetry it must have been awful.


I wasn’t sure what merits I was supposed to be judging the poetry by, or if she’d even written it. She’d told me nothing! She read the poem out again, this time I decided it sounded like perhaps someone expressing a sentiment to someone, some sort of monologue?

Her cheeks were pale but had little pink blotches from her acrobatics, “well, what do you think?” She was more insistent.

“It was… good?” I tried.

She shook her head, and put up a hand as though to stop such sentiments in their tracks, she lowered her face so her hair covered it as though to disguise further signifiers. In retrospect, a bellyful of education behind me, I should have understood what she was after… right?

invisible book cover

I wrote a story for “Invisible: the mystery  of hidden illness” after being struck by a car and developing PTSD. I suddenly understood how PL felt and how she had been misinterpreted. You can read more about my story in a separate blog and don’t forget to get a copy of the book as well! It’s made the top 100 in Canada! 


“Well… who do you think wrote it?”

“Umm, you?”

She threw down the paper and pencil. I could see that words had been erased until their was no more eraser and then crossed out.

writing pencil


She abandoned the notepad like it was rubbish and stalked into the kitchen. I read the poem over. It sure looked like she’d been writing it.

“Who wrote it then?”

“You were supposed to say you thought Shakespeare wrote it.”

shakespeare rainbow

I didn’t point out that she’d clearly been writing the poem so I had assumed she had written it. I read it yet again. It was a love ode, I think she mentioned a dove.

“It’s iambic pentameter for school. I thought it sounded just like Shakespeare,” she sighed, despondent and then bounced back and brightly offered me some lemonade.

She ripped out the page and let it crumple down to the carpet. She wiped away the hurt and I didn’t think about it again… much. It’s a confession that writers’ carry. Every event, every human reaction around with them, occasionally taking them out and turning them over and looking at them, learning from them.

I turn that memory over now, not the conversation that followed, not that she wanted to sound like Shakespeare, but that one moment. The one where her face flinched in pain and hurt and her enormous blue eyes sparkled like lakes about to overflow into streamlets. So briefly that it was nearly not even something that could be observed.

When I asked her about it, she said she didn’t remember it. I’m sure she’d say that it wasn’t important, but I bring it up to show an insidious chain of events. These sorts of events happen every day and people with invisible illnesses are particularly prone to having these bad chains happen to them. They’re such little things, but they make this writer question: what if I would have given the correct response? Would that have stayed with the pretty lifeguard and made a love of writing blossom instead of being a forgotten, incidental memory?

i am a writer

Let me share a bit more of my perspective and perhaps it will become more clear. The Pretty Lifeguard, we’ll call her PL, was diagosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and I hadn’t seen her for awhile when I came to her house that day.

Now, expand further: I described the scene as though I was alone when I went to her house, but that wasn’t the case. There was someone else there, someone who had been telling me things about PL and making me feel isolated from PL. Despite having CF, her friends and people who appeared to be her friends, were seeing something else. They were seeing someone isolate themselves from the rest of the herd; the question was, why was she separating from the herd?

It was a question that PL had tried to answer, but a question that her friends had a hard time understanding. PL made a point of continuing with her job as a lifeguard, that’s a smart thing to do. Regular exercise is important for everyone, but especially for people who are chronically ill! She did her hair and makeup, she got a trip to Hawaii in the hope that the sun and the beach would make her feel better. She got a sunbed for the same reason.

invisible illness 3

Yikes! Did you just see what I saw? A green eyed monster walked into the room and said: why does she get special treatment? She looks just fine.

This left PL open to machinations that she had no way to protect herself against.

I had been told quite a few things at this point about PL and her family. How they looked down on me, how they thought they were better than me and my family… all the things that people whose eyes have been invaded by the monster say. I was young and stupid. I avoided PL increasingly. I stopped inviting her to things because her answer was often, ‘no’. I never thought about how that must have made her feel, to be increasingly isolated by ‘the herd’ so those days when she felt like she could be a bard and write like Shakespeare, her friends weren’t quite on the same page as her.


