Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spirit Saturday: The End of a Season

As all seasons end, so too must I accept the changes that have come to be with our blog. Change, in general, is really hard for me. But I've learned that letting go is really key to being healthy, and so Whiskey and I have decided that the past six months here on Blogger, should come to an end. We are hoping to reassess and make a new and stronger blog in the future. I am opening myself up to whatever change the universe has for me. Part of the changes I plan to make also include beginning a solo blog. I've fallen in love with blogging over the last six months and the summer and autumn season of 2016 were special and beautiful to me. Many changes in my writing career are imminent - I can feel change in the air. I hope you'll join both of us as we continue to grow both separately and together. Thanks for everyone who was a part of this leg of our journey. 

Peace and Love

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - Reflections

I want to thank those of you who have been following my featured artist series. I also want to extend a huge thank you to all of the artists who participated. In the last nine weeks, I was honored to feature Writers, Amber E. Box, Sheli Keyes, Pj Haynie, Mia Siegert, and Stephanie Cardozo, Musician, Tyrone Logan, Sketch Artist, April Winter, Crafter, Holly Graham, and Photographer, Sam Smalley. Each of them inspired me in their own unique way. I am ending the series a little bit earlier than expected, but some of the other artists that I had scheduled have gotten busy and need more time. Each time an artist shares their work with the world, they share their soul, and they spread their light to others. This has been a moving experience for me as I continue to build my community.

I do intend to keep featuring artists, although I will be making some changes after this, the first installment. Whiskey and I are going to let Fridays rest for a while, and resume with a new theme starting with the calendar new year. Until then, please enjoy the rest of our blog and please support independent artists in whatever ways you can. Even if you don’t have a lot to spend or consciously practice minimalism, sharing independent artists’ work and giving them feedback are some of the greatest forms of support that we rely on.

Peace and Love,

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - Holly Graham

Another Friday is here, and I have another enchanting artist to share with you this week. We met on Facebook through a mutual friend, and she has become a special part of my community. Just seeing her posts about her journey, the light she brings to everyone, and her beautiful art inspires me. She spreads nothing but good vibes and love; she is one of those people who teach you so much just by the way they live their life. She does so much more than create art - she does tarot readings, hopes to do spiritual classes in the future, and also sells crystals and other spiritual tools. I know that you will enjoy her variety of soulful creations just as much as I do.  

Artist Bio
Holly Graham was born and raised in a small town in Northern Pennsylvania. She lived on a small farm and was home schooled most of her academics. Holly followed up her high school diploma with an Associates degree in Business Marketing and Management graduating Suma Cum Laude and top in her class in 2009. Holly enjoys being a mother to five children and a loving partner of over twelve years. She has traveled all over the US and hopes to farmstead and teach workshops in the future. Holly enjoys creating using many mediums of art whether in sculpture, writing, sewing or jewelry making your sure to fall in love with her work. Her subject matters include women's liberation and empowerment, pregnancy and birth, alternative lifestyles, spiritual healing and growth.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.

Ever since I was little I remember creating things for people. I loved creating art for people and making them smile. Although time has gone by those feelings havent changed...I love creating art for people and having them smile.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?
I get inspired to create art by mother nature, powerful women's stories, real life struggles and triumphs

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft.
This is such a good question. I have tried to make myself versatile so I can expose myself to new people and new ways of creating art. I started out last year only having a few items to offer people and now I have over a dozen options and opportunities. I am really excited to see how far this goes and how much more I can grow whether writing or creating art pieces.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the one you are being featured for?
I create whatever I can get my hands on I enjoy creating things in general its soothing to the soul. I enjoy sewing, sculptures, jewelry, poetry, writing, feather art, healing arts.

What are your goals for your art?
I hope to keep growing and creating as time goes on I would like to finish a self- help book and put out an empowering poetry book among other things. I would like to double the amount of friends who I have reached this year through my art and creations.

