Congratulations, Mrs. Munroe. It’s a Poet.

Without intending to, I gave birth to a poet or two. Of course, I wouldn’t have known how to go about creating a poet if I intended to.

Sarah is earning her MFA in Creative Writing and West Virginia University while working as a teaching assistant.

In honor of World Poetry Day, here are a few of Sarah’s poems I have access to online.

hands empty

By Sarah Munroe. All rights reserved.

sarah poem

By Sarah Munroe. All rights reserved.

My father leaves notes on napkins

By Sarah Munroe All rights reserved.

These from the former 3rd grader who rebelled against homeschool and wouldn’t write one paragraph about dolphins but as a 4th grader wrote a 16-page story for her public school teacher.

Sarah’s Tumblr blog is here. I think she gave up updating it when she met the love of her life and had other things to do. Plus, she’s not a huge fan of social media.

My son, Pete, is also a poet in the songwriting sense, even though he recently switched over to stand up comedy of the sort he doesn’t really want his parents to experience. Here’s his former band, Quatro Dedos for which he wrote most of the lyrics and did most of the lead vocals. Loud fast punk, not for the faint of heart.

quatro dedos cover

Quatro Dedos CD cover by Pete Munroe

My so-far unappreciated novels are not my only contribution to the literary world and the overall art production of the planet.

For things like World Caber Tossing day, however, I have nothing.

You can lean in. Just don’t call it that.

My new pet peeve: lean in. I just stopped reading an article because the writer used it twice in two paragraphs. Actually, she used lean into. And earlier this evening I saw it in the WalMart employee’s magazine.

What does that even mean? I know there’s a women-supporting-women and career success thing called Lean In, but do we ALL have to use it now?

No, we don’t. Please stop. Now.

A Little Wish Come True

Don’t you just love it when you get something you want in the way you want it?

A few weeks ago I was thinking I’d sure like a free Photoshop course. I like making my own book covers and little blurby advertisement things. I’ve been using GIMP for a few years. It’s a free program similar to photoshop, but a little bit clunky. But I can do a few things a lot more quickly than I used to, once I figured out a few basics. I made my book covers with GIMP, for what they’re worth.

Anyhoo, I’ve been getting email from Skillshare, an online company that offers classes in various media and creativity topics like typography and developing your brand and photojournalism. Last week they announced a free 5 class Photoshop course that runs until the end of March.

Sign me up!

I love free because no job.

I downloaded the free (again) 30 day trial of Photoshop.

After each class there’s a project to complete (if you want) to used the skill you learned. Here’s the first thing I did that I didn’t really like.

circle cones

Circle Cones

A bowl of sherbet inspired me to this, which I like a lot:

ice cream2

Chocolate Vanilla Strawberry

I submitted that for the project. The one below I just kept the little girl theme going for fun.

Blue House

Blue House

I’ve always been pretty good with a pencil and like to draw. Photoshop, if you haven’t used it, is based on layers, with almost every part of the image being on a new layer. The girl’s face is actually an oval with a rounded rectangle on top of it, all skillfully layered under the window sill and the bottom part of the house. The curtains are two large ovals and two large triangles layered under the blue on either side of the window. I trust thinking in this new way is good for my brain.

So, in between job applications and working on book three, I’ve been messing around with Photoshop and learning some new skills.

A little wish come true.

What’s a little wish that came true for you recently?

 

 

 

Fairy Tale Fun Blog Hop

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Mine might be a little different from the other books on this hop. (The story of my life.) My writing tends to be a bit on the serious side, more like the classic definition of Women’s Fiction.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in myself when I realized that Lily the protagonist of my Lilyland Trilogy* is a Cinderella spin-off. I thought I was being more clever than that. But, I became okay with it. After all, the rags-to-riches Cinderella theme has been popular in many cultures for centuries. In other words, it works.

Do me a favor. As you read this, don’t think of Disney’s Cinderella. Think The Brother’s Grimm.

