A Memoir by Lisa Vaughn

Lisa was conservatively raised in a Catholic family in no-where middle America, where excitement is scarce and dreams are for sleeping. Little did she know, at age thirteen, she would suddenly find herself on a totally different path.

Through an unlikely chance meeting of a fellow classmate, she's surprisingly mesmerized, almost consumed, to befriend a girl who is obviously from the other side of the tracks...the cool side. Lisa does whatever she has to just to be accepted into this small club of coolness. Little did she realize, she was signing up for a lot more than social status. The two best friends find themselves innocently taking their relationship to a foreign level neither had experienced or saw coming.

A rollercoaster ride littered with choices and challenges Lisa never fathomed facing, especially in no-where middle America. She will find out what she is made of as she faces the consequences and struggles that come along with going against the grain.

Throughout their six year relationship, you will witness a touching story of human nature at its best...and at its worst. Showing just how far the human spirit can be challenged and pushed to a point where your “fight or flight” instincts naturally kick in. Struggling just to survive in a world where you are not like everyone else, but at the same time you really are. The daily struggles - both internal and external - are exhausting, yet necessary in their quest for one simple human need....love.

Finally breaking through all constraints that hold them back, reaching levels of one-ness that few actually obtain in a lifetime with their partner...only to find once they've reached that special place, it's not quite the right fit...for one of them, at least.

This contemporary story, told in the voice of the teen that lived it, will lead the reader through highs and lows, giving insight to the everyday challenges of the socially unaccepted, which will no doubt leave them rooting for the underdog. A true story of human resilience and the power of love...plain and simple.

*Please be advised, this memoir is real, honest, and raw. If you're looking for your typical 'sterilized' read, I'm not your girl - but if you're looking for a read that is written from the heart, certain to impact you on a human level, follow me! Have I got a story for you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

MondayMindset of a hippie-chick: The Scariest Thing I've Ever Done!

In keeping with the Halloween theme of spooks, ghouls, and  things that go bump in the night, here's another way to get your 'scare' on...Publish a book!

No wait, let me make it even more scary for you...publish your MEMOIR! Oh yeah, now it's even more personal - adding yet another layer of fear!  For those of us who have been there, I'm sure you can relate, especially the indie authors that have chosen to go the route that I took - the self publish route.  That dark, lonely corridor where you are completely alone and on your own - no agent, no publisher.  No one to fall back on, bounce ideas off of, or point the finger at when potential failure comes your way.  Nope, it's just you  dangling solo without any kind of safety net to catch you...yep, that's the decision I made.  Oh, and did I mention I'm not even a 'writer' by design? Oh yeah, I've never written anything professionally in my life...I'm an artist, not a writer! 

I can see you shaking your head as you read this, and I know what you're saying, 'What the hell was she thinking? Who'd sign up for that...on purpose?'  A masochist? 

Let me introduce myself, I'm Lisa Vaughn, and yes, I'm that crazy! Or should I say, I'm that determined when I have a project I feel this passionate about.  And that is what it boiled down to.  I have a story - and a message - that I've held inside my head for thirty-plus years, and it was high time I let it out.  It all started one bizarre afternoon, about two years ago, when I confided my tale to a friend for the first time in my life, and she convinced me the world needed to hear my unique story.  After realizing the potential opportunity to spread my message, I agreed -  it WAS time, in fact it was long overdue.  The problem is, I'm not the most patient person in the world, nor am I one that likes to follow 'protocol' - that's where the hippie in me comes out.  So I approached this project like any other piece of self-expression that I create, I jumped in head first and started, well, creating!  After two years of honing my very 'indie' story, and getting that dreaded rejection letter a few times, I decided to take this matter into my own hands - like I do everything else in my life.  I switched direction - I'd self-publish.  Problem solved. Or was it?   

There I sat, hovering over my keyboard, staring at the most intimidating icon I've ever come across...the 'PUBLISH NOW' button on Createspace at Amazon. My index finger twitched in anticipation, as beads of sweat broke out all over my body, and once again, I'd lose my nerve, taking another lap around the house - grabbing another glass of tea or checking on something, anything! Anything to give me another minute to think, another day to stall. What was I about to embark upon? By pushing that button, my naked soul would be exposed for all to see.  My secret story of my secret teenage life - my forbidden love!  And if that weren't bad enough, my talent as a writer - or lack thereof - would also be up for critique!  Seasoned authors, avid readers, english majors would all be scrutinizing every detail - every word, every grammar mistake, and punctuation error.  Would I look like a complete idiot?  Was I really ready? Was I truly out of my mind? Not to mention, would they accept my controversial story? Or would I be catapulted back to the days from which I wrote about - my 'unaccepted' days? It truly was like high school all over again.  And once again, I'd shut down my computer, telling myself, TOMORROW. Tomorrow I WILL do it.  I knew another read through was futile, I'd already ordered ten plus proofs - how many times could I rework this thing before I'd totally lose my voice, my style? I knew the only answer was to take the leap...it was time to JUMP, or put my dream of publishing to bed, and back in the drawer where it would sit for future generations to discover as they clean out my belongings after my death.  But I knew deep in my heart that I had worked too hard and too long  to let that happen...I knew what I HAD to do.

In the same way I approached my first tattoo,  I sucked it up and just did it. I finally hit the damn button. PUBLISH NOW became 'Thank you for your submittal!  Your memoir, The Gifted Ones, is now live on Amazon! Congratulations, you are now a published author!' OMG! What I dreamed about for the last two years as being one of the most exhilarating, exciting times in my life, became the WORST moment in my life. I immediately took to the couch  (with my favorite blanket and a feeling like someone just sucker-punched me in the gut)  and that's where I remained for the next few weeks - frozen in fear.  What had I done? I truly needed to have my head examined I determined.  Sure, I was a ballsy chick, but this was taking it way too far. I'd really done it THIS time! 

Fast forward: Slowly I convinced bloggers to review my little memoir, and again, I took to the couch to lose even more weight and time, as sheer terror took me over.  
And then the reviews started trickling in...gulp.  
Much to my surprise, they were GOOD! In fact, many were GREAT! Had I pulled this off? Were they really digging my story? Turns out, yes! In fact, many were praising my 'unique' writing style and honesty. Wow...Really? Who knew!
And here I sit today with a good little crop of 4 and 5 star reviews under my belt, and praises of thanks from people that needed to hear a story like mine, many connecting in their own ways to fit their own unique situations.  Now that's not to say I haven't been criticized by the formal rule-followers, as I knew I would be, but surprisingly they are far and few in-between. I think my message is so important, and my voice so strong, readers overlook the occasional faux pas, and accept my expressive style to get my point across. After all, isn't that what indie is all about? Your own voice, your own style? 
That's how I approach my art, so why wouldn't I approach my book in the same manner? A book, especially a memoir, is a very personal extension of the author.  If we all wrote the same way, the world of literature would be a very boring place, I think. 

So I'll leave you with this: Don't ever be scared to be yourself...after all, it's all you can ever be. If you strongly believe in a project, throw yourself into it and see it to the end - whatever route you have to take. Trust me, someone out there will appreciate your efforts, most importantly, YOU.  Did I ever think in a million years I would publish a book, let alone a memoir of the most intimate details of my life? Hell no. But now that I've witnessed what a little courage can do to enrich someone else going through the same thing, or perhaps open a mind or two, then trust me, it was more than  worth the trip! 

Next time you're looking for a read, perhaps something 'outside the box', may I suggest 'The Gifted Ones', my very raw, very real memoir.  At the very least it will  entertain you, and maybe, just maybe, you'll learn a little something about yourself too.  If we all share our stories of adversities, and how we overcame them, the world suddenly becomes a little less scary. 

Happy Halloween Everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SpeedReaders Delight! SixSentenceSunday is here from 'The Gifted Ones'

Taken from Chapter 21: Crash

There I was, alone in my darkness. This was it. My world had just ended. The one thing I had fought for, practically my whole life, had just walked out the door. All those years, all those triumphs, all that pure love...gone. “Lost” doesn't even come close to describing the blackness I had entered. Who was I if I didn't have her? How could I even fathom going on? I was completely, utterly, unprepared for this tragedy, although all the signs were there - glowing neon, in fact. I didn't know how to live without my other half. Was it even possible? I didn't see how.
I died inside that night.

Ok, I gave you a few more than six...hope you enjoyed!
Please visit my other posts or check out the full synopsis above with purchase links to Amazon and Smashwords!
Enjoy your Sunday! Come back soon!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Get Your Samples Here! SaturdaySamples for 'The Gifted Ones' ~ A Memoir

Excerpt taken from Chapter 21: Crash

On one particular evening, a Thursday to be exact, we came home from work - like any other day. The particulars aren't clear to me today, but I know we got into some kind of tiff, which led Selina out the door to cool off. I don't remember what the fight was about, but you could palpably feel tension in the air, which had been building over time. Another lover's quarrel, figuring she'd go have a beer, or whatever, and be back later to make-up. All would be fine as usual...cat-and-mouse.

