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Why “We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art” Is Important to Me

We Will Not Be Silenced Book Cover

So, I know this will come as a surprise to many of you. If you follow me on social media at all, you might already know what I’m about to say. I recently submitted a poem I’d written for the opportunity to possibly be included in an anthology that talks about sexual harassment and sexual assault. At the time, I was feeling extremely passionate about those subject matters and an idea for a poem came to me. So I wrote down the words that were flowing through my thoughts and on a whim, submitted my poem to Indie Blu(e) Publishing.

Before this poem, I’ve never ever submitted any writing of mine for publication so I didn’t know what was going to happen. So when I received an email back saying that my poem was going to be accepted to be included in the anthology, I was completely surprised. I didn’t expect this poem I’d written on a whim to be accepted, but I was also happy too for a many number of reasons.

There are many reasons why the subject matter of sexual harassment and sexual assault are important to me. The best way I can describe it is this: I’ve had quite a few experiences of my own where I found myself feeling uncomfortable around someone of the opposite sex. Whenever I was in elementary school, I was bullied a lot by boys my age. When these boys bullied me, a lot of what they did was physical, such as pulling my hair.

Then when I was in middle school (6th grade to be exact) I dealt with having two different boys harassing me. One of the boys told me he wanted to kiss me and that he knew I liked him even though I never once expressed any interest in him.  The other boy would pucker his lips and make kissing noises at me during class. It was to the point where I found myself covering my face with my jacket or putting my head on the table so I could ignore him because he never stopped doing it even after I confronted him about it.

I’ve also had some pretty personal experiences with emotional and verbal abuse throughout my middle school and high school years. Whenever I was in 8th grade, my mother married a man we all thought would be a wonderful addition to our family. Instead, he was emotionally and verbally abusive towards the three of us along with being an alcoholic. The marriage was so bad that the summer before my senior year of high school, my mother decided she had enough and we spent several days packing our things so that we could leave. During that time, my older sister and I stayed the night at various friend’s homes so that we weren’t anywhere near our ex step-father and had friends help us pack until we collected all of our belongings. Those years were some of the roughest years of my life, but despite those terrible times, I’m extremely thankful for them. Because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had those experiences in my life.

So for me personally, I believe the “We Will Not Be Silenced” anthology is really important. I believe it’s a really great way for those who have their own personal stories about being sexually harassed and assaulted to come forward creatively. Or anyone that has any other types of stories to open up and share their experiences. And I’m extremely thankful and honored that my poem is within it’s pages.

We Will Not Be Silenced My Poem
The poem I submitted into the “We Will Not Be Silenced” anthology. It’s called “If ‘Boys Will Be Boys,’ Then Girls Are Allowed to be Angry.” There’s more of it on the next page, but I figured I wouldn’t share my whole poem on here.
We Will Not Be Silenced Back Cover
You can even see my name on the back cover, near the bottom.
We Will Not Be Silenced Me Photo 1
Me with “We Will Not Be Silenced” in my hands and our one cat on my lap.

If you’re interested in getting yourself a copy of the anthology, you can order a paperback copy on Amazon here and get it for your Kindle here. You can also send an email to indiebluecollective@gmail.com if you’d like to be placed on the wish list for a copy of the anthology. I would also like to add that seventy percent of the royalties raised above the publishing and promotion costs will be donated to organizations that provide services to sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors, which is another reason why I’m so happy to be a part of this.

I still can’t believe that a poem I’ve written has been published. But I can’t be any happier about it because I’m expressing myself and letting my voice be heard. Please if you can, get yourself a copy of “We Will Not Be Silenced” because there are a lot of powerful voices expressing their truths. From what I’ve read of it so far myself, these stories are pretty amazing. Just know too that if you have your own personal story, don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to me. You aren’t alone and I believe you.

Back to Blogging (Hopefully)

Back to Blogging Fall Image

Hello everyone! I hope you all have been doing well and I’m sorry I haven’t written anything on here in so long. I know it’s been a month since I’ve last written a blog post. It’s just that life for me has been super busy because of my new job. I’m still getting accustomed to the new hours I’ve been working, plus I’ve already traveled twice during my three weeks in this position. The first time I traveled to Ohio for my training, and then a week later I was asked to attend time keeping training in Pennsylvania for the new time system we’ll be using for our time sheets.

