Writing, Reading, and Trying To Stay Focused

It was a bizarre first week of January, to say the least. I’m going to try not to talk about what happened at the Capitol Building because my brain is still trying to process the remnants of the act. I didn’t know how much it would trigger my PTSD. Especially as someone I am familiar with shared his experience of being in lockdown in the building while this was happening. I remember immediately thinking of him and worrying, but he stayed in touch and I respect how honest he was about the entire ordeal. People like to say nasty shit to him, for no real reason other than trolling someone because their politics don’t line up with yours, but he’s been a good connection for me to make since moving to Massachusetts.

What have I been up to since January 1st? I’ve been reading like a madwoman, studying hard, and was also able to write over eight thousand words on a psychological thriller I’ve been trying to grasp for maybe six months, or so. The story is progressing nicely. 🙂 When I look back upon the beginning of the month, it seems like I had a steady, and successful week. I suppose I did. I’d consider it small steps, in truth.

This week is already different. I am determined to truly break open my new laptop (She’s beautiful and I shall name her Poison 8.0. I won’t lie; all of my laptops have names. Why else do they give me the option? 😉 It’s not for shits and giggles. I might not name a car, but I’m sure as hell going to name the laptop that keeps me creative and working.). The computer arrived much earlier than I expected, and after initially logging in, I put it back in its original box and set it aside. I had looked at it, from day one, as a matter for 2021. My brain, unfortunately, is still confused whenever I write the new year down or see it on anything. I have the same reaction to the calendar; it startles me a bit. I feel discombobulated, for lack of a better word. I feel like I blinked and there was a ton of change I haven’t quite caught up with just yet. I’ll get there, because obviously, work is taking off in a new direction and I have to be prepared for every moment of it. I am also going to take it to Best Buy and have all of my files transferred over as soon as I can. But only if it means getting them both back within the same day. I don’t want to miss a moment of this creative drive. It’s a nice ride to be on, and any good writer will tell you the same thing.

2020 was a good year for me financially and professionally, which encouraged me to break out of my shell a bit and look into new options. The “new options” and new projects are on their way, and I am encouraged by the authenticity of them. They are 110% ME from start to finish and I am proud of this fact. If you see me do something, know that I didn’t have help in it. I will only ever credit someone if I had no hand in it, but the work you see with my name on it, know I did it all.

The downside of having this success, on any level, is seeing how hard others have worked to try to one-up me. And it’s not so much, “work”, as it is someone trying to compete against me for no valid reason. It really made me roll my eyes; especially one person in particular who has felt more like a frenemy over the past 4-5 years, as opposed to a real friend. I realize some women don’t understand deep connections, and that’s okay, but I’m not going to get behind people, “just because”. That’s not who I am. My core group of friends know they will always have my support in whatever they do personally and professionally (Unless I am worried for them, in which case I will be honest. I’m known for my honesty because it’s part of who I am. Being direct shouldn’t be considered a bad thing.), and they support and encourage me, as well. They’re happy for me; not competitive. So, I’ve started severing ties here and there with toxic people and the negative energy they bring along. I do that to move forward, and I also do it because it helps my mental health not to see those low vibrations trying to touch me as I ascend.

I will say this now and never again: I don’t buy followers to make my numbers look better. Not here. Not on Twitter. Not on Instagram. Nowhere. When I look at my numbers, I know they are authentic. I don’t have bot followers. I have certainly been approached to pad my numbers, but that’s so disrespectful to my core readers and it detracts from my message, as well. My ego isn’t part of the equation here. I receive offers all the time to pad the numbers by tens to hundreds of thousands, and I refuse to do it. It sickens me. So while social media ebbs and flows, I let it be. I only follow and support people who are part of my circle and/or people I genuinely like. There’s no other reason to click the follow button, and I speak for myself on this level.

