All posts tagged geekery

Dr. Feelgood or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Crue

Published March 31, 2016 by admin

So we all know I’m a music fan. I was fortunate enough to get to see Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe earlier in the summer. In a nutshell: an amazing show. It also apparently unleashed my creative side in terrifying new ways.

It also got me thinking. I live a lot of different types of music. I grew up with a classical vocal background. I did the whole musical theatre thing. I fell head over heels in love with classic rock, glam rock, hard rock, etc. I will never not love David Bowie or Led Zeppelin – in a lot of ways they define my creative tendencies.  I’m still furthering my musical education and hope to until the day I keel over. I have my guilty pleasures, but my core interests are life’s blood to me. They’re pure energy, the things that can get me through a day, readjust my attitude, or make me ponder things that lead to creative ideas of my own. Music is a huge part of my life.

I am also a fairly headstrong, independent person. I don’t like labels and I don’t necessarily qualify this as just a gender thing, though I do think I throw people by being a dichotomy of interests and being a chick, gal, babe,  woman with a questionable sense of humor. So, this is my definition for how I view life and try to conduct myself:  I personally am of the opinion that all people deserve to be safe, to have choices they are allowed to  make, to have options even if they choose not to use them, to be compensated based on their work and talent. Not one aspect of their personage (be it skin color, gender, orientation, disability, genetic conditions, physical alteration, etc) should affect any of that. People are people. ‘Nuff said.

The only reason I bring this up is because in a roundabout way, Mötley Crüe has turned me into a far more empowered and empathetic person than the one I started out as.

I know, right? Hang onto your butts, it’s going to be that kind of post.

It has been brought to my attention off and on that it is a conflict of interests that I like certain bands. This started in my 20s when I really got into Led Zeppelin, but it really gets mentioned when people walk into my work space and see me sewing something while rocking out to a lot of hard rock or metal, but mostly Crüe. I will proclaim it  until the end of time that their music is perfect to sew to, but I’m not sure they’d be thrilled to hear it (Whether or not at least one occasion has involved a giant fan and me playing air guitar on a T-square while on top of a cutting table…I plead the fifth).

On one occasion not involving a fan and air guitar, someone came in, stopped, and proclaimed: “Oh my God…I didn’t know you were THAT kind of girl…”

I had to self-edit through about forty replies to begin with, because I was feeling charitable. The person in question meant that I seemed too nice (ugh, that word), to be a hard rock fan and was a little horrified when I presented them with proof of my music collection. Still…

Okay, seriously? Why, what kind of woman am I? Please tell me, just what kind of person does that make me? A music lover? Someone with good taste? Someone with her own interests? And why should my gender determine what I listen to? Apparently my parts never got that memo.

I never know how to take commentary like that, and I get irritated when it’s hinted that I should give up something I love because of another part of my personality.  I am definitely equal parts romantic and badass, feminine and tenacious wolverine who will not give up when I have a goal. I don’t like boxes, I don’t cop to labels, I just do not want to be defined by some pre-determined role.  My friend Susan refers to me as Cinderella in motorcycle boots, and that’s probably a fair assessment. I tend to embrace all the things and not feel bad about it.

Admittedly,  the strong woman and music lover once conflicted a lot. Now to preface this, let it be said that although I try to conduct myself fairly appropriately in public as an author and artist, those who know me well know that it takes a lot to offend me. In some ways, Olde School is probably a better gauge for the ten thousand facets of SJ. There are heartfelt parts to me, I’m not afraid to go dark, and admittedly, there’s a reason that I write characters like Ippick and Clyde – my sense of humor can easily go that way.

I have a penchant for certain types of rock folklore and I love reading music bios. So it’s weird that there was a time when I will admit that I found past interviews/stories about Crüe really offensive. I’m not saying I still agree with everything they’ve ever done, but at the time it felt like I was obligated to get mad because I was this strong, independent gal and oh my god how could they say this and all of that at any time in their life ever, no matter the context or situation – HOW DARE THEY.

I don’t know why I didn’t get equally offended about other bands, male or female. It was almost as if things were presented to me like I was supposed to hate this group (ah, media). The thing was, I had actually grown up with a lot of their music. Long story short, parents can’t police everything, and growing up in the eighties, I got a hell of a musical education that I didn’t even know I was getting until many eyebrows were raised when I was a preteen who knew the lyrics to Girls, Girls, Girls (This somehow didn’t get me in nearly as much trouble as teaching The Sibling the words to Rebel Rebel when she was five…).

That was the thing: I loved the music, but I felt like I shouldn’t. I’m not sure where I got this idea, but I have a few guesses. Part of it is probably from growing up as a small town minister’s kid. Whatever your feelings on religion (and I have many diverse ones), it’s one thing to grow up with the shadow of morality waiting to step on you every time you turn a corner. It’s extremely hard to grow up when people who you know and trust are reporting back to a parent any potentially questionable thing you’ve done or said throughout the day, and you’re never quite sure who you can trust. I ended up toeing the line until college because I was terrified of what would happen otherwise.

In some ways, I think as I became an adult, part of me resented people who seemed to get away with doing whatever they wanted. It was easier to feel like I was better or right because I was doing what I was supposed to be doing…even though I had started making my own mistakes and testing my limits by the time I started getting huffy. Plus, admittedly, there’s always going to be a part of me that’s semi-jealous of male vocal ranges. Instead of trying to join a band or experimenting with different vocal coaches, it was easier for me to not appreciate my own skill set, blame my classical background, and gripe about how easy other people had it. Besides, they were saying awful things anyway so why shouldn’t I just roll my eyes and smirk when something went wrong?

Yes, I know that’s dumb and incredibly offensive. I wouldn’t wish that kind of thought process leveled at me on my best day, I wouldn’t dare act like that to anyone I passed on the street, yet I had no problem lobbing that at these guys who I just assumed deserved it. I know, I’m digging myself deeper. Bear with me.

