Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to watch your life burn

Fair warning, this is going to be highly personal. Don’t read this if you don’t want to know more than you feel comfortable with. You were warned. 



I guess the best way to start this like a meeting, like group therapy or something, right? So… Hi. My name is Dennis and I’m a thirty-nine year old single father with two kids still living at home. I’ve lived all over the United States, but I currently live in Kentucky. I was born here, and moved back here in 2006 to be closer to my family for my kids’ sake.

I'm an average guy. I'm not too tall or short. I'm a nerd. I adore Netflix binge watching shows like House of Cards. I watch too much Doctor Who, any movie Marvel puts out, and rewatch John Oliver and Nerd Machine videos on youtube (Operation Smile is such an amazing cause to get behind). I spend too much time on Facebook, and I likely make too many social media posts about the things my children do and say. I'm not all that different from most anyone I've come across.

Let’s be honest here, I’ve never been wealthy. In truth, I’ve never been anything but poor, but I’ve certainly been in better circumstance than I’m in now. I can, like so many others, blame the economy or politicians, but that’s never been my take on things. I’ve never drawn public assistance or unemployment outside of “food stamps” (or EBT or SNAP, your mileage may vary on the name) for my kids’ sake, and I don’t even do that presently.

Waiting tables, shooting indie film, managing music retail stores, writing novels, short stories, and poetry, handling packages for a shipping company… I’ve never really done work that was going to make me well-to-do. I’ve worked in a business I founded with a friend until it folded, at several other entry level jobs, and up until February of this year I worked at a food processing plant. In February my left hand was hurt while at work. The company has been good enough to cover my doctor’s expenses, but due to mixed messages from management and a zero tolerance policy that I understand all too well, I was terminated. I now have no job, no income, no way to get more income, and an injury that prevents me from doing much of anything productive.

For the last few weeks I’ve watched everything I’ve put together in my life slowly fall apart. I’ve watched my life burn down. As I write this I know that without a payment on my house tomorrow I enter into eviction.

I write this, not as a plea for attention or a plea for assistance, but to call attention to how easily and how quickly life can change. As I said before, I’ve never been wealthy. Paycheck to paycheck has always been my way of life and I’ve never had more than two thousand dollars in savings in my life. I have, however, never known this crushing level of depression at watching everything go away and having literally no options, and nothing that could be done to stop it.

I’ve always scoffed at people who said “at least you have your health.” Now, though? No. I understand that sentiment all too well, and all too late.

Will my hand heal? Yes. Will I be able to get back to work? Well, some work, I’m sure, yes. Will I be able to get my life back to the level it was at before all of this? Absolutely. However, the impact of all of this on the here and now, on the psychological and physical reality I exist in has been far greater than I could have imagined.

I had a heart attack in October of 2014 that nearly put me in this same situation and while my heart health, and my health over all, is better now I still hadn’t completely repaired all the financial mess that that created when this happened.

I’ve watched my utilities get turned off, I’ve watched my lawn grow out of control getting me tickets and threats of court action, I’ve stopped answering my phone due to constant calls from bill collectors and creditors (and before you have anything snarky to say about it, I don’t have credit cards or the associated debt, these are medical bills from my heart attack that are still unpaid and bills for replacement furniture only), I’ve taken up residence in an unfinished garage, and I’ve only had the food that others have seen fit to donate. I have a dear mother who has been kind enough to let my children stay with her and eat her food while this situation plays itself out in my life, so at least they aren't suffering with me. I don't think I could cope with it if I knew they were out like I was, even if they aren't thrilled with being at Grandma's house. But if you take all of that and add it to to my eviction happening tomorrow then perhaps you can begin to get into a bit of the headspace I’m in just now. 


In January I wouldn’t have believed I could say any of this. I wouldn’t have believed I’d find myself in this place, and yet here I am. A life can be substantially altered, shattered, or turned inside out in less time than some people would think.  I would never have imagined that I could feel as worthless, helpless, and hopeless as I do now.

Talking about this sort of thing is something that has always been discouraged in my family. But, hey, most of them has passed on… as has my ability to care what I should or shouldn’t talk about in polite company. Besides that, this is the internet, right? This is usually not polite company. A good many things have happened in my life that I’ve stayed completely silent about, but through the aide of Sarah Fader, and her group Stigma Fighters, as well as many personal heroes like Nicole Lyons and Courtney Keesee, I’ve learned that it can sometimes be cathartic to get the things that often sit uncomfortably beneath the surface out and into the open. So this is my story. This is where I am in life, at the moment. I have a front row seat to watching it all burn down. I’m at a point where ending it all sounds good, but I’m not doing that. I’m not giving in. I don’t have a bag of marshmallows and a party hat… but I’m doing my best to have hope that something good will come tomorrow… or the day after… or the day after that. 