Well think again.
Sometimes in life we don't get what we want, we get what we need. Didn't The Rolling Stones teach us that? And what does that mean, exactly? I'd soon find out.

The evening gradually turned into night, with no signs of Selina. Keep in mind, there were no cell phones, so I was forced to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. Not knowing where she was or what had happened. Every hour that ticked by, I'd freak out a little more. My range of emotions went from being scared something awful had happened to her - Car wreck? Rape? Dead in a ditch? To anger - Out partying? At the bar? WITH HER? My skin crawled as I broke out in a sweat. I was nauseas. I was sick. I was sinking. Was this IT? She had never, ever left all night like this before, and this certainly wasn't our first rodeo. We'd had our share of fights in the past, but we always seemed to work them out together. She always ran toward me, not away! Cat-and-mouse.

WHERE WAS SHE? But more importantly, what was she doing?

My mind would not let me rest. I sat up all night teetering on a step leading down to our sunken living room, overlooking a huge picture window. Just sitting and staring...all night...waiting.
Holding myself in a fetal position...as I waited.
Tears soaked my face...as I waited.
My worst fears screamed at me...as I waited.
My world crashed...as I waited.


Thank you for visiting! Hope you enjoyed your snippet this week - for a full synopsis, please see above! Purchase links up there too!
Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

FridayFeelGood: What are YOU afraid to lose?

What are you afraid to lose? Your iphone, your bank card? 
I'll have to sheepishly admit my first knee-jerk reaction is my teeth  (my biggest fear of ALL time)  or my ipad...something of that nature.  And then I say it out loud and realize how silly and superficial that really is.  Those 'things' can all be replaced - yes, even teeth can be bought pretty easily if you think about it (although I'm not tempting fate you understand!) 

The REAL thing we should all be afraid of first and foremost, is losing OURSELVES. 

Oh, believe me, it happens pretty easily.  One day you wake up and the life you are living is no longer recognizable as anything you would purposely sign up for.  Been there?  Are you there now?  I sure have, and it's the worst feeling in the world - like being suffocated one minute at a time.  Tick tock, tick tock.  

The day I found true happiness, is the day I was completely honest with myself...my authentic self.  No more would I live a life based on what others expected or wanted me to be.  
Wow, pretty simple isn't it?  Yes, it's THAT simple! 
Easy to put into action?  Well, not so much sometimes...that's where the work comes in, depending on your situation.  But like we've always been taught, nothing in life worth having comes easily, so why should this be any different?  But the good news is, once you get your life aligned to meet your authentic requirements, you're basically there - from then on all it takes is maintenance to keep your environment clean of unwanted 'debris' so that you may continue to live your authentic life.

Ask yourself one simple question: Am I living as the TRUE me?  Or am I posing ?  Wearing a mask all the time - even after Halloween?  

My life came full circle when I finally figured out this simple equation: Being true to your authentic self = True happiness.  Put that into action and I guarantee you cannot be anything BUT happy!  After all, we are who we are - all originals in our own ways...why in the world would you ever want to be anything else? You can't!

Thanks for stopping by! If you get a chance, check out my memoir - The Gifted Ones.  I've had a lot of experience experimenting with finding out exactly WHO my authentic self really is - and this book is proof of my journey!

Make it an awesome day folks! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why DO People Write Anyway?

Ask that question to 100 writer's,  and I'm sure you'll get that many different answers, as writing truly is a personal form of self-expression at its core.  And I'm sure each and every piece is unique for the author in it's own way, as well.  Of course I can only speculate, as I've only published one book so far.  

My memoir, The Gifted Ones, started out solely as a selfish way to deal with unfinished business concerning my deceased mother.  Writing, I found, truly is a great therapeutic tool - just as my art is when I need to express myself - writing can be just as healing and expressive, maybe even more so -  in a more direct manner.
I found out just how healing writing truly was as I was spewing out the words that needed to be bled from my soul.  During this purging release, I realized IF and WHEN those words ever became an organized work,  there were really only three people for which I wrote my words for, and only three that truly needed to read them. 

*First, and foremost - myself.  I needed this outlet to purge my pent up anger and frustration for my mother, family, society as a whole.  I needed to see my story in black & white, so I could justify my actions, and confirm I was not crazy or wrong at all.
*Second - my husband.  We had been together for well over a decade at the time, and this was the only snippet of my life he knew nothing about - the missing puzzle piece.  Not that I didn't want to tell him, mind you, as I have never been ashamed or embarrassed of my story - or hid anything from him.  No, it was more out of respect for him, as he does not like to hear of any past relationships- quite the jealous guy I have here, turns out.  But I knew deep in my heart to love me wholly, is to know me wholly - even if it might bruise his ego a tad.  It was time he knew my past and how I became who I am today.
*Third - the 'other-half' in my book - my first love - Selina.  I realized after she left and we went our separate ways, she never really heard 'my side' of the story, or probably never realized the impact her short presence in my life truly made.  I deeply wanted to reconnect with her and make sure she knew just what she had meant to me, and how I didn't hold a grudge or any ill feelings whatsoever, in fact, quite the opposite.

It took about two years, but I am happy to say I accomplished my main goals.  My husband accepted my story with grace and total acceptance. He had always loved me unconditionally, and this 'surprise' certainly did not change that - if anything it brought us closer.  To understand someone's past is to know them at their core, and who wouldn't welcome that in a partner? 
I've also since reconnected with Selina - making this project more than worth it.  She is, and will always remain my BFF - I can't imagine my life without her in it now.  We shared a special time that can never be denied.  And deep down we both know we are still 'gifted' as we share our special soul-sister bond, hopefully till the day one of us takes our last breath.
And lastly...myself. To say this book changed my life would be an understatement.  It has aligned me with myself, my environment, and those around me who truly matter - allowing  me to discover my purpose in life - and that purpose, I believe, is to live an authentic life, living each day being true to who I really am, and also to spread the message from which my story was born from - the message of acceptance.  It truly is what drives me to push and promote my book on a daily basis. 

I personally didn't write to become famous, make a living, or get rich.  I wrote because I HAD to,  and now I realize I HAVE to share my story, as that is my true purpose for publishing.  As they say, if reading my words can help one person or open a closed-mind, then I've done my job. 

And THAT  is why 'I' write. 

Thank you for stopping by, and if you'd like to check out exactly what I speak of - my synopsis and purchase links are all above! 
And again, thank you for supporting indie authors & artists! 
Make it an awesome day! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lucky Spoon/Burnt Plate~Memories of a Childhood Game..What?

Long before Nintendos, X-boxes, and i-whatevers, there was a period where imagination was your toy of choice, in fact, you had no choice, as that was really it in the toy department...remember those days? If you're a child of the seventies or before, you know exactly what I speak of - when a pile of bricks in the backyard magically 'became' a bat-mobile and tinker-toys ruled. 

This year a lot has changed in my life, as the passing of one generation (my parents) gives way to the next (mine).  I've had many private 'reflective' moments here recently, and one is so simple and so expressive of the times I speak of, I thought I would share it with you.
It's a game my sister and I played called 'Lucky Spoon/Burnt Plate'.

The rules of this game were simple, and only known between the two of us.  
In our cupboards housed two pieces of kitchenware that made up the game.  An odd-ball spoon that did not match the rest of the patterned cutlery, and a melmac plate that had a burned edge on it - probably absentmindedly left by the gas stove too long one day.  Each day at 3:30pm sharp our small family of four gathered around our round kitchen table for dinner, as my father worked the nightshift and this was our only opportunity for 'family' time. We each had assigned seating, with my sister and I facing each other, my parents on either side.  My mother would always set the table beforehand, as we listened to the clanking of dishes from upstairs in our bedroom, anxiously wondering if we would be a 'winner' or 'loser' that day.  Of course my mother was not privy to this game, as that would put a biased spin on it, which we didn't need.  When we heard her calling out 'Dinner's ready!' we'd race downstairs to check our standings...if your place setting included lucky spoon:You WIN! Burned plate:LOSER! Or worse, 'the combo' - lucky spoon AND burned plate..still a loser, as burned plate trumped everything, but more painful, as you HAD lucky spoon and could of won.  
I laugh now at the simplicity of this daily routine, but we really took this seriously, as if reading our horoscope or tea leaves to discover our fate for the rest of the day.
It truly was an era when you really used your mind to discover and develop unique creativity - merely through boredom, if nothing else.

While I was up north this past year helping out with my ailing father, I took the liberty of cleaning out some drawers - discarding useless items, and guess what I came across? There it was, tangled within a bunch of junk, but sitting pretty in the drawer after all these years...lucky spoon!  My heart skipped a beat, and a smile instantly came to me as I snatched up my long-lost friend - no way was this treasure going to the landfill, oh no!  It went straight into my suitcase to travel home with me, where I  envisioned it safe within MY cutlery drawer, living out the rest of it's life with ME.
And now, back with me where it belongs, I smile every time I reach in and pull it out  (randomly of course, as searching for it would be cheating). That silly spoon still holds the same magic for me today, somehow making me feel a little more 'lucky' the days I get to use it.
I only wish I could of saved 'burnt plate' too, but I think he met his fate long ago.  And really, of the two, I think I'd rather have lucky spoon, but don't tell burnt plate if you see him, as I don't want his bad karma on me ever again!