At the end of the day, a lot of my personality is all about not being boxed in by one set of thought or the other. I want the freedom to be who I am, scars and warts and all, and I want to be appreciated because of it. Yet not only would I not give others who hit a nerve that same courtesy, I was willing to let that part of  my behavior be determined by boxes: people should be like this and because they aren’t they must be awful. I would probably have even admitted that I wasn’t being fair or making complete sense, but it was easier to gripe about being stuck in my own situations when there was someone else unrelated to blame.

I told you, I have my jerk side.

And then one day I turned a corner in the library and ran into Nikki Sixx’s This is Gonna Hurt.  Literally. It nearly fell on my head. Curious, but assuming it wouldn’t be worth checking out, I flipped through it in the aisle, then found myself still sitting in the aisle an hour later. His photography drew me in, mesmerized me, and the rest of the book held me captive in the best possible way. That book is all about embracing the uncomfortable, finding beauty in what you might shy away from, finding beauty in all aspects of others and yourself. It’s a very blunt and brutal sort of encouragement, but it was exactly what I needed to be clubbed in the head by at that point. It also gave a huge insight into who he is as a person, at least through what the pages show the reader.

And then it hit me like a giant punch in the face that ripped my heart out through my nostrils: I had never thought of Mötley Crüe as actual people.

I had stopped being angry about their existence years ago – I don’t have the energy to keep up that kind of game, but I’d never gravitated back to the music or tried to see things from the other side, either. Still, do you get how horrifying that realization is, to suddenly acknowledge that you’ve willingly denied that other people have the right to have their own life experiences, that you actually have the capability to think something horrible like that about anyone? That’s so incredibly not fair, and not a concept I would have thought I embraced even a little bit.  It was not my proudest moment and it made me wonder where else I’d carried that assumption in my life.

I had never considered that there were reasons or things that each member was going through or anything else that would have caused anything they were doing or saying, yet suddenly I was identifying and empathizing with a lot of Sixx’s words. I’d seen them as this thing, this one-dimensional thing that said and did things that made me uncomfortable, things that I didn’t agree with at certain times in my life (never mind my own life opinions have changed considerably in the past ten or fifteen years). I realized that while I tried to be open and understanding, I could be closed off in my life, intent on seeing things my way without exploring all possible angles. It was a brutal realization that I was probably causing a lot of my own misery and irritation. I had just gotten through a rough-ish patch where I’d put myself back together physically and felt like I was being overlooked creatively, and now I was being shown in full black and white that I still had a lot of growing to do. Ouch cannot even begin to describe that epiphany.

To this day I always take This is Gonna Hurt with me when I travel. I’ll probably do a post on that book soon, as well, because it continues to be a huge influence in my life. I have photos of certain pages on my phone, I’ve had photocopies of pages hanging in various offices and workshops. That book has gotten me through a lot, it has challenged me to be better, and I always, always recommend it on panels, to creative friends, and anyone who will listen. Unless I run into Sixx (or any member of Crüe, honestly, because I’ve been humbled by their journey in general) one day and actually can work up the nerve to talk to him/them, it’s as close to an apology for being an idiot as I can give, and as close to a thank you as I can probably give, as well.

It’s also a huge testament that you can be influenced and have your life changed by all kinds of people, and everyone’s life experience can mean something to someone else. In interviews I usually say something like every person that passes by you is a story, you shouldn’t take anyone for granted – it’s a view I’ve always had to some extent, but I think this whole revelation helped me realize that I can go beyond wondering to appreciating and empathizing and helping people around me.

At any rate, it was time to rise to the challenge thrown down. I took a deep breath and went back to what I still missed: the music. I don’t think a lot of people accept how truly good their music is. It draws from so many backgrounds and influences, it can be elaborate, and it’s just massive, crushing any imitations from back in the day. I slowly let myself appreciate their work and fall back in love a little at a time. I also started reading a little more here and there, beyond the random interviews in books that were supposed to make you bristle about “outsider” behavior or paint a particular picture of. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that at the end of the day, I don’t know these dudes people, I don’t know why things were done or said, and while it’s very easy to paint a picture as to why you shouldn’t like someone,  you can disagree with people about certain things without holding it over them forever. Who does that really end up affecting, anyway: the people who are successful who don’t know you exist, or the person you’re staring down in the mirror?


Because I was working on an urban-fantasy revamp of a Hans Christian Andersen story mixed with demonic deals and rock hijinks at the time, I finally started reading The Dirt,  if only for some weird-misplaced moral support. I’d avoided it for a long time, assuming I wouldn’t have time to get through it. I read it in like two days. And not one dirty story made me even blink. Maybe I was just annihilated by writing my novel. Maybe I was approaching things with new eyes now that I’m older. Although I did start to wonder about myself when I got three-fourths in and found that I saw where a lot of anecdotes were going before they played out.

I’m not condoning everything that’s ever been done in Crüe’s history, but I don’t have to. I don’t know that they would take the same course now, but those were things that had to happen for them to get to where they are today, just like I’ve had to go my own path to be me. It isn’t a matter of “oh my god you’re evil, you’re wrong, you should do this, you should do that…” or even about me laughing or rolling my eyes at stuff.  I’ve grown up with some issues, screwed up some, and somehow found a healthy bit of grace and magic. I absolutely cannot point the finger at anyone.

The thing is, after reading The Dirt, it wasn’t the smarmy recollections that stuck with me, but the emotional undercurrents between the lines. There are some incredibly moving bits there and those were the things that really affected me and made me feel. Having lost two siblings early on and seeing what that does to parents, I can only imagine what Vince went through. Having had my own weird year of medical mystery, I know I could never hope to have the inner strength Mick Mars has had with his health problems. If growing up having people report my stupid teen antics drove me nuts, I do not want to think of how hard Tommy has had it with the tabloids. And the sheer amount of crap Sixx has waded through to do all that he’s doing…yeah, I’ve got nothing to complain about, and it’s nice to know that it’s acceptable to have that much of a drive to do creative work. It brought home that that band is composed of four people I only know a little bit about, but it’s enough to appreciate that their journey has not been an easy one.

So somewhere along the line through all of this, a lot of that bitterness or anger at their success or things that they said once upon a time…fell away. I don’t even know why I felt that way in the first place, except that I thought I was supposed to, that I had to blame someone for my own conflicting emotions and struggle to learn to be myself. I could dislike specific instances, but there was no reason for me to dislike them.