Occasionally a friend will have to remind me about their newest blog post, but they will also tell you I DO jump online and read it. I don’t allow people to have a lot of access to me anymore, so generally the people who can reach out instantly have my phone number and can text me whenever they want. Or, they will message me via a different app and we have a relationship based on communication and mutual support. I have seen these extremely talented individuals start from scratch and a few years in, they are, like me, not padding their numbers. I have more respect for that than I do for people who so obviously are buying fake followers. People don’t like to admit it, but I’ve had so many agents and publishers tell me they know it’s going on and they can’t abide by it. If it makes no sense to someone who knows how all of this works, then it should raise questions for others as well.

So, after I make hopefully just one more tedious phone call this week, I will have time to prepare the new laptop. In between reading and writing. If you’re going to be at home, you might as well be productive on as many levels as humanly possible. Because other than grocery shopping and laundry, books and creativity will always be there for me, and I’m grateful for that.

Stay tuned, my friends. Stay tuned. 🙂

Peaks, Valleys, and Being Named

It’s disconcerting to be sitting here several years into this platform, and feel less sure of its direction than I did when I started out.

‘Poison In Lethal Doses’ was my decision to walk away from something that no longer suited me personally or served a greater purpose, and allowed me to return to my roots. It is, without question, one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s important to feel rooted in one’s self, without ego. A lot has changed from the first post to now, but I feel as though I’ve grown in leaps and bounds as a writer.

Last month, I was named “An Inspirational Writer of 2017”. I have no idea what I did to earn this acknowledgement of my efforts, as my readers don’t get to see 90% of the work I do. I have never promoted any of my works in progress because I’m not going to promote anything until it is published. It’s a strict rule of mine. but I couldn’t help but be completely overwhelmed, and emotional, to be declared an “inspirational writer”. That declaration makes me want to ask questions.

I have always felt that the smartest writers are sometimes silent; taking on causes they can truly get behind in their work, and I find peace in being silent when it’s important for me to do so. No one will ever accuse me of not using my voice for good, or say I haven’t advocated for change. It’s always obvious to me when someone is trying too hard, and over-compensating in ways I, personally, find unattractive. I have to stick to my guns and I have to stick to what’s important to me. I cannot bounce around like a heavily caffeinated Bobble head, with an over-inflated ego, desperately seeking out the approval of others. That’s not me.

Over the summer, one of the greatest compliments given to me was “You TRULY know yourself.” I loved the observation and comment SO MUCH because it is the absolute true. I know a lot of people feel lost, confused, hopeless, etc., and I’m human, so I’ve certainly felt those emotions, but for someone to say I “TRULY know myself” made me feel good. It helped set the tone for the final half of the year where I’ve likely felt a wide array of different things each day, and I openly admit, little of it was positive.

My mind is always at work, and sometimes it’s a curse, but mostly, it’s a blessing. What is the creative mind like? Anxious, because the creative mind is pulled in many different directions each day, wanting to complete the tasks it comes up with. The creative mind, one that is natural and not forced, is committed to creativity and expression. The creative mind, depending on its specific genre, wants to create something each day, even if no one else sees it. Printed paper is my canvas of choice, but so is a notebook and pen.

I inherited my creativity from generations of people who were unable to follow their dreams. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately; how much talent I come from. My parents were both talented photographers who were unable to do more than pursue it as a hobby. Whenever I snap a photo now, I am reminded to follow through on it, even if the photo isn’t perfect. My mother played two instruments, passing her love of music down to her children. My father didn’t sing, but he had a knack for hearing something once and being able to duplicate the melody. A few years ago, I noticed my brother does it, too.

I am a trained singer because a teacher called my mother one day and said “Did you know your daughter can sing?” Obviously she’d heard me sing before, but she’d never heard me be loud about it. There was a time when I tried to blend in, so as not to stand out. Gymnastics, singing, and writing changed all of that for me, slowly, but surely. They were outlets that said “Go out there and shine.”

