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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Bio

Virginia Carraway Stark has published numerous novels. She has been part of dozens of anthologies, collaborations, guest blogs and has written screenplays that starred Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Mancuso. Virginia enjoys new writing experiences. She has taken part of many writing marathons both for poetry and novels. She’s a regular for the yearly novel writing exercise NaNoWriMo, the 24 hour poetry marathon and the 3 day novel writing competition. She has even contributed to online ‘choose your own adventure’ series! Virginia has won awards for her novels and poetry, her works have been part of other award winning series and nominated for her essays, blogging and other writing. She is well known for her passion her spirit of adventure both on and off the page. Her stories range from science fiction. Supernatural, horror and the true stories of her life. You can find her by Googling her or at www.virginiastark.wordpress.com and @tweetsbyvc. She loves to get fan mail and to take part in new adventures in writing.

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Her other hobbies include photography, gardening, quilting and various other forms of artistic expression

Promoting Your Work: You ARE Doing it Right

This is a difficult article to write because promotion of your writing is intensely personal. This is a collection of advice I’ve frequently give, advice I’ve frequently been given (and it has proven to be effective! Frequency of advice doesn’t always mean that it works!) and general observations from what I’ve seen and done over the years. This is by now means a definitive guide but read it through and some of it might be just what you’re looking for to improve your own promotional skills.

Being Constant. Constantly YOU.

I don’t mean constantly spamming your friends and family, that is in fact being a spazz. Don’t gush your enthusiasm and then deflate in despair. Look at what you’ve written and talk to people about it. A lot of the time having a comprehensive interest in your own writing will lead to invitations to engage in further conversations and interview. This happens because you’ve successfully expressed why you  spent so much of your time and energy writing whatever it is your’re promoting.

I mean be constant the way a butterfly will ‘constantly’ pollinate flowers. Butterflies aren’t looking for appreciation from the flowers, but despite acting on pure, intuitive needs, they provide a service for every flower they visit. Writing is giving a gift of leaving a trail of words behind you; if you’re lucky, people will find your words when they need to hear them. That’s when the real magic of writing manifests!

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Take advantage of these invitations to showcase who you are; and don’t panic if it seems like you aren’t getting instant recognition!

I don’t mean ‘invitations’ in terms of who you wish you were or how you wish people would perceive you: people are sensitive to insincerity. This also doesn’t mean letting the worst of you out and being a depressive wreck during your interview. You need to be your best self, but still true to you. Be as honest as you can when you talk about your book and your process and don’t forget that this is a chance to engage someone not just in your promotion but in their promotion as well. Whoever is interviewing you is a human being too and listen to them and how they interact with you.

There are more deceased famous writers than living ones. You don’t know when you’ll be heard or if you’ll even be heard in your lifetime. The best way to promote yourself is by being you. Maybe there’s a dozen different ways to be ‘you’, explore them all. Be prolific if it’s in you to do so. Share and don’t count your value as a writer in terms of dollars earned.

i am a writer

Your life and your experiences will invade every aspect of your writing, go with it. Love it. Even when you think you’ve lost yourself in the page and the world has nothing to do with your life; one day, you’ll look back on your writing and see layers in what you were saying. 

You’ll know you are doing the right thing in promotions when you start to hear back from people and they say: what you wrote spoke to me. What you wrote was exactly what I needed to hear and it showed me the way when I felt like there was no way.

Those are the sorts of fan letters you want the most… those and the ones from fans who also send chocolate!

Getting Back to Unfinished Business

It’s the middle of February; if you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution, statistics say that you’ve likely broken it by now.

broken new years resolutions

I’m in a small minority of people who DOES manage to keep my resolution, I’ve kept my resolution for five years now and I’ll continue to keep it. The reason I’m so sure? I make the same resolution every year: For every project I start, I will finish one unfinished project.

One of the most difficult stumbling blocks to my resolution is when I attempt to finish a project that has involved other people. I’m working on a few unfinished projects this month. One of them is all mine, another involved Writer Colony Press and the other… well, not every group of people is unanimously concerned with finishing projects. But I’m sure it will have a happy ending one way or the other! Determination and good hearted people are far more endemic in the world than those who blindly roadblock because of their own bitter disappointments.

new years resolution

Writer Colony Press is a press that I’ve worked with before. A major project that we are working on is an anthology in memory of Terry Pratchett. The proceeds go to support the research that is ongoing into Alzheimers, the dreaded disease that robbed Mr. Pratchett of his brilliant mind and ultimately of his life.