A look at some of Holly's crafts: 

Website Links:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Promptly Thursday: Fantasy

Recently when I was in Bermuda, I saw this giant troll in a little local mall. They sold smaller versions in the store and I wish I'd bought one, especially since I love fantasy so much. Anyway, the sign next to him tells of a legend that says trolls protect you when you travel. I challenge you to write a scene, story, or poem in which this guy appears according the this legend. Have fun!

Peace and Love 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - Sam Smalley

Happy Friday everyone. I am so excited to share today's featured artist to you. In fact, its even more than that - I am so proud to brag about my little sister, Sam Smalley. Last year my whole family was so proud to see her have her first art show, and now one of her lovely pictures inspires me each days from my living room wall. Family or not, she is truly one of the most talented landscape and microlandscape artists I've ever seen. Her work and her beautiful soul inspire not only my writing, but my larger spiritual journey. She has such a special way of capturing the spirit of both people and Mother Nature, and the messages that Mother Nature has for us all. I have no doubt that you will hear your own unique messages whispered in your ear when you see her art.

Artist Bio

Samantha Smalley was born in Northampton, Massachusetts on November 15th, 1990. She spent her younger childhood living in Chicopee, and then moved to Monson in 2000. She graduated from Monson High School in 2009. During high school, she took on as many elective courses as she could regarding the arts. Such classes included painting, drawing, graphic design, and film photography. While struggling through traditional high school math, science, and history classes, and ironically, nearly failing her film photography course, Samantha excelled in her other alternative art courses, and pursued her love for digital photography during after-school hours as a hobbyist. Now seven years later, she is an independent small business owner, professionally photographing an array of occasions from school pictures, to large weddings. Samantha now still resides in the rural town of Monson, with her boyfriend Jeremy and their two cats, Mama and Lola.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.
I remember over the summer of 8th-9th grade, I found a leftover disposable camera in an old box, stuffed in a cabinet at my mom’s apartment. I had always been crafty throughout my childhood, trying out everything art-related from drawing to sewing. It was then I had just realized I never had an opportunity to use a camera, with an artistic approach. (Remember, this was back in 2004 when camera phones were still only in the beginning stages of becoming the main focus of technology) Excited to try a new “medium”, I took the old disposable camera around the yard and just shot away with the old remaining exposures on the roll of film. To this day, I don’t recall ever getting the disposable camera developed, and so I have no idea how those pictures came out… but to look through the viewfinder of that dusty disposable camera was the beginning of a very strong passion of mine.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?
Of all the things that inspire my art, nature has taken the lead. I have always loved being outside, taking in the wide-angle view of the natural world… but especially being up close and personal with bugs and flowers and the individual complexities they each come with. This was specifically how I became interested mostly in a type of photography called macro photography. The microscopic details, unseen to the naked eye, can be revealed with some insane magnifying lenses.

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft.
I feel like 10 years ago, when I very first started shooting photography, my biggest personal goal was learning how to use post-processing software such as Photoshop and Lightroom to make my images better. While this has been seriously useful, I have taken a different route over more recent years and have, in fact, tried to eliminate as much post processing as possible, even trying my hand at film photography. To me, that is how I’ve most grown in my craft. Instead of settling on the idea that the best images can only come from a digital age, I strive to pat myself on the back and say, “I finally captured a true, organic image like Ansel Adams.”

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the one you are being featured for?
Other types of art I like to practice around with include mostly painting, and playing musical instruments. My favorite being the ukulele.

What are your goals for your art?
My goal as a photographer is to never lose the passion I discovered when I first started my journey. I want my images to be powerful, to make others feel inspiration to do what they love, and to feel reconnected with nature.

A look at some of Sam's photography: (I have not included any of Sam's portraiture because I have not asked for permission from those in the photos, but you can see her portraiture work on her Facebook page.)

Website Links:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Promptly Thursday: Darkness

Today's prompt is really simple. Lately...ok, more and more often as I grow in my spirituality, I write about darkness. But it is especially relevant in the late autumn months. So, today I am merely prompting you to write about darkness. Maybe the photo will help, or not. We all have some darkness in us, we all know it rather intimately. When you think of darkness what can you pull out of your soul and shape into words?