Earlier this year, I found myself annoyed when I dumbed myself down in order to deal with my health. But at the beginning of this month, I saw a new doctor and not only did I not dumb myself down, but I was treated with kindness and compassion. I was listened to. I now have referrals to follow-up on, which I’ve physically been unable to do, thus far. I keep saying “I’ll call tomorrow.” I haven’t been feeling well. I’ve been in tremendous amounts of pain, feeling weak, often unable to get out of bed for more than a few hours at a time, but after doing a little research I felt comfortable enough to tell myself that it’s okay. I knew this would be an emotionally harsh month for me, but I made it to that appointment, and I will make phone calls for a spine specialist, a new neurologist, and another physician at the hospital where my new doctor is affiliated. I’m not happy that the Fibromyalgia pain was not addressed, but it was one appointment. The next time I go in to meet with one of her colleagues, I think I will see if I can get in to see her, too. I’d feel better if we discussed it and came up with an action plan. Because while my neck and back hurt like hell, and my migraines are definitely a serious issue, I worry that the Fibromyalgia may have caused permanent nerve damage. I desperately want to find some measure of relief for this.

2018 will have its challenges, I am sure. If I can deal with my health, finish the novel I worked on the majority of this year where I set personal records for myself during NaNoWriMo, and go back to writing dark urban fantasy, I think it will help me a lot.

I’ve never set out to inspire others by being myself, but if I have inadvertently inspired you through something I’ve written or said, then it’s the icing on the cake. I thank you for the comments you’ve left me throughout this year, and the e-mails you’ve sent my way. I thank you for acknowledging me, and I tip my hat to those who’ve remained on this journey with me.

There’s so much more to come. Of this, I have no doubts.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



Empty As A Shell

I have both nothing to say, and a lot to say, so I’ve chosen to remain silent for the past few weeks. You can never get into trouble by keeping your mouth shut.

I sit here tonight, coughing my brains out, questioning how I somehow got sick in twenty-four hours when I’ve obsessively taken precautions against illness. I’m loaded up on Benadryl, in case it’s “just my allergies”, which I love hearing every time I see a doctor and ask if I have an ear or sinus infection (except for earlier this year when I, indeed, had both). I’m trying to soothe the sore throat that I swear, I did not have a few hours ago. I swear by Ricola herb cough drops.

If you’ve been reading my work for a year or two, you know I hate getting sick. I especially hate knowing it will happen right before my special day; the one day I don’t have to share with anyone else, unless I want to. Every damn year, like clockwork. It doesn’t exactly excite me. 😦

After last year’s debacle, I don’t want to do a whole lot this year, and frankly, no one is willing to tag along. Yes, I still want to feel special, I still want to enjoy something, but I don’t want anyone making a ridiculous or offensive comment about what I enjoy, or saying something hurtful because they think they’re owed something. That attitude and behavior doesn’t fly well with me.

Someone messaged me earlier to ask if I want anything special for my birthday. I was polite, mainly because this person accused me of something I find heinous over the summer, and then I talked with my brother about it. He gives the best advice. A lot of people would be dead if it weren’t for my brother talking me down at the height of my anger. I love how he said “Don’t hold it against her for the rest of her life (Apparently he has forgotten how legendary the “female grudge” can be in my family.). Just take note that she rolls like that and remember.”

As much as I try to accept everyone as they are, I struggle with people who say shitty things and think it’s no big deal. I hate having to rein in my temper when I genuinely want to haul off on someone. It’s a boundary thing, really. Also, a person clearly doesn’t know me very well if they are asking me, on the night before my birthday, if there’s something special I’d like. Yeah, my sanity, but bourbon will do (I’m being a smart ass. My actual response was far more polite than I would like to be.).

I want things that help me create. It could be a set of artist’s markers and some very cool coloring books, or it could be a new eye shadow palette and some brushes. It could be paint and things to be painted, etc. Writing isn’t my only creative outlet. I appreciate when people honor that, as opposed to criticizing it. If someone is talented and I know they need things to occupy their mind during sleepless nights or bad days, then I am absolutely going to do something to encourage their creativity.

For a while now, I’ve been painting shells for the garden. Not because I have to, but because for 20-30 minutes here and there, it gives me something creative to focus on. It takes me away from my writing and gives me a different type of canvas to work with.

Shells with texture absorb a lot of paint to truly be “painted”, but it’s worth it when you see your crazy designs in the end. Every single design has been mostly intentional. I have about eight to finish, and even though they’ll likely come inside for winter, they are glazed to withstand the elements. After all, most of these shells once housed ocean creatures, and they survived the rough waters. Rain and snow are nothing compared to the deep, blue sea.