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I LOVE writing for The Longest Night Watch Anthology. It’s so much fun! I was reading a note and thought that I’d missed the 2018 call for stories… but it wasn’t, it was the call from 2017.

It turns out that I did have a story accepted for the call out and after a few people got to talking… everything came together and Volume 3 of the Longest Night Watch will soon be available for sale! Woohoo!

There is a phenomenon in the writing industry (and any creative pursuit) called the lure of the shiny new idea. The lure is a powerful thing and hard to resist.

The end result of chasing the lure of the shiny new idea is a plethora of unfinished projects that sit unread and unpublished. The fear of not following the shiny is that the beautiful new idea and the energy contained in it will be lost forever. It’s not cool to ignore the shiny new ideas; they’re part of what makes being a creative person so delightful!

But the downside is the huge number of files where you’re unsure of what exactly you were writing and where that idea was going… Onward! To the next shiny new idea!

It’s no way to live. It’s where the bad reputation of creativity comes from. Creative people are labeled as flakes, unreliable. We are being unreliable if we never finish the projects we begin. There’s a certain humility to bowing your head and gathering your energy for something that you neglected. It’s like asking for forgiveness after going on a shiny new idea binge (I’m sure there’s a twelve step program!).

One year I looked at the colossal number of unfinished projects and decided that I would devote time to each orphan project for each new one that I followed.

The results were astounding. First of all, I became extremely prolific because I had so many projects that were close to being finished. They only needed that last little bit of dedication to finish them. A little bit of elbow grease and voila! An entire novel was completed!

Second of all, I learned to have more stamina. Working on finishing these projects and realizing how much more work it is to lose my inertia by abandoning a project and returning at a later date taught me to have fewer orphan projects.

Third, it raised my self esteem. Every time something is abandoned, there is a part of our mind that secretly dwells, mourns and chastises us. You may not even realize it’s going on in the deep recesses of your mind until you pick up the project again. The guilt is even greater if other writers were involved. I’ve recently dealt with writers who, when approached about a project finished but unedited and dropped when it was slated to be published years ago, broke out in a rage!

(How embarrassing for them! Can you imagine the pain and guilt they’re experiencing to act like complete nut jobs because they feel so much like they’ve failed?)

Getting back to unfinished business has taught me one thing about writers and the writers who share the burden of publishing: some people are born writers and other people think they’re going to get rich and famous and write for no other reason.

I don’t believe that if you are a writer you can ever stop writing. You might have a pause, but I don’t think you can ever STOP. The rage of failure in particular convinced me of this. The person who was so angry had come to me years ago and put a post up in a writing group that I kept for the purpose of encouraging writers.

writing love

I was dubious about her, it seemed strange, opportunistic. She said that she had been an airplane hostess and that she was now pregnant and stuck at home: this seemed like a good idea.

She seemed like a goodhearted person so I let her solicit in my writing group for writers and contributed to her collaborations myself. When she came to write in a collaboration that I was directing, things abruptly changed. When someone else is guiding things, I’m quick to agree, quick to change my writing, it’s their ship, I’m not going to argue with them! Suddenly when she was on my project, she became pugnacious and angry when I pointed out a chapter she had written that made no sense.

She quickly came to the conclusion when other people noticed the same problems, that we were ganging up on her! Unknown to me, this disagreement resulted in her nurturing a long, simmering hatred toward me that makes here look like a mad women! Unfortunately, she’s one of the people who is involved in a long ago project that I’m trying to get to the light of day. She furiously asserts that no one can take anything anywhere… if I’m involved in editing.

I think the fact that her publishing project ceased to produce projects and didn’t generate revenue may have contributed to her anger. It convinced me that she had never been a writer at all and gave me fresh determination towards my ‘orphans’. Her assertions that she owned everyone’s writing (except mine, since I had it in writing that I owned everything I wrote before I contributed) were not answered when I asked her what legal contracts she had to say she owned the other’s writing.

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It’s amazing how success, even if that success is simply to make sure that things get finished and that you keep on keeping on- can make some people furious!