And actually, seeing them move on from the drama, seeing how hard they fought with their label and how they figured things out and continue to keep pushing forward really inspired me to take a deep breath and keep going through some difficult times that I was having. I’m not at their level, no, but as a designer, as a writer, as an artist, I fight my own battles daily. I started demanding more respect at production meetings and not backing down when people wanted to dismiss things that came out of my mouth as token crazy whatever, even though I had the experience to back it up. While of course I have to take criticism from editors and others, I will gladly have a conversation about the choices I make. I ask a whole lot of questions now, especially about business. There have been times I’m the token girl on genre panels that people usually associate with males, so you’d better believe I’m going to make sure people know I know what I’m talking about and take pride in and have love for what I do. I’ve always been creatively aggressive, but if anything, Crue gave me permission to be even more.

I’ve learned to stop blaming others and instead shut up, get to work, and take no prisoners. Discovering Bowie’s music when I was sixteen made me feel like I wasn’t alone in having ten million interests and wanting to fuse them all together. If he saved my creative soul, then in a major way Mötley Crüe has taught me how to put aside blame, excuses, and regrets and keep fighting as hard as I can to preserve it.

They also made me realize that I can be an okay person and not take anyone’s crap. There’s nothing wrong with fighting for what you believe in and speaking up for yourself.  Now I’m not saying that I wouldn’t get that lesson from a female artist, but they just happened to be the ones that caught my attention and made me think, and they just happen to be dudes male people. They made me finally understand that I could unashamedly be more than one aspect of myself, make mistakes, and keep on going. I don’t have to be just my ideals or just a writer or just a costume person or just a music fan. I can be all of those, because I’m not one to follow something blindly across the board, whether it’s a line, a creative person I admire, or a way of life. I don’t gravitate to artists who do that, and they most definitely do not.

Our opinions may differ on some things, but that’s fine. You’re not supposed to blindly follow every aspect of everyone. That’s not what life is about. And if you do follow or neglect blindly, you might just find yourself falling off a cliff or missing out on things that may just keep you sane and fill you with love and satisfaction. You might miss the opportunity to fully develop into who you are. That was almost the case for me. If people want to freak out about the fact that I like a lot of different things and I’m a walking dichotomy, fine, be my guest. I don’t need to fight you on it or debate it. I know what I like and I don’t want to fight something that doesn’t need fighting.

All I can say is it was a pleasure and an honor to finally get to see them live. It was an amazing show, a fitting way to start the beginning of the end. I was there with everyone else, dancing and shouting along, singing and gaping with my jaw on the ground.  And I truly am thrilled that I’m able to love the tunes again, appreciate their journey, and I wish them nothing but the very best.

Reading with SJ: YA comics & graphic novels

Published August 22, 2015 by admin

Back again with some more titles I have thoughts on! This time, I’ll be looking at the YA illustrated/graphic novel/comic genre, which admittedly has a place in my heart. These are the books I love to check out a stack at a time and curl up with when I need some light reading or some feels. What can I say, we all have our moments.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks – I LOVE this book. Part satire of the genre, part girl making it on her own, part just plain fun, this is an awesome read. Superhero Girl isn’t your average superhero: no arch nemesis, no fancy costume, no tragic backstory, just a girl with superpowers, a roommate, a popular older superhero brother Kevin, and a potential date who points out how un-superhero-y she is all the time. It cracked me up and made me smile so many times, and I found myself definitely feeling for her and identifying with her frustrations. Love.

Rocket Girl vol. 1  by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this title, but if this continues on as a series I will be thrilled. DaYoung is a member of the 2013 New York Teen City Police. In a world where adults aren’t trusted and teens inhabit the police force to balance power, DaYoung goes back in time to the 1980s to prevent a futuristic ruling corporation from becoming a horrific monopoly. She meets the creators of the very technology she uses on a daily basis and has to convince them that the future is going to be a daunting place, indeed, if they continue on their current course. In the present/future, the commissioner and a fellow officer struggle to buy her time and we find out that there’s more to her journey than meets the eye. DaYoung is a fabulous character – just the right age for YA readers, she’s confident, plucky, a competent fighter, and more mature than a lot of the adults around her. She’s filled with her goal and her cause. It was also refreshing to read a female-focused comic that wasn’t filled with sexualization of it’s lead character. Indeed, there are a few awesome ladies in this title, and the teenage characters in general are just fantastic. The world is well-developed, the action fast-paced, and I love it.

My Boyfriend is a Monster: He loves Me He Loves Me Not by Robin Mayhall and Kristen Cella – No, I haven’t read the rest of the series. Shut up. I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. New girl Serena struggles to fit in at her new small-town school and ends up falling for football hero Lance and geek study partner Cam. Lance has anger issues and Cam seems to be hiding something, and more than one teacher at her school is mysterious. Even without the foreshadowing it’s an obvious retelling of Jeckyll and Hyde. At times things feel a little forced or repetitive, but it’s not the worst teen revamp I’ve ever read in my life, and I’d probably give the rest of the series a glance over if I was bored. It’s a quick read and there are some good moments.

Hoax Hunters vol 1 by Michael Moreci, Steeve Seeley, and JM Ringuet – I love the concept of this: the people behind a hoax busting reality show are actually paranormal-touched entities who are trying to keep the actual weird events of the world secret. The main story arc about Jack trying to figure out what his dad was up to is interesting and reeks of every conspiracy show I’ve ever seen in my life, which is fine because that works for a reason. All of the characters are fairly likable, but the pacing is just weird. I’m not quite sure why Murder exists other than to provide a convenient plot device to get into hard-to-reach places, etc (Murder would be a spacesuit possessed by an astronaut’s spirit who manifests via a murder of crows. I think). The middle stories were better than Murder’s origin story, and there’s an odd, tacked-on Mothman story illustrated in a different style that I love…but it just doesn’t fit, especially given that the way the Jersey Devil story ends is perfection. That’s the way the volume should have ended. The mothman story is brilliant, but it probably would have worked elsewhere in the volume, or in something else, unless future volumes are going to reference it. The action is fairly well-paced, though sometimes things seem to wrap up a little conveniently, and only a couple of the characters are developed so far. I’d also like to see less focus on the ladies’ poses in some panels, but maybe that’s just distracting to me, and to be fair I’ve seen manga and superhero titles that are way worse.

Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown – This is just adorable. If you’re not familiar with Jeffrey Brown’s work, shame on you. What I love about this title is that it explores Vader and Leia’s relationship if they were an interactive father and daughter not just when she’s a kid, but as she’s a teen, too, so you get awesome comics about her dating Han, Vader trying to deal with her rebellion (literal and i an actual member of the rebellion sense), and her questionable taste in wardrobe (yep, that outfit is referenced and it’s fantastic). Love the art, love the humor, love the feels.

Where I Get My Ideas or A Terrifying Look Into SJ’s Mind

Published November 11, 2014 by admin

People love asking me different things about writing, about designing and building costumes, about performing, about all my aspects of creative life. However, there’s one that I think all creative types get the most, the one that’s probably one of the most fun to answer (if we’re being honest and in a playful mood) but also one of the most frustrating to get asked.

Where do you get your ideas?

To me ideas are so instinctive, so obviously THERE, that it’s a shock when I’m asked this. It makes me want to grab people by the shoulders and go “What do you mean?! Can’t you see all the things around y ou?! LOOK AT THE CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK – THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL. LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU THINKING THEIR OWN THOUGHTS!  LOOK AT IT ALL! IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE WAITING TO BE USED! USE IT! USE IT ALL BEFORE YOU FORGET ABOUT IT!”

Yeah, I know, I’m fun to hang around when I’m in one of those moods.

But I usually don’t  work that into conversation because people already think I’m weird for examining their clothing if I think it’s cool, so I’ve learned not to push it.

Seriously, though, my brain is like a constant filter for things. I walk by people all the time and wonder about them. What are they going through? Do their outsides match their insides – are they composed but really falling apart? Are they secretly really together but just looking like they’re having an off day? Where are they from? Where are they going? What have they been through that they don’t want people to know/want people to know? I love talking to people when I can truly connect with them because I just want to KNOW. I want to soak up different life experiences and empathize or learn or whatever. Admittedly I’m shy in social situations (don’t believe what anyone tells you otherwise), but I also love just hanging back and listening to people talk or watching them interact and go about their experiences. To me it’s tragic that we walk by hundreds of people every day – hundreds of stories going on all around us that we’ll never know. It’s like ignoring every book in a library, constantly, every day of our lives.

I realize this tends to be looked on as a romanticized view-point. I am the person who will go for a walk and be poking around bushes and flowers and wondering what I could do with those in a story. I may have nearly gotten run over laying flat on the pavement photographing a sewer drain. One of the bigger ideas I’ve ever had started when I was out jogging and the song ‘Tin Machine’ came on, I started wondering about what would happen if someone built a rocket in their backyard, and before I knew it I was sprinting home to get to pen and paper (I will probably never run that fast again in my entire life). That one little walk spawned a huge series idea that I’m currently working up a proposal for.

Maybe I just look for things more. Maybe I’m wired differently. I don’t know.

But if you really want an in-depth, blow-by-blow, disgusting look into how my mind works, have I got a post for you….

At the beginning of July I went to see Motley Crue and Alice Cooper play with a friend. Thank God that friend has known me a while – we’ve done shows together, they’re familiar with my costume work, they know how I tend to get super intrigued by everything. And that I tangent. A lot. Even when I’m supposed to shut up and enjoy myself on a casual night out. To be fair, it was needed. I’ve been in a…not dry spell creatively, but I’ve been a little more hesitant to work on things with some things that have been going on. If anything, seeing the show made me really excited to get back to my own stuff and try different things. So this would be an unfiltered look at my brain as I try to just have a night out.

No seriously. I have these moments all the time. It gets worse when both the design and writer side of my brain go off at once, hold hands, and skip down the mental lane together screaming like complete lunatics. So, in no particular order, this is a glimpse into Selah’s thoughts during both acts. The scary thing is this is just partial brain activity – I was also fully present and enjoying the actual performances, themselves. Yeah, I wonder about me, too.

During Alice Cooper:

I can’t believe I’m finally getting to see Alice after trying for like six tours-oh, that’s a nice coat.

That one is too…oh, his movement style reminds me of Sinatra….

Wow his voice has held up so well…


I could make that…I could make that, too…I could make all of that…geez what I’d give to work on this show…

Wait…what was he wearing two seconds ago? How many times has he changed? NOOO, I CAN’T REMEMBER ALL THE OUTFITS…


Oh, I love this song…this is so good, I’m so glad I’m here..

Yes, freaky psycho nurse! There needs to be more of those.

Oh, I don’t know this song…I…whoa…great performance art…I’m actually a little uncomfortable…AWESOME…

He has a stalkabout. Oh my gawd he has a stalkabout. It is GORGEOUS AND I WANT ONE. Actually, I’ve worked on similar stuff…I might be able to pull that off…if I did something that tall I wonder if I could collapse it so it could fit in my car…



(insert speculation about how much time it would take to change over the set and what all would need to be set pre-show here)

(insert complete admiration for Alice, his performance skills, his guitarist, all his band, his voice, and just everything here).

During Intermission my friend laughed because apparently my brain to mouth filter is not fantastic when I’m excited, and they are fully aware how I now want all of Alice Cooper’s clothes, but fitted to a female style. Or how I just want to work for Alice Cooper. Much appreciation was to be had.

I should probably also preface this with the disclaimer that as much as I like sewing things in general, I have a soft spot for really cool men’s wear. For one, I love a dude that can rock a suit. A well-tailored suit is unbeatable. Beyond that… I don’t know why – with a lot of the horror events and more Gothic things I’ve done, a lot of that end of things got passed to me, and it just became a thing I really like doing. I like Gothic style stuff, I like rock-style wear, I find a lot of men’s scene wear more challenging and interesting than the female equivalents, maybe I’m just really heterosexual in my design choices…I have no idea.