On top of all of that, I then thought I was sick with a cold. But it turns out it’s my seasonal allergies that randomly make an appearance just when the last medication I take expires. My seasonal allergies first started for me whenever I was in college living on campus 30 minutes away from home. I don’t know what exactly changed, just discovered that my throat gets itchy and all whenever the seasons change. But it’s never consistent so I never know if it’s actually my allergies or if I’m sick. So I’ve been dealing with an itchy throat, stuffy nose and headaches on top of adjusting to my new position and getting accustomed to earlier hours.

As a result, I just haven’t had the energy or the time to write on my blog like I’ve been wanting to. And I feel pretty bad about it because I’ve already canceled a post I was really committed to writing for one of my blogging friends. I was really excited about writing this post, about this opportunity, but these past couple weeks have just gotten away from me and I wasn’t able to complete the post like I wanted to. I know she understands and all, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling bad that I didn’t complete the post like I wanted. I know they’ll definitely be more opportunities to guest post in the future, but I don’t like letting those chances slip away from me.

While I’m glad that I have this new job opportunity and to see where it takes me, I’m sad that I haven’t been as active on my blog recently. But with adjusting to new hours comes me having to change the time I write on my blog. I don’t know yet how often blog posts will be, but I’ll try my best to stay as active on here as I used to be. I think it essentially depends on how I feel once I leave work, whether I’m up to the task of writing on my blog or not.

For now though, I’ll take it one day at a time just like with my new job. I find that overall this job has been okay so far. I’m still fairly new so I’m still learning how things work around there and what’s expected of me. I know there’s a lot I could improve on with myself in this position, but since I’m still learning, I need to cut myself a little more slack. I don’t know yet how I feel about the job overall, mostly because it’s office work and that’s not something I necessarily enjoy doing. But with this job, I’m definitely gaining more experience and feel like I’m heading in the right direction with what I want to do. I just need to stop over thinking every little thing I do and I believe I’ll be fine once I get really into my new position. I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity and while this job is only supposed to be a temporary position, I’m hopeful that it could turn into something more for me when I can prove myself a valuable asset to the company.

I hope moving forward to continue writing more posts on my blog. But for now, I’m trying my best to enjoy this new opportunity and adjust to my new hours. I’ll write blog posts whenever I feel inspired and have the chance, but it might not be as frequent as I used to. So until my next post, I hope all of you are doing well and would appreciate hearing back from you in the comments about what you’ve been up to. Take care and happy writing!

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Isabella's Painting Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=87551

I was going to in my next book review for OnlineBookClub.org put some of my first couple paragraphs from my review on the site on my blog post and then link to the review. However, in order for me to do so, I’d need to get in contact with someone from the site to make sure that was okay.

But when I actually did that, my message never went through to the person I was trying to send it to. I don’t know why because I put a lot of effort into writing that message. I found out because whenever I didn’t hear back from them I went into my Inbox and discovered that the PM never went through. Once I found out that happened, I was going to attempt to send another message. But right now, I quite frankly just wanted to put up my review on the site for you all to go check out sooner rather than later. And I just didn’t feel like spending another ten minutes working on another private message for it not to go through once again.

As a result, I have provided another link to a review I’ve written on OnlineBookClub.org. I’ll try sending a private message again later whenever I have the energy for it so that with these reviews in the future you can catch a glimpse of a little of what I’ve written. But until I’m able to get permission from the site, this is what I’m going to continue having to do.

Until then, please read my review and share it if you really like it. That would mean so much to me.

Also, I have some really exciting news I’m planning on sharing with you all on my next blog post. It’s personal/life stuff so I’m going to write a new blog post about it once the excitement of it wears off for me.

Until then, I hope you all have a good day today and enjoy my review!

Confessions of A Writer #7: I Love Writing Poetry Too

Robert Frost Poem Image

As someone who deeply loves the written word, one of my favorite ways of expressing emotion is through poetry. So it should come as no surprise that I love writing poetry too.

Poetry is a form of many expressions, from anger to happiness. All it takes is only a few lines for poetry to move me.

I especially love reading poems out loud. I feel whenever I read a poem out loud, I can better hear the flowing rhythms of each line and how they connect to each other.

I love both reading and writing poetry because I feel like it’s a simple way of getting my feelings across. While my emotions in poetry don’t always get expressed the way I want them to, I still find it to be a nice way to write your feelings down.