I’m a human being. Flawed. Broken. Real. Hurt. Low. But, still alive. Still hanging on. And no matter what you’re going through… a life easier than mine… or a life far harder (there are so many going through so much worse than I )… know that people are out there who can identify… can empathize… and maybe, in that, you can find some comfort, when your life is burning down around you.


(as a PostScript here, I started a GoFundMe page that managed to raise 2/3 of the funds I needed to put out the fires in one weekend. Human beings truly are wonderful creatures!)

(Listening to this on repeat has helped a bit, too... again, your mileage may vary)


Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Bathroom Debate


  Someone posted this little "gem" on social media and it showed up in my feed. 


Yeah. 


I'm not kidding.

Some disappointed head shaking and eye-rolling ensued and then I considered how I would want someone to treat one of my kids if they were in this situation first hand. 

  If my daughter told me she identified as male, or if either of my sons told me that they identified as female, and they had already had to endure the years (however many there had been) of living life as a gender they didn't identify themselves with already and they were going to have to go through all of the ordeal of transitioning to the gender that they felt was true to them how would I feel about people assaulting them, harassing them, threatening them, or maltreating them for simply wanting to urinate when they needed to. Really a no brainer here.

  I downloaded the graphic and updated it (see below). Feel free, if you like, to right click and save the updated image and share, or share this blog post. Hate, based on ignorance, has no place in our world. The only way to address it is with information and with love. This is a way I have chosen to address it. What will you do?


Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Rules. (Mine, anyway)

Okay, clearly I've assumed too much from the human beings I interact with on a regular basis...

Please forgive me if you find this patronizing or insulting. I'm writing it without any malice in mind. This just seems, to me anyway, to be something that hasn't been addressed to enough people in a way that they could wrap their head around or take in and apply to their lives. This may fall on deaf ears, but I can hope not. I firmly believe what I'm saying, I have raised my children by these principles... these rules... and I just want to take a moment to share them here with you.

For a long time I didn't think the basic things had to be discussed, but I have been shown (painfully so) that I am wrong. That being said, just so I know that everyone is, at the very least, aware of the rules of life (as I see them) I guess I have to actually spell them out.

If we, you and I - dear reader, don't have these rules as a basic foundation of agreement then I don't know that we can have positive interactions in the world we share. That makes me sad, but it is what it is, I guess.


Without further ado, these are the rules:


  1. Respect other human beings. Their rights to life and safety are equal to you. This is not changed based on age, skin color, weight, height, belief system, income, location, relationship status, gender, sexual orientation, or any other differing criteria you can potentially try to use to lessen them by comparison to you.
  2. Don't intentionally inflict pain. hit, kick, bite, scratch, slap, punch, throw things at, physically assault, sexually assault. rape, kill, cripple, maim, or cause lasting physical or psychological damage to another human being. Why not? Because they are human beings. Respect other human beings.
  3. Be emotionally, intellectually, and practically honest. Don't lie about or to, be excessively cruel or even unkind to, steal from, plagiarize, spread rumors about, slander, betray, take from, keep from, or actively work against the happiness of another human being. Why not? Because they are human beings. Respect other human beings.



Is any of this truly all that difficult?


C'mon!

These are the rules. Beyond them there are a series of little truths, true facts, but they exist in addition to the rules, not in spite of them or to supersede them.



   Truth: Mistakes will be made. It's a sad fact, but that makes it no less a fact. That fact doesn't mean you don't try to live up to these simple rules. It doesn't afford a free pass, or serve as an excuse.


   Truth: Not everyone will follow the rules. Some people will just suck at being human. Always have, always will. This is not a free pass. But "he/she/they broke a rule first!", you say? Guess what? Life's not fair. Like I said, mistakes will be made. Even if they aren't treating you with the respect due you as a human being it doesn't relieve you of the burden of respecting others as human beings.


   Truth: Forgiveness of anyone by anyone is always an option. It is, however, in no way mandatory. Request it, don't expect it.



Do these rules apply to bathroom usage? Yes. Do they apply to marriage and/or dessert baking and/or decoration? Yes. Do they apply to any and all interactions you have with any other human being you come in contact with in person or anonymously through a digital medium? Yes. Always.



 Ultimately, Do unto others as you would have done... to you, or anyone you love as much as, or more than, yourself.

A Visual Sea Of Infinite Emotion - collected pieces as visual art

A Visual Sea Of Infinite Emotion


  “It’s passion and honesty. It’s brutal, comforting, and raw. It’s all right here... in black and white and words...”