The friend I was with gave me significant looks, they told me afterward… well, things that weren’t very nice. Yes, I fell for it. I wish I hadn’t, because it turns out, PL had no ill intentions towards me whatsoever. They had never told X that I was any of the things X had said.

X pulled me out of PL’s house and said only a few things. Subtle things. Like most subtle poisoners, her victims, myself, people in our circle, PL had no idea that we were being poisoned.
green eyed monster



I’ve decided to write about that circle of friends. I’ve learned a lot about things that went on behind the scenes. I’m not going to write about it a non-fiction book, but I don’t think anyone would believe the things that went on anyway. I’ve started a third person perspective series about it, each character will be carefully fictionalized to be a ‘character’ but it will, nevertheless, be the story of the lives of many people. If they read it, I think each character will recognize themselves. That’s what good books are for, for us to be able to recognize ourselves in, right? 

I’m a # 1 Bestselling Author… but there’s more to it than that!

I’m a number one bestselling, award winning author… when did this happen???

number 1

Well, it’s been happening for a long time and as to HOW did this happen? I just kept going and don’t ever give up.


witch doctor title page

I always forget that I got this one! I need to staple a list of awards and achievements to something, like a book… of scraps… yeah, a scrapbook I’ll call it… 😉

But writing has taught me a lot about how we measure success. I have seen people become number one bestselling authors in pools so small that ‘bestselling’ becomes completely subjective. In this case, it was paid books, all categories in Australia (and I’m pretty sure someone said the USA as well), but it hit number one twice in Australia.

Australia is pretty big, so that’s cool. All categories. That’s also very cool. Paid- very cool. I know I’ve been a bestselling author before, the difference here is that it was all categories and it was also paid.

passionate to a fault

See below; Australia is a BIG place. Not a small pond. I’ve heard people claim bestselling status off of being the bestseller in their small town newspaper when two people bought their book!


But again, it’s subjective.

I’ve gotten honorable mentions since the first movie I ever wrote: Blind Eye starring Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Mancuso and that was an honorable mention at Cannes! That’s definitely cool. But… what does it all mean? What do these fleeting victories do?

I was talking to one interviewer who didn’t know a lot about me. She started to ask me about what I had written, what I had achieved. This was a long time ago and I didn’t have nearly as much on my CV at the time. After a few minutes of talking she interrupted me and said, “wait a minute, why are you even talking to me?”

Virginia wins award carnival fun

One of several awards I’ve one, this one was for best novel. That was a good one to get because a novel is a substantial slice of work! I’ve been involved in anthologies that have wone awards and my own poetry anthology won an award as well. Lots of nominations and several other awards from various foundations that I’ve very grateful for!

But that’s exactly the thing with writing, there isn’t a point where you become too cool to do new things. At least, that’s my opinion. I don’t think you can ever measure writing success in terms of how much money it puts into your bank account. I don’t think you can measure it terms of awards, although both things are totally awesome.


honorable mention essays of the world

Sometimes an honorable mention can mean as much as an award. I sent letters to world leaders including Putin, Trudeau, Trump…. all with my peace essay in them. Did it make a difference. I don’t know. Did I try. Yep. Did I get observed for my efforts? Yes, someone noticed! I was even invited to a banquet in Chicago where I would have been a guest of honor if I could have gone 😀 What a cool, cool thing to have happen in my life! 

I think that the only way to measure success in writing is that you’re doing it and that it’s filling that hole inside of yourself. I’ve started to do a lot more marathoning and I enjoy that. I’ve been finding more and more ways to challenge myself and it pleases me to do those things.

worlds number 1 bestseller

I still get rejection letters, and I’m sure I always will. Even Stephen King, when he hid his real name and sent things under a pseudonym found the ignominy of the rejection letter once more. I don’t think that ever goes away if people are objective about you. Not everything you write fits everywhere.

Writing is a compulsion that must be fulfilled. Even if I am content, writing must be written. Pain, pleasure, contentment, everything must be written.