Peace and Love

Photo Credits: Ghetu Daniel from Creative Commons/Flickr

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - April Winter

Happy Friday everyone. Today I am so happy to feature a friend who I have recently reconnected with. April and I were friends since grade school, and fate brought us back together this past summer. I have thought of her fondly through the years and along with all the other lovely memories I had of her, I always wondered if she was still drawing. I have been so blessed to reconnect with this lovely soul; it is as if we were never apart. Today I am proud to share some of her amazing talent. Her spirit shines through in all that she does.

Artist Bio

April Winter is an artist of all mediums, which began in illustration. Originally from a small town in Massachusetts where much of her fascination with art began in architecture having grown up nearby to a local church. She studied courses at home after high school while placing time into the care of her grandparents. Today she sets most of her sights on Native American art and portraits, as well as paintings that reach back into spiritual historical placement, often straight from the heart of imagination. Today she regards the earth as her church and her art as gifted to her by the Great Spirit.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.
I was initially drawn to art pretty much since I could pick up a crayon. To me I could sort of escape the world and make it whatever I wished it could be.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?
Often I would walk to the local park in Massachusetts near to wear I grew up. The quiet was a comfort and really the earth was my truest friend. Trees were a main focal point.

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft.
I have found that working in the arts it can heal on some level the things that I've been effected by in this life. I've also had to realize that it wasn't a "cover" for what was going on in my life. Despite being able to create a new "world" I had to also wake up to the real as well, that its not a true escape but rather a means to comfort and heal. There are things in this world we have to face no matter how hard it can be to do so. Make art beautiful but remember to make reality beautiful too.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the one you are being featured for?
Besides the visual illustrating and painting I make leather medicine pouches and jewelry, and when I can't focus to those things I have a love for photography.

What are your goals for your art?
Currently I am working on going to college to further my education in the arts. I also have an upcoming art show in Vermont which I'm pretty excited about. I think my main goal was influenced by the words of my stepdad, Domingos Joaquim (a Master Engraver whom worked for Smith and Wesson and Milton Bradley for years,who passed away in 2012);"When art becomes more work than fun it isn't the same, never lose that part of it. Even being successful can have its downfalls." That is my goal, keep enjoyment in it. That's real success.

A look at a couple of April's drawings.

Website Links:


Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist - Stephanie Cardozo

I am so happy to introduce you to yet another member of my tribe this week, Stephanie Cordozo. We attend the same college, but the funny thing is I'm not quite sure exactly how we met on Facebook. It might have been through mutual friends or a page for writers. The important thing is that - as I am always saying - your vibe attracts your tribe. Steph's great energy always makes me smile and stay strong. I am only recently becoming more familiar with her work, and I can feel her passion for both fiction and blogging as I read her work. Welcome to the Whiskey Summer family, Steph. 

Artist Bio
Stephanie Cardozo began writing at the age of fourteen. She took flight with poetry and landed with young adult fiction. Writing has always been her escape, finding solace in heroic characters who rescued young girls like her from the darkness at bay.

As an adult she began her college degree in creative writing to sharpen her craft. She knew writing was her calling, it was only a matter of refining what she already knew in her heart. In her third year of college, she started a blog. In completely new territory, she was excited to share her work, her mind, and her heart with the world and never looked back. Stephanie enjoys yoga, reading for hours on end, large amounts of coffee, and deep meditation. She lives a peaceful life in Georgia with her husband and two young daughters.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.
I started to play around with the idea of blogging after watching a few book tubers/writers on Youtube. They spoke about their blogs quite a bit and while I thought about starting a book tube channel, I felt that starting with a blog was more up my alley.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?

My initial intentions were to create a blog for my personal work. Writing stories is what my passion is and always will be but I found myself wanting to share other things as well. I enjoy sharing my daily/weekly ramblings with others. I found a passion in health and fitness and wanted to share that with the world as well. Connecting with others in this way has opened new doors to a happier me.

