Tag Archives: Writing

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!


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.

the long night watch promo

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.


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.

the longest night watch 1

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.

longest night3 promo

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.

kelly blanchard red coat


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.

kelly blanchard writing

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.


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.


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?”



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.









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.


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:


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.


Watt I’ve Learned About Wattpad

I have a lot of writer friends and I like to read and give feedback to them because… well, that’s what you do if you’re a writer and have writer friends!

i am a writer

It’s the ‘polite’ thing to do, but I enjoy reading what my friends have been writing as well as thinking it’s an important part of writerly etiquette to contribute to the writing community. Most of my friends have books on GoodReads or Amazon etc. but some of my friends live in the realm of Wattpad.

For people who use Wattpad as a tool you’re probably already going over the many good things that Wattpad has done for you and your friends.
Let me start by saying: I am not opposed to Wattpad, I simply don’t completely understand it. I think I’m starting to get it now, but I have my reasons for feeling like a fish out of water on Wattpad.

Let me go over some of the good points I’ve noticed and heard about Wattpad before I talk about my own take on this increasingly vibrant platform for writers.

The first good thing is that it attracts young authors. Teenagers are encouraged to write and by getting feedback they’re encouraged to keep writing. The same point is true for new writers or writers who for various reasons need extra feedback to build their confidence and/or writing stamina.

It’s not a pointless endeavor to post on Wattpad either. I sort of thought it was. This one has an upside and a downside. The upside is that more and more people including large publishers are farming Wattpad for talent. Margaret Atwood has been involved in an award called the ‘Watty’ since 2012. There are poetry contests and all sorts of things that people can get involved in.

writing love

I only found out those things after doing some research into Wattpad. Before I looked into it the last word I’d heard on Wattpad was that publishers considered anything put on Wattpad as ‘previously published’. A stigma that once attached to a story/poem/novel is very difficult to remove. Yes, most publishers only want fresh and virgin stories!

That part is still true and something that I don’t think a lot of people who post on Wattpad know about. That isn’t why I’m still a little anxious about getting into the waters of Wattpad, my reasons are my own uncertainties and my style of writing and reading.

When someone asks me to read their story on Wattpad or chapter by chapter it has the same affect on me: I don’t know how to give feedback.

From my limited exposure to Wattpad I’ve found most of the stories are in progress, this causes me to regard reading them as seeking ‘alpha feedback’. Alpha feedback is pretty basic because of the very obvious reason that the writer isn’t finished writing yet. Concepts and characters may be undeveloped because again… the writer isn’t finished yet.

writing 2

I’ve noticed that a lot of alpha feedback consists of nit-picky grammar edits that are, in my opinion, undermining and discouraging when you’re just getting going on a story.  This also negates the benefits of bolstering and encouraging writers to write more!

So, I’m not the only one who has a hard time giving alpha feedback. What is alpha feedback? Alpha feedback is feedback is, as stated previously, feedback given on works in progress (WIPS) and is usually done a bit at a time as the writer progresses through their story. Beta feedback is given on a finished work that may or may not have been edited.

writing tips

One of the best tips for beta reading your own work or the work of someone else. Beta reading can be where much needed texture is added to the entire story. 

Beta feedback is something that I’m good at and that I value deeply in the excellent beta readers who read for me. Beta feedback focuses on things like: umm, did you just teleport out of the shower into the living room? Or: I can’t understand this sentence at all, did you mean to say that they ‘ate China’? I’m thinking maybe you meant ‘chicken’??

Writing is rarely done all at one sitting and it’s also rare that there are no interruptions or distractions. If your writing environment is like that you are a lucky writer indeed! For the rest of us we have phone calls, knocks on the door, family and friends that talk just at the minute you were writing a key sentence… and you write down what they said instead of what you were intending to write.

writing process

When you read your own writing over you’ll likely catch a lot of these errors. If you read your story out loud you’ll catch even more of them. The mind is an amazing machine capable of glossing over the same thing even on multiple reads. This is especially true when we read our own work but I’ve seen as many as five readers miss the same mistake in a story! This is why beta readers are like gold because the sixth beta reader who catches the mistake is the one who saves it.

This isn’t exactly the same as editing although they are closely related. Beta readers aren’t there to catch grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, formatting errors etc. If they see something obvious they might make a note of it to save the writer some time but it isn’t their mission. That’s what final edits are for and that’s a whole different blog!

writing editor

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, now you’re caught up on the different stages of readings and writing. This brings us back to our original topic: Alpha reading and Wattpad.

I don’t know what sort of feedback any one author is looking for when they ask for alpha reading of a story. It’s hard to go into detail because we don’t know if the writer is keeping the suspense tight or if they’ve missed an important aspect of the story. When you’re asked to read a story some sort of response is required or the writer will likely assume that you hated the whole thing and don’t want to tell them how much they suck. So, you’ve got to say SOMETHING or you run the risk of your efforts to be helpful hurting the writer.