Since I love poetry so much, I have a couple poems I’ve written and posted here on my blog. My favorite ones include “I Walk Alone,” “Cheating” and “Guarded,” “Victory,” “Welcome Home,” and “Forgiveness.”  I feel like each of these poems I wrote came straight from the heart and are full of the exact emotions I wanted to express.

What about you? Do you love poetry too? If so, are there any poems you’ve written that you’d really like to share? Or are there any poems written by someone else that you wouldn’t mind sharing too?

Book Review: Dark Places

Dark Places Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I know a lot of people won’t be too pleased about my thoughts and feelings with this book. But I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as other people did so I’m sticking by that.

However, before I get into all of my criticisms with Dark Places, let me start by saying that there are some aspects of this book I did enjoy. For one, I think the storyline was fascinating to read. A story about a woman whose whole family was murdered in their home and the surviving family member points to her brother being the murderer is a story that interested me. Especially as she begins feeling doubtful about her original statement to the police and investigates to find the truth. I usually enjoy stories like this where the protagonist goes undercover to find out what really happened. But there are several factors with this story that lead to me not enjoying it, which I’ll talk about shortly.

I also enjoyed the writing in this story. In particular, the different points of view in the story where the author shifts from present day Libby to Ben’s perspective before the murders happened. I found that it helps supply the reader with more information about what actually happened as well as introduces the reader to key characters who play a crucial role in the events leading up to the murders. You learn what life was like for Libby before these events happen and how this moment changed her life completely.

However, I still didn’t enjoy reading Dark Places despite the interesting storyline and alternative points of view. While I admit I did enjoy the storyline, I did also find it lacking in depth as well. What I didn’t enjoy about it was the mystery surrounding the murders and how the truth was revealed. I was hoping that the story would provide a twist that as a reader would make everything I read in the story click together and everything I didn’t like about this book would make sense. Instead, once the truth was revealed, I was left feeling disappointed in the story I was reading.

What didn’t help was that I found myself disliking all of the characters in the story. Especially the character whose supposed to be the protagonist in this book Libby. But she’s actually an unreliable narrator who admits that she lies, and as a reader you witness her stealing from people as she’s investigating the death of her family members. I also found her unlikeable because she came across as being a very selfish person throughout the story. When she met the various members of the Kill Club, all she cared about was knowing if a lot of the members were really interested in what happened to her and her family instead of asking whether they actually had any good theories on who killed her family. There’s also the fact that she’s upset when people pay attention to other cases instead of hers and she doesn’t want to do any sort of work to help herself get money until she’s asked by the Kill Club to uncover the truth of her family’s murder. But she only does it in the first place because they offer to pay her for talking to certain people.

I was hoping Dark Places would redeem her character by making her be the murderer because that would’ve at least made this book more enjoyable for me to read. Instead, we have other characters who play a role in her family’s death and the reasoning behind it all is completely senseless. I was also hoping to have at least one character in the story that I actually liked, but wasn’t too surprised when that didn’t happen either. While I found Libby being an unreliable narrator an interesting choice for the story, I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere to make this book a worthwhile read. I also felt the same way about the mystery surrounding her family member’s deaths because nothing worthwhile happened in this story that resulted in them dying.

As a result, I wasn’t particularly fond of Dark Places. There was just too much disappointment with everything for me with regards to this book for me to even give this book a higher rating. In fact, I would’ve given this book a one star rating if I hadn’t finished reading it. Nonetheless, I finished this book and am disappointed by what I read because I was expecting more from the story than was given.

 

 

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Escape (30th Century Trilogy #1)

Rating: 3 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=85188

Like with my last OnlineBookClub review, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this one too.

Thank you very much, and happy reading!

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: The Altitude Journals

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=83983

Hello everyone! I hope today has been a really good day for you.

So, I have some exciting news to share with you all. I’ve been looking into sites that pay writers for book reviews because I need the extra money and think it would be good experience for me. That’s when I stumbled upon OnlineBookClub.org and decided to at least give it a try and see how it goes. So far, it’s been a good experience for me because they have daily giveaways where you have the chance to win a book or Amazon gift cards. I’ve already won two books from it so far and I think it’s a nice site that allows you to see a variety of different books to read. But, I haven’t been on the site for too long yet so I’m just waiting to see how the reviews I write go first before making any real decisions on whether I’ll stick with it or not.

