What He Said: John Scalzi Has a Plan for How To Stay Creative in the Age of Trump

photo-by-nik-macmillan

It’s rare that I repost a piece from the Los Angeles Times, but the general thesis of this one has been rolling around my own head for weeks, and it seems John Scalzi beat me to it! So rather than wrangle my own version–and since he covered it so well–I’m linking his piece here. Take it to heart… it’s important that creative folks stay creative, even when it seems like the entire world has turned upside down around them!


John Scalzi’s 10-point plan for getting creative work done in the age of Trump

John Scalzi

IT’S NOT A GREAT SECRET that Donald Trump and his incoming administration are not hugely beloved by America’s creative class — the difficulty Trump is having in finding performers for his inauguration is only the most obvious manifestation of this. What’s probably less known is that Trump election put a number of creative people into mental tailspin. Not only for the fact of his election, but for what his policies mean for creatives: The possible disappearance of the Affordable Care Act, through which many creative people were able to secure health insurance, is just the tip of the iceberg for many.

People who don’t make their living through creative endeavors often suppose turbulent times make for great art, but the truth is that for many artists, being worried or anxious or depressed steals away the ability to create. The new reality of Trump’s America means a lot of creatives have to readjust — find a new balance to get back to creating.

How to do that, if you are creative person knocked for a loop by the election? Here are some of the things I’ve done, and that other writers and creatives are telling me they are doing.

[Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times….]

Photo by Nik MacMillan

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

When You’re Trying To Do Christmas and Politics Get In the Way

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I remember the good old days when I could find all sorts of fun, quirky things to write about at this time of year: cheerful vignettes about childhood holiday memories, charming seasonal facts long forgotten, the ten worst Christmas traditions ever; you know… meaningful stuff like that.

The holiday season just seems to lend itself to warmth and whimsy, the exploration of themes related to love and gratitude, our favorite recipes and the funniest Santa Claus pictures. Unless one is truly a curmudgeon, it’s almost impossible to not have least one happy memory attached to this time of year. I was—and am—no exception.

In fact, I love Christmas. I’m one of those. It makes me happy. I feel no compunction to spend money I don’t have, plans trips I don’t wish to take, or attend events I’d rather avoid. I’m very protective that way. It’s all about designing a season in which the only obligation is to create happiness for those within the circle. In fact, my husband and I began our marriage by making our first Christmas a thing of joy, and those handpicked ornaments and table decorations, cookie traditions and family gatherings, favorite meals and notable activities, sustain to this day, as precious to us as anything we hold dear.

scary-election_mikeyBut still, I’ve been more serious lately. Life got more serious. I blame the election. The damn, interminable election that sucked the air out of our nation starting a little over a year ago and ratcheting up every day since. It’s been a war of sorts, one that’s left us battered, bothered and bewildered. As one friend put it, “I hate that I’m actually in fear for our future. I’ve been disappointed in election results before, but I’ve never felt terrified about where this person might take us, or how and if we’ll survive.”

I’m not one who lives in fear, but I feel her pain. I share the concern. Despite previous political conflicts, rancorous partisanship, and caustic disparities amongst the parties, I, too, have never felt quite the level of darkness and toxicity that permeates this particular election… and this particular person. That the man entering office is doing so despite his opponent winning almost 3 MILLION MORE VOTES, and despite the fact that the wisest, more experienced, most admirable and honorable men and women in the country/world believe he’s an unmitigated disaster, means little at this point. We are here. Where we are. And at this moment there’s no changing that (later moments…we’ll see).

Dealing with the daily litany of horrible, idiotic, hateful, head-shaking, corrupt, indecent, and just plain stupid things the next presi— (I can’t say it… I won’t… #NotMyPresident… ever), occupant of the White House says or does has been exhausting and unnerving (that’s a tepid word… how about TERRIFYING?!). I have no idea where it’s all going either, how long the trainwreck will be allowed to smolder before someone gets it to the scrap yard, or if we’ll be teaching our children how to desk-dive in “nuclear drills” before the year is over. But I won’t live in fear. I prefer the sentiment of this section of the poem, Protest, that Dan Rather shared:

‘Protest,’ by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1914

To sin by silence when we should protest
makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law.
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare must speak and speak again,
To right the wrongs of many.

I will live by that. I will continue to raise my voice, as Ella suggests, to “speak and speak again,” however loud and long is required of me. I promise you that.

But still… there’s Christmas.

And Christmas is important. We human beings need the rituals and traditions of our holidays, those times when we can collectively acknowledge and experience celebration and joy. Without them we might end up spending all our time wailing on social media, and that’s not a good thing!

But to those for whom loss or grief keeps them from finding the joy… those whose loneliness and isolation occludes their ability to embrace the happier aspects of seasonal celebration, I say this: I understand. I do. I’ve been there. I know how tough it can be, when you’re in those particular places, to carry on about “jolly St. Nick” and the proper temp for Christmas roast. My beloved grandmother died the morning of Christmas 1979. I had some of the loneliest days of my life over Christmas of 1988. I went into the season of 1989 having just lost a job. I got dumped once right before Christmas. My father died in early December of 1999. I know how those seminal events, those states of being, can impact one’s ability to celebrate and be happy, Christmas or no Christmas.

I hope, though, that through friends, through social media, through whatever connections you can make, can find and feel in your world, that you’re able to glean at least a moment or two of warmth and holiday spirit this season… I wish that for you.