  A Visual Sea Of Infinite Emotion is a collection of sentiments, saved seconds, and sensations etched into the crystal surface of a human soul. It contains spoken word poetry jigsawed together with images to form a record of emotions, experiences, and encounters with people and places in a manner designed to drag you along with the tone and voice of the works as they were intended to be felt firsthand. There is no order imposed, everything is simply lifted from throughout the first thirty-nine years of a life spent drifting and drafting through a world of confusion and comfort, happiness and hate. Each face is a window into a time and place weighed as important from the meandering voyages of the creator of the written scripts that accompany them. They are written, broken, as they are intended to be heard aloud.

  This collection by no means comprises the full volume of work written, or lives intersected, but instead is assembled in keeping with the myriad inconsistencies of the journey – a companion piece to a life well lived. The verses included are both selections from previous published titles (The Years Distilled, (un)SPOKEN, Fresh, Hole in the World) and pieces crafted, completely new, exclusively for this volume alone.

..........................................................................

You can view a few of the pages on Pinterest here:

https://www.pinterest.com/witlesslackey/a-visual-sea-of-infinite-emotion/

The full wrap cover:



The models for this book, just so we're clear, are the best people on earth.

..........................................................................


Links to Hole in the World:

Hardcover
Softcover

Kindle

Goodreads



Friday, April 22, 2016

What's new with you lately? Well, let's see...


2016 has been an extremely busy year for me so far... and it shows absolutely no sign, at this point, of slowing down. 

I'm unbelievably happy to report that working with Melissa Flickinger, Sophie Thomas, Pam Elise Harris, Rachel Gluckstern, and Michelle Fairbanks I've created some things (and am still creating things) that I couldn't be more excited about or proud of... More so than ever before.


So what I'll do here is make a little list for everyone... assuming they're interested... of the things that 2016 (so far) has seen me release...

 .........................................................



Hole in the World
http://www.amazon.com/Hole-World-Transcribed-Dennis-Sharpe-ebook/dp/B01DCHZ8C2

– Transcribed Snapshots –
– Observations, Comments, and Interpretations –

Hole in the World is a collection of pieces of spoken word poetry, essays, and ruminations on life created in the five years since the release of Fresh. This work is a collection of previously unpublished author favorites or pieces originally intended for online sources. 

Each of the pieces that comprise this work's whole is an impassioned cry or deep and personal pain. They are bared for you with the author's hope that something contained herein will touch you, connecting you with the raw humanity or shared experiences of not just existing, but actually living.

(Available only as a Kindle exclusive eBook) 


Life With Annie
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/627230

*Trigger Warning* this story contains mature situations that may trigger some people/survivors of assault or abuse.

This short story takes place entirely from the point of view of the title character. No other characters have a voice. Everything is seen through Annie's eyes, what Annie says, what she feels, and what she thinks. It is four days in the life of a woman at the end of a deeply abusive relationship... four days in December of 1996, spent, for a few stolen moments, inside the mind of a life in flux.

"Sometimes the decisions you make are mistakes, some mistakes you just have to outlive… A little perspective goes a long way."

(Available in any eBook Format from Smashwords as a free download)



Saturday Night to Infinity
http://www.amazon.com/Saturday-Night-Infinity-Dennis-Sharpe-ebook/dp/B01DTIIE34

"All we have is time." 

Saturday night at midnight there was nuclear explosion in Middle America. Everyone for miles around was killed, even Andy Gordon, but that was both the beginning and the end of the longest week of his life. He knows what midnight on Saturday means, but how can he save countless lives when no one will listen to him? 

A theoretical physics grad student named Nora Lehman is the only comfort, and only real help, Andy has in this quick flying adventure of seeming infinite peril set on ‘repeat’. Together can they find a way to stop the explosion from happening? Can they save everyone? Can they even save themselves before the clock strikes midnight on Saturday night… again?

(Available only as an eBook) 

.
A Visual Sea of Infinite Emotion
http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Sea-Infinite-Emotion/dp/1532879776

“It’s passion and honesty. It’s brutal, comforting, and raw. It’s all right here... in black and white and words...”

A Visual Sea Of Infinite Emotion is a collection of sentiments, saved seconds, and sensations etched into the crystal surface of a human soul. It contains spoken word poetry jigsawed together with images to form a record of emotions, experiences, and encounters with people and places in a manner designed to drag you along with the tone and voice of the works as they were intended to be felt firsthand. There is no order imposed, everything is simply lifted from throughout the first thirty-nine years of a life spent drifting and drafting through a world of confusion and comfort, happiness and hate. Each face is a window into a time and place weighed as important from the meandering voyages of the creator of the written scripts that accompany them. They are written, broken, as they are intended to be heard aloud.