Cinderella planted a tree at her mother's grave. When she needed dresses (she went to the ball on three different days) she went to the tree and asked the birds who lived for a dress. Each time the dress was more magnificent than the last.

Cinderella planted a tree at her mother’s grave. When she needed dresses (she went to the ball on three different days) she went to the tree and asked the birds who lived for a dress. Each time the dress was more magnificent than the last.

Like Cinderella, my Lily starts off as underappreciated. Knocked down by life, she’s having a hard time getting back up. Her step-mother is Insecurity. Her stepsisters Shame and Guilt. During that time, she meets a Prince Charming Charlie (a bad boy and accomplished film director)at a fund-raising gala—like a ball. They light each other up during the evening of dancing and conversation, even exchanging phone numbers, but neither initiates contact.

Maybe her golden slipper is her smile and the way she touches Charlie’s heart. A twist of fate reunites them a year later, and the magic is still there. He even calls her princess…

“Thank you, Lily.” His solemn expression turned into something goofy, something I hadn’t seen yet. “I keep wanting to call you Princess.”

“Princess? Like on your phone?”

“The night we met you said you felt like a princess.”

“So I did.”

…and invites her to an elite party in Los Angeles where he lives and works. Lily is unaccustomed to the lifestyle of the rich and famous and she’s helped by several of Charlie’s women friends to dress for the occasion. She even compares herself to Cinderella.

“I have something for you,” Charlie said and opened a black case he had been holding. “These are only leased, mind you.”

“You think of everything, don’t you?” I whispered in awe.       “Thank you so much! They’re beautiful.”

In front of the hall mirror he placed a simple but elegant diamond necklace on me and clasped it. Sophie and Rachel each inserted an earring.

“Thank you, everyone,” I said. “I feel like Cinderella with all the birds and bunnies dressing her for the ball.”

(Yes, from the Disney version. Face palm.) Birds help our heroine in the Grimm’s version.

Of course, there are several differences. In Lily’s story is we get to see her life after she lands the prince and gains the castle. In fairy tales, we never see the prince’s flaws. Lily’s Prince Charlie has a few of them. The biggie is his sex addiction, putting happily-ever-after in serious jeopardy. We also never see the day-to-day life. Does Cinderella spend the day inspecting the palace’s cleaning staff and offering handy household hints she learned during her years of oppression sweeping hearths and picking peas and lentils from ashes? Does she train birds and design slippers? Lily eagerly jumps in as Charlie’s production company and film directing partner. No Real Housewife life for her!

Cinderella's slipper was actually "golden" and not glass as in the versions we're used to. One stepsister cut off a toe and the other her heel to get their feet in the magic shoe.

Cinderella’s slipper was actually “golden” and not glass as in the versions we’re used to. One stepsister cut off a toe and the other her heel to get their feet in the magic shoe.

Another difference is age. Lily is a middle-aged Cinderella with a grown daughter and a painfully failed marriage. And her prince may display charming behavior, but he’s no kid in search of his first wife.

In Grimm version of fairy tales, the baddies are always brought to justice. The good girls and guys always win, unlike real life sometimes. Lily’s princess life throughout the trilogy has its share of challenges that take the composure, wisdom and grace of a queen to handle. Does she get her happily-ever-after? Read Lilyland and find out.

To enter the blog hop contest for a chance to win the prize described below. Simply answer my question below in the comment section here on this blog. You must include your email address so the winner can be notified. Entries without email address won’t be qualified for the contest.  (You won’t be subscribed to anything. Promise!) Open to US addresses only. But, I’d love your comment if your not in the US. Winner will be drawn by Rafflecopter on Feb. 16, 2015 and notified by email.