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As for me this year: I’m fortunate. My family is healthy and doing well, my work is moving along; I’ve got a new theatrical adventure to begin this coming year (more on that soon); the house looks magical, the gifts are wrapped, the cookies are baking, every gathering has met expectations, so we’re doing it up right. But yes… at least a few times a day, as I do my work online, I check social media and various news sources to see what the hellfire is going on, and dammit if I don’t have to tweet or post or write or share or comment or yell about one damn thing or another because that little orange mother—BUT WAIT!!

It’s Christmas… I’m mellow and jolly, wrapped in reds and greens, nutmeg and cinnamon wafting through the air; Music Choice is set to “Sounds of the Season” and it’s so, so, so lovely… so NO! Donald Trump does not get my holiday! He may have shattered my belief in democracy, lowered my estimation of human decency, made me question how deep my coffer of disdain can go, and raised my level of revulsion beyond good health, but he is NOT going to ruin my damn Christmas!

So, despite politics, I will revel madly, enjoy friends and family to the utmost, occasionally hug my big Santa statue by the doorway, all with hopes that you can do some version of the same (the big Santa is pretty exclusive but, I tell ya, he’s quite something!). And please know that—if you’re reading this— you’re likely one of my circle, those chosen few with whom I vent, debate, inspire, exchange ideas, share important articles, post unimportant but utterly appreciated videos of pandas playing with snowmen, or just, in general, grant outlets and venues and canvasses upon whicchrismas-carh to commiserate. Our mutual and connected attempts to makes sense of this crazy world have literally kept me from feeling alone and insane during this “Annus horribilis,” so THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

And Merry Christmas, dear friends. Let’s make 2017 a year that “trumps” the year we’ve just had… in all the good ways in which that word can be applied. Let’s reflect on the poem Dan Rather shared and make sure we are not those who “sin by silence.” Let’s be loud, and make COURAGE the word most spoken this coming year.

Until then, have a Christmas cookie… mmm, so good! ❤

Santa photo by Caleb Wood at Unsplash
Scary Election by Mike (Mikey) @ Unsplash
Christmas Car photo @ Pinterest

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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Guest Post: The Review Of My 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

Tara Sparling is a writer/blogger who never fails to make me laugh. Maybe it’s her Irish cleverness, maybe it’s her absurd take on the world, particularly the book world, or maybe it’s just that she’s damn funny. Enjoy!

Tara Sparling writes

It’s the time of the year where we look back on my predictions for 2016, which I cunningly disguised back in Januaryas a futuristic review of what had already happened.

Because, you see, this was supposed to be funny. For the past few years each January, in a shameless gimmick, I have been doing my review of the year past before it’s happened. And in general, it was a right old wheeze. Haha, said the lovely blog readers, at what amounted to a satirical news story. It’s funny because it is quite possible that all these things might happen, they said, such as publishers creating a new craze for cookery books made out of macramé, or the book world consumed with the story of the $3 million publishing deal for Johnny Depp’s dogs.

But then the rest of 2016 happened.

The Review Of My 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

I don’t wish to get maudlin on this blog…

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Let’s Discuss the Politics of ‘Closed’ Facebook Groups

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I get it. I get why people want to create “closed groups” on Facebook. “Secret groups.” It’s not hard to understand.

With a closed group, an administrator can control who’s let in and who’s kept out; how it’s done and what is shared. They can keep out the caustically antipathetic and avert the toxicity of trolls. All of which is desirable.

As someone who posts on sites like The Huffington Post, with one of the highest readership ratings of any media site in the world, I have heard — oh, have I heard! — from an array, a confluence, a literal horde of trolls over my writing career, and I mean to tell you, their hateful, hissing commentary can be soul killing. And trolling appears to be an equal-opportunity affliction, as I’ve been bombarded by everyone from gun nuts and political zealots, to angry moms and independent writers.

So, yes, removing that seething demographic’s inexhaustible urge to hijack meaningful conversation is a good thing. Though I do know some pugilistic, well-meaning writers who seem energized by virtually jousting with inarticulate, hateful poop-throwers, I’m not one of them… and my experience tells me most people aren’t. Hence, “closed groups,” with their ability to block trollism, have sprouted en masse, popular amongst those who want a safe space to engage with like-minded people to exchange ideas, information, articles, calls-to-action, etc.

But given that increase, inspired, no doubt, by the shit-storm we’ve just experienced in Election 2016, I do think it would be wise to rethink a few things, not only on the general protocol of any group, closed or otherwise, but the impact of particularly closed groups on public perception. I think these points bear some thought, especially considering what was just lost and what we are now facing.

1. Do NOT put someone in any group, closed or otherwise, without asking first. 

This is a big one, and though I’d have assumed it didn’t need to be said, it does. I have now been “put,” sometimes repeatedly, into various groups without my knowledge or permission, discovering said membership only after getting notification that I was in said group. BAD FORM.

When you do that to someone, regardless of your good intentions, you are not only being presumptuous, you’re now giving that person a task they didn’t ask for: if they choose not to be in said group, they now have to take the time to track it down and remove themselves. Which may seem minor, but it’s annoying and can potentially lead to someone else being miffed that that person doesn’t want to be in said group. Bottom line: it’s messy, it’s presumptuous, and it’s bad manners.