What were your kooky childhood games? 

THE highly sought-after 'lucky' spoon

Monday, October 24, 2011

MondayMindset Of A Hippie-Chick: People Come,People Go-The Inevitable

Over this past year I've experienced the entire gamut of emotions.  From extreme highs; publishing my debut memoir - to debilitating lows; burying my last parent.  Yes, it's been quite a year, and it's not even over!  But I know life works like that, so I'm never too surprised when I'm temporarily taken off-guard by its unpredictability.  
But one thing that is hard to get used to:  The people who seem destined to come-and-go in our lives.
I've always believed you meet everyone in your life for a reason - whether it's for your benefit or their's, or perhaps a mutual need to be fulfilled.  What I am having a hard time with is accepting some will not hang around forever, including family - the hardest to fathom.
I often make reference to the two 'D's that will be the end-all in most relationships - death or divorce. The divorce one I'm more than familiar with, but this death one is new to a degree...and it's a stinker.  Not only are you separated from the loved one who has died, very often their family goes with them too.
When you divorce, more than likely it's not just the person you're married to that you'll be saying good-bye to, it's the whole brood - that's almost a given.  I still miss all my ex's families!  Sure I hear through the grapevine (my son) how they would LOVE for me to drop by if I'm ever in town...but you both know you never will. (Can you say 'awkward?') 
But this summer I've had to come to the realization that I've probably hugged my own relatives for the last time too - at my father's funeral.  My aunts and uncles from both sides of the family were there, many I hadn't seen, well, since my mother's funeral in 2005.  It was great to see everyone, but bittersweet at the same time. I live 1000 miles from them, and not being a very close-knit family, I know in my heart that encounter was more than likely my last with that eclectic group.  Unless one of my younger siblings die before I do - and has a traditional burial - I do not see myself heading north, towards that area, anyways.  Sure, you trade phone numbers and emails, but over time all that gets lost in the shuffle of our everyday, as life goes on, suddenly without them in it.

THEN my sister announces plans for her departure from HER marriage! Another one bites the dust!  Now I'm glad I hugged my brother-in-law  (whom I've known for more than 25 years)  and thanked him for all he has done for my family during my dad's long, drawn out illness, when I was up there for his funeral - as that was probably my last encounter with him as well. 

So a lot of changes this year, to say the least. Out with the old crowd, in with the new?  I don't know.  I can only hope life has a plan for me with another crop of good people to surround me - I am hopeful it does.  But then I remind myself, 'Never say never', a phrase I recite often.  After 30+ years, I never thought I'd reunite with my first love  - the one my memoir is written about - but because of that project, I did...so sometimes we DO get a second chance.  

Maybe that's the true life-lesson here - the relationships that are meant to stand the test of time, will...IF we put the effort into them. 

Every death has a birth to mirror it, as nothing is forever - including loved ones.  
Appreciate all who surround you in your everyday, tomorrow might be too late. 
And if that person is special enough, I bet you'll find a way to keep them IN your life. I hope you do, I hope I do too.

Thank you for stopping by for my thoughts of the day...and if you get a chance, please check out my memoir, 'The Gifted Ones' at the top of my page, for THAT relationship was one worth holding onto.
Have a Happy Monday!
Peace Out.

In memory of my mom and dad

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Know It, You Love It..SixSentenceSunday! 'The Gifted Ones' A Memoir

Six Sentences from Chapter 8: The Nightmare Continues

I began sleeping with the enemy, so to speak. I towed the line and gave them what they wanted. I went to work, kept my nose to the grindstone, and eventually was allowed to go back to school full-time, promising to stay isolated from Selina, of course. I had my principles, but how could I not agree to that? Of course, I did. Remember, I was attempting to beat them at their own game. Over time, I worked on convincing them this whole thing was just a kooky teenage phase, and I was over it now. I'd been healed! Hail Jesus!

Thank you for stopping by and for supporting indie authors!
If interested in reading more, please see my other posts in 'archives'on right - bottom of page. Purchase links for Amazon & Smashwords are above: Ebooks $.99 ~ Print on sale @Amazon for $9.89!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Come Get Your SaturdaySample On With 'The Gifted Ones'! Bite-Sized Snippets

Excerpt from Chapter 9: Gaining Ground, Losing Ground

Slowly, over time, life took on a more normal and familiar shape. When I say slowly, I mean at a snail's pace. I religiously attended school and work, attempting to convince my parents that I had turned over a new leaf - keeping my nose clean. Of course I still saw Selina at school, naturally picking up right where we left off, playing it overly-cautious this time. They had totally underestimated the power of love. Wild horses couldn't keep us apart. It was hard not seeing her outside of school, but this plan would have to suffice for now. We had lived through much worse, so this was a welcomed sacrifice, actually. Something was undoubtedly better than nothing. I had survived the dark days and never wanted to go back. Just seeing her beautiful face once more made me realize how much I wanted, and truly needed her. Her smile bringing me to my knees, it seemed. So naturally it didn't take long for us to start getting anxious, as our teenage hormones screamed wildly at us. We had been apart for what seemed like forever, and longed to spend the night with each other once more. Well, necessity is the mother of invention, you know. So once again, we had devised a brilliant plan to get us through this dry spell.

Intrigued? Find out what the 'plan' was and much more as you discover 'The Message' in my memoir, The Gifted Ones.
Links to Amazon & Smashwords above! Ebooks are $.99 ~ Print on sale at Amazon for $9.89!
And as always, thank YOU for visiting and supporting indie authors!

Friday, October 21, 2011

FridayFeelGood: Zen Moment With Blast of Nature's Color!

I know a majority of you are now facing those grey winter months, where temps are falling and colors are fading to neutral at best. If you're anything like me, color in my world is a must, as without it my existence seems pretty bleak.
So let me give you a little color boost from my backyard - a little zen moment to make your day a little 'brighter' and your feel-good a little 'righter'.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

'The Gifted Ones' Trivia - What Does 'Gifted' Mean? The Title Explained...

I've been asked this question a few times, so I thought I'd solve the mystery for those inquiring minds that want to know!  Giving you the low down on just what 'gifted' means. 

Excerpt from Chapter 6: The Journey Begins

..we saw it as a sign that we were above rules and society. We were above mere mortals. We were clearly different from the herd, no doubt about that. We were Special...We were Gifted...We were Prophets.
We shared each other's thoughts, and finished each other's sentences. We had a mental telepathy that rivaled anything we knew was even humanly possible, recognizing we shared a truly unique gift that we believed no one else possessed. Experiencing a level of love that people just can't verbalize, or perhaps, never achieve. A feeling that is so pure, so honest, so deep. We were living in The Place. That “Place” where you are so connected that you literally become one. The word “bizarre” became a staple in our everyday language, as it seemed this new world of ours was just that, truly bizarre! We discovered a parallel universe that just housed the two of us. Living in that universe was surreal, it truly was pure magic.

The word 'gifted' is actually a word Selina and I used to describe our unique relationship, our special bond.  In our young teenage minds, we were one of the few - if not the only ones - to experience this level of commitment, this level of pure love.  Described as 'The Place' in the book, I try to take the reader into the depths of that 'pureness' we experienced - a very hard thing to do, especially if one has not experienced this level of love before.  We realized, even back then, this was truly something special...a 'gift' - something not everyone would get the privilege to experience in a lifetime.  We felt we were the chosen ones, the gifted ones - even if society told us it was immoral and sinful, we knew different.  It was good, and it was right, and it was our purpose to prove them wrong. 

It had nothing to do with being above average intelligence or possessing extraordinary talents, unless you categorize the ability to love based strictly on the purist level of what love really is - seeing past gender and everything we had been taught as 'normal', challenging societies rules, then yes, I guess we were above average in that category. True 'trail-blazers' of the seventies, in our small world, that is.  And yet oddly, here I sit...thirty plus years later, still asking that same haunting question: How can loving someone ever be wrong?  

If you've read my memoir, I hope this gives you an insight as to where the title came from, and if you haven't read, then I hope it will spark some intrigue to follow me on my journey - seeing life through the eyes of the unaccepted - you just might be shocked where it leads me...and where it will lead you. 

And as always, thank YOU readers, for supporting Indie authors and artist!   

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Author of 'The Gifted Ones' Guest Posts: Who Would Want To Write A Memoir?

Please join me as I guest post over at Mary Pax's site today, discussing why on earth anyone would want to write a memoir - especially an unknown hippie-chick like myself!

As I always say, everyone has a story...this just happens to be mine. Find out what drove me to 'share' mine after 30+ years.

(Sorry to redirect you, but you're just one click away now!)


