Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stop Victim Blaming

It was back in 2014 that I started to write about rape culture here on my blog. Those who have read my books, though they are works of fiction, know there is that element in there as well. The subject isn't something I can ever escape really because of my life experiences. It has been a part of me since I was first assaulted when I was 19 and those that have happened since then.

Currently you can't turn on the news or open social media without seeing a new sexual assault/harassment/misconduct coming to light. Though Hollywood has been the highlights as of late, these situations happen in every walk of life. Rape culture is alive and well in all these and victim blaming goes hand in hand with it.

There have been many phrases thrown out lately about some of these women saying "what did they expect," "why didn't they report it back then" "they're just looking for money" "well they didn't implicitly say no." This goes along with different accounts and variations of stories from women from all walks of life. What sickens me the most is the bulk of people that are victim blaming ARE WOMEN.

The #metoo movement has sought to give a voice to these women and yet others out there are shutting them down. The insecurity and anxiety that comes along with harassment or assault is already heightened and spewing this victim blaming nonsense. This is why women don't report because they start to question whether or not their situations were "severe enough" or whether they "imagined it" or "they shouldn't have put themselves in that position so they deserved it."

I know this because all those things are what made me not report my assault back then. I wish more than anything I could go back and shake that 19 year old girl and tell her not to listen to those around her. Even to this day when I disclose my past experience (since I've gotten to a place in my life where I'm comfortable doing so) one of the first questions I get asked is "why didn't you report it?"

"Because I thought it was my fault."

Those words will forever echo in my brain. I think about other young women in these situations who are questioning things as well. Like I stated above, they see these stories everywhere now and I hope that they will see them and come forward. But when they see the victim blaming going on along with it, it may cause them to not come forward.

So if you take nothing else away from this post, it's to think before you speak. Think before you type. Think before you post. What you may be spewing could affect those in a good or bad way depending on what you chose. This is not a partisan problem it is a HUMAN problem.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Maternity Pants and Mouthfuls of Carbs

What can I say, my love for alliterations hasn’t gone away even with the changes going on in my life right now. Today’s post is more personal than others mostly because as a writer, I need to get these words out, and also I find the further I get into this whole pregnancy thing the less I really care what people know. Now don’t worry, I have no want to get graphic details of pregnancy, childbirth, and all those other gross things (sorry I still have a hard time seeing it as a beautiful thing), which leads me into one of the points of this post: I’m still snarky and cynical as ever.
“Oh you’re glowing.”

Glowing? Yeah, that could be the excess oil or sweat on my face but I’m definitely not “glowing.” In fact, I’m going to put this out there: pregnancy  the first trimester sucks (look I caught myself, aren’t you all proud?). Suddenly you lose all control of what is happening to your body and become zapped of all energy. But hey it’s so miraculous that you’re growing this human being inside of you, right? You mean the alien being that is stealing my blood? Sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so incredibly excited to meet the little nugget and shape it into a contributing member of society… I just need to get past the first part: this whole pregnancy thing.

That leads me to my next point: it’s time to own this whole pregnancy thing, gross or not.

When I was a teenager and hit puberty my body suddenly decided to stock pile fat. From the age of 16 until I was 21, I was considered “overweight.” Don’t get me wrong, I was never unhealthy; played sports all throughout high school and college and ate somewhat healthy. Nevertheless, there was also an extra couple of pounds that just didn’t make me feel comfortable. After college I made some lifestyle changes (most notably gave up eating meat) and ended up losing 40 pounds. Later on I even became a fitness instructor, teaching others strength and core training.

Fast forward to our decision to have a child and that realization that “holy shit I’m going to gain back most of that weight.” And sure enough, I started to gain weight. A lot of it had to do with the fact that the only thing that seemed to quell my morning sickness was carbs (and let’s face it, once I found out I was pregnant I turned into the carb version of cookie monster). Then I hit the mark where suddenly none of my pants fit. Well they “fit” but that button was begging for its life after a while.

I started to wear dresses, skirts, yoga pants, and other clothing options that had “give,” all to avoid the dreaded maternity clothes. Then finally I broke down and got some maternity pants and you know what? They’re kind of amazing. Actually, not kind of, they ARE amazing. It’s to the point that I honestly would have no shame wearing these even after my pregnancy.