If you’ve discovered or are starting a group you think someone else might be interested in, ASK THEM FIRST. Very simple. Send them an invitation; let them be the one to decide if they want to join. And if they don’t, don’t take it personally. Realize that many people simply don’t want to be in groups; some are already in as many as they choose to be in; some may not want to participate in that group, or, if it’s a closed group, they may have different philosophies about those in general.

2. Allow members to participate as they see fit: 

I have now been in a few groups where administrators treat members almost like errant students: they’re obligated to engage in certain ways, with measurable degrees of visibility and involvement; there are to-do lists and even “homework.”

Typically I hop out of any group that turns voluntary participation into the dirge of academic obligation, because I don’t choose to, or have time to, participate in that way. We’re all adults; we do not need to be scolded, managed, or browbeaten into engaging in specific, mandated fashion. Again, it’s bad form, and it turns the positive experience of that group into something, well… less positive.

Don’t judge what members are getting out of it. If they’re there, they must be getting something. Trust your members. Which means, don’t “guilt” people into signing petitions, donating money, taking actions, sharing stories, “liking: other people’s posts, leaving reviews, etc. Coercion, however gentle, is counter-productive. We all learn, grow, change, and are inspired in individual ways. If you invite people into a group, unless they’re trolling — at which point, yes, they’re uninvited — allow them to participate as they choose. You never know what may be gained from their quiet engagement.

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3. As for “closed/secret” groups, are they really the best way to make evolutionary, cultural change?  

I know I’m likely to get some heat for this one, but hear me out:

There are many valid reasons for closed groups: groups that allow abuse survivors to communicate privately; battered women, LGBT groups; any group where privacy is truly survival and mandatory.

But political groups? Really?

One of the biggest criticisms of Hillary Clinton over the entire election cycle, including the primary, was that people weren’t enthusiastic about her; they weren’t as “excited, thrilled, inspired,” as, say, Bernie supporters… and later, as Trump supporters. You remember that, don’t you? And it was strange, that perception, because, in fact, millions of men and women were deeply enthusiastic about her. And where were they, many of them? In “secret” groups, every day touting and cheering their support amongst each other. It was a literal spree of support in… secret groups. Out in the public forum? Not so much.

Back in March I wrote a piece titled, I Will If You Will: Why Clinton Supporters Need to Speak up More on Social Media, based on the fact that so many of them were oddly silent, seemingly cowed from public discourse on media, social or otherwise. And while the piece inspired a fair amount of dialogue, I continued to see more and more “closed/secret” Clinton groups pop up every day, with, still, less open discussion in public forums.

And I understand. Based on feedback I got after the article, it seems countless people, mainly women, were reticent to share their public support for Clinton because of backlash they were bound to receive: in work situations where people might take umbrage; within families where members would be incensed; amongst social media circles where trolls were all too active. Fear, and an unwillingness to set themselves up for that kind of negative response, led, then, to their participation in those many “secret/closed” Clinton support groups.

Certainly those groups provided upliftment and support to the members involved, and that was good. And maybe the group’s mission was just that, and didn’t include any intent or mission to change public perception of Clinton’s enthusiasm quotient, or build greater coalition for her campaign out in the public sphere. Clearly no group was obligated to meet that demand, but I have to wonder: did all the secrecy have an impact, a negative contribution, to the endless mantra that Clinton just didn’t have the same level of support as either Bernie or Trump?

I have no quantifiable statistics, but my gut says yes. The greater lack of public outspokenness amongst her many supporters did her no favors, and at the end of the day, the “silent majority” has never been more painfully evident than in an election where the more popular, more qualified candidate lost in the din of support for her opposition, whose supporters were always out, loud, and proud without any commensurate caution or hesitation.

Additionally, is it possible that all this echo chambering did/does little to help bridge gaps between different, even opposing groups? If we never hear from or engage with those on other sides, isn’t it possible we’re never going to find reasonable coalition again in this country? I’m not talking trolls — they get zero engagement from me and shouldn’t from anyone else. I’m talking about honest, thoughtful people who may have conflicting views as well as the ability to communicate sanely and without invectives and vitriol. They surely exist… don’t we want to engage with them… or at least try?

We liberals got this election so damn wrong on so many levels, I think it behooves us at this point to climb out of the bubble. I realize those with opposing or even just conflicting perspectives have to have the same willingness to put down pitchforks to meet us on the field (will they? won’t they?), but we gotta start somewhere. Someone needs to get out on the dance floor. Not everyone on the other side is a KKK member, a flaming white supremacist, a hate-mongering xenophobe, or a virulent alt-right bigot. Some are just less informed, have been more hurt by problems that exist in this country; have been misled by misinformation, or whose narrow concerns blinded them to the worst of the other side. They make up that BIG red blob in the middle and southern edges of our country. And many of them are on Facebook.

If there’s anything we’ve learned this go-around, it’s that we have to start paying less attention to our own biased media and flawed online polls (oh, how flawed they were!), and more to the people across the street. On the corner. In our hometowns. In those flyover states. In other Facebook groups.

Yes, closed group aficionados, I’m aware that “some of us need, want, demand a safe place to vent, share, speak, write, cry, scream, inspire, laugh, etc., without any pushback or even feedback from those who don’t share our worldview.” OK, but considering the paragraphs above, how about this?

Create the group. Leave it open; not “secret.” Create and post the mission statement. Define parameters: rules against trolling and ad hominem attacks, suggestions for participation, clear awareness of what kind of communication will get someone removed from the group, etc. Monitor conversations. Monitor comments. Monitor threads. Stay vigilant to bona fide trolls; block and delete without apology. And build a group, a circle, a conversation that is open, welcoming, and, hopefully, ultimately, illuminating to anyone open to illumination.