A big THANK YOU to Mary for this awesome opportunity to share my message!
And again, Thank YOU, the reader, for supporting indie authors and artist!
Please come back soon and visit my blog! Tomorrow I explain the meaning behind my title.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Congrats to Daniel A Kaine - Oct Indie Book-Cover Winner! See Deets Here..

Last week Shannon Mayer ran an awesome contest for the best Indie Book Cover Art. Daniel A. Kaine received the most votes and the honor to be October's winner! Please take the time to check out his book, 'Dawn of Darkess' at the links below.

Main site: http://danielakaine.com/

Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12353556-dawn-of-darkness

eBook release giveaway (ends 22nd Oct): http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/153510-dawn-of-darkness-ebook-release-and-giveaway?tab=yes

Trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-STawcn6SFM

And again, Thank YOU for supporting Indie Authors & Artist! The future of The Arts depends on you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

MondayMindset Of A Hippie-Chick: Life In Your Forties-The Decadent Years?

Turning forty.  I'll admit it...I dreaded it with every fiber of my being.  I remember when my mom was in her forties...and she was, well OLD!  As I approached this milestone birthday, I just couldn't imagine being anything but 30-something, as it truly seemed as if I'd been in my thirties forever. In fact a lifetime within itself seemed to happen in that decade. 
Let me briefly recap: My 30's
*Settled down to a more 'responsible' way of living
*Landed adult jobs that paid adult money
*Marriage ticked along on auto-pilot
*Son became old enough to fend for himself
*Moved 1000 miles away from my hometown to a place I actually wanted to reside
*Body was young and strong - no physical limitations
*Guys gave me the once-over when I passed by
*Started over...AGAIN
*Got married...AGAIN

By the time my 40th rolled around I feared my life was done, and truthfully so was I. I had had it! Fed up...done. Done with the rat race, done with life's demands, done with society. Done-Done-DONE! A period we now affectionately refer to as my 'Breakdown at Forty'. I personally refer to it as my 'Push-Back Stage'. 

After I escaped for a week of self-pity, I eventually realized this might not be a bad decade after all, and I now anxiously tell anyone about to enter their forties to be prepared, as something magical happens on that landmark birthday, at least for women I think. 

The biggest 'light-bulb' moment was when I finally realized, 'Hey, I'm an ADULT. I do not HAVE to DO anything if I CHOOSE not to. It's okay to say NO. Such a simple word, but so hard to say...and pull off...when you're in your thirties, that is. But I was now a more mature, more feisty forty - it was high time I 'pushed back'. And boy, did I! 

Lets recap again: My 40's
First off, realized I was NOT my mother, so I....
*Quit my 'responsible' unfulfilling cubicle job with a steady paycheck 
*Took a leap and started a pet-sitting business
*Cut ties with people that did not make me feel good about myself
*Learned to say NO to things that did not fulfill me 
*Stopped feeling obligated to be the 'go-to-good-girl' 
*Started living my life on MY terms...period.
*Dove back into my art with a vengeance, creating pieces just for ME
*Wrote and published a memoir! Something I never saw coming! (See synopsis above)
Basically, I finally listened to my true, authentic self. 

Whew! What a relief! It took some time to get used to, but I quickly learned the key to happiness is actually very simple. By simply being true to your authentic self and living an authentic life - surrounded only by things you believe in and stand for (and saying 'No' to things you do not) you will be amazed at how awesome your forties can be! Things that I loathed - wasting my time, self-indulging greed from others, handed down beliefs, family encouraged obligations - all got the 'push back' from me.  
I'm now 48, and happy to report this has actually been my BEST decade to date, although there were some lows - like burying both my parents - I didn't like that part, of course, but I accept it as part of the life cycle - something we will all go through if the cycle remains in chronological order, as it should.
And thanks to my 48 years of experiences (the good, bad, and ugly) I now know myself better than I ever have, and have the confidence to be my best advocate...on my terms, standing on my own two feet. No matter what the world throws at me, I know I will be okay.

And now, looking back, I remember a younger me thinking I'd never live to see 30, as that sounded SO old! Luckily I have taken pretty good care of myself over the years - even better so now - and I'm still in good physical health.  Sure, I feel some signs of wear and tear, and definitely notice an older version staring back in the mirror...but that's okay, I accept that too.  I've earned every wrinkle and every greying hair - besides, I know I'm still cool inside, where it counts the most!(ha)  I know my attitude, and my 25 year-old son, keeps me young and up-to-date with the tunes, trends, and techy stuff, so I'm confident I can keep up as I ebb-and-flow along in this ever changing, evolving world I live in now.

And today, as I teeter on the brink of the next decade, I surprise myself as I type this, realizing I can hardly wait to see what the 'Decade of 50' brings!  Sure, I'll slow down a tad, get a few more grey hairs, add a couple more wrinkles, and deal with the 'M' word (Menopause-EEEKKK) but I know one thing for sure...it will be full of surprises and it's sure to be AMAZING!  Bring it on baby...this hippie-chick is ready! 

What has each decade taught you? Share your light bulb moments below! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Here! SixSentenceSunday! *BonusEdition w/xtra Sentences!* 'TheGiftedOnes'

Taken from Chapter 19: Fade To Black

What was once something I couldn't get enough of, had now become a chore to me. She had also made a few comments concerning my odd friendship with Rod. Guess I wasn't as sly as I had perceived myself. Can't shit an old shitter, huh? The game was up, and it was time to show your cards. Trouble is, I wasn't quite sure of the hand I was holding anymore. But I think Selina peeked at them while I wasn't looking. And now she was forcing me to take a look too, revealing my true hand.
The next span of time resembled a bad made-for-TV-movie, except this was no movie, it was our real life. Our own weird life - getting a whole lot weirder before the curtain fell on the final act.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wait For It..Wait For It: SaturdaySamples! It's Here! Snippet From 'TheGiftedOnes'

Excerpt from Chapter 19: Fade To Black

The night went on, and the drinks poured. Laughing and enjoying each other's company came easily as time flew by, suddenly finding ourselves in the wee-hours of the morning, down to the bottom-of-the-barrel in party guests - most stumbling and mumbling nonsense - still clinging to the exhausted keg. One by one they were ushered out by our resident bouncer, Selina. Soon after the last guest was shown the door, the most shocking words I had ever heard in my life filled the room, “Hey Rod, why don't you take Lisa home with you tonight?” We both stood there, in pure shock. What the *#@%? Did those words just come from Selina's mouth? I knew I was drunk, but my hearing still worked...I thought. Did I actually hear THOSE words? Was this a trap? Was she calling my bluff? Was she about to go ape-shit on us, beating the crap out of him if he said, “okay”? We remained standing there, stunned, not knowing how to react.

Turns out, this wasn't a joke. She was dead serious, for reasons unclear to me at the time. Like two naughty children, we sheepishly agreed to her offer. I know I was drunk, but a very sober side of me was tremendously excited! And yet another side was equally confused, and kind of scared. Again, she convinced us of her sincerity, and that being enough for Rod, swiftly whisked me to his car. Separating me from my soul-mate, from the only lover I had ever known.

Rod took me home that night to his apartment.

I lost my virginity for the second time in my life - at age nineteen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FridayFeelGood: Vote For Your Fav Indie Book-Cover! Win Copies Too!

Thanks to Shannon Mayer for hosting this fun contest for Indie authors! 15 covers to choose from - all different genres with different art concepts...see which one grabs you the most! Simple to enter - just leave a comment on her site indicating the book # you choose, which in turn will automatically enter you in the drawing for FREE ebook reads! WIN WIN for everyone!

Hurry, contest ends on the 15th I do believe!


And again, thank you for supporting INDIE!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Discussing Author James Frey..Did He Get What He Deserved?

Ahhh James Frey...remember him? The 'Million Little Pieces' memoir guy? The one that Queen Oprah built up via her bookclub, launching him to literary stardom - only to turn around just as quick and take it ALL away - his credibility as an author, his pride, ego, and manhood? All based on one rumor...he had 'lied' to Oprah, and apparently, the world! Gasp! His memoir, it seems, had a bit of 'fabrication' woven into the unbelievable text. I guess his crazy days as a drug addict needed a little 'beefing up' to make legendary status, as it did.   

I remember seeing his original interview with Oprah, plugging his newly discovered memoir - long before I ever dreamed I would one day write one of my own.  I have to admit, he captivated me also, with his painful story of past struggles and triumphant come back. I rushed out like the rest of the world and bought his colorful book.  I read it, and although I do not remember a lot of the details now, I thought it was a good, entertaining read.  Yeah, he had gone through a lot for one man, but hey, we all have our stories, right? 

Then the news broke. James Frey was a LIAR! People that he had named in the book were supposedly stepping up, claiming parts of his memoir were fabricated or embellished. But worse than lying in his memoir, James had dupped Oprah! Well we all know one thing for sure. You do NOT dup the big O and expect to get away with it. This sleeping dog was not allowed to lie still, quite the opposite - he was publicly embarrassed. Drug through the coals for allegedly lying in a memoir, which by definition means a slice of one's life - a TRUE slice, to the best of their recollection.
If the allegations weren't bad enough, the worst was yet to come - public humiliation on the Queen's stage!  He was summoned to face Oprah...again, but this time he would see her evil twin - pissed off Oprah. 