This collection by no means comprises the full volume of work written, or lives intersected, but instead is assembled in keeping with the myriad inconsistencies of the journey – a companion piece to a life well lived. The verses included are both selections from previous published titles (The Years Distilled, (un)SPOKEN, Fresh, Hole in the World) and pieces crafted, completely new, exclusively for this volume alone.

(Available in Hardback, Softcover, and eBook)

.
*****And following shortly will be...
.
*Distant Thunder - The Coming Storm Book Two

*Mitch Will vs. The Queen of Evil and Her Space Zombies!


*Her Boy Friday


*Driving Rain - The Coming Storm Book Three


*Doom Country


*Tangles - Mythic Book One

Friday, April 15, 2016

"Okay, what the actual f—k?" - Response to Dear Abby Advice to Rape Victim

"Dear Abby"
Okay, so I read about this whole Dear Abby Rape Victim Blaming thing, and the more I read... and the more comments I read (shakes head slowly)... the more I can only say, over and over, what I said when I read the very first line... "Seriously? What the actual f—k?"

This post is going to be a long one and potentially uncomfortable one, so I'd like to apologize up front for my completely lack of brevity, but not apologize at all for my opinions or the subject matter discussed. The topic is rape. More to the point, the topic is "How much blame should be allotted to the victim of a rape or sexual assault?" (If you know the answer, don't shout it out. It's become terrifyingly obvious to me that not everyone knows the answer, and that's why we need to discuss this as a group). This topic really hits home for me, and I feel it's something that desperately needs to be addressed. Don't believe me? Read the advice given in this Dear Abby column and see if that doesn't make it painfully obvious that this is something that should be common knowledge, and for whatever cultural or societal reasons seems to just not be. 
Right, so let me start by saying that... yes, as was stated in the comments on the attached link, for the young woman writing in to Dear Abby, getting into the truck and going *ANYWHERE* with the guy in question was, at the very best, not the brightest plan...

But, and it's an enormous but...

How does that in any way, at all, ever, even a little bit, begin to excuse rape?

Moreover, how does that, or anything that was stated to have happened, somehow make the victim share blame?

So, she said "it hurts"... not "STOP IT, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!"...

So? What's the difference there? I mean, she'd already established boundaries, no? She'd already stated plainly that sex wasn't on the table. That makes it murky enough, even with her kissing him, that he should have secured unequivocal verbal consent before penetration, no?

Should she have made out with the guy (kissing, etc)? I'm going to go with probably not. Does that make rape her fault? I don't think so! Well, it's not any more her fault than, say... a sober person obeying all the posted traffic laws who dies in a head on collision with a drunk driver is responsible for their own death. I mean... "They knew the risks when they got in the car... they were practically asking for it behind that wheel..."

What world do we live in? Communication problem? Dear Abby, wake up! Parents should have communicated to the guy that unless the female in question gives consent for penetration... it's rape. RAPE! That's the only communication issue I see here.

The guy all but told the girl he was going to attempt to have sex with her. He did. However (THE IMPORTANT BIT, HERE!!!) She said she didn't want to do that. So... she should have expected that she would be raped if she went with him?

Sadly, in this world... yeah. She probably should have. Bigger picture? Should a woman expect to be raped, ever, by any guy (or girl), even if told up front that the guy (or girl) wants to have sex? NO!!! Rape is a crime! It's a violation! It's wrong! It shouldn't ever be expected! No means No!

Based on that, I'm going to ask a series of simple but very important question for everyone reading here.

Think about the answers you have to these questions, and understand that if your answers are different that mine, you are wrong. I'm normally fairly open minded about things, and willing to agree to disagree. Not here. Not now. Not on this topic. Not even a little.

So are you ready? Okay, here goes - 
Is it rape if you have sex with a woman (or man) who:
A) Is drugged so they can't say no?

Yes! It's still rape!

B) Is so drunk they doesn't know what they're doing?

Yes! It's still rape!

C) Is passed out?

Yes! It's still rape!

D) Is a sex worker, and has been paid by you for sex, but has decided now to not have sex with you?

Yes! It's still rape!

E) Is married to you, has had copious amounts of sex with you previously and also shares your life, your home, your bills, and your bed, but on this occasion has said no to your sexual advances?

Yes! It's still rape!

F) You've driven to an isolated area and trapped there?

Yes! It's still rape!

G) You've taken out for an evening of food/ drinks/ movie/ dancing/ entertainment (a date you paid a good deal of money for) but she (or he) says no?

Yes! It's still rape!

H) Says yes to having sex, and is really hot and heavy into the sex, and then (for *ANY* reason she (or he) chooses) says stop/ no?