This is probably all just a weak attempt to defend my brain for the following…

During Motley Crue:

(Admittedly, as embarrassing as this is, the first like three minutes my brain was probably something like: OKAY THIS IS IT. CRUE CRUE CURE AAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! Don’t judge me. I can string words together, I swear. I was way worse when I saw Bowie live, at any rate).

Love the set…love all of this..this is so awesome…

Oh wow, Nikki’s coat is so cool…I could probably recreate that easily…hrm… (insert Selah leaning around people and trying to jump up and down behind people to get a good view here).

Love this song, and that song, and oh they’re playing all that I hold dear…

Wait…No, Nikki! Don’t take your coat off yet, I…what are you DOING!? PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON, SIXX, I MUST EXAMINE THEM!!!!***

Well, his pants are really cool, too, wait…DON’T GO TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAGE!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING, NIKKI?! I MUST KNOW ABOUT YOUR PANTS!!!!! DAMMIT SOMEONE HAD BETTER GET GOOD PICTURES OF YOUR PANTS OR I WILL NOT BE HAPPY! (I also might have screamed that one out loud and had the people around me looking at me like I was some alien creature come to earth before they quietly put space between us)

Well, okay, I like Vince’s vest, too. I’ll see what I can see about that.

(insert random growling and demonic noises when Vince eventually sheds his vest and Selah still can’t see the details. Mick’s coat was cool but I’ve done a lot of similar variations like it, and as much as I try to remember, I have no clue what Tommy was wearing. Apparently my brain just assumes he wears his drum kit everywhere or goes naked or something…)

***yes, I know, I’m probably one of the few women in their history that has been deeply offended when Motley Crue has removed clothing. To be fair, this really doesn’t have much to do with them – I just love the clothes. It’s probably also not a good thing that I would probably take off with a lot of that if I was able, if only for the time it would take me to sketch it out and pattern it. Then I’d give it back, maybe…if I hadn’t taken it apart first or something.

At some point my friend and I commiserated that I’d already worked a lot with the dancers’ type of clothing, so that’s one more tick on the ‘I could so figure this out’ list.

At one point there were paper lanterns floating up from the river behind the venue, so this thought process happened:

I wonder what those are. Is something going down at the river? A lot of people are confused looking at them…I wonder if this is like some signal…

(A plane or something flew by at that point and the people around us were really kind of unsettled and not sure what was going on above us)

Wow, what if like that was all signalling the end of the world and it dropped something that turned us all to zombies, or some interdimensional beings just like came forth and captured all of us or ran wild taking over this part of town….

………………………………………I wonder if the band would be in on it or not…..

…………………………………………………..that really would work for that one idea I want to develop…..(insert desperate, quick plot-planning here)

I also really need to get In the Red re-shopped and out there again…


So yeah…to my credit there was a lot of commenting about the show, and I was truly paying attention – it’s more like watching them perform made my brain just explode and suddenly fire on all its burners.

Amazingly enough, though, this didn’t happen when Mick Mars was doing his solos…it was hypnotic and my brain went blessedly blank for a few moments. Apparently I just need that as a life option all the time or something. I was also pretty chill during the final number, because there was SO MUCH going on. Like I said, it was a fantastic show that also gave me a lot to think about.

So yeah, where do I get my ideas?

Where don’t I get them?






TCM Presents: Haunting Blue by RJ Sullivan

Published July 17, 2014 by admin




Woo, blog tour time! Let’s hear it this week for Mr. RJ Sullivan and his book Haunting Blue!



Kindle     Print

Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.

Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer


And now, a post by RJ that I may have had a facetious hand in <g> Although I admit to nothing that I am implicated in in regards to convention discussions or behavior, heh……


Just Don’t Bore Me


So Selah and I are friends, storytellers, and writer peers. We’re occasionally found at conventions together cackling over a nerdy joke or dirty joke–usually a dirty nerdy joke. Monday evening she private-message-ed me and asked if she had assigned me a topic. She had not. She replied, in part, “Just don’t bore me.”

Which got me thinking about how those words are the mantra of every audience, and the challenge of every storyteller, since before the invention of the printing press. The only thing that’s changed is how the storyteller meets that challenge.

Boredom is the death of any storyteller. A writer can be provocative, edgy, safe for all ages, retro, whimsical, dark, funny, depressing, ironic, and even get away with being ignorant, offensive, sexist, crude, and politically incorrect (we’ve all read those blogs…yes, you have, too), but the one thing they cannot EVER be is boring.

I have a theory. I doubt it’s just mine, but since I don’t know exactly where I first heard it, I’ll throw it out there without attribution. There’s a simple reason classic literature so often fails to hold a modern reader spellbound, even books that were hugely popular when they came out.

Personally, it took me about eight false starts and most of my life to finally read Bram Stoker’s Dracula from beginning to end. And I consider myself a pretty rabid Dracula guy. I’ve seen all the significant the films (even that painful new TV show already slain with a stake in its heart, and good riddance), know the plays, and own most of the movies. But the original novel was…a chore.

A little research reveals that Dracula, when it was first published in 1897, was thought of as a naughty little book–a phenomenal bestseller whose public reception in modern times would compare more accurately to 50 Shades of Gray rather than a more respectable bestseller such as The Fault in Our Stars.

Many modern readers feel–with some justification–that the material fails to engage them, and they put the book down , frustrated and bored, many unwilling to give the novel a second chance.  By today’s standards, it’s slow, clunky, with lots of historical minutiae, descriptions of mansions, gardens, walls, beaches, and the British seaside, and spends a lot of time with two ditzy women who babble on about their fiancés and knitting and tea and things.

So what happened?

Dracula was first released in England. The 1890s were, to put it frankly, a time when ladylike outward appearances and social ediquette were the law of the land, and Britain was the place that invented those laws and enforced them most strictly in all occasions. It was also the time of the industrial revolution, and new thinking and mores were starting to clash with traditions.