Sprite 24

Congratulations Sprite 24 Gift Box from Fairytale Brownies  which includes a snack-size assortment (Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate, Original, Peanut Butter, Pecan, Raspberry Swirl, Toffee Crunch, Walnut, White Chocolate, Espresso Nib, Cream Cheese) of 24 delicious gourmet brownies

Question– Even though Lily’s prince has a huge character defect, she gives him a shot. Well, plenty of shots. What would be a deal breaker for your prince? Loud beer burps? Leaving his underwear where you step on it or leaving the toilet seat up? Picking on your mom? Enter your deal breaker in the comments.

Visit with each of these #chicklitlove authors and leave a comment (and email address!) for another entry in the Brownie contest.

April Aasheim                          Sheryl Babin                            Kathryn Biel
Brea Brown                             Geralyn Corcillo                       Patricia Eddy
Erin Emerson                          Jamie Farrell                            Hilary Grossman
Rachel Lynn Hamm                Gina Henning                          Celia Kennedy
Tracy Krimmer                         Becky Monson                        Theresa Munroe                                   Diane Rinella                              S.K. Wills
* At the point, Lilyland is not quite a trilogy, as book 3 is still in progress.

Coming Here: Fairy Tale Blog Hop

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Starting Tuesday Feb. 10, I’ll be participating in The Fairy Tale Blog Hop with other authors of women’s fiction and chick lit from the ChickLitHQ FaceBook group. A bunch of us will be comparing one of our characters to a princess–fairy tale or otherwise.

At each stop, you can post a comment for a chance to win a brownie assortment from Fairy Tale Brownies.

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Curious to see what fairy tale princess Lily reminds me of? Watch my social media for a link or just hop back here!

Face To Face–indie movie review.

I know–another post in the same week. Knock you over with a feather, right?

On the cusp of the new year, I signed up with Film Festival FlicksFFF to review indie movies. I had to do it quick, despite a few New Year’s Eve adult beverages. Like three, okay. Don’t judge. I got in just before the free cut off ended at midnight. Yay me! I agreed to watch the movies and post reviews on my social media accounts.

I love movies. And I love indie. I’m an indie author. I love that it’s easier than ever to get creative works out into the world by only pluck, hard work and a few (or more) dollars. Knowing somebody helps, too, I’m told.

If my review arouses interest in the movie, click on the link to my Film Festival Flix page at the end of the review. If you buy it from there, I get paid a little. I don’t know how much. I’m not expecting to get rich. Besides getting to watch free movies, maybe I’ll get some good indie karma for book sales. Woo Hoo!

Face to Face (2011)

face-to-face_slide

Things happen for a reason…and a reason…and a reason…

Wayne is a young man with anger issues which lead him to being fired from a job he loves. His reaction results in legal woes. Since it’s his first offense, instead of court the parties involved agree to a community conference to arrive at a resolution with the help a mediator. As the process unfolds in this psychological drama from Down Under, we realize that the inciting incident is only the tip of a twisted, emotional iceberg.

I would imagine putting ten actors in a room with little to do but sit, talk and listen is a challenge to direct in something as long as a feature film. But the director and cast rise to the occasion, building tension as layers are pulled away revealing past and present relationships and secrets that ripple—or crash—into the lives of each of the characters.F2F-Still-2

While the actors aren’t household names by American standards, many have impressive cred in Australia. Vince Colosimo—who stars as Greg Baldoni, the injured party—is very busy in TV and film on the Kangaroo Continent. You might have seen him in The Great Gatsby, Body of Lies, Daybreakers or Sparticus: War of the Damned. Luke Ford, who plays Wayne Travers on whom the story revolves, appeared in the 2010’s much-awarded Animal Kingdom, among numerous other films and TV series.

Michael Rymer, the director, in the mid-2000s was busy with producing and directing Battlestar Gallactica. Recently he has directed for Longmire, American Horror Story and The Killing. Some features to his directing credit are Perfume and Queen of the Damned.