YES!!! IT'S STILL F—KING RAPE!!!

How Is that not clear? I mean... to any and everyone? Even people who commit rape shouldn't be confused as to what they are doing, right? It's obvious, and yet Dear Abby doesn't even seem to completely get it. 

If there isn't consent... clear consent... verbal consent... universally understandable consent... and *especially* if there are any words or physical expressions of denial, or disagreement, or disapproval, or dissent, or refusal, or rejection, or objection, or opposition, or protest, or they JUST PLAIN SAY "NO!" Well, then, guess what?

IT.IS.STILL.F—KING.RAPE!

"No" means "no". Lack of "yes"... that's just as good as a "no".

How hard is it to get consent? No difficult at all if the person actually WANTS to have sex with you...
and if they don't, then it's rape!

It's more clear than crystal... more transparent than glass... more simple than one plus one equaling two.

No excuses apply here. None.

No excuses of mixed signals, or communication breakdown, or what they were wearing, or that "they wanted it",
or they "were asking for it",
or they "started it, so they had to finish it",
or any other pathetic excuse of any ill-conceived origin for that matter,
nothing... clear? NOTHING!
Nothing makes ANY act of sexual contact that is not actively consented to... in the moment that it is happening... anything else but rape.

Violating another persons body (regardless of the gender of the violator or the victim) is rape. It equates to murder in its viciousness and vile nature. If someone is killed those who cared for them suffer the loss of that person everyday. When one is raped, the victim (and all those who care for them - in ways they know about and ways they may not, both large and small) suffers for a lifetime.

Your desire does not out weight the suffering of another. EVER!


Communication issue, indeed!

There was a "severe breakdown in communication" that lead to this poor young woman "being sexually assaulted"...

...Let's look at the events as they unfolded, step by step, closely like we're all looking for Blue's Clues, and see if we can discover where that "severe breakdown" occurred:

1) The male in question made it clear he wanted sex.

Ok... a lot of men (and some women) are very "to the point" about their sexual desires... it's blunt, crass, rude... it's a crime in the work place, or from an adult to a minor... but to be fair here, in this case, it was very clear communication.

2) The female in question made it clear that she didn't
Sounds simple, seems like good "unbroken-down" communication.

3) The male in question made it clear he still wanted sex

Persistent. Repetitive. Could likely get a protective order if it were insistent or demanding or threatening enough... but, still... No "breakdown in communication"... not so far, anyway.

4) The female in question believed that she had the right to stop other people's physical advances on her own body at any point, or limit them to kissing alone.

Ah, ha! Ok! So, here's the beginning symptom of the "breakdown in communication". She clearly wasn't filled in on the fact that she wasn't a human being, with HUMAN RIGHTS, if someone else wanted sex bad enough. If someone wanted sex bad enough, she should have been informed that she was, by default, just an item to be used for that other person's pleasure when/ if they saw fit. Bad communication there? Yeah, Abby, I see it... Likely the fault of her parents, or the school system, or society as a whole.

5) She thought that saying that the sexual contact hurt could cause/ invoke empathy.

More failed "communication"! I see it! If someone wants sex bad enough, then informing them of pain they are causing, by doing that thing you already made clear you didn't want done to your body... that means little more than the chirping of birds in the trees. See, she clearly thought she was communicating. Using words, and all. Someone should have told her that the only form of "communication" that she is allowed to use at a time like that is a weapon of some kind, or silent defeated compliance. How silly of her to attempt to use words.

6) She thought that she had control over her body and what was done with it without having another person violate it and then get mad at her for expressing that it caused her pain... no matter how forcefully she may or may not have said it.

More societal, educational, institutional, governmental, medical, and parental educational failing. She didn't know that she only has the control over her body that she can physically exert, and that she has no reasonable exception to safety or control over what is done with or to the body that she exists within. All sorts of "communication breakdown"! Yeah... I *totally* see it now!

(SCREAMS IN FRUSTRATION)

It kills me... deep down on the inside... that any of this needs to be type out, or said out loud. These are basic concepts of human rights, and human value, and the most simple concept of respect for another human being.
Yeah. So, Abby, let's look at what you said, in detail.

Abby said:

“He had made no secret that he wanted sex with you,"

*** That gives him no right to do it, Abby! None! 

"and may have interpreted your willingness to kiss him"

*** Again, Abby... your willingness to get into a car doesn't signal your serious desire to *or* your consent to *or* your willingness or want to have your life end in a fiery auto crash.