We all tuned in, anxious to see what James' fate would be - public stoning, firing squad, the gas chamber? No, none of that would happen. Instead he got the big stink-eye from the big 'O', and was told how disappointed she was in him.  Oh no she didn't! Yes, she gave him the guilt-ridden, 'mother's disappointed in you' speech. I nervously watched as James sat helpless with his publisher, who did not say much - neither putting up much of a fight when confronted by Ms.O. You could tell this poor lad was in-between a rock and a hard place! I was disappointed that he may of lied, but more disappointed that he didn't put up much of a fight for his defense. Maybe the whole book was a lie? Maybe his hands were tied? Maybe O just scared the crap out of him! Who knew? I just knew I felt really sorry for him for some reason, and at the same time was thanking my lucky stars I was not HIM! 

Nevertheless, time went on - refunds were made to those who were totally appalled, the offending liar dropped out of society, and we all forgot about James Frey. 

Fast Forward: Oprah's retiring. She has a need to have James back on the show, perhaps she over-reacted, and wanted to make amends, having him on the show one last time to clear the air, reset her karma. Of course I had to see this! Would there be fists flying this time? Would there be more jumping on those couches?  I could feel the tension on the set, or perhaps it was just coming from my own couch!
It took some time, but finally midway through the interview I started to see the light, as the REAL truth behind the disaster of 'A Million Little Pieces' started to come into focus.  Turns out, it wasn't his fault so much as his publisher's! Apparently he never intended to write a 'memoir' in the first place. HE wrote a novel loosely based on his real life experiences. It was his publisher that strong-armed him into classifying it as a memoir in order to get noticed and boost sales. In fact, that was the only way they would sign him. Aha! The evil marketing machine once again! Now it was all beginning to make sense. And again, I felt sorry for James. He was not a liar at all. The only thing he was really guilty of was being a newbie author that was excited to find someone that agreed to publish him - at whatever costs - even if it meant magically changing his work into a memoir.  Like he explained to Oprah, what could we have expected him to do? What would you do in his shoes? He knew this opportunity may be fleeting, so he'd better jump while he had the chance. So James sold a little piece of his soul...a million little pieces, to be exact.  

And you know what? I can't say I wouldn't have done the same damn thing!  

Bottom line: I don't blame James at all, in fact I empathize with him. Now that I am an author, of a memoir no less, I totally understand his actions. I'm sorry he had to sacrifice his work for the sake of the almighty dollar, but understand his actions. Did it outrage me as a reader that I had bought the book and it wasn't totally on the up and up? Of course not. I did not ask for a refund because it was still an enjoyable read to me...regardless of the hoopla. In fact, years later James would inspire my style of writing as well. I admired James' unique approach to telling his story, noticing he did not follow 'the rules' of accepted grammar and proper sentence structure...and I liked that. A fresh, indie approach that greatly influenced my writing style, and something I look for when choosing a book to read myself. 

So yeah, I think everyone came down on ole James a little too hard. I think he was/is an indie author that just got caught up in the marketing steamroller. I think his hands were tied contractually and he, unfortunately, had to take the knocks. I was pleased to learn he has since moved on to great success - publishing more books, and owning his own publishing company that helps out fellow struggling indie authors, just like he once was.

I'll close by saying, 'Thank You James Frey!'  First, for getting me back into reading, rediscovering my favorite genre - memoirs and biographies. And for inspiring me, as an author - reminding me that we don't always have to follow the rules. After all, isn't that what indie means? But mostly, for reminding me to stay true to myself, as THAT is what it's all about in the end...not the almighty dollar. 

Do you think James got a raw deal? Or did he deserve what he got?
(Please vote..there should be a poll directly below this post - scroll down below comment section)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Honor of WriterWednesday: Give Indies A Shot! See Listings In Every Genre!

Are you tired of mainstream? Do you think outside the box? Then I bet you'd love to find a new indie read, maybe discover a new fav author! We have a slew of independent authors - newbies, like me, to seasoned pro's! Almost 300 to choose from on The Independent Authors Network.
I've copied the link to the bookstore, where you will find all books sorted by genre.

Take a gander and see what you find. Many at very reasonable, almost unbelievable, prices! If you find one, let me know...I'd love to hear what you think!


And if memoirs are your thing, don't forget to check out mine before you leave my page!
Thank you for supporting indie artist and authors. The future of art depends on you and me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FYI: Top Questions NOT To Ask A Vegetarian!

Okay all you carnivores, listen up! I know you don't mean to, perhaps you're just short on information, so as a public service I will publish the answers to those burning (and annoying) questions we vegetarians get asked most often, thus eliminating the need for you to ever ask them again...hopefully...maybe? Please. 

First off, I have not always been vegetarian - although I swear I was born to be one, but like most families raised in the midwest, I was brought up on a permanent menu of 'meat and tators'....ground meat, pulled meat, shredded meat, MEAT, MEAT, MEAT. Even as a child I remember separating the hamburger clumps from my mac-and-cheese (YES, my mother even put meat in our mac-and-cheese! Which I lovingly dubbed 'Cheese Crap' - and that's how we referred to that dish from that point on) I knew I didn't have 'the taste' for this odd food item, as early as I can remember, but I definitely lost my taste for it when I learned where meat actually came from. Surprisingly it didn't just magically appear from the back room of our grocer's meat department, as I always pictured...no seems it came from a dark, hidden, sinister place of which we did not, and should not, know the details of.  But it was clear to me, those innocent cows and pigs I saw happily grazing in the fields of my hometown, were soon to be somebodies 'Crap' in their Cheese-Crap! Holy Crap!  Nevertheless, children did not have a say back then, so I ate what I was served - hiding meat under potatoes or in napkins every chance I got.

Fast Forward: It's the early nineties. Oprah is going through her 'Mad Cow' fiasco. For the first time I sat and watched in horror as hidden footage revealed sickly cows and pigs being drug by their necks up ramps to begin the slaughter process. I was mortified. I was outraged. But more than anything, I was so impacted by this display of animal cruelty, that I vowed from that moment on I would never, ever eat red meat again. How could I? Even though I was never a big meat eater as an adult, I must admit I'd absentmindedly wolf down a Big-Mac or a plate of bacon if you put it in front of me.  Not anymore. That 60 minutes of TV gave me the incentive I needed to boycott red meat once and for all. It would take a few years, but eventually ALL meat - including chicken and turkey - became obsolete from my diet. And ever since that day...the questions. Oh the constant questions a vegetarian receives! The odd, sometimes insulting, questions. From my experience, here are the most asked - usually at mealtimes - and always in front of  large groups of friends or family:

1. You're a vegetarian? Do you eat fish or seafood? 
My fav by far. First off, I've always hated seafood - even when I was a carnivore. (My mother used to force me to eat salmon patties, which I choked down whole chunks, drenched in ketchup, while pinching my nose closed to avoid the taste!)  This question always amazes me. What does vegetarian mean? Aren't fish and seafood of any kind living creatures? Hello. My response? "I don't eat anything with a face or a mother". End of discussion...unless you have a smarty pants in the crowd that insist a head of lettuce has a face.

2. If you don't eat meat, HOW do you get enough protein in your diet? 
Surprisingly there ARE other sources of protein out there for us that don't want to involve a bloody carcass. Beans, legumes, nuts, peanut butter, soy, and a lot of vegetables are rich in protein. Don't worry, we get enough, and probably more than most meat-eaters, if the truth be told. 

3. What do you eat when you go to McDonalds? 
I just have to laugh. First off, if you're a veg-head, chances are you are not frequenting these places unless forced to. Most vegetarians are health-minded as well, so unless you hold a gun to our heads, you will probably not see us taking up a booth at the Golden Arches...but if we do, there are always the salad choices I guess. Which leads me to my next fav...

4. Don't you get tired of eating salads ALL the time?
First off, I love a good salad, but it certainly isn't on my menu every meal. These days products like veggie burgers, soy bacon, and meatless 'hamburger' crumbles allow us to eat pretty much like everyone else. 'Morningstar' products are my savior in the freezer section - those green-boxed items of goodness supplement my menu and keep it varied and interesting.  Hats off to you Morningstar! Thanks to them, there is no reason to deprive myself of any meat items I used to enjoy.  Bacon, turkey, pepperoni, corn dogs...they have it all!  For every meat item, they have a faux version! 

5. You're a vegetarian? Oh that's how you stay so skinny.
BIG myth! Vegetarians are probably more prone to weight gain! Because some might not realize all the choices we do have - or get lazy like I do sometimes - they rely on carbs to keep them full and going. And everyone knows what a continuous bread-basket will do to your waistline. Twinkies, cakes, and cookies are also vegetarian...you get the picture. So no, sorry, I do not get a free pass...I have to exercise and sweat just like the meat-eaters. I only WISH that one were true!  