If you are a writer, you need to write. When things are bad, you need to write more than a junky needs heroin. For other people, when things are bad, and success is unseen, they drop their writing and slink away, ashamed of what they see as failure.

The only failure is giving up on what you’ve begun. The only failure is fury over creativity and a generous heart. The only failure is in the orphans you’ve left behind and never revisit.

So hurray for all those people brave enough to pick up their orphans and to keep on keeping on! Hurray for all the people who get some joy out of the orphans who are reclaimed and brought home to get their life completed, no longer miscarriages, but happy, joyful children that are sent out into the world.

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Most of all, hurray for Volume 3 of The Longest Night and all the warriors and loving guardians of the written word who have picked up their words and returned to finish this volume of hope and humor. Congratulations to everyone at The Writer’s Colony on the upcoming publication and picking up the longest night watch… the watch over our own creative whims.

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Thoughts On Being Interviewed

Thoughts on Being Interviewed

By Virginia Carraway Stark

 

Being interviewed by Kelly Blanchard about my upcoming novel, “The Hunt for Z’iaster’ was an interesting and imaginative romp that showed Blanchard’s clarity of vision of her world. I had never written about myself in the third person before and adding to the challenge of trying to think of how to describe and characterize my movements, voice and idiom was the challenge of being transported to Blanchard’s fantasy universe as well.

pearl oyster

An interview puts me in mind of being an oyster; the questions make me think and pearls are the result of the stimulus that the questions bring. It’s not about revealing yourself, it’s about discovering your own potential in answering the questions! 

It also reminded me of projects that I’d put on the back burner in favor of more current books and inspired me to get back to what I was working on!

Blanchard encourages play over a standard, by the books interview and lets the interviewee lead with creation and imagination so that the interview takes place in another world, Kelly Blanchard’s world. In my case we started off in a royal garden and then rambled through a woods and into an ancient rune.

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The suspension of belief and the removal of the bounds of reality are essential to the creative process, this is what was distinguishing about the interview, it was an effort of creation rather than a simple rundown of facts. There was no list of interview questions an it was much more a conversation between writers that allows others an inside peek into the world of not one author, but two.

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Find Kelly Blanchard’s Books online and look for her on FaceBook! Kelly has become a professional interviewer as well as an author. She has been an inspiration to many writers and works diligently to promote and encourage those around her.

Interview With Virginia Carraway Stark

This interview was done by Kelly Blanchard-Dale and is available on her website.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Prolific Author Virginia Carraway Stark, Some of Her Many Books and Public Appearances

Kelly strode through the palace corridors, nodding and smiling at her characters as they passed in the hall, but then she stepped out into the courtyard, which led down into the gardens of the palace. This part of the gardens were well-kept and cared for with short trimmed hedges forming walls, guiding all visitors from section to section of the garden. Kelly strolled past a few statues of heroic warriors, and she passed the mesmerizing display of fountains—impressive for a medieval kingdom, but she sensed Lorrek or some other magic user had a hand in the display.

 

Most of the guests were content to wander through the stone paths and trimmed ivy on archways. They’d settle on the stone benches near the stream to chat or maybe even lay a blanket on the ground for a picnic. However, none of this interested Kelly. She walked beyond all this toward the shadows of the woods where the stone path gave way to a narrow beaten path.

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Enter the Fantastic Realm of Author and Professional Interviewer, Kelly Blanchard-Dale

As she entered the woods, she looked around, finding much undergrowth and vines dangling from the trees—at least initially. The further she went, the clearer the woods became. The initial appearance was to ward away those who might cause trouble or be disruptive. Not many dared to venture this far—especially when rumors spread of how those who entered were rarely seen from again…unless they had magic like Lorrek.

 

Kelly ducked beneath a branch and kept walking in the cool shadows of the trees. She came to a stream but didn’t cross it—not yet. She knew what lay beyond it, and she would go there—just not yet. For now, she waited for someone, and she knew Lorrek would bring her visitor here.

 

At last, Kelly heard some conversation, and she turned to see the dark-haired sorcerer walking alongside a woman, and Kelly smiled as she drew near. “Virginia, so wonderful to meet you!” Then she nodded her thanks to Lorrek before shifting her gaze back to Virginia. “If you’ve read any of my ‘Someday I’ll Be Redeemed’ story, then you know who that is.” She motioned to the tall prince.