"after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon"

*** ABBY?!?! Can you say "kidnapping"? Can you say "abduction"? Can you say "coercion"? Read what you wrote again, Abby. Please! You said: "after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon". Seriously? That's not a communication problem. That's a crime in itself. It's an exertion of control. It's a power-play to make the victim feel more helpless, out of control, and without power. It empowers the rapist and it should, if you are really using your observational skills, make the fact that this was RAPE all the more clear cut.

"as a signal that you were willing, even though you didn’t say so.”
*** Didn't say so? She said NO before. Why is the burden on her here, though? What she didn't say was "yes". "Yes" is the "signal" that he's required to hear to make physical contact with her and not be guilty of a crime. Further, and more importantly, "yes" is the "signal" that he's required to hear to make sexual contact with her and not be committing an act of violation, assault, rape!


I don't understand why this is even open for discussion or debate. I don't see a single shade of gray here. I am speaking from the point of view of a man, and maybe that skews my perception of things? Maybe because I was sexually violated as a child I can't clearly see how this isn't the victim's fault as well as the rapist's. Maybe because in my late teens I was raped in my own bed by a stranger while I was so drunk I couldn't even move my body from a prone position, let alone make words to give consent... maybe that makes me not see how this is a "breakdown of communication", and that clearly "signals" the victim might have been giving off by "willingness to kiss" mean more than actually having said no, not having said yes, or saying that it HURT!

Maybe it's just me... Maybe I just don't get the subtle nuances of this particular instance, circumstance, or issue... Can someone help me see this more clearly? Can someone go ahead and make me understand how a victim can be said to share blame *IN ANY GODDAMNED WAY* for being raped?


And that brings us full circle to the question that I started this with: "How much blame should be allotted to the victim of a rape or sexual assault?"
If you know the answer... feel free to shout it out now, or drop it in the comments below, or drop it to Dear Abby and anyone who would publish her advice...


If you don't know the answer, please... PLEASE... read my words again... if that doesn't work, and you still are confused about the amount of blame to award a rape or sexual assault victim, then I ask you, I plead with you... get help, or get off my planet... there's is absolutely zero room here for those who don't understand something this fundamental to life.


....................................................................................

Other Resources that may help you understand:

*** How 7 things that have nothing to do with rape perfectly illustrate the concept of consent

*** This woman just explained consent with the most perfect metaphor

*** (NSFW) Consent 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hole in the Wold - New Collection of Spoken Word


Currently available for only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle!


Hole in the World
– Transcribed Snapshots –
– Observations, Comments, and Interpretations –


Hole in the World is a collection of pieces of spoken word poetry, essays, and ruminations on life created in the five years since the release of Fresh. This work is a collection of previously unpublished author favorites or pieces originally intended for online sources.


Each of the pieces that comprise this work's whole is an impassioned cry or deep and personal pain. They are bared for you with the author's hope that something contained herein will touch you, connecting you with the raw humanity or shared experiences of not just existing, but actually living.






What are Amazon reviewers saying? 


"Beautifully written!"

"Dennis Sharpe is a master of his craft" 






Links to Hole in the World:

Amazon Kindle

Goodreads


Monday, April 4, 2016

Lifetime Forecast: Mostly Cloudy With A Chance Of Pain

I started a pot of coffee at three minutes after eleven on a Sunday night and as soon as I hit the start button my eyes were drawn to coffee grounds and sugar that had been spilled on the counter earlier in the day and I found myself stuck. I could only stand there and look. I knew I needed to clean that up. I wanted to clean it up. I just couldn’t make myself do it. Instead I felt a sense of vertigo like I was trapped in that moment, present and distant all at once. I had to fight back the urge to scream, or to cry, or to just walk out of my house and leave.

Don’t misunderstand me here. It’s not that I’m not a clean freak. I’m a single parent with three kids, two of whom are eight and ten, and still live at home. The ‘my house will be neat and clean’ ship has sailed long ago. But, that being said, I do like to make sure my kids live in a mostly clean house that is nearly clutter free. I spend many hours dedicated to that goal, in fact. And then other times… I’m under the clouds.

You see, my life is spent in and out of the dark, figuratively. It’s like I’m always walking down this long road, and there are all these dark clouds in the sky. Sometimes there will be good patches, breaks in the clouds that let the sun shine in, as I continue to walk. Occasionally these patches will last for weeks and on the truly rare instance for months. They always end, though. The Sun will fall behind the clouds and everything will be dark again.

That’s the way my life works, the way my mind works. Depression is by far my longest running relationship, and she’s loyal. She stays with me no matter how good things get. She sits patiently in the shadows in some corner of my mind. Waiting. Then something will happen, a trigger, coffee grounds and sugar on the counter, and there she is. She wraps me up in the dark and holds me tight. Assuring me that everything I do is wrong, and that I am most assuredly a failure – at being an adult, at keeping up with my house, at being a parent, at any and everything in my life.