It’s how I’ve built and curated my own social media and, yes, it takes vigilance, but it works. It will be more work for administrators, it will take more vigilance from members to keep administrators aware of anyone breaking the trolling rules, but it might go a long way toward creating both a safe space and a public forum that allows the positive energy, thoughtful dialogue, and inspiring debates to more usefully and productively enter into and impact the pubic sphere.

We need that. If anything taught us that, it was Election 2016.

Table & chairs photograph by Jonny Clow @ Unsplash
Studying man photograph by Bethany Legg @ Unsplash

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH – No, Not the Election, the BOOK – Heads Into a Celebratory Week of Dollar Days

atsp_music-by-brenda-perlin

Being an independent author is like being a single parent.

You’ve birthed this glorious entity, you love and cherish it with all your heart; you do everything in your power to escort it safely through the twists and turns of life, and it’s pretty much all on you to keep it breathing.

And like an exhausted parent, I spent 2016 not promoting either of my two novels for a number of reasons:

1.) (and I’m just being honest here): I was sick of doing it. Convinced I’d overstayed my welcome in chattering about them; certain that anyone I could actually reach had already been amply alerted, and twitchy at having to conjure up new and clever ways to talk about them without coming off like an overweening “helicopter parent,” I stepped back.

2.) I found most promotional options to be either surprisingly ineffective or beyond my budget; and

3.) My many and not-inexpensive efforts in previous years had netted less than the desired results.

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So, I took a sabbatical from promoting and spent my time doing lots of other things: selling a house, corporate writing, attempting to get caught up on my photography site, joining the cast of a new musical, driving myself mad with this election (don’t get me started!), and primarily writing my third novel (more on that later!).

But THIS WEEK all that changes… I’m bringing out the big promotional guns!

The very coveted book site, BookBub, has selected my first novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH, to include in a feature this week. And since this will be my one and only book promotional effort of the year, I figured I’d fill the slots before and after with a few of the other higher profile book promotional sites as well.

The perk for you, dear reader? During this week of promotions, and in the spirit of getting AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH properly introduced to new readers and reintroduced to those of you who might appreciate a reminder (Christmas gifts, stocking stuffers, holiday vacation reading), you’ll be able to pick up a Kindle copy of the book during this week for only 99¢!

Here’s the schedule of sites that will be featuring After The Sucker Punch at this special promotional price:

Monday, 11/14: ReadCheaply 

Monday, 11/14: ManyBooks (with “Feature Author of the Day interview)

Wednesday, 11/16: EreaderNews

Thursday, 11/17: BookBub

Friday, 11/18: Awesome Gang

The promotional price at Amazon will be in effect from Monday, 11/13 (12 am) — Friday 11/18 (12 pm)

Here’s the blurb:

“With bare-bone honesty and fiery dialogue, Wilke explores the loaded relationship between parents and their adult-children, examining the brave and lonely journey of self-discovery, reinvention, and healing…raw and brave—a great read.”—Tracy Trivas, author of The Wish Stealers (Simon & Schuster)

They buried her father at noon, at five she found his journals, and in the time it took to read one-and-a-half pages her world turned upside AfterTheSuckerPunch_front_coverdown… he thought she was a failure.

Every child, no matter what age, wants to know their father loves them, and Tessa Curzio – thirty-six, emerging writer, ex-rocker, lapsed Catholic, defected Scientologist, and fourth in a family of eight complicated people – is no exception. But just when she thought her twitchy life was finally coming together – solid relationship, creative job; a view of the ocean – the one-two punch of her father’s death and posthumous indictment proves an existential knockout.

She tries to “just let it go,” as her sister suggests, but life viewed through the filter of his damning words is suddenly skewed, shaking the foundation of everything from her solid relationship and winning job to the truth of her family, even her sense of self. From there, friendships strain, bad behavior ensues, new men entreat, and family drama spikes, all leading to her little-known aunt, a nun and counselor, who lovingly strong-arms Tessa onto a journey of discovery and reinvention. It’s a trip that’s not always pretty – or particularly wise – but somewhere in all the twists and turns, unexpected truths are found.

Author and longtime Huffington Post contributor, Lorraine Devon Wilke, takes an irreverent look at father/daughter relationships through the unique prism of Tessa’s saga and its exploration of family, faith, cults, creativity, new love and old, and the struggle to define oneself against the inexplicable perceptions of a deceased parent. Told with both sass and sensibility, it’s a story wrapped in contemporary culture but with a very classic heart.

“A keenly executed character study. The novel is tightly structured and holds its complex elements with a sure and skillful grip. The dialogue pops…a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.”—Junior Burke, author of Something Gorgeous (farfalla press/McMillan & Parrish)

Thank you for your time, please enjoy the read, and let’s keep sharing creativity in these strange and challenging times!

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All photo-art by Brenda Perlin

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Some Feisty Thoughts From a Fellow Writer On the Debacle of Our American Presidency

Tuesday in America was a clusterf**k of massive proportions for a lot of free-thinking, open-minded, progressively oriented, big-tent, humanity loving people. As we stumble through the aftermath, detritus and debris all around, writers across the globe are making their points known. This particularly feisty point reflects my own feelings. If you have concerns about “bad words,” look away.