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft. 
I am still in college and I find that with each workshop I take, the feedback I receive from fellow students, instructors, and fellow bloggers helps me find what  works best for me and what will engage my readers. I make it a point to engage with my readers and this has truly helped me grow as a writer/blogger. For one, I am far less shy about sharing my work and happily accept all feedback. I know that my writing is not for everyone and that’s okay. The point is to stay true to myself.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the craft you are featuring today?
I am a blogger but as I mentioned before, I am a writer as well. Fiction is in my heart and there are  many untold creations swirling within me. I am also a Powerhouse coach. I help others begin and (or) stick to healthy and active lifestyles while walking my own fitness journey. Becoming a healthier version of myself has helped me stay focused in all areas of my life. I am more energetic, stronger, and determined to reach my goals as I see them closer than ever before. Making connections with others in this area brings joy to my life.

What are your goals for your art?
I feel quite accomplished as far as my blog goes. The biggest step for me was to simply begin. I’ve connected with more people than I ever thought I would in such short time and that has brought a smile to my heart. I am currently working on a collection of short stories for next months NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) and will be getting down and dirty with revisions in order to have it ready for publication for the new year.


A Look at Stephanie's Talent

The Old Oak Tree

          Katrina lay on her bed on a fine Sunday morning. Glancing out her window she wished to bask in the sun as she heard the laughter of her two younger brothers outside.  A week had past before the last time she had enjoyed the rays of the sun. She hadn't left the house after her mother had forgotten her birthday just days ago. After all, turning sixteen was becoming a woman around these parts. Her father, gone for two months now without so much as a friendly note finally hit her. "Papa would never have forgotten my birthday." She said as she threw her arm across her eyes.
          Getting up from her full size canopy bed, she breathed in the thick air in her room. No freshness in this room, she thought to herself. Staying in her white nightgown she washed her face and walked down to the kitchen. Her mother made her frustrations clear as she slammed every dish, threw every drawer shut, and swung cupboards with force. Katrina knew it was the absence of her father that angered her mother but she dare not say it aloud.
"Mama, that smells great." She said, gingerly.
"Go fetch your brothers for me, will you Katrina?" Her mother demanded.
"Yes, Mama." She grabbed a piece of toast from the table and hurried outside.
          The day was warm and inviting as she opened the creaky screen door. Stepping onto the grass with her bare feet felt more natural than wearing shoes.  Standing there in front of her little country home, she wiggled her toes into the dirt, closing her eyes up to the sky and inhaled deeply as if it were the first breath she had ever taken.
"Katrina! What on earth are you doing girl? Didn't I ask you to fetch your brothers?" Her mother yelled through the screen door.
"Sorry, mama." She replied and walked to the garden just past the lake near their house, where the boys often played.  Katrina stared down at the ground as she continued past the old oak tree, reaching her hand out to touch her fingertips across the bark. Feeling pulsating warmth, she withdrew her fingers and continued walking, thinking nothing of it.
"Trent! Marcus! Where are you?" Called Katrina. Hoping her brothers would come out without having to walk any further, she continued calling out for them but they did not answer.
"You boys come on out before mama has our hides!" She shouted. Sighing heavily, she continued onward and couldn't help noticing how much the grass had grown. The further she walked, the taller the grass was. The hem of her nightgown clung to the growing weeds she hadn't seen there just moments before.
Pulling up her nightgown, she walked past the tall bushes that hid the garden and spotted her little brothers running around the small lake on the other end. The entrance seemed to have sprouted full-grown roses over the past week, lifting her hand, she cupped one and inhaled its sweet perfume. "How did you grow so quickly?" She whispered to the rose. Shaking her head, she let the flower go and walked towards her brothers.
"Come on boys! Let's get on home before mama shows up!" She called out. The two dark haired, rosy-cheeked boys ran to her jumping and pulling on her nightgown.
"Kat! Do you see all the pretty flowers? They weren't there last time and now they're everywhere!" Said Marcus.
          Katrina looked around the garden and while it normally sprouted a few flowers, there was an immeasurable growth that simply was not there before. In awe, Katrina walked towards the sunflowers. Her heart beat faster and with each step as the earth seemed to breath beneath the soles of her feet.
She walked on and suddenly, tulips began growing where she stood. Shooting up from beneath her were the most beautiful bed of yellow tulips. Startled, Katrina jumped forward and again, flowers sprouted where she stood. This time, the most beautiful shade of purple calla lilies.
"Wha--what's happening?" She said, looking at her brothers in confusion.
"Kat! Kat! You can do magic!" Shouted her brothers in unison. They laughed and jumped, circling around her as they laughed and touched the flowers surrounding her.