I can go for months on end trapped in the same cloudy day. I can put on a smile like I put on a hat. I can make jokes and lighthearted conversation as easily as I can write any piece of fiction. I can even lie to myself convincingly for very short bursts. The clouds, though, they stay.

More often than not it’s just an overall feeling of failure. It’s a sensation that I’m out of place everywhere. I don’t belong. Nothing will work out for me. No one really likes me, they just put on a nice face, because they are nice people, and they pretend. Anything good that I have is undeserved. All pretty much standard fare. Other times, however… other times it gets bad. It gets painful. Down deep painful. It gets bad enough that I start to scrape against the bottom of myself and want things to end.

I can tell myself rationally that I don’t really want that. I know I don’t. But the argument in my mind is no less real, no less loud, no less exhausting. I can tell myself that I have people that would listen to me, let me vent, be there for me. As luck would have it, though, once I’m at that point my mind has already convinced me that they don’t really like me anyway and they would only be listening or pretending to care out of some sense of kindness or pity, and that it would only serve to make them not want to be any part of my life afterward. Besides, I tell myself, your problems are petty and small, not worth the time it would take to talk about… you need to just get over it… or just be done with it all.


I have a decent life. It’s been better than it is today. It’s been worse. I eat. I have a place to sleep. I have toys and clean clothes for my kids. When I focus on it I can actually feel happy for a while. I can concentrate on the good things, and I can feel good. I can walk in the sunshine and I can smile real smiles. But even when I do that I know that it’s just a break in the clouds, and my lifetime forecast, every day, is: mostly cloudy with a chance of pain.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Six years in – what I’ve learned about publishing, for what it's worth (Part One)


Negasonic Teenage Warhead, from Deadpool

I can hardly believe that it's been six years since I published my first book, The Years Distilled, and began the awesome (rare) up and (all-too-often) down ride-of-a-lifetime that is being a published hack writer. Thinking about that only brings to mind the voice of Negasonic Teenage Warhead from the recent Deadpool movie.
 


As I sit here writing this, I have four books available in print and Kindle with a fifth coming out very soon, seven other titles available exclusively as eBooks , and four pieces available in print and digital anthologies – all collections I’m proud to be a part of. I've gotten to know a lot of people that work in and adjacent to publishing who I now count as friends, other writers, editors, proofreaders, designers, managers, reviewers and book bloggers, and I've learned a lot about “indie publishing”, “hybrid publishing”, “traditional publishing”, content layout, graphic design, marketing, communication, and even a little… very little… about generating sales. Sounds like a lot, no? The truth? It’s really almost nothing.

I don't think I have time now (I’m a single dad with a full time job outside of my writing career) to type out the particulars of what I've experienced, or each and every thing I've learned from others (as well as first hand - the hard way) but I feel that I need to put something out there for anyone who is where I was six years ago... looking to get their first title out, and hoping that it doesn’t look like or read like garbage, that it connects with someone... anyone...  somewhere out in the ever contracting world of readers .

If you've already been around the block... so to speak... then you likely know everything I'm about to say...  or you may have a completely different experience and totally disagree with me (who knows, right?)...  but either way I feel I need to type this out... and it is *my blog* after all.


What are the most basic things? Well… 

  1. Write. Do it all the time. Do it when you don’t feel like it. Do it when you think it sucks. Make it a routine. Make it a habit. The quality will go up the more you flex those mental muscles. Someone (maybe Ray Bradbury, maybe not) once said that “Everybody has a million bad words in them, and the sooner we get through that first million, the better.” Maybe not 100 percent accurate, but there is some truth there.
  2. Get an editor. A professional. You will have to pay them. It is more than worth it. Do your homework. Find a quality editor and expect to pay them. Unedited work reads poorly and makes sure that the first impression you make on a reader is as a piss poor armature… even if you have the best plots and characters ever conceived of… or at least since Bill Shakespeare.
  3. Covers matter. Make sure you have a good one. One designed by someone who knows what they are doing. One that people who aren’t you (and your faithful group of supporters, fans, family, and friends) also think looks great.
  4. Give away your work to be read and reviewed. Review s are more precious than gold. Yes, that means even the horrible bad ones. The worst build character and grow a thicker skin. The bad ones can serve to keep you humble and/or show you what you’re doing wrong and what you can learn.


But those are just the highlights… If I had to focus more in depth on just one thing… only one topic to discuss, one direction to point someone in, who was planning to publish it would be this: Social media and internet presence. Know it. Use it. Respect what it can do for you. Trust me.

Rachel Thompson
Get a web page, a blog, a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and G+… then read everything that Rachel Thompson has to say on webpages, tweets, and status updates. Seriously. Just do it.