 

Virginia looked around at her companion and her surroundings, “I think I know you,” she said. She was suddenly nervous at the idea that she would fudge up protocol in the presence of someone she had more or less thought was fictitious previously

 

He smiled warmly at her then bowed to her. “Prince Lorrek of Cuskelom. A pleasure to meet you.” Straightening, he nodded at Kelly. “I will leave you to your conversation.”

 

“Thanks, Lorrek!” As he left, Kelly smiled at Virginia. “He’s an awesome guy, but anyway, you’re here!” She spread her arms out,gesturing to their surroundings. “The royal gardens of Cuskelom. Would you like to explore?”

 

“Please, that would be lovely.” Virginia exclaimed, looking around the garden in delight.

 

“Fantastic! This way.” Kelly grinned as she motioned for Virginia to follow. She made a small hop over the stream and led the way. “I think you’ll like where I’m taking you. So anyway, we’re here to talk about you. What inspired you to write?”

 

“Well, I’ve always been a story teller,” Virginia began.  It always felt a little odd to her to talk about herself this way but she put that aside and pressed forward. “I think in another era I would have been a storyteller or a wisewoman and told parables and things, but since that isn’t really a job anymore, I write down the stories that come to me. The stories push on me to be told, it’s more like being bossed than inspired in many ways,” She laughed.

 

“Being a storyteller is great, but putting those stories down on paper…that’s a challenge sometimes. Have you always been writing too then?” Kelly cast her a glance then led the way up a hill in the woods.

 

“Yes,” Virginia thought for a moment, “I started reading and writing when I was very young, only three. I didn’t write whole stories then, of course, but I did read a lot. C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were my reading books with a dash of Lewis Carroll.  They were good role models and made me eager to learn how to write so I could get the stories down to be shared.” Virginia looked around, “It’s getting to be more of a forest than a garden, where are we going?”

 

Kelly shrugged. “Guess you could say gardens have a different meaning in Cuskelom.” She chuckled. “I want to show you something. You’ll like it. It’s just over this hill.”

 

They didn’t say anything until they came to the top of the hill, and Kelly gestured at the bottom on the other side. “There…the Garden of Ruins.” Before them spread out ruins of a castle overtaken by nature once more. Archways and pillars still stood, but many of the walls were broken down.

 

Kelly glanced Virginia’s way. “But if you’d rather visit the actual Palace Gardens, we can go back…”

 

“You’re right to think of showing this to me! I want to go and see them!” Virginia exclaimed at the sight spread out before her.

 

“This way! Watch your step.” Soon they made their way down the hill into the ruins, and Kelly sat down on a huge stone—what was once part of a wall—and watched Virginia. “Go ahead an explore! But stay within hearing range. We’re supposed to be having a conversation—not get lost exploring. We’ll have too much fun.” She laughed but then plucked out the next question in her mind. “So, what’s your favorite genre to write? And why?’

 

“My absolute favorite genre to write is plain old speculative. I love the paranormal and I love to put spooky or interesting things into stories. Plus, it’s so freeing to have a wide-open genre, it’s all just speculation and there aren’t any rigid walls to confine me.”  Virginia threw her arms open and turned in a circle, “It’s like these ruins, they aren’t defined enough to define me and there are endless places for the imagination to run off to!” She took a breath, her blue eyes twinkling, “letting my imagination off it’s leash is my favourite thing of all!”

 

“I can completely relate, and I’m glad you let your imagination run wild. The best works are really when the author doesn’t hinder him or herself.” Kelly shifted on the stone then hugged her arms close to her—should have asked Lorrek to conjure her a cloak or something, but oh well! She focused on the conversation. “So, what’s your current story about?”

 

“I have several on the go right now, but the one that is on my mind the most is a fantasy story that I started working on ages ago and am slowly coalescing into a solid story. It starts off in an orchard where an apple tree has started to attack the peoples who live there. The apple tree even attacks the trees next to him and the people (They are called Covemals) are forced to cut down and burn the tree.  They discover that an evil treasure is buried at its roots and adventure is the result.

magic sword

Kelly’s eyes widened. “A tree attacking people? Woah! That would be very…disturbing.” She then glanced around their surroundings at all the trees and hollered at them. “You better not think about attacking us, or I’m going to call Lorrek!”