"Magic? No, stop this nonsense!" She said, more to herself than her brothers.
"Katrina! Marcus! Trent! You get your behinds back here right now!" Yelled their mother from outside the garden. Katrina knew she was in for it now.
"Let's go! Mama's gonna beat us till we bleed if we don't get home right now!" She said to her brothers. She grabbed Marcus by the arm but he pulled away instantly screaming in pain.
"OW! You cut me! Why did you cut me?" Yelled Marcus. Holding his arm, he dropped to the floor crying and calling out for their mother.
"MAMA! MAMA!" Marcus cried. Katrina crouched down to comfort her brother but she caught glimpse of her hand that now sprouted vines with thorns. She quickly stood straight, looking over her body as the vines swirled around her hands, up her arms, around her torso, and down her legs and feet.
"You're a WITCH!" Trent yelled the last word at his sister with such fear and hatred; he seemed so much older than his ten years of age.
"NO! NO! I'm no witch! Please, Trent! Marcus? I--I don't know what's happening to me." She said. Breathing heavily, she tried to calm herself and will the vines away but her hammering heart would not allow it.
"What in God's name is this?" Katrina heard her mother's words behind her, causing her heart only more fear. The vines moved slowly, beginning to grow thicker and longer in time with the beat of her speeding heart. With tears now streaming her face, Katrina turned slowly to face her mother.
"Mama? Please, help me." She whimpered.
"What have you done to my boy you witch!" Cried her mother, running to where Marcus lay.
"Please mama, I'm no witch!" Cried Katrina, reaching her thorn wrapped arms out to her mother.
"You stay away from us you hear!" She shouted to her daughter. Katrina took a step towards her, only to be stopped by a blow to the head that knocked her off her feet.  Katrina lay on her back with a piercing pain coming from her forehead. Reaching her hand up, she winced at the touch of her fingers and looked down to find blood.
          Dazed and confused she glanced beside her to find what struck her. A rock with a hint of her blood confirmed the blow and she stared at her mother with rage.
          "How could you mama? How could you strike me?" She asked as she stepped closer. Her mother clung to her brothers who cried into her bosom.
         "Stay back, witch! God will strike you down if you harm us!" She shouted.
          "And what will he do to you for striking me with a rock, mama?" Katrina asked.
          Her mother stared at Katrina as if she were a lowly demon from the pits of hell and not the daughter she had raised all these years. Clutching her boys, covering their eyes so that she may shield them from beholding such horror from their sister, she wormed backwards until her back hit the tall bushes that surrounded the garden.
          The vines that covered Katrina continued to grow and inch forward towards her family.
          "Why do you cower away from me mama? Can't you see how I need you?" She said as she gestured at the vines.
          "Katrina, can't you see how you've frightened your brothers? Look at yourself!" Her mother cried. Katrina stopped where she stood, looking down at her now foreign body. The vines continued to grow, moving past her, digging into the earth and shooting back out towards her mother.
Katrina stared wildly at the vines and willed them to stop from reaching her family but she had no control. Forgetting the blow to her head, she realized how terrifying this must be for her mother and younger brothers.
          "Mama, Marcus, Trent. I'm so sorry. I don't know how to stop it." She cried into her hands. She felt the growth of the vines continue as she cried hysterically, begging them to stop. Katrina cried harder and harder, looking up slowly through blurred eyes, she watched the vines wrap around their bodies.
          "NO!" Cried Katrina, reaching out for her family, a forceful wind blasted behind her and whirled around like a small tornado, making her red wavy locks look like an untamed fire. The wind created a wave of flowers as the vines coiled tighter around Katrina's ankles, planting her safely on the ground. Looking down at her feet, it was clear to her that the vines were protecting her.
Trying desperately to see past the flowery whirlwind, Katrina could only catch a glimpse of three still bodies that looked more like trees wrapped with thorny vines, vines that came from her. The wind stopped abruptly and time seemed to freeze. What Katrina saw would haunt her until the end of days.
The life squeezed out of her family as  the only thing keeping them standing up right as their heads lulled to the side. Blood began streaming from each thorn-pricked wound on their bodies and yet Katrina found them strangely beautiful. Not a moment after that thought, flowers began sprouting from the vines around their bodies.
          Frightened and confused, Katrina moved back, breaking free from the vines around her feet. She turned and ran out of the garden with eyes squeezed shut. She ran until she felt the warmth of the old oak tree in front of her house. The tree seemed to speak to her in a language she did not understand.
          Moving closer to the welcoming bark, Katrina lifted her hand and placed her palm down firmly. She felt overwhelming love, comfort, and understanding flowing out from the bark and into her heart. She stepped closer and placed her tear-dried cheek to the bark as she exhaled coolly, trying desperately to understand what was happening. Listening with her heart, her eyes opened wide with surprise as she heard a voice she had yearned for far too long.