Dracula told the tale of a group of modern people, those who were achieving modern economic prosperity through modern careers, options achievable to many readers and romanticized about. Consider references to Van Helsing and his Victrolla, the earliest form of voice recording device, modern cars are used to chase horses and carriages, ancient magic and sorcery does battle with an early form of psychology.

Dracula included scenes of a vampire lord and his three vampire brides, women who he commanded, who then in turn, seek out a male victim. In a striking scene in which a skeptical reader suspects the man doeth protest too much, the three brides drop to their knees and “penetrate” him with their fangs. Premarital kinky oral with four participants. There’s not much to figure out here. In the meantime, the vampire lord is busy every few chapters arriving uninvited through various women’s bedrooms, where those victims submit to the same “unnatural” attacks, sometimes with only the most surface protest.

To a modern reader and vampire fan who has seen and read every media re-enactment of the vampire orgy in all its graphic glory, these quaint little moments are mostly read over, unnoticed. But in its day, Dracula was the book that “no one was reading” to the tune of millions of copies sold, and “no one” most likely read the novel by candlelight after everyone else in the house had gone to sleep.

Which brings us to today, where the modern reader peruses the latest releases by today’s authors, readers who have seen and read it all. Readers who utter the same mantra as all readers throughout the ages: “Just don’t bore me.”

The next time you’re reading a truly engaging novel, remember to leave a review or an email of thanks to that author. Tell your friends about that author. Tell them you found a storyteller who answered the challenge and answered it well.

Whether it’s Bram Stoker or Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Allan Poe or (if I may make a few recommendations) Selah Janel or even little ole’ me, R.J. Sullivan, storytellers have been answering the same call for as long as an audience has longed to hear a story. How they go about it may have changed, but the challenge remains the same. “Just don’t bore me.”


 I wholeheartedly approve of this post, and I really like what he brings up about Dracula. Thanks, RJ!



Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.

Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer


Author Links:







Music and Me

Published July 14, 2014 by admin

Admittedly I’ve felt at a crossroads lately. There’s been a lot of change going on. All of it has been necessary, not all of it has been easy, and it’s obviously brought about a lot of reflection and reminiscing. A few posts back I talked about my participation in the cult of libraries, which definitely was part of my upbringing in a hardcore way. There’s something else, though, that I don’t always talk about in a personal way that is, actually, very, very personal.


I’m adding this post to put the next two or so in perspective, so that the things I say don’t come out of nowhere or sound like I’m trying to wax poetic of something that shouldn’t be. We all know a lot of things are poetic to me that are weird to everyone else.  I’ve always been drawn to music since I was a little kid. Everything from songs in The Wizard of Oz, show tunes, interludes on Sesame Street, songs I heard on the radio that I wasn’t supposed to, novelty stuff, old standards..they all seem to be directly infused in my upbringing. I can directly recall a memory that corresponds to a lot of specific songs and artists. For every little kid song or hymn that blasted through my cells in the church choir there’s a memory about discovering The Beach Boys, trying to do cartwheels to NKOTB through a summer sprinkler with friends, or having my dad explain The Who to me (and getting most of the lyrics wrong, but hey, just meant there was more to discover later on).

I always wanted more than to be on the sidelines, though.

Ten million years ago when I was like thirteen, I finally convinced my parents to let me study voice. They weren’t too fond of extracurricular activities, so it took forever to make a case for this. I was determined to be a Broadway star (although my concept of Broadway was some random stage somewhere with people glorying in my extreme talent and throwing flowers at me). Somehow, we found a teacher who really knew her stuff and thus I began my classical education.

I never quite figured out if it was because she was one of the better teachers in the area, if it was because they wanted me to have a firm foundation, or if they also figured I might burn out quickly if I was kept to the music of old dead guys, but for whatever reason, I began an intensive foray into vocal education.

Breathing exercises turned into sight-reading (and I’m actually sad I lost those books somewhere along the way), which turned into different collections of sheet music (which are still teetering in the top of my closet waiting to murder me when I clean someday), which turned into different jaunts into state choirs, district and state competitions, high school choirs, a scholarship competition that I ended up winning, college choirs, and on and on. I eventually moved on to study more of a musical theatre type sound and had the benefit of studying with some magnificent teachers. I expanded into music theory and electronic music at one point, and truly I kinda wish I’d kept that up or looked for other outlets, because I wouldn’t be nearly as intimidated to compose now as I was then. If anything, I think I let other people’s definitions of what a certain type of sound had to be hold me back. I could get really technical on you and talk about the type of stuff I did, I could get really maudlin and go into why I haven’t done much with it these days, but I won’t. Because I wouldn’t take back those 10+ years of study for anything. If anything, it made me realize that I can’t let people tell me what I should or shouldn’t do in other avenues of my life.

In singing, though….freedom, dude. Absolute, total freedom. If you’re not really into music, it’s hard to describe the utter communion with sound I feel when I let go and sing, when I stop worrying and fussing and just do it. It feels like I’m one with a bigger part of the universe, like I’m holding hands with whatever era the music is from. It’s like flying without wings, strands of color suspended in moments in time. Absolute freedom when you get in the zone, get your placement right, and know where you’re going. It’s hard because there’s always part of my brain working overtime on breaths and breaks, placement, tone, dynamics, and all sorts of other technical things. In between those parameters, though, is something so strong that there’s no way to really give a name to it.

Listening to music has also given me a specific outlet. It’s also hard to describe…to me, a good album is almost like a physical love.  I feel it under my skin, feel it in my ears, in my soul, in my heart, in my pelvis if the rhythms are good. The lyrics make me think and consider how things are and what they could be. It’s a soul exercise, and for some reason I’ve always been driven to tunes that are far away from my direct experience.

Don’t get me wrong. If you press me hard enough, I will go on about my love of Handel, my adoration of Purcell and Mozart, my tolerance of Samuel Barber and Benjamin Britten. I’ll go all over the art songs I know and the Requiems I was forced to learn and eventually appreciate. I’ll talk to you about Cole Porter, Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Stephen Schwartz, and on and on. All stuff a small town gal like me would probably like.