6. Why? Why are you a vegetarian? Is it because you feel sorry for stupid farm animals? But that's why they are here...for us to eat.
Now I really don't loathe this question, because it does give me a chance to explain and educate. I realize it's different for every veg-head, I'm sure, but my personal explanation is simple. I truly believe, in this day and age, that nothing needs to die to feed me or keep me alive. Maybe in the cave-man era, but no longer. To me, every living thing that is born, deserves to be alive. We all serve a purpose in this world. The cockroach, the snakes, the pigs, the cows, the humans. Just because we supposedly have a higher thinking capacity (do we?) doesn't give us the right to destroy what Mother Nature has put here for her purpose. Taking a life of another is murder. Plain and simple, whether it be an animal or human. And murder in my book is wrong. I'm sure if you were raised on a farm, you became accustomed to this practice, but does that make it right? 

7. If we didn't eat animals, there would eventually be too many and they would take over or starve out due to lack of food.
Three words: Supply and demand. If no one ate meat, we would not have to breed more meat, thus cutting out unnecessary births. I know this is a pipe dream, as I will never see the day no one eats meat. And as far as wild game, like deer...well, just as nature intended, the strong will survive, the weak will not. I don't think the eco-system needs our help to balance nature out...I'm pretty sure that's already built into the design. What wasn't built into the design is our abuse of the design. 

8. Is it okay if I eat meat in front of you?
Actually this is sweet. And yes, of course, it is okay. If I told you how to live, I'd be quite the hypocrite. 'Live and Let Live' is my mantra. I'd be thrilled if you suddenly declared your vegetarianism, but I do realize it is not for everyone. So no, I am not offended. In fact I live with a carnivore. He does eat less meat than your average Joe, but I have not convinced him to jump on my bandwagon, and it's been 15 years. But I still dream...

Bottom line:
Every night we lay our heads down to sleep. When I lay mine down, I am pleased to know nothing had to die that day to sustain my body for another day. I take great pride and pleasure from that. I know we are all different, and I respect that. I'm just asking for you to be conscience of how you are feeding yourself. There will always be meat-eaters. But I have to wonder, if every meat consumer were forced to tour the packing plant from which it came, would there be less? I could only hope for humanities sake, the answer is yes. 
Like Paul McCartney once said, " If slaughterhouses had glass walls, there would be more vegetarians"...Amen Paul! Amen. 
Thank you Oprah and Morningstar for changing my life for the better! I (and the animals I have saved in my lifetime) will be forever grateful!

Monday, October 10, 2011

MondaysMindset of a Hippie-Chick: Halloween-Are We Too PC Nowadays?

If you are familiar with me at all, you know I love Halloween. In fact, I'm dubbed 'THE Queen of Halloween' within my social circles. The love for this holiday is deep-rooted from my childhood of the seventies. Ah those carefree days when we were free to be ghouls, goblins, and monsters if we chose,walking up to any house in the neighborhood that had that welcoming front porch light on to receive 'full' sized candy bars and sweets, or perhaps nickels and dimes from the 'richer' houses on the block. The days when you wore your costume to school and goofed off all afternoon attending the Halloween parade, showing off your scary alter-ego...and you know what?  No one was offended! 

That's right...no one was offended.  Unlike today. No one accused us of devil-worshipping or witchcraft. No one demanded that children only be allowed to dress in cheery outfits resembling story-book characters, only to be marched around the mall to receive the most dreadful candy of all - hard candy - from less than enthusiastic teen mall employees! Where's the fun in that? Where did it all go? Why did it change? I think it all changed when everyone started getting a little carried away with this 'PC' thing. 

And I only bring this up on this particular Halloween because two strange things happened over the weekend that made me realize I am NOT living in my 1975 Halloween-World any longer. 

For the past thirteen years we have put on quite the extensive scary display for our neighborhood, consisting of a graveyard, our stuffed monsters, lit up pumpkins and hanging skeletons - you know, the typical haunted house on the block. (See Friday's post in archive) We do this every year, and every year we are overwhelmed with praise and high fives for our contribution to the neighborhood. Many of the local children have grown up with us, looking forward to each year's display. So imagine our surprise when we woke Saturday morning to find our graveyard had been robbed! Yes, modern day grave-robbers! But these thieves stole more than just property, they stole two of our long-term monsters - Devil Man and Ghouly Guy.  And also did what damage they could within the time constraints they apparently had, strewing plastic pumpkins all over the yard, and smashing ceramic gargoyles. I have to admit, my heart sank when I saw the damage done, but also a sadness filled my soul - who would get pleasure in doing such a thing? We've never had problems in the past. In fact, I thought we were immune to teenage pranks because everyone seemed to have a certain respect for our efforts every year.  Well it didn't take long to get a sneaking suspicion of the culprit. 

As I was painstakingly re-doing our setup, a car idled by with a voice singing praises out the window of her gratefulness for our yearly effort. I nodded, thanking her for the kind words - words we were accustomed to hearing time after time. Five minutes later another car pulled around the corner. It took a minute for me to comprehend her words, for they were words I was not accustomed to, completely taking me off guard. She was spewing words of hatred for our display of Halloween art, calling it 'Awful', 'Horrible', and a 'Disgrace'. WHAT? I stood dumbfounded as my friendly neighbor smile turned into a confused scowl. Did I hear her right?  Was she actually OFFENDED? I helplessly stood there, confused...but then heard myself defending my holiday as she drove away..."It's HALLOWEEN! Lighten up!", are the words I believe I used. Had I had more time, I'm sure I would of added a few more in there that I would come to regret...but maybe not. What was her deal? Why was she so 'offended'? Our depiction of the afterlife? Our light-hearted version of a graveyard? Our theme this year involved Oprah...was she offended because we made her black? But she IS black! Was it a racial thing? A religious thing? Who knows. But it did make me think, has this world become TOO Politically Correct? Too uptight?

But I already knew the answer - long before this incident. Of course we have. I don't know when it happened, but it did. And believe me, I know we need a certain level of compassion when it comes to the PC thing...I get that. But there is a point where it just gets ridiculous. I don't believe in Christmas, but you don't see me tearing up nativity scenes or ripping down colorful lights signaling Santa is coming! Or smashing all the Easter Eggs on Easter Sunday, calling it a 'disgrace'. I don't even make a scene when they come to MY door 'hell-bent' on converting me to their religion of choice. Why? Because I live by one simple mantra: Live and Let Live. 

By contrast, I've heard that Halloween is the second money making holiday for retailers, coming in just under Christmas itself. Categorizing  it more of an 'adult holiday' now more than ever. So what does that tell you? That there are more Devil-worshipers now? Of course not. It tells me there is a great need for adults to let their hair down one night a year and 'be' whatever they want to be! (And yes, it allows that seemingly 'shy' receptionist in your office to dress in the sluttiest attire she can muster up the guts to wear!) Fantasy...Fun...A magical night! Just like in the seventies! We need that as a society. To be free to choose, not worrying if we'll be dubbed as an evil person for partaking in a fun ritual that, for now, has stood the test of time. I'd hate to think my future grandchildren will never know the magical thrill of Halloween, in all its gory-ness, because some over-excited groups have banned it, or at the very least taken all the fun out of it. The world is one giant melting-pot with many beliefs and customs. Why would one person even fathom putting down something I am doing (in my own yard, I might add) or believed in? Who gave her that right? If you don't believe in a certain holiday, then don't partake - just like I do.  But there's no need to inflict your opinions on me via car window, my dear neighbor, whoever you are.  I'm not saying you had anything to do with the recent shenanigans, you are obviously new around here, so I'll cut you some slack...this time.  But in the future, remember - Do not, I repeat, DO NOT mess with the QUEEN OF HALLOWEEN!  Just let me have this ONE holiday and we'll get along just fine. 

Lighten up people, it's just Halloween! :)  

Live and Let Live! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SixSentenceSunday! Get Your 6 Fix from The Gifted Ones!

Six short sentences from Chapter 8: The Nightmare Continues ~

They were both sitting there - around the table of doom - anxious to reveal the depth of my long-term sentence. Their stern faces indicated they were not going easy on me. “The Plan” would start with a short isolation from school. They realized it wasn't feasible to keep me home forever, or send me off, so I would be going back in a few days. That is, only after they contacted Selina's mom to warn her of this latest “crime”, counting on her help to devise a plan that would keep us apart.

Thank you for visiting and getting your Sunday Quick Fix!
If you're intrigued, please follow my links above for purchasing options. Ebooks now only $.99! Print on sale @ Amazon for under $10!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yes Kids..It's Time! SaturdaySample Time! Snippet from 'The Gifted Ones'

This weeks excerpt from Chapter 7: All Hell Breaks Loose
(My 'secret' relationship had just been discovered by my parents)

The only thought running through my head was finding a way to contact Selina, to warn her of our discovery. The jig was definitely up! Could I get to a phone without them knowing? Could I get out my second story window, fleeing to her house on foot? The feeling of desperation was overwhelming. It killed me to picture her not knowing what had happened to me. What would she think when I didn't show up for school, abruptly cutting off all contact? Would she think I decided I couldn't handle this lifestyle, that I was done with her? I'd rather die than have her think that, even for one second! Sitting alone in my room, my mind raced for a solution. I needed comfort. I needed reassurance that everything would be alright. I needed my friend. I needed her.