The Worlds drabbles that I wrote will be expanded into larger stories and will be finding a home in StarkLight 5 and Tales from Space 3. A drabble, being forced out in exactly 100 words is like a book mark for a larger concept. I plan on using each drabble I write as the basis for a short story at the least, a novella or novel if I possibly can.

In this way, I challenge myself again and again. Growing each thing I write, reaching ever further. Now that I’ve won awards, now that I’ve filled a shelf with my writing, now that I’m a paid number one author, now that I’ve read my poetry in front of large audiences to cheers, now that I’ve read my writing to large audiences to the same now that I’ve… there’s always more to do. That’s what living is. That’s why writing is so wonderful, writing IS living.

Girl (3-5) playing in mud
As always, writing will always, to me, be having the time of my life and inventing wonderful worlds just like I have since I was about 2-3 years old. Hell, since I was an infant most likely! 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years and who has ‘got’ my writing. Thank you to everyone who hasn’t ‘got’ my writing too… it’s elucidating to find how my mind works differently although it probably won’t change much about how I write. Although, I will always and forever be looking for better ways to communicate my insides to the rest of the world, because there is nothing as wonderful as that feeling of being ‘got’. That’s why we do it. Avid readers, avid writers, we all just want to get each other.


Also, thank you to everyone who is badly behaved, because as always, you’ll end up somewhere in my books. My dad once said to me, “It wasn’t fair raising you, I didn’t know you’d grow up to be a writer. I wouldn’t have raised you the way I did if I’d known you’d remember it and write about it.”

i am a writer


Writer says: hahah, we remember everything and it all, eventually gets told the way we saw it. So, thanks for all the memories! You’ll all be in my books and you never know when you’re around a writer… so maybe you should just be nice and decent 😉

have fun

Birthday Thoughts

I had a cool birthday this year. I can say that and really mean it, and that’s an epoch for me.

Months before my birthday I had ‘the talk’ with friends and family who wanted to know what I wanted to do for my birthday.

Right way I replied, “I don’t have one of those any more. Just let me hide under the covers for the day and it will be perfect.”

virginia surprised veil

A month or so before my birthday I looked online for a search of, ‘how to enjoy your birthday’ and, ‘how to have the best birthday by yourself’. The lists of results were typical of what you would expect: give yourself a spa day, watch movies, eat your favorite foods, go out for dinner, see how many birthday freebies you can get and make a run on them…

When you’ve looked death in the face, live a life beset by chronic pain after being run down by a van, been raised by abusive jerks who only ever loved themselves; you either sink and die, or you learn to make the best of every good moment that you have. I realized that any day I could, I did all the things on the list (except the freebie thing which didn’t sound very fun anyway!).

I give myself spa days and enjoy the days when I have little or no pain with the ecstasy of someone who knows the relief of when pain leaves. I enjoy a generally healthy diet; but I treat myself on high quality treats that bring more light and joy into my life. I don’t like going out for dinner the most because my husband and I are both excellent cooks and my husband was practically begging to let him make me a birthday dinner.

Neverthless; I learned something from the list: love yourself. Celebrate yourself.

Somedays it’s hard to do those two things. It’s a world that seems to love to beat us down instead of lift us up. It seems like things that should be innocent can turn and embroil you before you know it. It’s scary to let yourself love yourself again after the world tries to teach you that no one, including you, especially you, is worthy of love.

I realized that it was hard to enjoy a birthday for many reasons. I have some special ones that are documented with childhood photos where black eyes and bruised face and arms show how my dad reacted to his daughter looking so pretty in her new birthday dress. I don’t have a single birthday picture where by the end of the day, I’m not bruised from the age of four. That’s some tough birthday mojo to get over. That’s some pain that has to be a ‘top 100’ for reasons to never love having a birthday.


I was shown from an early age that my beauty equaled pain and a ‘punishment’ that was meant to be a show of ‘favour’ from my messed up dad. I was shown that every year, it got worse. The world got a bit smaller, there were new ways to be humiliated even if that was being overlooked once I got ‘too old’ for my dad (twelve was when he started to find my transformation into womanhood repulsive and get mad at me for each curve and adult feature that developed).