And then there’s the rest of it…

When I was turned onto David Bowie, something just clicked. It felt right. It was like all the theatre I’d grown up on, but the sense of exploration, of darkness and appreciation…it felt right. I love the eloquent grit of Lou Reed’s music. Love the harmonies of the Beach Boys. Love the rough sounds of The Who and The Kinks.

There’s a raunchiness in the blues that makes up Led Zeppelin’s work that makes sense to me. There’s an elegance there, buried underneath the sex and the volume. There’s a sophistication to Aerosmith that compliments the freewheeling sound.

I don’t know if it’s the typical grass is always greener/looking for something I’m not mentality that’s attracted me to certain groups, but I definitely am drawn to the primal sound of rock and hard rock. There’s a heat there at the core, a sharpness that’s just phenomenal to me. Maybe it’s because I can’t produce it, myself, but it’s a love affair that’s been around forever, if I’m honest. As a kid I definitely accidentally heard stuff I wasn’t supposed to, whether it was at friends’ houses or by feigning sleep in the backseat of a car (best trick ever), or by watching local access stations play music videos. I don’t know when I actually started listening to G’NR and Motley Crue, but it seems like forever ago. There’s a fire there that just feels magnificent when I listen to those songs, and I do it often. I work to that stuff – some of my best outfits are sewn to hard rock and heavy metal. I write to it on occasion, I drive to it, and on and on. I definitely change out my cds and I listen to a hell of a lot of different stuff, but there’s something about those genres that just give me a sense of peace, if you can believe it.

Maybe it challenges me to be just a little more fiery, myself. Maybe it gives me a certain smarmy amusement that I haven’t always had in life. Maybe it’s just fun and I’m over-thinking things. Whatever it is, it affects me, especially when I see shows live. It’s like a vibration that pries itself into my being and lives there, cracking open my ears and awareness into something else. I love it. Absolutely love it. It’s the way I envision people dancing for the first time felt like, or the composers of the day rocking the ears off courts with the first symphonies felt. Whether I have a place in that world or not, it’s definitely held my hand through the years, lyrically and melodically, the yin to my yang. It’s gotten me through some frustrating times, and when I’m my most self-punishing, I turn off the music. I try not to be that self-punishing these days. No matter the genre, there’s a beauty in its sophistication or wildness, bold or delicate nature, raunchiness or uptightness. There’s something to be said for every genre and form, whether it personally appeals to me or not.

I’ve written a lot about different types of music through the years, and there will be so much more to come. For me, it’s a way to participate in it still, a homecoming even if it’s not quite the way I’d like. It’s more than just a hobby or a coping mechanism for me…it’s an ancient language I know how to translate, something that fills up my whole self and makes me whole. I’ve probably wondered about different song interpretations more than is healthy through the years, though I never really like to know the answers. I prefer to let my mind wander and let the what if’s take my down my own path. In a way, maybe my habit has helped me become a better writer, as well. It’s definitely led me to being a better reader of nonfiction. It’s probably made me a little more tolerant, as well…but more on that later.

For now, just know that it’s a huge part of my life, whether I fully admit to it or not. It’s probably how some people feel about religion or a family heirloom that’s long been handed down. It’s something that walks with me every day of my life at my side, ready to experience the world with me and provide the necessary soundtrack.

Coming Full Circle

Published July 10, 2014 by admin

So I realized that in my ramblings about Evillecon and all that in March, I left out a huge part of that weekend.

We all know I love books, but I really have a mad addiction to libraries. I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid. I still remember the very first library trip I ever went on in Illinois that was converted from an old house. My parents checked out There’s a Nightmare in my Closet for me and I made them read it over and over, amazed that I could hold a book I didn’t own as long as I promised to bring it back. I was actually accidentally locked in that same library years later. Like all kids, I freaked the hell out until I realized that I was in a library, then attempted to read as much as humanly possible in like ten minutes. My mom was with me and managed to get the librarian to come let us out, so my fun time didn’t last too long (This also leads to a tangent thought that it must run in our family that kids get themselves locked into places because family mythos also involves quite the tale of The Sibling getting stuck in a bank vault, but that’s another story…)

By the time I lived in Indiana, I was old enough to go to the library on my own, and I went All. The. Time. Not gonna lie – I was one of those kids that walked through the awkward forest and got hit by every falling leaf on the way through, so it was the perfect place to escape and dream, all the while pretending I really wasn’t learning anything. When I was dealing with bullies or family stress or school pressure or a thousand other stupid little things that don’t matter now but hurt a lot back then, I ran and hid in the shelves. I went back and forth between levels, partially because of the younger sibling, but partially because sometimes I needed a break from heavy stuff. It’s a habit I still invoke from time to time.  I realized I hated the teen books most of my friends liked there, got turned onto nonfiction there, devoured the entire music section there, read way too many Star Wars titles there, listened to my first Bowie cds there, and discovered folklore there. I still remember a book of Irish ghost stories that shook me up and I  came across two major influences there: Women who Run with the Wolves, which I’ve read countless times and probably inspires some of my more emotional fiction, and the collection of Cinderella Stories that I reference in Olde School. That book would not have been written had it not been for the Alexandrian Public Library, so it was a thrill when they let me come back and do a signing. I remember seeing Stephen Kellog there, and Nancy Carlson, Gary Paulson, Tales and Scales, and local storytellers. Those people were magic-makers to me, people I wished I could be when I thought that I was limited to what I was at that moment.

However, I totally snuck into Mt. Vernon a few days early just to orient myself and banish any residual emotions and ghosts. As I’ve alluded, since I hadn’t been back in like fifteen years, there was a lot of memories and emotions welling up. As grateful as I was to spend time with all who I visited with, it was important to me to have some private time on my own terms, to go through all the changes in front of my eyes and reconcile them with what was in my heart and in my head. Life has changed considerably between now and the Bronze Age, and it was good to walk the hills where I use to sled and dodge tomb stones, drive by the cemetery I learned to drive in (I swear that isn’t like a total life theme), meander the streets…

and yeah I totally snuck in and stalked the local library. The playground is way better now than when I was there, but everything else is just the same. It’s crazy. It even smelled the same, from the little annexes to the kid’s area with the walk-in train engine. The only thing that’s really different is the giant Arthur statue I helped make as a kid is gone, which is probably for the best. It was strange walking the stacks…I felt like  a ghost. I half expected to see fragments of memories running by me, playing out some distant time which had already taken place. I actually remembered where most everything was. No, seriously. The only things I couldn’t find were the music books, and that’s because the nonfiction sections were rearranged.