How can you do that when you don’t know anything about where the writer is going? The writer may be highly organized and know where they are going for their plot, or they might be like me, someone who is a ‘pantser’ (flies by the seat of my pants rather than outlining). If they are a pantser, then they probably don’t know where they are going anymore than the alpha reader does.

Feedback is like fuel for writers. They NEED it to know if they’re doing their job and their job is effective communication. If no one replies to what they have to say it is the writer’s natural inclination to determine that they are doing something wrong. If they know they’re reaching their audience it gives them more fuel to keep on.

Which brings us to the conundrum of Wattpad. Giving someone grammar tips is one of those gray zones if you aren’t their editor. It’s especially bad if it’s all someone has to say about your writing. First of all, it’s a negative observation and second of all it isn’t about what you said, it’s about how you said it in a strictly modern context of what is stylistically ‘correct’. Notice that nothing in grammar/spelling/formatting is going to help someone to understand how well they are communicating their story. Not encouraging.

Understanding that alpha and beta reading are the writer seeking feedback on how well they’re communicating gave me some insights into how to be a better alpha reader. First of all, I’m going on the assumption that anything that seems like a hole in the plot or that I don’t understand is likely going to be cleaned up in the beta reading. Unless it’s a continuity error (Bob is wearing blue pants and five minutes later spills coffee on his red pants), it’s better to ignore those things.

Someone in who is alpha reading for you is really only their for the most part as a positive influence. Unlike a beta reader who looks around for structural integrity, holes in the plot etc, the alpha reader is there to feed into the story.

How can an alpha reader do this?

First of all, I’ve learned to underline and comment on particularly striking turns of phrase or patterns of style that the writer uses. For example, I recently did some alpha reading on a story where the writer used vivid colors to effectively key in important aspects of their story.

Alpha reading is also disrupted reading. It’s hard to come back into a story and try to recall everything that happened in detail especially if you’re reading multiple alpha stories. Here’s where my personal, stylistic issue with Wattpad comes into play.

I am not a fan of chapter plays. I like to read deeply and intensely. I want to sink into the world. I don’t want to be just driving through yet another landscape. I want to know characters and places and experience them. I can’t do that if the sections are doled out a little at a time.

Another very personal issue I have with Wattpad is obvious: It’s all digital.

I don’t enjoy reading books electronically nearly as much as I enjoy reading a bound book. I enjoy the tactile sense of the fibers that make the paper, the sensation of physically turning pages… I like to read in the bathtub and my laptop doesn’t share my love of the water!

So, to all my friends on Wattpad who I haven’t had a chance to give feedback to… I’m sorry. I have started a Wattpad account (although I’m not sure if I finalized it, there may be some hanging step I neglected) and I have intentions to read your work. Intentions aren’t the feedback you’re looking for but I can assure you that it isn’t your writing that has driven me away.

The final thing I will say about Wattpad, again it is both positive and negative, is that it is a community. That means that it should be reciprocal. If I’m going to comment there, I should also be posting my own writing and getting to know people. The intricacies of the communal aspects of Wattpad are still mysteries to me.

writing at work

I don’t usually get anyone to alpha read for me unless I know and trust them very much. I don’t want to get the feedback of, ‘yeah, it was interesting… you had a run on sentence in the second paragraph… but otherwise, yeah, it was interesting.’

I will continue to contemplate the world of Wattpad and try to take the plunge. I hear that there is a vibrant poetry community as well as other writing and that may be a good place to start.

I think Wattpad fills a valiant function in the writing world. Alpha reading is important and I know that people do move on to beta reading and final editing. People have even started to have television shows made of their Wattpad stories!

That’s pretty much it: Watt I’ve Learned About Wattpad 🙂


Liane Carter Writes: The Land of Virginia

Written and Illustrated by Liane Carter,

A tiny tale of a little of the land of Virginia

The path is red like her hair. Beware.


She has a heart so big it makes her beauty – and she is a sculpture made by angels – seem small in comparison. You may feel overwhelmed in the wonder of the wildness and wilderness of all she is. Her depth, anguish, pain and intelligence swim on the river surface of her eyes. There is no disguise. She has allowed herself free to be and opens her hand to ask you to too. If you are willing to. Take another step into the unknown back to the birth of all that is known.

liane carter virginia pic 1

A goddess who guides you and hides you if you need a retreat because she has been there, and even if she hasn’t, her empathy nourishes your lands to live in. A lover of the living, animals flock to feed on her love so you may meet a few chickens, dogs and a gorgeous bird on the way.

picture by Liane Carter

You can stop. You can stay. I promise you a beautiful journey on the way.

liane carter virginia pic 3