Website Links:

My Facebook page:

My coach page: 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Promptly Thursday: Nature Adventures

Hi everyone! As some of you may know, I will be on vacation when this prompt posts. I am blessed enough to be setting sail from Boston to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn with my wife and my mother. I need vacations to recharge, and especially to distance myself from technology. Wherever I go I always seek out the innermost hidden nature spots to bring some seriously good energy to my soul. I wanted to share a picture of one of my favorite trips ever - this one is a waterfall in Jamaica that even locals only discovered not so long ago. It was breathtaking. I thought the photo might inspire a poem or story for some of you. Enjoy!

Peace and Love

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Finds: Featured Artist Series - Mia Siegert

I was introduced to Mia and her work by a good friend. Mia writes fiction, including young adult fiction. The themes she covers are so important and relevant to not only teens, but to so many. I have always really loved young adult fiction. I think it is that time in our life where we kid of begin to figure out who we are - and for those of us who consciously try to keep figuring it our, young adult literature really resonates. We need more people in this world like Mia who face these tough topics with bravery and openness; it has been such artists throughout history that have helped folks figure out who they are and who they want to be. Welcome to the Whiskey Summer family, Mia.  

Artist Bio
Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and BA from Montclair State University, where she won Honorable Mention in Fiction (2009 English Department Awards). Her debut novel—a YA coming-of-age thriller called JERKBAIT which revolves around twins, coming out as gay in the professional hockey world, and online predators—will be released in Spring 2016 by Jolly Fish Press and can be found on Goodreads. Siegert has also been published in several other small presses including Word Riot, Clapboard House, and The Limn Literary and Arts Journal. When Siegert’s not writing, she’s designing costumes or traveling.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.

There wasn’t really a specific time. I was always drawn to writing as a kid—then writing scripts—but it wasn’t until about ten years ago when I started buckling down seriously. I couldn’t imagine not-writing.

What are some of the things that inspire your art?

I start with themes rather than plots. Usually I’m joking around about potential characters or a plot, something really irrelevant, and it hits me fast. I usually think about it for a few hours. 

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing. Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft. 
While I’m aware of, and can easily recognize, my personal growth as a writer (particularly in maturity), I consciously try to avoid thinking about it. I’m an extremely anxious writer by default so trying to actively think about growth rather than trusting the process of improving with mentorship and editors is terrifying. That said, my editor for JERKBAIT (McKelle George) and my agent (Travis Pennington) have taught me so many things about writing with keeping the market in mind.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the craft you are featuring today?
I make costumes and cosplay, mostly for the musical CATS, and recently my designs have been used onstage in professional, part-equity performances (I do everything from making wigs (from scratch), to painting unitards, to hand-knitting warmers). When not writing fiction or making costumes, it’s really, really silly but I like to roleplay for some old fandoms people probably have already forgotten about. I like making fan music videos though I rarely share what I create anymore. I would really love to get involved with making video book trailers.