These books have not moved in fifteen years. Seriously, my teen paws were all over these things. I don’t know why I found that so funny, but it really amused me, especially since I have a somewhat different opinion of the EU than I did as a kid. I immersed myself in that series as a teen, though, wanting to will myself into a hero that could face everything head on and win within three hundred pages until the next adventure.



This book was new when I was like nineteen, twenty. I was so pumped when it arrived and I POURED over it. The only book that would have been better was a hardback collection of Rolling Stone interviews where I read my first David Bowie interview and decided that he was well and truly IT. All the sheet music I used to borrow for school events are still there. All the series I used to love – still there. Like I said, I felt like a random ghost walking the aisles and getting strange looks.

oldeschool flyer


Yeah, never thought I’d see this coming when I was ten.


I totally texted this to everyone I could that evening.

I love libraries. To me, they’re filled with countless portals to countless possibilities. You can learn anything, find things that make you feel harder than you thought you could. Maybe I’m a romantic at heart, but there is something important about these meeting places that are slowly being forgotten. I get the internet and buying books online have their uses, but to have a place to escape among other people who are also looking for something more than themselves in simple pages…there’s power there. There’s possibility. The Alexandrian is where countless bound stories intersected with my personal one, and I’m all the richer for it (except for all the money I’ve spent on overdue fees through the years, though that was well spent in the scheme of things).

I was extremely lucky to have people that I grew up around and were influenced by come to see me. Since most of the librarians who moved me aren’t there any longer, that was also what I was most nervous about. Let’s face it – no one is who they are a year ago, let alone fifteen  years ago. I’m not the loud but shy egocentric I was at nine, I’m not the naive idealist I was at fifteen, I’m not the embittered but determined girl of eighteen or nineteen. I’ve seen a lot of life since then, yet I’d also forgotten that everyone else has, as well. It’s amazing how places stay as time capsules in your mind, so it was just as big of a shock to me to see that everyone else had moved on, as well (I know, that’s vain of me, to think I’m the only one with any sort of a life, but it’s easy and convenient to forget these things, isn’t it?).

In some ways it was a relief to see that people had grownl up as well, that I wasn’t a total outsider. That theme was reflected in visiting my old college campus, as well, and staring at some of my mentors across desks again. Strange how different it feels when the pressure of grades and graduation is off, but it can also leave one fumbling for things to say.

Sure, we may not understand every part of each other, but the willingness to come together and catch up and to see what I’ve been up to, the willingness to listen…that was amazing at that library signing. Okay, so I’m no Gary Paulson. I’m not JK Rowling or Neil Gaiman. I never claimed I was – I’m me. I want to be myself as an artist, and I want people to embrace my work because it is from me. The utter outpouring of love, joy, and curiosity – it was what I’d needed after some heavy thinking holed up in a motel a few nights before. In a lot of ways it’s made me turn and face myself and accept that I’m more capable than I’ve allowed myself to believe. It’s freed up a lot of headspace to move on and see what happens next – all the while not forgetting that I’ve got people to catch up with when I roll through town again.

I was nervous as hell all through the event, but the fact that people were there and willing to see this part of my life was empowering. It was necessary. And for a brief moment I almost saw the gangly, pimply, awkward kid running around the carpeted aisles or poking around at some after school activity or trying to carry a gigantic stack of books that was way too tall for her.  It was one more chapter in the story of me, and that is the power of libraries.

library signing


library talk


A huge, huge thank you to those that came – even if it was just to say hello. And for those that didn’t get the chance…I’ll catch ya next time, eh?






G Tom Mac on The Star Chamber Show!

Published July 8, 2014 by admin



G Sofa


It’s not often you get to actually interact or interview one of your inspirations, but I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity tomorrow (Wednesday, July 9). Join us 9PM EST on The Star Chamber Show when we put G Tom Mac in the hot seat and ask him about his songwriting, his upcoming game and movie projects, and whatever else strikes our fancy! I feel like I mention G every time I do a panel or an interview and I’m asked who I listen to when I write. This guy is a source for a lot of the music I listen to when I work on character development for my urban fantasy pieces. His songs are dreamy, dark, hopeful, and every type of emotional time capsule in between. It’s a thrill to have his time for an hour, so y’all better show up and make it worth his while! We’ll be taking guest call-ins and will be keeping an eye on the blog talk radio chat and twitter.

And if you have any doubt about this man’s credentials, may I hit you in the face with his bio…

In writing, singing & creating the masterpiece “Cry Little Sister” singing as the theme song to the now classic film “THE LOST BOYS,” GERARD McMANN hit a deep & provocative nerve in his artistic career of creativity in doing so.

Only thing was, when the film released in 1987, he was fed up with the music scene’s “business” and stopped touring. He then changed his name to G TOM MAC as a result of no one ever pronouncing his real name correctly.

G Tom Mac went on to write songs for legendary singers such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and Roger Daltrey of The Who. An array of contemporary Hip Hop artists, such as Ice Cube and Digable Planets, as well as KISSCarly Simon and Eminem started to cover G Tom Mac’s songs. Last year, G Tom Mac earned a Grammy on EMINEM’S “RECOVERY” album in which Eminem sampled him in the song “You’re Never Over.”

Having had songs in over 50 films & more than 100 TV shows that still continue to license G Tom Mac’s music, it all adds up to in his words “staying fresh and being true to my fans in creating believable music that they feel from me. That’s my thrill!”

After 6 album releases, G Tom Mac opens yet another chapter with his NEW album “UNTAME the SONGS” that has already been received & talked about as one of the best albums of the year.


Tune in Wed, July 9, 9PM EST when G Tom Mac rocks The Star Chamber Show! 

Check out G’s Website and Music!