You Take The Fucking High Road and Shove It…

A Surly Girl's Guide to Life

Yesterday gave me a faint hint of what it must be like to have a mood disorder. I started off the day buoyed by a Facebook feed full of inspirational Pantsuit Nation posts and moving video feeds from Susan B. Anthony’s graveside. This was going to be the day I’ve been waiting my whole voting life for – a woman was going to be President. In a nod to the suffragettes I voted wearing a petticoat instead of a pantsuit like so many other women.

While I was nervous, because really, who wasn’t? I thought my bourbon fueled evening was going to end in glorious drunken celebration. Instead, after a fuckton of liquor I went to bed before it was over.  I couldn’t watch the guys on CNN fuck with the maps any more trying to make sense of why all their predictions were as wrong as the clusterfuck…

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The Cleansing Power of Creativity… Yours

— photo by Gaelle Marcel

Maybe it’s the God-syndrome; the idea that having the power to create is what life is all about, what ‘godliness’ is all about… or at least closer to that vaunted status than ‘cleanliness,’ for God’s sake, which is what we’ve been told all these years!

The power to create comes in countless varieties, allowing humans of every predilection to choose their path to the heavens. But in a culture more readily fixated on watching, judging, commenting, hang-wringing, ranting and railing, it’s easy to get preoccupied by the passivity of being an observer, an analyst, while minimizing the activity of shifting the zeitgeist with the smallest touch of our energy and creativity. We huddle over Facebook or Twitter, availing ourselves of the latest “whatever,” feeling our outrage stoked, our righteousness riled; we share, and comment, and converge, and there is some value, some sense of being part of the roiling evolvement of our world by this engagement, and certainly there is.

But we have to question: is it sustaining value? Does it help us in our lives? Does it help others? Does it change outcomes? Does it positively impact those we know, we touch; the world around us?

I’m not convinced. It’s fun, surely (sometimes); it’s distracting and entertaining. We do come across funny animal videos (perhaps the BEST reason to be on social media! 🙂 ). There are great, inspirational stories about great inspirational people; those have merit. Activism may be stirred, involvement encouraged, but how often does that get beyond observational to become actual?

I bet if studies were done (which they probably have been but I’m too lazy to go look), we’d discover that people spend a significant chunk of their “free time” on social media, immersed in arguing/commiserating about politics, crime, gossip, outrage and tragedy, less on creativity, inspiration, and upliftment, and certainly less on actively pursuing those higher-toned activities.

In some ways we can’t help it. It’s in our DNA. It’s driving past the car crash, looking at the dead body; gorging in the latest tragedy. We observe and remark and ponder, but odds are good all of that leaves us feeling more burdened than inspired to act.

So as thinking people, we have to be aware of that equation, cautious about our own indulgences, our own consumption, to adjust. I often take myself off media, social and otherwise, enforce a sabbatical of sorts, out of sheer need for a mental/emotional palate cleanse. I get deeply wearied (I’m not sure there’s a word strong enough to express how wearied) of the relentless, redundant, scab-picking coverage of this presidential election. I get battered by the glut of tragedy presented by the globalization of our news media. I fight not to become inured to the injustices, the prejudices, the caustic bigotries and vile behaviors that drench our online discourse, so I can continue to be a voice of reason and protest.

And I create. I shut it all off and create. And that’s when I discover the ‘godliness’ we each have the power to access.

As some of you know, I went to an Adele concert recently. It had been a long time since I’d been to a show as big, as overwhelming, and as I watched this warm, charming, supremely talented singer/songwriter work her magic on the thousands of people in the room with me, I thought to myself: ‘what must it feel like to have your path so firmly etched that you know your job, your gift, your contribution to the world is bringing joy, emotion, inspiration, reflection, MUSIC to this many people?’ I envied Adele’s singular purpose and her ability to carve a life where creativity was both her art and her occupation.

Then later that week I went down to San Diego to work on songs for an original musical in which I’m involved (The Geeze & Me), and despite having my computer along, I made a point of staying off social media, detaching for a minute from the noise and madness. As I worked with the show’s creator, Hedges Capers, banging out melodies and recording tracks, or discussed the script and characters with his wife and co-creator, Nancy Capers, I found myself wrapped in the excitement and exhilaration of creativity, pure and simple. It brightened my day and lifted my spirits, making my awareness of, and engagement in, the darker corners of life more manageable, less burdensome, more in balance.

Meanwhile, and during all the above, I’ve been knee-deep in accomplishing the first (very rough) draft of my third novel, a topical piece dramatic enough to be a departure from my first two. It’s been a bitch in that, and taken some stern focus and concentration, but the process of writing is the essence of what I’m talking about: there’s an immersion, a cloister-like cocoon that’s achieved, one in which I’m taken as an observer, a chronicler, into the world I’m creating, which is insanely surrealistic and magical. And while in my created world, following the activities of my imagined characters, the world in which I actually live hovers nearby, still in view, still accessible, but muted for that moment.

It’s within that mystical cocoon where the simple act of creating becomes the ritual: tapping the ‘godliness’ we each possess, where intention and imagination result in creation.

That ability is life-changing, empowering. It allows us to detach from self, from noise, from ego; from the distractions and chaos of culture, to, instead, create. A song. A book. A code. A building. A dress. A cake. A painting. An invention. A game. A restaurant. A water system. A business. A plan. A purpose. A curriculum. A change.

A better world.

Crayon photo by Gaelle Marcel @ Unsplash.