Even with all my snarkiness, cynicism, and general wish to avoid anything cute and/or sappy I am very excited for this next stage. Still, won’t be posting any sonogram pictures or doing one of those gods awful maternity shoots – seriously the only pictures of me that would actually be reminiscent of my pregnancy would include me in yoga pants, eating bread, and watching Arrow on Netflix. So you know what, I’m gonna gain weight and wear comfy pants and I’m going to milk every part of it because in the end I’m going to have an awesome child that I get to corrupt… I mean love and nurture.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Now Brewing...

It’s no secret that during the Summer my writing inspiration waivers a bit. Kind of ironic considering that my novel series is titled “Summer’s Hollow” huh? It makes sense though; sunny warm days spent out in the backyard grilling are just not inducive for write horror. Now don’t get me wrong, I still write, but it’s usually out of my usual genre and tends to be more “practice writing” than anything else.  

Now it’s August and even though the days are still sticky and humid here in Maryland, the inspiration juices are starting to brew. Not only that but now I have an aid to my writing… an extra little “nugget” of inspiration to help me finish out the Summer’s Hollow series. I’m happy to announce that I am currently “brewing” a little one!

With this announcement comes a new level of anxiety: trying to pop out the new book before I pop out the baby in April; however, for those of you who have read the series, you can see how this new life development could be a wonderful inspiration. In fact, just trying to become pregnant gave me a whisper of ideas to trek through the story. So officially I am ramping back up with my usual level of horror writing, this time with a little bit of extra help.

So I sit here on this slightly cooler day, rain pouring down the windows ready to hit the page (or rather computer screen) running!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Foreign Thoughts

No, I’m not referring to the other voices in my head (though they have been working overtime lately), but rather the new short story series I’m writing. Why is it I always have these bursts of inspiration when I’m in the thick of it? In this case, I’m down in the trenches of my Capstone Project: the last piece in the Grad School puzzle. I’m burnt out, stressed out, and yet I’ve spent all my free time writing these new short stories.

Like most of my random short stories, I’m not sure what I’m planning to do with them when I’m done but I enjoy writing them. They’re my form of therapy since we all know how expensive that can get. Therefore, to deal with the insanity of my capstone, I have turned to the world of Federal Marshal Annabelle Hall.

The concept for “Foreign Thoughts” actually came out of watching the show “Haven” on Syfy that centers on a small town in Maine full of people with supernatural abilities. As you all know the small town trope is one that I love (i.e., Summer’s Hollow) so I decided to adopt that for this latest series.

“Foreign Thoughts” centers on a small fishing town in the Pacific Northwest, that similar to Summer’s Hollow or Haven, harbors some secrets that a select few know about. If those secrets were spread though, the country would be in a state of panic. It has become Annabelle’s job to contain those secrets just as her father did before her. That is why she became a Federal Marshal, to be positioned in that role; however, as always in my stories, there is a twist.
See Annabelle has this gift or problem in some cases. Whenever she touches a personal object of someone’s, she suddenly sees what they are seeing. It could be right at that moment, back when they were a child, or even five years into the future; there is no controlling it. This is a great tool when trying to solve cases and catch suspects, but like everything, it comes with a price.

Her father’s death, victims’ deaths and rapes, suspects’ crimes, and many other painful memories she had to witness by touches of their objects. Most was for the greater good, but it left her feeling cold and distance from people. Experiencing their memories gave her an intimate look into people’s thoughts, many of those thoughts she didn’t wish to know. This gave her the edge to be excellent at her job but socially stunted.

So far I have written five short stories in this series. Once again I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with them but I’ve been on an inspirational kick to write them. Fret not though; I’m still working on the next book in the Summer’s Hollow series, which will go into more depth about the Pascal family. I leave you then with a passage from the first story in the “Foreign Thoughts” series:

            The car ride to the house was a silent one. Neither really knew what to say to each other. Neither knew if what would come out would be something loving or yelling. It was clear to both that waiting until they got back to the privacy of their home was the best bet.