Face to Face, written and directed by Rymer, is based on the play by Aussie David Williamson who took notes from real conflict resolution conferences. Rymer used judiciously placed scenes set outside the time and place of the main story to relieve the tedium that can result from a contained and add depth to the complex storyline. These, plus the energy of the cast, keep the film flowing at a steady pace, but not fast enough that the audience can’t absorb the emotional effects of personal choices.

I questioned the plausibility of the story’s resolution, but then remembered it’s not American. I don’t want to give it away, but let me know what you think of the ending.

When you’re in the mood for clean (well, a few f-words, if I remember correctly, I can’t find an American rating on it) intelligent drama, click here for Face to Face.

My rating: ****/*****

Human Trafficking, continued.

jan_trafficking_month

Good grief, January totally got away from  me!

We had the Super Bowl here in Phoenix this year. The highlight of that for me was I got to see The Thunderbirds fly directly over my backyard on their way to fly over the University of Phoenix Stadium which is like 4 miles from my house! Now, I’m glad the whole thing is over and the news can return to the usual shootings, traffic accidents, and other stupid human behavior.

thunderbirds

Not my photo, but the Tunderbirds looked just like this, blue seky included, flying over my back yard.

However, as volunteer Twitter account manager for a residential center for teen victims of sex trafficking, StreetLight USA, my month was filled with promoting their activities. Rallies, plays, prayer meetings, art display.

And all month, I wondered how many girls and boys were imported into the Valley of the Sun by their pimps, their sellers. Not only did we host the Super Bowl, but also the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a stop on the PGA tour AND the Pro Bowl AND the annual Jackson Barrett Auto Auction which auctions off expensive cars. So the valley was rife with affluent men spending money on leisure activities.

For some of them, their activity of choice is raping young girls.

One lie these men tell themselves is that the girls they rape want to be there, that it’s their choice. 

Um, NO! You, sir, are a child molester.

The typical female victim of sex trafficking is 13 years old. That means some are older. That means some are younger.

She might be a runaway, and most likely was sexually abused by someone in her past. Often, her home life was unstable. Probably, even if she didn’t run away from home, she was vulnerable (what teenage girl isn’t?) and fell prey to some male older than her who “groomed” her by being kind to her, giving her things, affection, a place to stay, nice clothes, meals…drugs.

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The Scarlet Cord, an art installation was on display in Phoenix in January. Read about it here: https://www.artprize.org/pamela-alderman/2014/the-scarlet-cord

Some of these males then might sell her to someone else to sell to johns, or they might pimp her themselves. They tell the girls they have to pay them back for what the girls believed was offered out of love for them. These girls endure multiple beatings, verbal and emotional abuse, even drug addiction. Many are branded with tattoos that mark them as property. They become psychologically and physically dependent on the brutes who hold them hostage. Many trafficked kids are able to walk away, but they don’t see that. They believe they are helpless apart from the people that sell them.

Some kids, even very very young kids, are pimped by their parents. Some by friends of the family. For me, as a daughter from a loving home, and as a mother, I can’t imagine even thinking that thought–trade my child’s innocence, their mental and physical health for money.

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Kids in the life are sold an average of 10 to 20 times a day. An estimate of 100,000 kids IN THE USA ALONE are believed to be living this life. Another 100,000-200,000 kids are at risk. Mostly girls, but boys, too. When a kid enters this life, their future extends, on average, only a mere 7 years unless they are rescued or somehow manage to leave. Drugs, beatings, and disease are the most common causes of death.

One result of hosting the Super Bowl for the good was that the City of Phoenix enacted tougher penalties for buyers of children for sex.. Mandatory arrest and jail time, cars impounded, fines, mandatory education. Before, jail time and education was optional at the discretion of authorities.

Personally, I think these men should be treated as sex offenders with all the social stigma that goes with that label.

Maybe it’s a good thing the month flew and I didn’t get any other posts up. The spotlight may be off Phoenix, but kids are still being sold for sex.

Here.

And where you live.

January and Human Trafficking Awareness Month may be over for 2015, but the problem didn’t go away at midnight on February 1.