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

‘before the second sleep’ Reviews HYSTERICAL LOVE

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It’s been a while since a book blogger has taken the time to read this book of mine, my second novel and a book I loved writing, so it was a true pleasure to find this post today from Lisl Zlitni of before the second sleep book blog.

I always appreciate when someone not only enjoys my work, but discovers and appreciates the bigger themes and subtler tones, the nuances and humor, the characters and story twists, and puts her perspective into thoughtful words. I hope those of you who haven’t yet grab a copy, but mostly I want to thank writer, Lisl Zlitni, for giving my work her time and thoughtfulness. Following is her review:

Hysterical Love by Lorraine Devon Wilke
A B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

When I first picked up Lorraine Devon Wilke’s Hysterical Love, it was with anticipation, a muted sort of joy, not unlike that of a child anticipating a delicious treat or new toy. I had previously read and thoroughly enjoyed Devon Wilke’s debut novel After the Sucker Punch and was very ready to dive into this one.

Dan McDowell opens the novel, telling his readers he is “flummoxed” by relationships—not that this is so odd, but he was sure by now, at age 33, he’d be a bit past that phase. His bewildered recounting of what had just happened to him gave not only a promising opening to what looked to be a great yarn, but was also, well, so on target. It read, as I delivered the opening paragraphs aloud—reading aloud being a frequent habit—in a very male manner. It sounded like a man would say this, as opposed to the way a female author might write what she wants a male character to be expressing.

In this case, Dan is still a little confused as to how he ends up camped out in his neighbor’s spare bedroom, when just an hour or so before he and his longtime girlfriend had been setting a wedding date and Jane became Dan’s fiancée, at least for that hour. The long and the short is this: Jane muses aloud on the passage of time, she can’t believe it’s been three years of exclusivity, and…a split-second eye avert on Dan’s part and it’s all over. “I am the only person you’ve been with since we met, right?”

Something else about that male thing: Devon Wilke has got it down. Having read her before, I knew she was adept at writing a protagonist who is fast on her feet, articulate and can be sharp—the unifying trait being she wraps all points together and responds in full and succinctly. But that is a female character. How would the skills of her creator be utilized to mold a male type who didn’t merely change costumes for a different book?

The answers came as I continued to read—and laugh. As Dan relates his tale to us, his speech reveals who he is: “[S]omehow, despite amazingly good behavior on everyone’s parts, and often against the nature of all parties involved, someone in the room pulls the pin.” Like Tess’s, his remarks are witty, but closer to the nature of male metaphorical speech and the types of symbolism men tend to engage.

As Dan continues his narrative, his own commentary within the script, his hindsight enables him to recognize what he’s done wrong, and trigger phrases that just don’t go down well with the opposite sex: “Technically,” “What’s the big deal?” and a hilarious transition phrase that cues us into the impending shit storm: “The temperature drop is like the girl’s room in The Exorcist.”

As it turns out, Dan had been with his previous girlfriend after he’d met (and slept with) Jane, his defense being that he and Jane hadn’t verbally or officially committed to an exclusive relationship. From Jane’s point of view, just having slept together constitutes the commitment, and she isn’t having any of his excuses.

At this point I was no longer the least bit curious about a female author writing from a first-person male protagonist perspective. It was Dan speaking.

Not long after, Dan’s sister Lucy and he have a series of conversations pertaining to their father, who has recently fallen ill, and the concept of whether Jane truly is Dan’s “soul mate.” Lucy reveals the existence of a short story their father had written before their parents’ marriage, about a woman he’d had an impassioned affair with, a revelation startling Dan enough to spark questions such as, “Do you suppose there’s a genetic component to being crappy with relationships?”

The sarcastic question is two-pronged. The father he knows is impatient, unsentimental and underwhelmed with just about everything, “all of which combine to make his previous self impossible to reconcile with who he is now.”

 

But Dan also, following Lucy’s train of thought within her ongoing advice to him, begins to contemplate the idea that this woman, “Barbara from Oakland,” might really have been the one his father was meant for. Could that explain the deterioration of his father’s previous creativity and passion, and poor relationship with the family he does have? Moreover, what might this bode for Dan and Jane? Was their disastrous argument meant to steer Dan to his true soul mate? In order to seek answers, Dan concludes he must find Barbara. In so doing, he befriends Fiona, a waitress and herbal pharmacist who soon becomes partner in his “vision quest.”

Through this Dan continues to have contact with his daily life, such as phone conversations with his sister who is, unsurprisingly, angry with his disappearing act. The heated conversations are slightly reminiscent of those between After the Sucker Punch’s Tess and her own sister, and though Dan answers back in self-defense, he carries a greater restraint; he holds back more often, perhaps having quickly absorbed a lesson learned from his unthought out answers during the engagement-ending skirmish with Jane. In his subsequent reflections he assesses himself in a straight forward, honest manner. His commentary is pithy and on-target, and he doesn’t discount what others say to or about him. In Dan McDowell, Devon Wilke has created a character eager to grow and learn, but one nevertheless subject to the shifting of mood or whim. He is well balanced, but as in need of growth as any of the rest of us.

Devon Wilke is also an astute observer of human behavior, and there were frequent bouts of laughter on my part or murmured “Mmm hmm” upon recognition of the comically familiar….

[Click HERE to read full review.]