I had twelve birthdays where love equaled pain and bruises that were put into snapshots for the ages, after that, I was neglected and my family found new ways to hurt me. My mom forgetting it was my birthday to the point where I had to get my birth certificate was one of my neglecting traumas. She didn’t believe it was my birthday. I kept waiting for her to surprise me and say she was joking, but by the time I got my birth certificate out I knew there was no joke.

She rummaged in her purse and gave me a crumpled twenty dollar bill and told me to get myself a cake and birthday dinner with it. I biked to the store after school and bought the a cake mix and some soda. I went home to an empty house and made myself a cake. I iced it after it was cold and sat waiting in the darkening house for someone to come and remember me.

I put the candles I had bought on the cake, only fourteen, I lit them and sang happy birthday to myself and blew out the candles. The rich chocolate cake tasted like dust in my mouth and I left it with a bite taken out of it sitting on the kitchen table, the little bit of smoke dissipated already from the candles.

After that; I didn’t like my birthday. The year before I had waited by the window for my dad to show up: he showed up over a week late with a cheap necklace and a distracted hug. I should have been grateful that his attention wasn’t on me the way it had been when I was younger, but it only hurt all the more because it felt like for having birthdays I had let him down. I had gotten too ‘old’ for him.

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
― Dylan Thomas, my now deceased mother’s favorite poet, Collected Poems

When I came downstairs the next day I saw that my mother and younger brother had eaten all of the birthday cake. I told my mom, ‘Happy Anniversary’ and kissed her on the cheek. I didn’t cry, I didn’t berate, but part of me closed a door on birthdays. My parents had been separated several years by then and the reminder that it was her anniversary to my dad was something that made my mom happy then. She still had hoped that he’d come home to her. She did cry and said, ‘thank you’ and then she hugged me tight. It was her day, she felt comfortable enough to give me a snippet of love then.

Years later I had  a teacher question my intelligence on my birthday in a way that was reprehensible and unexpected. I had hid away from the day but my husband had braved the outside world to attend a meeting and it had been he who had been confronted with the attack on me. I’m putting this in the kindest possible way, it was MUCH worse than I’m phrasing it here.

It was always something on my birthday. I had tried having big birthdays, little intimate get togethers, everything inbetween. Not even hiding under the covers was safe! I even had a therapist who suggested that I try moving my birthday to another day and month entirely because she saw the malignant pattern that stalked me and had tried for several years to help me evade it to no avail.

“I give up, there’s no fixing it! Just… I don’t know, maybe you could celebrate it in March or May??”

I agreed whole heartedly, but the problem was that April still existed and the twelfth day of April had to come no matter when I placed my birthday.

So this year, I tried to focus on what other people did for their birthdays. I know I’m not the only one with birthday trauma. Birthdays aren’t very fashionable, an uncomfortable reminder of mortality in a world that seems to speed up more and more every year.

I read an article, I’ll try to share the link, because it was the article that made me change my outlook on birthdays.

A fellow was talking about the AIDS epidemic and how traumatizing it was to see his young, beautiful, vibrant friends sickening and dying around him. He said that he called his mother, a loving woman and told him about his distress.

Her response was to talk about her own trepidation about aging and birthdays. He interrupted her and told her that this was different. These were young people, they hadn’t had a chance to live their lives and it wasn’t fair!

She silenced and for what he described as one of the rare times it ever happened, his mother became angry with him. “Is that what you think? That I’ve lived my life and that I might as well be dead? Do you think it’s any easier to leave the world when you’re my age than when you’re your age?

She proceeded to reveal to him the fears of aging, the terror of watching your body fall apart no matter what your age, the fear of losing your lover no matter how many wonderful years you had had together.

The journalist was now the age that his mother had been when he’d made that call and he had come to realize the wisdom of her words. He loved life, he had love, he also had loss… but we all have loss. The longer we’re blessed to live in this world, the more loss we have.

And the poignancy of the birthday became apparent to me. All the talk about self-love and spa days didn’t do the same thing that article did. After all, no matter how bleak the world has been to us, doesn’t it make the milestone of reaching another year all the more beautiful?