I turned in my first review for the site yesterday. When I woke up this morning, I checked the status of it and it’s officially been published on the site. The link I have posted at the very beginning of this entry is where you can go to check out my review.

If you’re reading this and your an OnlineBookClub.org member, I’d appreciate it if you left a comment or shared the post so that others can read it. The same goes if your not a member, but are interested in checking the site out. Any feedback for me is deeply appreciated because I want to continue learning and growing as a writer.

I’d also like to say doing reviews on OnlineBookClub.org does not mean I won’t be posting any of my reviews that aren’t on the site here. I’ll still continue to write on this blog whenever I can because I love being on this space. There’s no way I’m leaving WordPress anytime soon. I’ll just be posting those review links here as well with “OnlineBookClub.org Book Review” as the title so you’ll know which of my reviews are on their site.

Thank you all for your understanding and happy writing!

Book Review: As Old As Time

As Old As Time

Rating: 3 stars

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making. 

 As Old As Time is the story of Beauty and the Beast where Belle’s mother ends up being the Enchantress who curses the Beast before Belle stumbles upon the castle to find her missing father. It details the story of how Belle’s father Maurice and the Enchantress/Rosalind meet. But the story also shifts to present day where Belle is trapped in the cursed castle with the Beast and they work together to find out what happened to Belle’s mother in the hopes of breaking the curse.

I find this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to be an enjoyable read. As this tale is one of my favorites, I find the way they’ve twisted this story to be extremely fascinating to explore. I loved seeing the story develop on its own once we got past all of the parts that were already familiar to us.

Especially because I felt like I could believe Belle’s mother was the Enchantress that cursed the Beast. To me, it makes a lot of sense with the way the original tale is written and the way it’s incorporated into this book fits it perfectly. So much mystery surrounds Belle’s mother in the original story so by making her the Enchantress, I feel like some of what happened in the tale can be explained.

I feel like a lot of people (and when I mean people, I mean the reviews I checked out on GoodReads) heavily criticized As Old As Time, especially the ending. Without giving too much away, the story doesn’t end at all like what we’ve been used to because of the Disney adaptation of the story. But personally, I was perfectly okay with the way this adaptation ended. Not because I don’t love the Disney adaptation, but because I don’t mind seeing a story I love change and have a different ending than what everyone else expects and is used to. Most fairy tales don’t truly have happy endings so I don’t see why this one would be any different. If anything, I like seeing a different ending for this story because this story isn’t the same one we’re used to enjoying. It’s completely different from the Disney adaptation and as such, I’m perfectly fine that the ending changed along with the story too. Yes, there are some things within it that could’ve been better written or explained, but I enjoyed it so I’m not going to complain.

However, there are some things about this Beauty and the Beast adaptation that I didn’t particularly enjoy. While I loved learning more about the past and why Belle’s mother disappeared, I didn’t truly believe in the love between the Enchantress and Maurice. I just didn’t feel like it was fleshed out well enough to make the reader truly believe the two of them would be together.

I think part of my struggle in believing in that relationship comes from that none of the characters in As Old As Time are really well developed. Yes, most readers of this story are already familiar with most of it, but I feel like that doesn’t mean Liz Braswell couldn’t have done something to make everyone seem more interesting.

I also think there was too much of the Disney adaptation in this story. Especially in the beginning whenever we are being introduced to everyone and just starting to read this book. While at times I didn’t mind because I was already familiar with the story, I didn’t think this book would do that. It made me believe that this book was just going to be a book version of the Disney film instead of a completely different story entirely. While I wouldn’t have minded that, I feel like I would’ve been completely disappointed if that had been the case.

So overall, I enjoyed reading As Old As Time. I found the twists within the story to be absolutely delightful and the ending to me was what I truly expected from this adaptation of the fairy tale. But while I enjoyed reading about what happened before Belle entered the castle, I didn’t completely believe in Maurice’s relationship with the Enchantress. I also feel like none of the characters were very well developed, just there to make the scenes in the story unfold and felt too much of the Disney adaptation in the beginning of the story. So while I enjoyed reading this book, there were definitely some things about it that needed to be changed. Nonetheless, I still recommend this book to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast but want them to be open minded about how the story plays out.

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill A Kingdom Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I originally heard about this book after reading Tiana’s book review on her blog The Book Raven. The premise of the book sounded really interesting to me so I decided to give it a read. And I enjoyed it so much.