So as I sit here on the eve of my birthday, I encourage you to create. But most importantly, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s worth it.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


The Writer’s Only Responsibility

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.”
William Faulkner

The Not-So-Lost Manuscripts


For the last eight months or so, I had silently convinced myself that I was abandoning the manuscripts for the series of novels I began writing in 2010. Before you scoff and judge that length of time, note that I wasn’t writing “just one thing”. I was writing multiple manuscripts (hence, a “series of novels”) in order to fully develop the story itself, as well as characters I know like the back of my hand.

My intense desire was solely to walk away from editing because it is so bloody thankless and is barely paying pennies. My inquiries look a lot like this: “Hi, I’d like you to edit 96,000 words in 24 hours and I am willing to pay $10.” Now while I politely decline these jobs, my first thought is “I’m not working 24 hours straight for $10, and I don’t know anyone with an ounce of talent who’d agree to that. Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t even pay $10 an hour, who are you playing with?” I don’t say it, but damn, it’s unbelievably insulting. For the record, my hourly rate is $40, unless it’s a first edit, and it’s by no means an unreasonable rate. I know people who charge double and not necessarily out of talent, but because they’ve chosen to put a higher price tag on their time, but not without a mind-fuck of a “reason”. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school to be able to apply said price tag to my work (that’s THEIR reasoning), but it’s still in the top ten. I also didn’t major in things that make me want to gag, like English Lit, Journalism, etc. I’m more interesting than that, and I have more experience. I also try to give people a fixed rate payment plan, that way they’re paying every 2-4 weeks, the work is being done, and they’re not shelling out a large chunk they don’t have all at once. While many people want to be writers, and I don’t knock that, they aren’t quite prepared to pay and deal with a real editor. It’s time-consuming work and as someone who goes over a manuscript twice, I don’t think pennies are acceptable to be tossed in my hard-working direction.

Somewhere along the line though of feeling used & abused by something I’ve done for so long, I realized I had also abandoned a lot of my hard work. I may not want to edit other people’s “work” (I use that term quite loosely. Some people have no idea what it takes to truly write something that doesn’t stink to high heaven.), but my work should be an entirely different story. You don’t write as long as I have and say “Okay.” to leaving solid work on a hard drive, thumb drive, etc. Sometimes you will have a legitimate reason for leaving a body of work behind (You don’t forget it, but you do shelve it for a later date, perhaps.), but I have no solid reason, and so, it was time to delve back into MY work.

The other day I decided to re-visit the first manuscript in the series. My first impression was “Holy crap, look at that word count! I remember when I couldn’t break 11,000 words.” But as far as the actual written work is concerned; I was completely spellbound. There is nothing like getting completely wrapped up in a story. I read several chapters, became immersed in the minds of each character, and then I had a moment when I realized that I was the one who had created this from scratch. At first my internal dialogue was this, almost verbatim: “This writer is GOOD. So talented. So creative and smart. I wonder what else they will create, because this is EPIC. I’d BUY this. Hell, I’d pre-order it!” It took about fifteen minutes before I realized I am the writer I was having internal dialogue about. It doesn’t always sink in. You will have fans and you will have detractors. In my life, I predominantly have detractors (mostly in my personal life), and so, hearing anything positive is so foreign to my ears and equally as foreign to my eyes. I’d rather be told I’m a talented writer than have someone think I’m pretty. I’d rather be told I am funny and/or smart than have someone dwell on the superficial. And when it comes to my work, I am immensely private with the work-in-progress itself, the ideas, the characters, all the little nuances, and the actual manuscript. Having had someone steal my work in the past and try passing it off as her own, I’ve learned that you can never be too careful with brilliant ideas. It may not be brilliant to every single person that reads it, so ultimately I have to be impressed and surprised that I’m the one who wrote it. I have to continue to impress myself, because I’m the first set of eyes on this work and I believe in my ability to tell a story.