Instinctively, I went to my closet, reaching for an old army jacket that belonged to her, and wrapped myself in it. I just wanted to smell her scent, and feel her close to me. It was the only form of self- soothing I had available at that moment. I laid on my bed, sobbing, with my arms wrapped around myself, envisioning her hugging me. Moments later my door flew open with a fury, it was my mother again...the evil warden. She saw the jacket around me and simply lost it! It was swiftly ripped off me, as if it were on fire. Stripping me of my last shred of sanity. Did they know what they were doing to me? How could these people turn on me this fast? How could they be so cold? Who WERE these people?

I was told then that I would not be attending school or work, and a phone call to Selina's parents was already in the works. We would not be allowed to see each other ever again! Any place where we might run into each other, was now off limits. That was their decision, and that was final! The jury had ruled. My door was slammed shut, and I was left to drown in my despair...again...alone.

I laid there in the dark that night, crying until tears just weren't possible any longer. The image of Romeo and Juliet came to mind. I could only be so lucky to die in my sleep tonight, I thought. If there would have been poison in my room, I'm certain I would've chugged it in a New York minute. Not having that luxury available, I got out my cassette player, plugged in my earphones, and went to the only other source of comfort I could get my hands on. I listened to Elton singing “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” over and over and over. Soaking in every word, wishing some miracle would save me that night...save us.

I eventually drifted off to sleep from total exhaustion.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by for a little sample.
If you'd like to know how this saga ends, please visit the links posted above to purchase my memoir. Ebooks are now only $.99! Print on sale @ Amazon for under $10!

Friday, October 7, 2011

FridayFeelGoodAssignment:Get Your Halloween On! Oprah's-In-Da-House!

Every neighborhood has one. THAT house. The mysterious, spooky house on the block that magically comes alive once a year...October 31st to be exact.

Yep, that's us! And to think it all started about 13 years ago with one little display of a stuffed hobo bending over, displaying his 'pumpkin' butt-crack peaking out of his oversized jeans. From that Halloween on, we became THAT house. Oh if only I had known what I just signed up for, and the responsibility we were accepting!

'THAT House' - the one everyone anticipates this time of year...What WILL they do THIS year? HOW can they top last year? Concerned neighbors that rarely speak to us, stop us at the mailbox, inquiring - in August! We even have seasonal residents that return in October, anxious to see what we've come up with this time. Not to mention the traffic that repeatedly slows down to grab a gander and a snapshot. So, pressure? Yeah, a tad.

Well, somehow we have managed - and my poor husband has been a great sport about it too, as he IS my set/design engineer. Our displays have grown tremendously over the years - each one has to top the previous - quite the challenge I must say. We've come up some doozies though. From our 'Bat Cave' display, to our 'Ghoul-Aid' stand, and last year's 'Nightmare Before Xmas' which displayed our monsters kidnapping Santa and his sleigh full of presents. Oh the memories!

I have tons of fond memories of Halloween's past. Even as a child I can remember loving this creepy time of year, claiming it as 'MY' holiday. Bravely marching up to doors in our safe neighborhoods of the seventies, decked out in my store- bought, plastic 'Heckle & Jeckle' crow costume (what does THAT have to do with Halloween?!) to my more elaborate hand-made costumes in my adult life. Who doesn't LOVE a sock monkey?
I must add, if you ever have a chance to be a sock monkey for a day, by all means, do not pass it up! That was probably the most fun I've ever had. Sock monkey's, as I found out, can get away with practically anything in public!

From the over-the-top parties we have thrown, to the parties we have attended, nothing compares to the fun I always have on that special night. We have taken the party scene down a notch or two, now that we are getting older and not that energetic, but I still get a pep in my step looking forward to this magical time of year. And even though it is a lot of work, it's a labor of love, and SO worth it when I hear the praises from our loyal fan-base year after year. I think to myself, HOW could I EVER give this up? I doubt I ever will...even if I have to hire it done from my wheelchair when I'm in my 90's!

So let your Halloween Freak Flag Fly! Deck your house out and make fond memories for the children in your neighborhood. It's the one time of year you can be whatever you want! Let you hair down and go for it! Tell em the 'Queen of Halloween' said so.

Wishing you all a spook-tacular holiday month!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Twitter: Friend or Foe?

All die-hard tweeters have experienced it...that eye roll and look of worthless disgust coming from our 'non-tweeting' mates, as they catch us sneaking in a tweet or two. And then we hear IT -  'Are you on there AGAIN?' as I sheepishly sneak my Ipad into the bathroom, my only place to tweet without judgement. 

It wasn't always this way. I remember the day when I too was one of THEM...a Non-Tweeter.

My sister was the first 'tweeter' I ever knew. She follows and promotes an up-and-coming indie musician. At first I didn't pay much attention to it, but then realized how much twitter had consumed her - taking up most of her spare time. Gone were the days of my daily emails from her and the sharing of our daily lives...yep, in my book she was 'addicted'. I scoffed at her senseless wasting of time and wondered how someone could pass up communication with family or a beautiful day outside in lieu of talking to complete strangers (whom she thought of as her new 'family') 160 characters at a time. What a loser, I thought. Little did I know, I would soon come to eat my own words. 

With the announcement of my memoir being published this past April, my sister again encouraged me to get into twitter, promising it was the perfect spot for a new author to network. I groaned and drug my feet, thinking geez..I just incorporated Facebook into my life after a similar bout of 'holding out' to conformity. But I soon realized the fact that a self-publishing indie author needs every trick in the book, so I reluctantly signed up. She excitedly shared her expert knowledge showing me the in's and out's of twitter-land. Tweet Deck, Re-tweets, Mentions, and Hashtags - a new language for a new world.   
I sat at my computer, tweet deck and columns laid out before me. I felt like a squirrel trying to cross a busy road. 'Traffic' screaming past me, as the tweets seemed to roll non-stop, much like a ticker-tape on Wall Street. I was definitely overwhelmed to say the least. She encouraged me to 'jump in' and strike up a conversation with someone...anyone, as I needed to get 'followers'. I felt awkward and plastic as I haphazardly tried to strike a cord with someone...anyone! After a few lame attempts I walked away thinking this just isn't for me. Who would follow me? An unknown author with a memoir no one has ever heard of, covering a controversial subject to boot. It felt like high school all over again. Who would ever listen to me? 

Time went by and I found myself observing my tweet columns. Once in awhile I'd comment on a tweet or follow a link. Slowly, like magic, I started to connect. Finding like-minded tweeps like myself, and fellow authors starting out just like me. We were forming a 'clique', a family of sorts...just like my sister had described. Damn, maybe she WAS on to something here!

Fast forward: I now have over 2000 followers! How that happened I have no idea. But I do know once I let my guard down and relaxed, I fit in just fine, in fact I thrived. I have talked to people from lands I will never see, places I will never visit. Likewise, people who never would've heard the likes of me, have read my book. I have a tight following and support system I never would have experienced had it not been for dear ole twitter. The technology that I once bashed is now part of my daily routine as well. It's my sole source for promotion and making new friends, many I feel I will know for some time to come. As I just recently joked in a tweet - you know you spend too much time on twitter when you're out shopping and see things that remind you of one of your tweeps and have an urge to buy it for them! Virtual friends that are sometimes closer to us than our flesh and blood friends. Is that wrong or just the wave of the future? 

My husband is still a non-believer, and I warn him every day that he needs to accept this new way of communication as this IS our future. Jump on the band-wagon or be left in the dust, I feel. Much like our parents who refused to use cell phones or other modern technologies, like computers. This is only the tip of the iceberg for the new generation...learn their language or be lost. I'm a big advocate of keeping life simple and vintage, but some things you just have to accept if you want to keep up with the times.

So friend or foe? For me, I say friend! It's all in what you make of it, like anything else. And yes, I do need to learn how to discipline myself so that other aspects of my life are not lost or compromised to the point of destruction - that is a daily lesson within itself for me. Family, daily exercise, outdoor activities, pets, and real life friends are all important parts of my life which I do not want to lose. But at the same time, so is support, human compassion and camaraderie, and the thrill of seeing your work enjoyed around the world! We just have to learn to juggle both in harmony, and get our mates to join in, not shut out. 

Once again, I coin the phrase, 'Never say never!' for I have eaten my words...again. 

If you don't already, please follow me @THEGIFTEDONES. I pop in and out on a daily basis. My objective is to connect with like-minded tweeps, spread my word of 'acceptance' through my memoir, The Gifted Ones', promote other indie authors and artists, and have some fun with good people! If that describes you, I'll see ya in my stream! Now excuse me while I go check who 'RT'ed or Mentioned' me! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Have A Website! Am I Somebody Now?