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What can you do? Probably not go out and rescue a girl, bring her home and restore her. You can educate yourself on the issue and figure out where you fit in. Maybe it will be as complicated as a career, or as simple as donating money or spreading awareness by following organizations and sharing on social media. The more we do, the louder we say this has got to stop.

Follow these two organizations on social media:

http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/sex-trafficking-in-the-us

http://sharedhope.org/

A couple articles about trafficking.

http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org/enslaved-in-america-sex-trafficking-in-the-united-states/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/human-trafficking-month_n_4590587.html

The Scarlet Cord

https://www.artprize.org/pamela-alderman/2014/the-scarlet-cord

You can help the girls at StreetLightUSA by going to their wish list on Amazon and purchasing items that will be shipped directly to the facility. Check the left side for several lists to choose from.

 

 

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Photo thanks to Shared Hope International

Shared Hope International

Here in America, because we like to think we abolished slavery. And we did, to an extent. We made it illegal for one person to own another. But like every other thing made illegal, those intent on making money from it find ways to do it secretly. Or in plain sight.

Technically, slavery has been abolished everywhere in the world. In 1981, Mauritania became the last country to make slavery illegal. Modern slavery is often referred to as Human Trafficking. It’s estimated that up to 1,000,000 individuals are enslaved to others, the vast majority being female.

I became aware of this disturbing issue via Facebook a few years ago. A friend posted something from Shared Hope International, probably the foremost voice against sex trafficking in the country. As I read and researched the topic a little, I realized I was shocked and saddened that such a thing exists, but not at all surprised. Slavery has been a boil on the butt of humanity since the dawn of time.

Sex slavery is nothing new, either. But that doesn’t make it less appalling, especially since it’s flourishing here in the US, and its victims are teens, even young children. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 thousand teens are being held in captivity to be sold for sex as I write this. Some are “owned” by pimps, some are sold by their own parents.

Does this knowledge not break your heart?

After I started following Shared Hope International and receiving their email updates, I was made aware of StreetLightUSA, which is an non-profit in the Phoenix, AZ area that provides transitional housing and services for teen girls leaving sex trafficking as well as victims of sexual abuse. Besides housing, they provide counseling, education, mentors, activities and other essentials to help these young victims recover from the life they were forced into. This is funded largely through donations of time, money and practical items. StreetLightUSA is the largest facility of its kind in the US. They have big plans to meet the ever growing need.

I have the privilege of volunteering as the manager of StreetLightUSA’s Twitter account. It’s been very educational, as well as rewarding as I help spread awareness of human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking and its impact on the lives of the young victims.

January has been proclaimed as Human Trafficking Awareness Month by President Obama. As one concerned about this, I’ll up my blogging this month to provide information and resources to help my readers become more aware and possibly decide to take action against modern-day slavery in whatever form makes sense to you.

When one person is abused, the entire human race is diminished. As individuals, we can’t end this horror, but educated and united, we can.

Do Something! Click on the links to Shared Hope and StreetLightUSA and see what these two organizations do. Like their Facebook Pages and follow on Twitter to show you support their work and to keep updated in the work against sex trafficking.

Read: http://borgenproject.org/seven-facts-modern-day-slavery/

Sharing is Caring

Today, December 31, is the last to donate to non-profit organizations and have it count as a deduction toward your 2014 income tax. Here in Arizona, donations of up to $400 for an individual and $800 for a couple count as tax CREDITS. Meaning it’s like you paid the state that much money already in taxes. You can even get that money back as a refund if you qualify for one. Does your state have something like this?

We here at the Munroe residence are not drowning in cash. Far from it. But every year we give regularly to the church we belong to. This year we also gave to a couple of non-profits near and dear to our hearts. One is a non-profit started by my brother. The other is a local entity.

download (1)IT4Causes is a new start-up by my brother, Tom Anderson. His idea is to utilize volunteers to create and maintain IT for small to medium size non-profit organizations. See the website for more information.