 

Satisfied, she smiled and fixed her eyes on Virginia once more. “What inspired that story?”

 

For a minute Virginia couldn’t recall what exactly had inspired that precise story but then she recalled the challenge a friend had issued, “You know that one started off kind of funny, it’s part of a much larger story that didn’t always have attacking trees in it. Rhonda Parrish, a writing/editing type friend put of a meme on her page, it was one that was ‘find your sword name.’ I love those sorts of games and my sword name was ‘nighty naptime’ sword, or something like that. Rhonda challenged everyone to write a story about their sword name. So, part of the treasure is going to be my new sword.  That’s not the evil part of the treasure though.” Virginia rushed to explain the last bit to prevent confusion. It’s strange, she thought how as soon as you ask an author what their story is about the floodgates open.

writing at work

Kelly understood all too well, so she nodded. “I’m not going to ask you questions that’ll spoil your story, but who are the main characters here? Not the tree, I’m guessing…” She raised her brows.

 

Virginia laughed, surprised by the idea and a little chagrined at the charred remains of the poor enchanted thing. “There is the Cov, her name is Hazel and she is the mistress of the orchard but after she finds the treasure she is destined for adventure, and then there is a young prince named Anomare who is a bit of a geek and lives in the palace library. His kingdom is very backward and he is delighted to meet some more enlighted folk on the course of his quest.” Virginia tried to think over what she had just said. “Did all of that make sense?”

butterfly

 

Kelly wiggled her fingers then shrugged and smiled. “A little. I know it’s not easy to summarize things off the top of  your head. So what are some obstacles they run into….that you can tell me without spoiling the story?

 

“They are searching for seven orbs that have changed the landscape and the environment of the land that they live in. The entire world is called Dorian, which I named for the musical scale.  The orbs were disrupted by a wizard who has been hiding out and making the whole place generally uninhabitable.  The book is about them discovery the identity of the wizard and hunting these orbs to restore order to the land.”

 

Kelly nodded as she came to understand the full idea of the story. “That sounds really cool! Quite an adventure. Now though…” she set her elbow on her knee and rested her chin in her palm, “I need to ask—what makes this story of yours so unique from all the other quest adventure stories?” She raised her brows.

 

Virginia folded her hands thoughtfully, “The Hunt for Z’iastre is character driven and the world itself is highly developed and unique.  For example, the land that Anomare is prince of has been blighted by acid rains and the only thing that has survived are the pigs and some weeds that the pigs eat. So he has some unique obstacles to overcome as his kingdom only has pig as a resource.” She considered for a few minutes. “They also have a lot of interesting punishments, crushing people with a ritual rock and things like that. Ultimately I think that it’s a successful melding of character and classic fantasy elements that make the beta readers look at me and say, ‘hey, I want to read more!'” Virginia laughed, her laughter echoing across the ruins.

large rock

“That does sound interesting!” Kelly nodded then hopped off the rock. “Our time is almost up, so we should be heading back, but we can talk as we walk.” She began to lead the way through the woods once more. “Now, I’ve been meaning to ask everyone I’ve interviewed but keep forgetting, but have you done NaNoWriMo? If so, how many times?” She glimpsed at her companion as they trudged up the hill and down the path heading back to the palace.

 

Virginia took a wistful look at the landscape around, it was always like this when it was time to leave the hole in the page and go back to reality. “Last November was the first time I did NaNoWriMo and I was successful in finishing it, a novel called, “Gendler’s Landing”. It still needs a lot of editing and some finishing work though.” Virginia wrinkled her nose. Those were her least favorite parts about writing.

 

Kelly recognized that expression and laughed. She completely understood. “Have you published any work? Or do you have something to be released soon?”