What are your goals for your art?
Onward and up. There are a lot of exciting things going on that I can’t talk about yet (#CrypticBurrito for those who follow), but I can hint that the future looks exciting thanks to the incredible support I’m receiving from friends, family, and Goddard alumni. Keep an eye on my twitter (@miasiegert) for announcements!

I hope that JERKBAIT will reach a lot of people, not just teen readers (especially those who feel like the anti-stereotype) but parents. There are a ton of well-meaning parents who micromanage their kids’ lives, especially if the kid is a promising athlete. Sometimes they’re so caught up in the future that they miss the warning signs in the “now.” 

A Sample of Mia's Work:
by Mia Siegert

            Tolerance is one thing, acceptance is another. That was the closest thing to an explanation Frank gave when I asked why he didn’t tell me he was gay. I didn’t understand it, and he wouldn’t explain further. Maybe he just couldn’t. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference when it involved Frank. It was harder to tell when I became part of the equation.

            Frank’s my best friend. He always is my best friend, at least when I talk to other people about him. Things weren’t supposed to change just because of differences in perspective. He liked guys. I liked girls. It should have been cool. 

            We were having a guys night in: Jake, Tex, Frank, and me. Everything was cool. We were raiding the fridge and playing Sonic and Knuckles on the old Sega Genesis. Jake was kicking Robotnik’s ass, I remember, and in the midst of a bonus stage, Frank blurted out, “I’m gay.”

            Jake stopped playing. The end stage sound came. I kind of blanked before Jake and Tex started to crack up. Frank looked ill; his face got greenish.

            “Hey, we’re cool,” I said, patting him on the back.

            “Yeah. We’re cool,” he answered.

            Later that night when Jake and Tex were asleep, I asked Frank about it. How he knew, what it was like. He just shifted toward the right side of the bed. “Could you really explain being straight?” he asked me.

      I thought things were cool the next day at school but by lunch I realized I hadn’t sat next to Frank in a single class or exchanged any form of dialogue with him other than “Hey, did you do your homework?” But those talks ended up chopped, strained.

            “Hey Frank,” I said a week later as we walked to the movie theater. “Did you ever like me?”

            He was quiet, shoulders lifting in a shrug. “I guess.”

            So that was it. The tension I sensed, that force driving us apart. I actually smiled, feeling a faint hint of relief. I gave him a hug. Things would go back to normal.

            But the hedge between us thickened. This guy, Eddie, edged his way into our group, filling the indent that Frank had left. I barely noticed Frank at school, didn’t acknowledge him even as we walked past his table after going to the lunch line. I didn’t even know who he was sitting with, or whether he was alone. One time, he saw me at the mall. Stood awkwardly outside of the men’s room. “Are we still cool?”

            “Yeah. We’re cool,” I answered.

            Three months until I left for college. I began cleaning out my room--papers in the garbage bags, donations in the cardboard boxes. I reached under my bed and my fingers touched leather. It was a dusty baseball mitt, the name “FRANKIE” written on the wrist in blue permanent marker. I tried fitting my hand in it, but it was too small. How long had it sat there collecting dust?

            People say after the fact, you always feel remorse. I ditched my closest friend because he looked at boys the way I looked at girls. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, that I didn’t go out of my way to call him, or ask if he wanted to hang out. I convinced myself that Frank had avoided our group--he must have. We couldn’t have been the ones who ignored him in the halls, who sat next to other people on the bus, who didn’t see his ass getting kicked at the baseball field while we walked past, sipping Slurpees from 7-Eleven and doing nothing. That when it was Valentine’s Day and he came to my locker with a rose and asked, “Are we cool?” I didn’t laugh.

            I ran down the steps, taking them two at a time. My boots crunched through the thick snow leaving several wide-spread imprints behind me. The cold air felt refreshing, and my body felt so light. I felt like making snow angels even without wearing a coat. That could wait. Frankie could not.


Frank’s house was boarded up, every window nailed with plywood. Graffiti was sprayed on the siding, initials written in hearts alongside DIE FAGGOT.