Back in the 'old days' they used to say you weren't 'Somebody' until your name appeared in the phone book...Oh how times have changed!

Recently a fellow writer-friend approached me via Facebook with a proposal. He said, I noticed you don't have a website, if you want, I'll set one up for you...for free. My first thoughts were: OMG! Not ANOTHER site to oversee, keep up with, interact with, suck up my day with...I already have email, twitter, Facebook, Triberr, and my own blog page, which combined, seems to steal most of my time now! How can I take on one more 'thing'?! But then that four letter word kept creeping into my head: FREE.
He convinced me there is no interaction and he'd take care of the details. And he did! So I want to first thank Kevin Davison of Reader Exchange for his awesomeness and never ending generosity, and second, announce my new website!
Please visit if you have a chance sometime, all my links are there, and you can even be one of the first to sign my guestbook!
Yes, today I definitely feel like somebody! :)


Make it an awesome day! Go out and BE somebody too! With or without a website, you matter! Let your voice be heard...live out loud!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Covers...DO We Judge?

'Don't judge a book by its cover'.  We've all heard the quip - we know we shouldn't, but do we abide? 

The answer is, how could we not? Yes, it might be unfair...but if you think about it, choosing a book is a lot like dating. That first impression speaks volumes. Much like picking out a future 'mate', book covers are our first attraction - the eye candy. It catches our eye (or doesn't) and intrigues us to find out more - what's inside? 

As an artist, I find it fascinating what people are attracted to in this category of 'book art', and as an author I was initially surprised at what I personally picked as my own cover.  Normally I go all out - my eclectic taste craves bold color, bold lines - the crazier the better.  But when it comes to books, the subtle and simple seem to catch my attention. As they say, sometimes less IS truly more, and I see that now. 

I recall one of my favorite covers - James Frey's 'Million Little Pieces'. Now I know he took a lot of flack for that book, and perhaps I will write about that one day too, but for now I say he (or his publisher) did an excellent job on picking out that cover. If you'll remember, its a single hand reaching out with hundreds of candy parcels stuck to the fingers with a light blue background.  That's it.  But I have to tell you, when I first saw it, I was mesmerized. I thought, how brilliant!  This simple cover has everything I need for an instant attraction. It had color, texture, intrigue, and CANDY! How could I NOT love this book? So simple, yet spoke volumes to me. I knew the book was about addiction, and pictured each of those candies as puzzle pieces of his troubled life - the 'million things' that led him to his addiction.  From the cover alone, I knew I had to read that book, and in between chapters I would find myself staring at those colorful candies, soaking in the deep meaning he was transmitting to me through art alone.  

So what do you look for in cover art? Do you want the cover to tell you the whole story or just a teasing glimpse of what could be inside?  Is sex always a grabber in this medium? Is color important to you? Would a bad cover be enough for you to dismiss the book totally, even though you heard it could be a good read? I've heard the saying that a good cover can sell a bad book, but also, a bad cover can sink a good book as well. Are we that judgmental? Or is it just human nature to be geared towards something that naturally attracts our eye? 

Like I said before, as an artist I was surprised by my final decision for my own cover art regarding my memoir, The Gifted Ones. As I wrote draft after draft, I would find myself daydreaming of my unborn cover. What crazy splashes of color would I use? How profound could I make it? I pictured purple - tons of purple! And silhouettes! Mysterious black outlines of the main characters - Selina and I. It had to transmit love, as that is what my main message is all about - love and acceptance. In between editing and going crazy, I'd scan the internet for clip art that fit this image in my mind. Then one day I came across THE perfect pic - I was elated, it told the story without saying a word. I copied, pasted, and saved...excited for the day I would put that image to work. Well the day came to design the cover and guess what? That perfect image did not work out - pixel problems or some technical 'non-art' related reasonings.  Discouraged, I hurriedly scanned through hundreds of 'acceptable' alternatives, convinced I'd never find a suitable replacement. And then I saw 'it'. That simple bold chain...with a broken link. I knew in an instant - that  was my new cover!  It told the whole story in one simple shot - on multiple levels, I might add. No color, no pizzaz, no candies! It was bold, simple, and dark...just like my story at times. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history!  Now, what to do with that equally striking runner-up pic? I loved it so much I knew I had to use it in something! Well, it is now my twitter avatar...the one that brought you here more than likely.  The one I periodically get complimented on from tweeters.  The color, they say, makes them happy when they see me in their timeline.  It has the power to grab, just as I had suspected...damn pixels! 

So YES, I say covers CAN make or break a book, unfair as it seems. But in this world of physical beauty, it only makes sense we'd pick an attractive looking book over one that didn't tantalize our eyes, our senses. So, the lesson? Authors, I know how hard we work on what is in between those two covers, so please, do not blow it by settling on bad covers!  Take your time and find the one that speaks volumes without saying a word...your hard work deserves that, and so do the readers that might pass by your book  based (unfairly) on what's on the outside.  Yes, true beauty IS always on the inside, but we have to get them there first...much like you hooked your mate.  ;)          

*Thank you for stopping by! Comments are always welcome and appreciated! And by all means, please take a gander at my cover - what does it say to you? 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday's Mindset Of A Hippie-Chick: Getting To Know You Via 1 Appliance

Some people read tarot cards, some read tea leaves...I read refrigerators!   
Not what's inside, mind you, it's whats on the OUTside...  

Call it a crazy quirk, but I've been doing it for some time now and it's amazingly accurate. Even if I've never met you, one inspection of what you have hanging on your fridge tells me a lot about the person that inhabits that space. It's a fun little game I play while doing my 'other' profession - pet sitting. Yes folks, being an indie artist/author doesn't always pay like you'd think it would (ha) so my alter-ego watches people's pets while they're away on vacation. This is when I started my unique way of figuring people out without truly knowing them on a personal level.  I'm not a snooper, I swear! But I do find it interesting to view this unique window into a strangers life.

Think about it...
*A neat freak, possibly OCD? Your fridge front will be stark and ultra clean, probably nothing on the front but shine!
*Couple just starting a family? Your fridge has tons of kid pics, children's artwork,calendars with events scheduled, colorful ABC magnets, and a good share of greasy fingerprints.
*Grandparent? Same as family oriented, but more 'finger-paintings', miscellaneous holiday art projects, and 'I miss you' artwork.   
*Single? A few funny magnets, party photos of you with friends that have their faces too close to the camera lens, coupons for pizza, takeout menus, and maybe an inspirational saying or two for motivation. 
*Newly married - no kids yet? You have an array of wedding pics and pet photos. You display your '1st child' proudly and refer to them as your son or daughter in the pic. Plus pizza/takeout coupons too. 
*Weekend Parent? Same as single's fridge, with a few snapshots of you and a kid at a bowling alley birthday party  or school pic.
*Artist? Your fridge is full of color and funny, quirky -sometimes inspiring- magnets. Your fridge looks like a work of art with your carefully arranged assortment of eye-candy. A work of art within itself. 
*Depressed occupant? Not much to see here, same as neat freak, but not so neat. You can 'feel' the sadness. 
*Overly busy/stressed out? Your fridge front has a lot of unnecessary clutter - old pics, expired coupons, dusty out-dated stuff. But you don't notice because you are too busy, plus the fridge stresses you out even more! 
*Athletic/Gym rat? Inspirational sayings and charts of progress; running, cycling, weight loss, etc... Possibly some ribbons, awards, or conversion chart for kilometers to miles.   
*Fun party couple? You have the 'must-have' for parties...about 100 single-word magnets that when arranged make funny, often nasty, sentences. I can tell what kind of party you had by reading the latest draft displayed. 

The list goes on and on, but you see my point. Yeah it might be stereotyping to a degree, but we all usually fall into one category or another - I'm not judging, merely observing!  

I know what you are doing right now, you're looking at your fridge in horror, realizes what it says about you, aren't you? Don't lie!  Hey, our homes are our safe havens - the one place we can truly be ourselves 24/7. So I say let your fridge freak-flag fly! Just be prepared for 'fridge-readers' like myself to sneak a peek...we can't help it, and I bet you won't be able to either, next time you encounter someones tell-all appliance. 

And I also know what you're saying right now...ok smarty pants, what's on YOUR fridge? Ok, fair question.  MY fridge has been spray painted orange-yellow with a bright red handle,  has multiple colorful magnets - mostly humorous, colorful plastic lizards, and letters that spell out: 'Eating Is A Weakness' - my hubby's favorite saying.  
Good luck figuring me out!  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perfect For A.D.D Sufferers..SixSentenceSunday! The Gifted Ones~A Memoir

Sassy Six taken from Chapter 8: The Nightmare Continues

Were they that naive? Or was I that clever? Maybe they just wanted to believe it so badly they took my bait. We agreed never to discuss this episode again, and the subject was dropped. Fine by me! Although I knew all eyes would be carefully monitoring my every move, forcing me to amp up my level of deceitfulness. Not a problem, I thought, I was more than ready for the challenge. I saw how ugly they could get, having no intentions of seeing that again...ever.

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