I found To Kill A Kingdom to be quite an engaging story. What made me so interested in this story was reading it from the perspective of two characters who have a lot more in common than they know. While Lira and Elian both were fighting the same war on two different sides, it becomes obviously clear that they are more similar to each other than different. When Lira and Elian meet each other for the first time, you as the reader can see that both characters want the same thing: for the war between the sirens and humans to end. You can also tell that they’ll both do whatever it takes to achieve that goal even if that results in their own death. I found seeing this story being told from both of their perspectives to be interesting, but also enjoyable because I found both characters delightful. I found Lira’s perspective especially enjoyable for me because I’ve never read a book where the point of view in the story was told from the perspective of a siren. But at the same time, I enjoyed reading the story from Elian’s perspective too as a siren hunter/pirate.

Another reason I’ve enjoyed reading this book so much is because I love stories featuring mythical creatures such as mermaids and sirens. I especially love the way sirens were portrayed in this story because it made you sympathetic to Lira’s character. As a reader, you originally recall sirens from stories as being creatures who would sing to lure their victims to their death. While that origin story is an important part of the plot in the book, you find out that there’s more to sirens because of Lira. She gives you a better understanding of why sirens kill people to begin with and does her best as the story progresses to work on bringing peace between humans and sirens. She isn’t your typical siren and I love her for it.

I also love this book because I haven’t read too many books that feature sirens as a main character, especially ones like Lira who start questioning their upbringing. She and many of the other characters in this story go through a tremendous amount of character development that allows them to question their morals. The two characters who face development the most are the two protagonists, Lira and Elian. Lira has grown up her whole life believing humans to be her enemy and taking the hearts of princes to prove her worth as the next Sea Queen. Whenever she becomes human, however, she begins questioning her choices and realizes that everything she’s grown up believing about humans is wrong. Elian, the prince of Midas turned siren hunter/pirate, discovers siren hunting as being his true calling in life despite being heir to one of the most powerful kingdoms. Then one day he saves a mysterious woman from drowning in the ocean after he’s already plotting on finding an item that’s said to destroy sirenkind for good. This woman he barely knows agrees to help him and while he’s reluctant to trust her to begin with, he starts warming up to her as they get closer to what he’s searching for. As the plot of the story continues and he realizes who the woman really is, he still trusts her when the plot reaches its climax. It’s when he trusts Lira with his life despite her being a siren that he starts realizing that maybe not all sirens are bad and that if they work together, they can kill the Sea Queen and create peace between humans and sirens. Both of these characters overcome their initial beliefs about each other’s kind which allows them as characters to develop and do exactly what they need to make things right between humans and sirens.

What I’ve found I love the most about To Kill A Kingdom is the references to The Little Mermaid you can see throughout the book. First, there’s Lira and Elian who both are very similar to the main characters in The Little Mermaid. While Lira isn’t a mermaid, there are definitely quite a bit of similarities between her and Ariel, such as both of them being princesses and getting turned into a human. Elian is like Prince Eric in that he’s also a prince who also seems to love traveling in the sea. Then there’s the Sea Queen who punishes her daughter by turning her into a human who’s robbed of her siren song, just like Ursula turns Ariel into a human without a voice. The Sea Queen is also a lot like Ursula too in that she wants to make sure she gets what she wants but also does the best she can to destroy both Lira and Elian once her original plan is thwarted. While the overall plot in To Kill A Kingdom isn’t at all like The Little Mermaid and there are some obvious differences between the characters, you can still see similarities between the two stories and I really enjoyed seeing them while I was reading this book.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy when reading To Kill A Kingdom was when I finally finished reading the book. I really loved reading this story so when I was finally done with it, I was sad to see it all end. It was a book I was enjoying immensely so I didn’t want to leave the tale behind.

Other than being sad when this book ended, I overall loved reading To Kill A Kingdom. The story as a whole was interesting because of the two unique perspectives of the characters telling it. I loved hearing this book from Lira’s perspective who let us know that not all sirens are bad, which allowed us to see these mythical creatures in a different light. I appreciated that both of the main characters had character development that made them realize that they could work together to bring peace to their world. And I really loved seeing the references to The Little Mermaid story that I love so much, but was glad to see that this book didn’t follow that plot completely. I believe this book along with The Night Circus are my two favorite reads of this year so far, and I highly recommend giving this book a try.

 

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