 

 

downloadThe other is StreetLightUSA, which provides transitional housing and help for teen victims of sex trafficking and abuse. It’s the largest facility of its kind in the country. The need is great and they hope to expand. I also volunteer time for them.

I’m not really wanting to toot my own horn, or even suggest you donate to these entities, even though if you’re at a loss where to send your money, please send it to one or both! The important thing is to share with some place that is doing good. Even if it’s only a few dollars. Maybe it won’t mean much on your taxes, but it will mean so much to the staffs and people helped by the places you help.

downloadI personally have been helped by donations to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society which funded research to treat Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which somehow I managed to develop. Instead of chemo and transplants, I just take a pill a day to keep funky white blood cells away.

What’s near to your heart? Veterans? Homeless people? Hungry people? Abused women and children? Places that don’t have clean water? Abused animals? Cancer research or cancer victims? Mental health issues? Disabled people? All you need is a credit or debit card and a place’s website.

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Doing good is good for your heart and soul. The universe smiles on people who share. Who doesn’t need the universe to smile on them once in a while?

A Few Things I Want To Go Away In 2015

I spend waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on the internet. When I’m writing, I’ll get on Facebook when I get stuck or need to think through a scene. Then I rabbit trail to articles by The Hollywood Reporter or Huffington Post or Distractify.

By the way, Distractify is a great name for that site.

By doing this, I see many unfortunate trends come and go. Or come and stay. Some have to go for good.

To be honest, some of these ideas come directly from the content fo my Facebook feed. I would use pictures from that, but I don’t want to offend my friends. Even though, if some of them decided to change their ways, I and other would be appreciative. But, still love you!

1. Hands on hips in photos.

Sure, placing your hands on your hips can be a powerful gesture in the right situation. but this thing got started when some actress, probably thought she had underarm fat. Which is okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person or not sexy or anything.

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Now everybody does it. See, EVERYBODY.

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2. Duck Lips.

I haven’t seen as much of this as before, but it’s still hanging on. Why did anyone ever think this was attractive?

duck lips    474

Even Mona Lisa fell into the trap at some point.

download   Of course, sometimes, we’re just caught on camera with our natural expression.

images (1)  Fortunately, these duck guys have fallen off in popularity on my FB feed.

image But this is cute:

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3. Tongues.

Tongues are way worse than duck lips.Tongues were put inside for a reason. Even if you are Miley Cyrus or a wannabe.

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Why is her tongue that color? It looks like she has thrush. Triple EEEEWWWW!!!!

images (4) For crying out loud, Santa. What a way to wreck your image!

dpaphotos336814 Yes, tongues should stay in your mouth. Unless you can do this (only when asked!):

tongue twister    curled-tongue-1

Or you’re a little kid with a green tongue or a dog.

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4. This news box on my Facebook page.

Capture It’s full of bad news, annoying news, or asshole news, as above, in that order. I haven’t figured out how to make it go away.

5. Modern uses of the word bitch.

This is a bitch.

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This is not a bitch.

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I’m those things, but that doesn’t make me a bitch. Just because some people think thug-speak is cool doesn’t mean it’s okay to refer to all women as bitches. Assertive women aren’t bitches, either, unless assertive men are, too. Off course, a man means business while a woman is just bitchy, even when their goals are the same.

images (6) Because this is the thinking behind it:

bitches_aeb925_1838341  6. Of course, selfies.

images (8) images (12) images (13)  Yeah, you think you’re good looking. Or want the world to think you live a very exciting life. So what?

7. This will change your life.

Capture  Umm, probably not.

Those are a few things that I want to go away like The Ice Bucket Challenge went away. Like 2014 is going away. They were fine while They were here. Now it’s time to scat and make room for what’s next. For good or ill.

I hope some things that annoy you go away in 2015. And all the things and people you love stay. And some new great things come your way.

Happy New Year!