            They pulled up the winding drive to their house tucked away in the woods, overlooking the harbor behind them. They liked to be away from Westport proper but not too far. She couldn’t help but smile as they pulled into the driveway; she did miss her house even if there were some bad memories as well. He turned off the truck and they sat there for a second.

            He finally opened his mouth, “You okay?”

            “Yeah… just adjusting to being back in Westport, back to our house, back here with you…”

            “Is that a bad thing?” he asked slowly.

            “So far, no…” she mused.

            “So… should we get out?”

            She nodded and then climbed out the truck; Scott pulled her bags out from the back. They walked up the stone front steps to the front door and into the foyer. He set down her bags by the front door as she felt her body relax. It did feel good to be home. He saw that and smiled, she then smiled back at him. They stood there for a second and then he moved in and pulled her into a tight hug.

            At first she just stood there and let him hug her but then she hugged him back, clinging to his broad upper body. She was now realizing how much she missed him. It was easy in the field to just brush it off, she was always so busy. Now her life with Scott was coming screeching to the foreground. The problem with that? So was the memory of her daughter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Are Blogs a Thing of the Past?

Chronicles of an Anthropology Nerd originated back in January of 2011, under the title of “Bones, Buried Treasures, and Beliefs,” and acted as a platform for me to showcase my knowledge and interests from my undergrad. Since the creation of my blog, it has blossomed beyond that, taking into account my current Grad School work, my writing, and even my regular nerdy interests.

I’ve gained a great following of smart, fun readers who really further the discussions that I pose with my writing. I enjoy getting my thoughts out into words and hearing what you all think of those thoughts. Through this blog I was able to market my books, short stories, and other writings. It is a wonderful tool to keep you all up-to-date with what is going on in my head on both on an anthropological level and a personal one.

All that being said, it seems as though the steam is wearing off, not just for my blog, but for all blogs. We’ve moved into an age where pictures and videos are much more appealing than words. The normal social media user doesn’t want to read paragraphs of text; they want a short description, an eye-catching image, and sometimes a link to that story to read further if they so choose. Look at twitter; tweets cap out at a max of 140 characters. On Instagram you don’t even need words; you can tell stories with pictures. Facebook allows you to write all you want and attach pictures and videos but a lot of users don’t read the entirety of user’s posts. Hell there’s even an internet saying “tl;dr” which means “too long; didn’t read.” This is used to respond to excessively long posts and then offer your opinion.
The irony of using my blog to complain about this is not lost on me. I know that what I have described above doesn’t apply to everyone. There are still many of you out there who read blogs and continue to respond and carry on discussions. It’s my hope that that will continue, but I realize that I have to change with the time as well. I use twitter (@TheGingerNerd) and Instagram (@the_ginger_nerd) to stay in contact with those they may not read my blog and also with those who do.

So to my readers, thank you all for sticking by me and continuing to engage in thought-provoking dialogue. I will continue to write about my interests even if there’s only a few people who continue to read my blog.



Friday, February 13, 2015

On March 13th, We Return...

The number 13 plays a big role in the world of Summer’s Hollow. The newest installment even takes place 13 years after the first one. Naturally, I had to release Return to Summer’s Hollow on the 13th of the month. Even better, it’s a Friday and 13th. Hmm… Summer’s Hollow was released on a Friday the 13th as well. Anyone else noticing a pattern?

So yes, it’s officially, official. My newest horror novel Return to Summer’s Hollow will be released on Kindle and in print on Friday, March 13, 2015! In this book, you’ll return to the Massachusetts town of Summer’s Hollow with Rylie and relive the horrors that the Pascal family has the offer.

This book has more suspense, more blood, and more scares than the first. We find out much more about the psychotic Pascal family and all their dealings as well as why Rylie has this psychic connection to them in the first place. This was my favorite book to write so far and I’m sure you all will be on the edge of your seat throughout the harrowing storyline.
To tide you over until the release I have provided a sneak preview of the horrors to come in the town of Summer’s Hollow:
     Rylie crept past the staircase and into the brightly lit kitchen. Standing there with her back turned to her was a woman Rylie didn’t recognize. She was a black woman in a black dress with what seemed to be a white apron tied around her waist. Rylie felt a little better; she was sure that it wasn’t Judith.