I had wanted to talk about how beautiful my family and friends had been to me this birthday, but there was too much wrapped up in why it mattered to me that those things happened this year. I found the love of the light enough in those words, the knowledge that I not only love myself, but that I am beloved to be beautiful.

I was still worried when ‘the day’ rolled around. It’s not like what they say with curses, just don’t believe in it and it can’t effect you’. No. It’s not like that at all. I’ve tried that. Whatever the birthday curse was, it was there whether I wanted to look at it or believe in it or not.

What changed wasn’t the gifts I was given, it wasn’t the people I surrounded myself in, it was a sort of treasuring of the day. It wasn’t a celebration, it was an opportunity to look to the past. It was a day to love myself for being a survivor and for having survived with love and light. I survived with the truth, without denial. I survived and I have another year ahead of me with the people I love and the things I love to do.

My situation is not ideal, but it’s so much better than so many other people in the world. It’s better even than it was for myself in previous years, because for the first time, I’ve told the entire world the truth of what my childhood was like. I feel sorry for my surviving brother and my half-sister who hide in denial and fear from the past. I feel proud of my older brother who tried to come to terms with the past before his sudden death. He and I were never close because we both tried to uphold the idea of having had a ‘normal’ life and all that was unsaid and the manipulations of the adults around us kept us from ever being close. But before the end, he said some of the truth and that’s better than the cowards who survived him and still try to placate and hide from the past so that they can find, ‘normal’.

preacherman family1

I have told the police the truth. I have told the page the truth and I have ensured that others will continue to exact some sort of leveling of the past as well. I’ve done everything I can for that little girl who sang happy birthday to herself. I did what I could for the four year old in a sailor dress whose bruises became more apparent as the day went on. I told the truth for the girl who was turning six and had the prettiest yellow gossamer dress down to the floor like a princess that clashed with the black finger marks on her cheeks.

Featured Image -- 1297

Love this little girl, she’s part of every birthday I will ever have and have ever had. 

These are the parts of myself that cannot understand the point of having a birthday. These are the parts that desperately needed to be acknowledged and told that they were loved. When it comes to self love, it isn’t enough to love who we are now. We have to love who we were on the journey that brought us here. We have to hear the lingering ‘Happy birthday to me,’ of the quavering little voice and love that girl. Be there for her.

Every year on my birthday I was shattered apart as the weight of these parts whose pain they never forgot, even when I had put it far from my mind.

Now that I’ve shared this, I feel more free to talk about the rest of my birthday. I have a new guitar that put the name on my band together, I was given my name on a kickstarter project for one of the most advanced mass produced Artificial Intelligence androids developed and a lot more!

I’m in a good place in my life considering what the world has given me to work with. I had a good birthday. My husband made me a cake (black forest, not too far from the dark chocolate cake a fourteen year old made for herself, but this was made with gourmet ingredients, not a cheap mix and we got to eat it!) he made me a feast as well! We had friends come by, I had gifts from friends, fans and family sent to me before and after my birthday.

Maybe a few people forgot, maybe a half sister who hates the truth remembered and didn’t say a word (to be fair, I didn’t send her a birthday greeting either… I don’t think it would have been welcome). The same is true for the little brother I raised, the brother who called me ‘mommy’ because our mother was never there for us. The same brother who lied to the police, repeating back his father’s lies for things he was in the cradle for and had no memory of as he told me several times.

sister family2 promo

Some people are best out of your life, other people, and the parts of myself, are best in my life. I’ll continue to remember. I’ll continue to bear the stigma of being an abuse victim (believe me, there’s no reason I would lie, it’s not fun having people think of me the way the truth allows).

Happy Birthday to all the birthdays that have been. All the years a little girl was her daddy’s princess and she was too pretty to be left alone. All the years that same girl took care of herself and her family at her expense. I have the truth and it’s the truth that makes a birthday a good day. It’s not acknowledging all the ‘yous’ you’ve been that makes them a curse.



Always Passionate, Always Authentic, Always Virginia