 

Virginia blushed, keeping track of her resume was not her strong suit. “Umm, ok, well, I made a couple of movies, they starred Rowdy Roddy Piper and one had Nick Mancuso in it, those can be found on IMDB.” No matter how hard she tried to be chronological it just didn’t work, Virginia started explained her eclectic resume further, “I have a whole bunch of short stories out, some of them in print and other soon to be in print. Some from Weaver Press, Magpie Press and then some online blogs but most of my writing goes through Starklight Press.  I also have a novel out, called “Dalton’s Daughter” which is soon to be followed by the sequel, ‘Detached Daughter’.” Virginia’s eyes scanned an invisible page of reference notes. “I was also published in an anthology of poetry marathon poem and onflight magazine and several others that currently escape my mind.” She laughed, she was never sure why elucidating her writing achievements was so difficult, but it really was! “I think there are some I’m forgetting… I got an honorable mention at Cannes film festival.., oh, and I was nominated for an Aurora Award too! And I’ve been in four Starklight Anthologies now.”  Virginia was nearly as red as her hair now. This was the embarrassing part! Virginia folded her hands nervously, wringing her fingers at the long list.

 

Kelly stopped and stared at Virginia. “And you’re talking to me? I’m quite honored to have had the privilege to interview you! Wow, now you make me all nervous with all those accomplishments. Quite impressive!” They had come to the clearing where they met, and soon they’d have to part ways.

 

Virginia laughed again. It was her response to the world to laugh at everything in joy. “It’s been my pleasure, Kelly!”

 

“Well, unfortunately, we must part ways, but I’m quite looking forward to going into your world and meeting one of your characters.” Kelly smiled then motioned to the clearing. “We shouldn’t keep Lorrek waiting. He’ll magick us both to our own world.”

 

“I”m looking forward to seeing what adventure you and Lorrek have as well.” Virginia smiled prepared to be sent back to her own home.

 

With a smile, Kelly nodded, and Lorrek stepped forward. He raised his brows. “Miladies, are you ready to go?”

 

Kelly crossed her arms and gave him a look. “Am I ever ready to leave Cuskelom?” But she then winked. “Yes, I suppose it’s time to go home. It was great meeting you, Virginia! I’ll see you online, I’m sure.” With that, both returned to their respective homes.

 

<~>~<~>~<~>

 

Being Interviewed by Kelly Blanchard

By Virginia Carraway Stark

 

Being interviewed by Kelly Blanchard about my upcoming novel, “The Hunt for Z’iaster’ was an interesting and imaginative romp that showed Blanchard’s clarity of vision of her world. I had never written about myself in the third person before and adding to the challenge of trying to think of how to describe and characterize my movements, voice and idiom was the challenge of being transported to Blanchard’s fantasy universe as well.

 

Blanchard encourages play over a standard, by the books interview and lets the interviewee lead with creation and imagination so that the interview takes place in another world, Kelly Blanchard’s world. In my case we started off in a royal garden and then rambled through a woods and into an ancient rune.

 

The suspension of belief and the removal of the bounds of reality are essential to the creative process, this is what was distinguishing about the interview, it was an effort of creation rather than a simple rundown of facts. There was no list of interview questions an it was much more a conversation between writers that allows others an inside peek into the world of not one author, but two.

 

<~>~<~>~<~>

 

https://m.facebook.com/Virginiacarrawaystark?ref=bookmark

@tweetsbyvc

Www.starklightpress.com

 

 

Health and… pearl eye liner!

In my last post I posted that I had started a beauty blog. I’d like to amend that to a health and beauty blog.

As I plonked away at the keys I realized that over half of what I might consider a ‘beauty’ routine fell more under health and well-being.

On that note; I’d like to talk about two things today, the first is this new eye liner that I used today and the second is product sourcing.

product box

Inside this lovely box of gifted goodies is Verysix 6 Second Kissing Gloss, Pearl Eye Liner  and two samples each from Bio Ex and The Black Tea. I’ve chosen to give the Pearl Eye Liner a try.

First of all, don’t be deceived, this is not pearl colored eye liner, this is actually eye liner with pearls inside of it. Why is that important?

Pearls are an ancient sourced beauty product that has fallen by the wayside in modern times. I’m not sure why we’ve forgotten about this actual pearl of a resource, but we shouldn’t have, because they’re awesome.

pearl oyster

Pearls contain amino acids up the wazoo, even though they don’t have wazoos, they still have more amino acids than we imagine. They’re like silk in that aspect (which you can read about later if you don’t know about it already). They’re little powerhouses of anti-oxidants and this isn’t some random kooky business, this has been repeatedly proven in clinical trials.