    “You shouldn’t be here,” the woman said.

     Is Judith here?” Rylie asked softly, inching towards the woman who continued to chop some sort of large vegetable.

     “You shouldn’t be here,” the woman repeated and now Rylie realized the woman wasn’t chopping vegetables, she was chopping her own arm.

     Rylie gasped and jumped back as she was now looking into bloody, hollow eye sockets. She felt the bile rising up as she turned away from the woman. Rylie noticed as she turned away that the cabinets were fully stocked with all of Judith’s spell ingredients. She quickly gathered up some small jars that held the herbs she needed.

     “You shouldn’t be here,” the woman continued to say which unnerved Rylie.

     Rylie slowly turned to see the woman was holding the knife out in her left hand, her right reduced to a bloody stump that was dripping onto the floor. The woman held the knife up as if to strike, but instead plunged it into her own throat.

     Rylie stifled a scream as the woman gurgled on her own blood and fell with a thump to the floor. Rylie stuffed the vials into the pockets of her dress and took off out of   the kitchen. Nausea came over her in waves as she stumbled into the living room. She saw a large portrait of Judith staring down at her as the fireplace suddenly roared with flames. Rylie was so startled that she tripped over the rug and fell onto the hard wooden table. She moaned as she then rolled onto the floor. 

     “So nice of you to join us,” came a voice that stopped her in her tracks.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fifty Shades of Nope

*Graphic Language Warning* *Trigger Warning *

In the past I’ve mentioned how much I detest the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books. They are horribly written and glorify rape, yet MILLIONS of copies were sold. This sickens me to my core as an author, as a woman, and as a human being.

This weekend, the movie comes out. Now not only are people going to be reading this shit (excuse my French) but they will be watching it. The amount of money that this whole franchise will make is completely deplorable and anyone who contributes to it is part of the problem. This may sound harsh but this is something I strongly believe in.

There is nothing wrong with erotica. This is not erotica. This is a poorly written advancement of rape culture that was based on a Twilight Fan Fiction. Don’t believe me? Check out some passages below and tell me what you think:
“I want him to stay because he wants to stay with me, not because I’m a blubbering mess, and I don’t want him to beat me, is that so unreasonable?” (286)

“This is so…I want to think wrong, but somehow it’s not. It’s right for Christian. It’s what he wants—and after the last few days…after all he’s done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.” (484)
“…I allow myself to fantasize that he loves me…I’m careful not to touch his chest but just snuggle in his arms…” (356)

“I will spank you each time you do it, do you understand?”…he hits me—hard. Ow! My eyes spring open in response to the pain and I try to rise, but his hand moves between my shoulder blades, keeping me down. He caresses me again where he’s hit me, and his breathing’s changed—it’s louder, harsher. He hits me again and again, quickly in succession. Holy f*ck it hurts. I try to make no sound, my face screwed up against the pain. I try to wriggle away from the blows—spurred on by adrenaline spiking and coursing through my body.” (274)
And lastly…

“Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.” (62)

The entire franchise gives the BDSM community a bad name. There is nothing wrong with BDSM. This is not BDSM. BDSM is done between two consenting adults and all proper precautions are taken during the sex acts. This is not the case in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

Beyond that, why would anyone think that this series even remotely resembles literature? Below are some actual “racy” passages from the first novel:
"I can almost hear his sphinx-like smile through the phone."

"My very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba."

"I had no idea giving pleasure could be such a turn-on, watching him writhe subtly with carnal longing. My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves."

"Hmmm… he's soft and hard at once, like steel encased in velvet, and surprisingly tasty."

"He smiles, then strides with renewed purpose out of the store, slinging the plastic bag over his shoulder, leaving me a quivering mass of raging female hormones."

So why is it that women (and some men) everywhere are eating this up? It is beyond me how anyone could find this arousing unless they themselves are turned on by abuse. As a society we need to point these things out, take a stand, and refuse to let this “popular culture” become even more popular.

- Fifty Shades of Grey by: EL James (Unfortunately)
- '50 Shades of Grey': 23 funniest quotes from EL James's novel by Emma Dibdin