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

‘Legacy’ Is Not Just For the Famous; We Each Create Our Own Every Day

Legacy

Whenever a celebrated figure dies — whether an artist, an entertainer, a famed activist or noble leader — we out here in the land of non-celebrity, and even some who share that vaunted status — speak much about the legacy of that person. We share their resume of beloved books, music, or films; we speak of their accomplishments in making the world a better place, their contributions to humanity, the simple pleasures they brought those who indulged in all they had to offer. We honor them by our attention to, and appreciation of, what they left behind. Their bequest. Their legacy.

Yet, oddly, we seem only to ascribe the concept of legacy to those who are famous. We speak rarely in those terms about the uncelebrated, the not-famous, the every-day folks unknown beyond their small circles. They are, or were, after all, just “regular people,” certainly not meritorious enough to bear the burden of legacy… right?

I don’t think so. In fact, I think the misassignation of “legacy” as a responsibility only of the famous and celebrated has done a grave disservice to our human race. It has deflected our understanding of, and excused our inattentiveness to, what’s expected of each and every one of us in our short time on earth: leaving it better than we found it.

But who expects that of me? I’m just a regular person. Nobody cares what I leave behind, or what I do or say. Nobody will remember me beyond my family. Nobody pays attention or cares about what I contribute to the human race! I’m not obligated to the world. I’m just trying to survive, and as long as I take care of my family, keep my kids from going off the rails, don’t kill anybody, maybe have a little fun, that’s good enough for me.

Those are statements actually said to me, and they do illustrate common trains of thought. Which is understandable. Not everyone wants to get all “grand” about how they live their lives. They don’t necessarily want to think that big, extend their view so globally, burden themselves with a higher consciousness that might demand more awareness of consequences and their lasting effect.

But if that paragraph is the totality of what you think, then you might have misunderstood the definition of legacy. The fact is, whether you’re thinking about it or not, value it or not, your legacy is being created, either consciously or unconsciously, with or without your curation. Why would you abdicate that responsibility? Don’t you want some involvement in how you’re remembered, what those you touch think of you or frame your life?

Frankly, I’ve come to believe that ignoring the task of legacy (or allowing it to formulate without conscious thought) has contributed greatly (or not so greatly, as it were) to the toxification, the dumbing down, the weakened striving for and inarguable lessening of what have long been considered desirable human traits: integrity, compassion, humanity, generosity, honor, and open-mindedness.

Instead, we live in a world where too many presume they’re invisible enough to not be held responsible for their actions. A world where the self-absorbed think nothing about the negativity they leave in their wake, the ugliness they inject into their sphere. People who care so little about “making the world a better place,” or “living an admirable life, even if for no one but oneself,” that they pillage and plunder with impunity:

They leave tweets of incomprehensible stupidity that sometimes have lasting and powerful effect. They engage in thoughtless, destructive email exchanges as if “no one’s watching” or hacking hadn’t become normalized in a world of zero privacy. They forget that screenshots can immortalize deleted threads, hateful speech, and knee-jerk reactions later regretted. They spend precious hours of life sharing hateful dialogue and trolling those who might not share their beliefs. They bully and attack with little concern for who they hurt or what negativity they foment. They steal art, denigrate kinder people, and make any online exchange a brutal gauntlet.

And they do all this with impunity, because they’re either hiding behind a screen name, they’re convinced they won’t be found out; they think they’re entitled or above reproach, or they simply don’t care. They don’t care if their persona, their name, their identity, the essence of who they are is attached to something heinous and hideous. They don’t care about legacy.

But they should.

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Whatever you might believe about spiritual life, life beyond the physical realm, or the existence of energy and consciousness, the fact remains that what we create has impact. On us, our families, our friends, the communities where we live, the countries to which we pledge our allegiance; the global alliance we call the human race. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous, notorious, large, small, or in-between, you have impact. Visible, not visible, felt, not felt; ignored, denied, or dismissed… you have impact. That’s your legacy. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t give a hoot about what that impact is, the way you affect and influence your children, your personal circle, the world, anything and everything you touch IS your legacy. You should care about that.

Because there can be no purpose in life more important than making one’s imprint of value. We may not be able to control whether we succeed, gain fame and fortune, or become the kind of person whose death inspires Facebook posts, but that can’t be the criteria. The criteria for any person’s legacy is simply this:

Make everything you say, do, write, create, share, influence, or affect be something your children, your mother, your father, your spouse, the people you care most about — YOU — would be unequivocally proud of. Do no harm. Control your anger, your hate, and the urge to damage or demean. Embrace the simplest of rules like “do unto others.” Stoke empathy at every turn by considering how your words and actions would feel to you … then act accordingly.

If nothing else, do think about if you were famous and people were talking about you after you died. What would they say? What would they celebrate? How would you be remembered?

Morbid? Maybe. But sometimes we have to jar ourselves into understanding more clearly the impact we do have. Little things add up, good and bad, and what you leave behind really ought to be something meaningful.

The thesaurus offers one synonym for “legacy” that I particularly like: GIFT. My mother taught me that one always leaves a gift when one is a guest somewhere. And given the brief, transient nature of life, I’d suggest we are all guests in every moment we live…. hence, gifts should be regularly left. Which confirms my thesis:

Your legacy is your gift. Think about the gifts you leave.

Man/dog photo by LDW
Dress photo by Vero Photoart @ Unsplash

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Yes, Dear Book, Let’s Go With $2.99 For a Bit!

Wiping Window_photo art by Brenda Perlin

Book marketing is like dieting: occasionally necessary but tends to make one cranky.