So, despite my deep passion for the new, creative journey I am on, one in which I feel is positive and will break me out of the shell I’ve been in without realizing it, I have decided to continue polishing up the first manuscript before submitting it. The story deserves to be told.

I can create on two completely different levels. One does not interfere with the other. I feel blessed to have come to this conclusion on my own and I look forward to discussing the progress in the future.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend where you, quite possibly, have some self-discovery of your own.  😀

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.




I haven’t been quiet intentionally, I’ve been quiet because I’ve been sick for the majority of the month we have recently said goodbye to until 2017. February didn’t exactly begin with a sense of calm, either. I’ve had maybe one or two migraine-free days over the past month or so, and the migraines themselves have been intense.

I’ve spent a lot of time punishing myself over the past month and a half. I only just realized it last Sunday evening. I am utterly horrible to myself, and I don’t deserve it. Admitting it is the first step, moving on and self-correcting the behavior as I go is the only way to improve upon it. It’s hard to erase a habit that has existed for such an incredible length of time overnight, but I will simply make myself aware of it so that I can work on it this year. That and personal “mind noise” are issues I wish I didn’t have.

Being sick, overly stressed, and exhausted within my soul has deeply affected my writing. I am torn between what I am used to doing each day and what I am drawn to. They are two completely different things, yet both on the creative spectrum. I am working hard to launch a new project, which is basically an upgrade to something that already exists. It’s a springboard to a career change, but yes, I will still be writing.

When people consider writing “a hobby”, it’s insulting to me. I’ve never used writing as any type of hobby form. I wouldn’t know how to do that either, because I’ve been writing for so long that it’s an art form. I absolutely hate it when people tell me, upon learning that I’m a writer, how much they’d love to write, but don’t have the time or when someone says “I’d love to read a book, but I don’t have the time.” That’s implying that I have time to basically goof off, because they do not perceive writing or reading as life priorities. How do you learn if you don’t read? No, documentaries on the History and/or Discovery channel don’t count.

We all have passions in life; things we prioritize over other things on a professional or personal level. I am a master multi-tasker, but I do know people who can’t multitask. I can do five things at once, which is astounding to anyone who cannot, but it’s also my attention span and how I work on a brain level.

There are always going to be days when I can’t get out of bed due to migraines or Fibromyalgia, but I still force myself to feed Cat and Kitten and give them love, even if I can’t force myself to eat. I still scoop three litter boxes more than once a day. OGK still gets attention from me, or he has tantrums because he likes to be included in everything. Unlike Cat and Kitten, who are younger and love differently, OGK likes to be a part of “the family”. He likes to sit in the middle of conversations and do silly things. The girls are goofy and silly too, they’re all incredibly smart cats, but he’s approximately 16 years old and is set in his ways. He wants what he wants and he wants it yesterday. That aspect of my life is day-to-day stuff. You do it because you have to do it, or it doesn’t get done, but it’s not necessarily what you live for.

No matter what I feel or what I am doing, shit still has to get done. Laundry still has to be done. Food still has to be bought and cooked, but when someone asks me what I do for a living, I am a writer and an editor, albeit one who aspires to do more. I’d prefer to grow, as opposed to remain stagnant. (Kudos to everyone who thinks I should be a personal chef. That’s a lovely compliment and anyone willing to pay me can hire my personal cooking skills for holidays and/or special events. Hell, you can hire me to come over and cook for you daily, I don’t mind.)

It doesn’t always pay to be a writer or an editor, I’ve talked about that many times, but it’s still a huge part of who I am. On the flip side, I am also incredibly enterprising and entrepreneurial. I inherited that from my Grandfather, who ran many businesses (bars, candy stores, etc.) until he passed away at age 40. In the throes of pain, I don’t always believe I’ll live to see 40, much less 50, but words, they live on. Words can, and do, impact lives.

There are books that speak to me. There is music that speaks to me and feeds my soul. There are people whose words are an inspiration to me daily. There are TV shows and movies that make me laugh. All of this stems from writing. Words on paper. Words in any format made to enlighten, educate, communicate, or entertain. Words have power and magic in them.

I’m an incredibly proud master of words.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.