I’ve written a lot of articles on a lot of amino acids and so these ones get me pretty excited when I see them all lined up in one gorgeous place that I can put on my face! They even have my favorite amino acid; glutathione, the chemical only made when you have one of those really good sleeps and wake up feeling great in them, but that’s only the start. Here’s a chemical breakdown from an actual study from an actual scientists:

Pearl contains mainly calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which accounted for 91%, followed by silica, calcium phosphate, aluminum oxide and ferric oxide as well as some trace elements such as sodium, magnesium, manganeseselenium, aluminum, and copper. It also contains essential amino acids such as histidine (His), lysine (Lys), arginine (Arg), valine (Val), threonine (Thr), proline (Pro), methionine (Met), leucine (Leu), phenylalanine (Phe), tryptophan (Trp) and non-essential amino acids such as aspartic acid (Asp), glycine (Gly), alanine (Ala), glutamic acid (Glu), tyrosine (Try), and serine (Ser)

source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949817301011

Chinese medicine even suggests giving pearl to women who are pregnant to improve the skin of the babies!

pearls oyster

Back to the product in my own little hand.

I can’t judge how well it works as an antioxidant but I can say that pearl is high on the list of ingredients. I’ve decided to judge this on the following criteria: Application, wearability and durability.

To keep on track I’ve avoided wearing any makeup except for the pearl eyeliner for the day. In retrospect maybe I should have used the Kissing Gloss on the same day! Yikes, chapped lips.

Lets talk how to fix chapped lips on my next blog!

Morning                                            Night

 

Here we have The start of the day and the end of the day. As you can see, the pearl eyeliner is still clearly visible but faded by the end of the day. It is definitely durable.

It goes on smoothly, the only thing to watch out for is that you don’t get too much of it on the applicator.

I would suggest using a professional makeup brush instead of the applicator instead of the one that comes with it. A lot of people don’t realize how much using those little brushes that come with product ruin their purchases or make them work in a subpar manner.

I never used to be a believer in brushes; but that’s all changed now. It’s a small detail but it’s one that matters. You can use a professional lip liner, lipstick or eyeliner brush. It should look something like this:

eyeliner brush

Please note that while I would highly recommend this brand, I’m not receiving any sort of revenue for recommending it. Yves Saint Laurent Brushes are some of the cream of the crop brushes if you can afford them. Having said that, you can get a perfectly serviceable set of brushes from Amazon or Walmart for ten to twenty dollars and it will last you for years. Unless you become a serious fashionista brushes like this are completely unnecessary luxuries (I’m making you want them more, aren’t I? I’m making me want them more!).

The brightness of the pearl has an opal sheen that defines the lights reflecting around your eyes and it takes away the fatigued look, even at the end of the day, my eyes still looked bright and fresh. The natural pearl was far superior for this than pearl colored eyeliner.

Conclusion: I AM NEVER GOING BACK.

At least; not if I can help it. This is what I was talking about sourcing, it’s all well and good to have some white goop you put under your eyes that makes them all shimmery, but this stuff is sheer magic!

My eyes felt moisturized, even though the pearl didn’t want to come off, when it was removed there was no sign of a struggle to remove a product. I think it adhered so much to my skin because it was so natural that it bonded. I also don’t think it was necessary that it be removed (I’m sure this statement will cause contention). The ingredients have all the hallmarks of a night cream in them and I’d recommend leaving it on if it’s the only thing you are using.

It’s nice to get product where they’re not afraid to list the ingredients!

 

Next time:

Lip scrubs!

Six Second Kissing Gloss

After that I try out a special skin peel straight from South Korea that sucks toxins out from the deepest layers of my skin’s cells… or so I’ve been promised

Also coming up:

The benefits of silk: I put silk EVERYWHERE

after that, I flip on my head and test out the health benefits of the inversion table.

Inversion tables make big claims for health and beauty, better blood flow, aligning of the spine, relieving of headaches, neck pain, even whiplash symptoms can be temporarily alleviated by this sort of therapy, or so they say.

I’ve got a big line up and lots of thanks to the people who have donated products for me to try! I don’t make any money off of these tests and I don’t make any promises about whether I will like the products or not.

If you want me to try your product, contact me at:

virginiacarraway@gmail.com

for details on how to send your product to me. You can also send your product to me through Amazon or eBay to save on shipping if you already have an account there.

 

Always Passionate, Always Authentic, Always Virginia