At least that’s what book marketing has been to me, especially after so many years of doing it, so much desire to do it well, and so much sensitivity about not eliciting eye-rolls from those weary of hearing about my precious tomes. I’m probably overly-sensitive about such things; I’d guess that’s based on my own weariness with book marketers on social media (relentless… have you seen Twitter??). One does have to be judicious, doesn’t one?

Truth be told, I don’t know how successful I’ve been in my own marketing efforts. Sales have been sporadic and unpredictable, titles struggle to stay afloat in the sheer ocean of available books, and promised reviews from both readers and editorial writers have too often not materialized. But I do get an inkling, from time-to-time, of my marketing success. When new readers write to tell me my book reflected their life, made them laugh, brought them to tears, or, as one fellow wrote about my first novel, After The Sucker Punch, “it’s going to help me in my lifelong quest to understand women.” That’s when you know your efforts have struck the right chords.

And since it’s been a while since I’ve attempted any book-related chord-striking, I thought I’d take a moment away from slogging through Draft 1 of my latest effort (a third novel set to launch… well, not sure when it’s set to launch), to gussy up my second, HYSTERICAL LOVE, for a little “Kindle Countdown” love:

HYSTERICAL LOVE will be on sale for the price of $2.99 (for the e-book) from 6:00 am PST Friday, July 22nd, until 11:00 pm PST, Sunday, July 24th.  

That’s three full days of sale… which is lovely, because the ebook typically sells for $6.99 (still a bargain when you consider the price of movie tickets or that non-fat latte!). So please stop by to take advantage of this brief but welcoming sale price to enjoy a book that’s received delightfully widespread kudos!

Let me share a bit about it:

HYSTERICAL LOVE tells the story of Dan McDowell, a thirty-three-year-old portrait photographer happily set to marry his beloved Jane, who finds his pending marriage tossed after a slip of the tongue about an “ex-girlfriend overlap” of years earlier. Out of the house for longer than expected, and unable to breach the gap with Jane, life is further upended when he reads a story written by his ailing father about a lost love of fifty years ago that appears to haunt him still.

Incapable of fixing his own romantic dilemma, Dan sets off on a wild ride beset with detours, twists, and semi-hilarious peril in search of this woman from his father’s past, convinced she holds the key to happiness for them all. Along the way he collides with an eclectic array of characters — particularly the preternaturally stunning Fiona — leading to unexpected truths and, ultimately, the story’s  startling conclusion.

Hysterical Love explores themes of family, commitment, balancing creativity, facing adulthood, and digging deep to understand the beating heart of true love.

HL_camera2_photo art by Brenda Perline

Want some reviews to further intrigue you?

Hysterical Love: Review by Barb Taub @ Writing & Coffee Book Blog:

“I never found a writer who was as good as DH Lawrence, but who could also get into a man’s head and tell that story. Until now…Wilke combines humor, terrific writing, and some none-too-gently acquired truths into a different kind of relationship story.” (Read more…)

Hysterical Love: review by Ali Levett @ A Woman’s Wisdom Book Blog:

“This is one of those books which exceeded all my expectations. I was expecting a romance with a couple of twists to the tale but what I got was something far deeper and more satisfying…If you want a book with many layers and to be thoroughly entertained by a cracking story then this one is for you.” (Read more…) 

Hysterical Love @ Kirkus Reviews:

“Wilke is a skilled writer, able to plausibly inhabit Dan’s young male perspective… A well-written, engaging, sometimes-frustrating tale of reaching adulthood a little late.” (Read more…)

Hysterical Love: Judge; 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards:

“The author has an incredible skill for storytelling and her voice is without reproach. The novel is well designed, well-edited and of high production quality.”

Hysterical Love: reviewed by Charla White @ WordsAPlenty:

“Wilke is passionate about the development of her characters as they come to life with each word. The reader cannot help but connect to her characters. The plot is strong, fresh, balanced and delivered skillfully. It is a moving story and is a must read for anyone who has been, is, or thinks they may fall in love someday.

Don’t miss this book. It is a wonderful read. Wilke is a truly gifted writer and one to watch grow; she will continue to provide thought-provoking stories based on real issues. WordsAPlenty gives this book a highly deserved 5 star rating.” (Read more…)

Hysterical Love @ Literary Fiction Book Review:

“The narrative is effectively told through first person, with Daniel candidly confiding his fears and confusion to the reader. Devon Wilke manages to convey the male psyche with a good-natured humor that seems eminently believable. Hysterical Love is a deftly told tale about not only the search for love in the 21st century, but about seeking a greater understanding of the intricacies of the human heart, about love in all its various forms and disguises: puppy love, lost love, emerging love, enduring love, and of course, hysterical love.” (Read more…)

Hysterical Love: review by Tracy Slowiak @ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews:

“Oh my, oh my! I just finished reading Hysterical Love, the newest novel by Lorraine Devon Wilke, and I must say, I simply adored it! Lorraine Devon Wilke’s writing style is witty, pointed and funny, even hilarious at times.” (Read more…)

[More HERE, if you’re interested.]

So, that’s the pitch. Now go get your copy and… enjoy the read!

Once again:

HYSTERICAL LOVE will be on sale for the lovely price of $2.99 (for the e-book) from 6:00 am PST Friday, July 22nd, until 11:00 pm PST, Sunday, July 24th.  

HL photo art by Brenda Perlin.

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.