I already had a personal Facebook page... as I own a computer, am aware that there is an internet, and I don't live under a rock. I have friends all over the country (because I've lived all over the country) and it seemed like a passable way of keeping in touch with my scattered social group. My personal Facebook page, though, didn't seem like enough to use for a marketing outlet. I saw that other artists, authors, and companies had "professional" pages. 

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDennisSharpe
I decided that I needed one, too. As luck would have it, Facebook has a designation for 'Author' when you are making a page... so, off I went... I created a Facebook page for "Dennis Sharpe, the author": 

It's really kinda neat to see who (that isn't already on your friends list on your personal Facebook page) hits the like button, or comments on your updates. I've gotten messages from fans (or so they claim to be) asking me questions and seeming generally interested in my work. I've gotten great feedback as well as gotten to hear from people who genuinely enjoyed my work. If you don't see the benefit of that as a writer then perhaps you should really consider if publishing your work is the right route for you to take (in my humble opinion, anyway).

After all the interaction I was able to generate through my Facebook "Author page", I noticed that several other writers were enjoying success at getting their work read, noticed, devoured, etc. by making a Facebook page for their book, or series of books, and I thought that was ingenious. When I released my first novel (which also happened to be book one of a series) I jumped on that bandwagon as well... I made a Facebook page for my Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.

I have to be honest here...  While I like that page, it doesn't get quite as much notice, and it hasn't served me quite as well as I would have liked...  but, the interaction that I have gotten out of it has been awesome, and ego boosting... if not a major marketing tool, or help generating interest in my fiction.

On that note, however I have to say that if you intend to publish fiction, and you'd like people to actually read that fiction, you'd be crazy not to get yourself on Twitter. 

Awesome things like this happen on Twitter
My Twitter handle is: @WitlessLackey (an old online handle from years gone by that also happens to be in the name of my blog. Honest... just look at the page this is on.) 

Kelli McCracken, who is amazing help for any writer who's planning to publish (you can find her here: http://www.kellimccracken.com/), told me that Twitter was a must. She couldn't have been more right. You can help generate interest for your work... as well as generate interest for the work of other writers you enjoy reading... *and* you get to enjoy a sense of community with other writers doing what you're doing...  like group therapy, moral support, cheerleaders, contemporaries, sounding boards, and people who really "get" where you are and what you are going through. I met some of the best people through Twitter (Mireille Chester, Thomas Amo, Allie Burke, and Rachel Thompson to name a few) as well as occasionally get to digital connect with authors I've been a fan of for years.

Google also has thier hybrid mix of Twitter and Facebook called "G+". I don't know that it will ever be as big, or as great a tool...  or as fun as Facebook and Twitter can be but I'm all about trying new things so I made a G+ account: 


So far...  it's not done a world of good for me... and most everyone I encounter there I have already encountered through another avenue of social media...  but it doesn't hurt, I guess...  it's not time consuming, and it's fairly idiot proof. (It needs to be for me, afterall)

There's also Myspace and Livejournal...  Neither are bad. I have an account on both...  I check them semiannually....  so, yeah. You can use them... but I've not seen them to be all that great as a service (but they are free, as well. )

Pinterest and Instagram are worth your time... but you really should read Rachel's advice, not mine. Seriously. http://badredheadmedia.com/ Go there. Read.

There are a few other tools out there at your disposal that I can't see how any writer wouldn't want to employ...  unless they want their writing (or themselves) to remain hidden... they are Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. Of the three, and I use all three to one degree or another, I would have to say that my favorite is Goodreads. 

All three of these services offers you the ability to create an "author account" where you can list all your books, get ratings and reviews, offer giveaways, gain fans, join groups, post trailers, put up short fiction, and link all your other social media. My Goodreads account is: 


I cannot say enough times how much Goodreads has done for me. They have lists where readers can vote on your book... they have ways for readers to recommend your book to others... they have virtual book clubs and discussion groups that your book can be involved in... Readers can shelve your book by interest or genre, so others can be exposed to you (and not in the illegal kind of "exposed" that sends you to jail, but the good way where people can find and read your book)...

(Continued)


I didn't realize when I started writing this, just how much I had to say... so I'm just going to call this "Part One". If you are interested, I'll be posting a "Part Two" with Screen Shots of my Blog Stats, Facebook Stats, Goodreads Stats, and Sales Stats, as well as comments on my Goodreads list adds in relation to Blog reviews. I'll discuss Amazon Author central as well as other review blogs (like: wickedlilpixie.com , darkfaerietales.com , bookish-brunette.com) and awesome resources to connect with readers outside of your books like Storycasting and iflist.com