As I stepped closer to the house, I remembered my dad trying to talk to me.
“Frank’s moving away,” my father had said.

            “Uh huh,” I replied, not glancing up from Assassin’s Creed.

            “His mom called and said Frank’s been having a hard time in school. Maybe you could give him a visit before he goes. I’m sure he’d like that.”

            “Sure. I’ll call him tomorrow.”

            “I’ll tell his mom. I’m sure he’ll really look forward to that,” Dad had said as I reached into the bowl of popcorn.

      “It’s a wreck, isn’t it?” Eric, Frank’s next door neighbor, said as he walked up next to me. “Kids really trashed it.”

            “How is he?” I asked.

            “Frankie? Not sure, really. His mom wanted him to stay but he got in a few fights too many.”

            “Do you know where they moved?”

            “California. Pretty close to San Francisco, I think. I’m not sure. They didn’t leave an address.”

            “Their mail will just be forwarded by the post office, right?”

            “They stop doing that after a year.”

            “A year? When’d they move?

“It’s gotta be going on eighteen months.” 

I walked back home through the wet snow, shivering with Frank’s mitt clutched to my chest, remembering Little League games and pizza parties. I said, “Are we cool, Frank?” But I didn’t hear his voice when I imagined him answering, “Yeah, we’re cool,” back. I couldn’t remember it at all. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday finds: Featured Artist - P j Haynie

This week I am happy to introduce P j Haynie. She and I only became acquainted a short time ago when I joined a community of writer's marketing writers on Facebook. I'm always expressing how much I believe in the power of community, and I thought what better way to do so than to give exposure to someone who shares that belief. With passions in both music and writing, Haynie uses both together as she creates short stories with an accompanying soundtrack. How cool! I would like to welcome P j to the Whiskey Summer family. 

Artist Bio

P j Haynie has been writing poetry, short stories, and music compositions for 20 years. Combining her passions of writing compelling, gritty novels, and writing and performing music is a lifelong dream that has begun with the publication of “Losing You," her first breakout short story in the Romance genre. P j lives with her husband, two children, and two dogs in Denver, CO.


Tell me a little about how/when you were drawn to your art.

I began writing songs at age 10 during a road trip with my family. My brother got bored so I made up a song to sing to him! Around 15 or 16 I really dove into songwriting and poetry. I brainstormed a lot of really great stories and novels at the time too, but didn't feel I'd be good enough to write any of them down. After a few years studying Music Composition in college, I changed my major to Advertising (for practical reasons), then started a family and set aside my creative endeavors for many years. A couple of years ago, I started writing music again which brought me to writing some of the novels I've been dreaming about for years. It's been a lot of fun!

What are some of the things that inspire your art?

I think I'm mostly inspired by pain, oddly. I'm a big believer in the idea that intense joy can only be experienced after intense pain. I love digging really deep into the darkness where things feel hopeless and evil and then watching my characters either dig their way out, or embrace it. I'm a big fan of writers who can make "bad" characters lovable and bring their audience to embrace them even though their qualities are not endearing. I endeavor to do that in my writing.

As a writer, I make it a priority to reflect on my craft to ensure that I am growing.Tell me one way in which you have seen yourself grow in your craft. 
I've just matured. As a teenager I was incredibly insecure and immature (like everyone) and didn't have the life experience to build believable stories. I've been through a lot since then and I feel equipped to tackle some really difficult problems.

Do you create other kinds of art as well as the craft you are featuring today?
I am also a songwriter, as I mentioned before. My goal is to write novels that have an accompanying sound track. My first short story, Losing You, has an Indie Pop track I wrote and recorded for it. I love the idea of expressing the primary emotion of my stories through music. I also paint abstract art on occasion. 

What are your goals for your art?
I'd love to become a best-selling novelist and usher in a new genre of novels with music. I also hope to start a band and do more recording. If the two passions don't work together, I hope one of them will take off.

A Glimpse at Jane's Craft
From her story Muddy Heels

Website Links:
Twiter: @freakinjane
Wattpad: User/pjhaynie