A Writer’s World Blog Tour

I was asked by my colleague Patti J. Smith to participate in this Writer’s World Blog Tour and her post was pretty awesome. You can read about her process here:

Gridiron Granny Football Fanatic

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About Me

SavedPicture-(33)I.O. Kirkwood is a correspondent for Metal Descent, an online magazine dedicated to enlightening the masses about heavy metal music. She also writes short stories and novels. Two of her stories, “Subatomic Revolt,” volume 2 of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series, and “The White Carpet,” finalist in Scribe Valley Publishing’s 2013 Short Story Contest, are available in paperback.

Patti asked me four questions and I answered them as if I were speaking to her.

What are you working on?

Right now I’m working on a lot of different things. I’m building a world for a series, writing a short story base on the Ballad of Tam Lin, writing a romance novel, writing for my blog, and writing articles for a Heavy Metal Music magazine. I just took on a series for my publisher called The Needless. I’m to write 5 stories 7-9K words each with the final installment reaching 12K words. I actually sweated as I agreed to the series. There was this tiny, gibbering voice in the back of my head that squealed about how I would fail and I’d never be able to do it all. I stepped on it. Whenever I hear that voice, I know I’m on to something.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I think I have a unique perspective. I’m cross-disciplinary if that makes sense. I have studied quantum physics, anatomy and physiology, alternative healing, religions of all types, psychology, anthropology, music, photography, art, dance, philosophy, the Qabala, Alchemy, even exorcism because I want to know about everything and how things that seem very different are actually related. The world is vast and mysterious. I see that as a puzzle to solve and I think it shows in what I write regardless of the genre.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve been writing since I was 12 and it has always been sci-fi and fantasy for me. Everything I write circles back to that first story of Zelda in 7th grade. This was before the game came out. My story was a fable, an Aesop-like tale, and she had to go into a castle and rescue the Prince from the evil wizard, Jealousy. I have a fantastical mind that I’ve learned to temper with logic and empathy as I’ve gotten older.

How does your writing process work?

Deadlines are my friends. If I’m held accountable, my writing is prolific and geared to show me to the best advantage. Now that I’m forced to write about my process because this “assignment” holds me accountable, I’m thinking I would work best in a collective or with a writing partner. I don’t need anyone to hang over me as much as impose an expectation that I will produce something by a certain date in a certain fashion. I usually produce the work well ahead of the deadline. I can be organized when I want. I just wish I was this way about cleaning my house. A party or two will change that. Guests are the best motivator to vacuum.

Articles are my favorite and the easiest to produce. I write down my seed thoughts. I go back and develop them. Then I arrange the thoughts so that they progress logically. The last step is to edit for redundancies and sentence flow.

Short stories are easy for me too, especially if I’m working on a theme imposed by an editor. Once the theme is established, I write an attention grabbing beginning. After that I write the ending. When I do the end, it tells me what I have to develop in the middle so that the beginning and the end connect. The middle is a bit free-formed because I understand the need for plotting, but I’m a pantser at heart. My characters need room to breathe and I love it when they surprise me. Without that, I’d lose interest.

Novels are a way I push myself beyond my comfort zone. I get very frustrated with writing novels because I haven’t figured it out yet. I will. Once my irritation hits critical mass I’ll have an epiphany. Until then, I will wrestle with it. You can’t learn to do something if you don’t do it. Everything we do so naturally now was learned through trial and error. This is the way of things.

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Follow the World Tour: the next writer to submit will be Rose F. Fischer on 06/23/14.

rose fischerRose F. Fischer is a writer and a graphic art hobbyist. She has been active on Blogger since 2009. Two of her blogs are niche-oriented, one to share her thoughts on fan culture and how it’s affected her life, and the other to showcase her graphic art and to provide a clearing house for graphic design resources and tutorials. I met Rose through her third blog, “Herding Muses (Because Herding Cats Is For Amateurs),” thanks to a blog hop via Ruth Snyder.  You can visit Rose’s blog HERE.

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I have two more surprise guests who will be taking up the baton after me. Stay tuned for the reveal!

Why White Men Might Be Pissed Off

I’m just taking a stab in the dark here, but I think I might know why white men might be pissed off—at EVERYBODY, including other white men.

Imagine this scenario:

You are told that you are the root of all that is evil in the world—sexual objectification, racism, oppression, economic inequality, and every other –ism, –ion, and -ity you can imagine. When you can’t see it because you are also marginalized by a ruling class that happens to have the same colored skin and secondary sex characteristics as you, you are further subjected to the contempt of the people around you.

It doesn’t matter that you are kind to everyone you meet and give them respect regardless. It doesn’t matter that you’re willing to hear another’s point of view as long as they don’t objectify or oppress you. You’re a white man and you have the power to change these things.

angry white male

NOT. I’m not buying this crap that white men are the root of all evil anymore. I am a feminist and that means I want equality and respect for EVERYONE. I know which demographic is perpetuating the lie. I know that all of us are responsible for our own awareness. Just because I recognize that a few wealthy, white males are actively perpetuating this systematic oppression of EVERYONE ELSE, I’m not given the license to slander all men with white skin.

White men do not have the power to change these things unless they join the rest of us: black, brown, red, yellow, female and bleeding freaking rainbows. Blaming others for something they had no hand in dreaming divides them from us. It gives those who truly want to defeat us the power to do so.

See what this lovely white man has to say. He has identified the problem beautifully:

America’s White Male Problem

We are destroying our ties to each other with blame. Several white men I’ve spoken to have commented on how they feel marginalized and useless, and it stems from the idea that they are somehow empowered to change what is happening and should do so immediately. These white men are just as disenfranchised as the rest of us. This privilege is mostly myth, perpetuated only by the media and how we respond to it.

And just to show you what I’m talking about, about how all of us suffer because we are constantly blaming and judging each other by standards we didn’t even create, check out this article:

Defining A Modern Masculinity

I am raising two emotionally literate young men and what has surprised me is the anger they feel. Fortunately, I’ve given them permission to constructively express this anger at home. The outside world is brutal not just to people of color or women or homosexuals, but to just about EVERYBODY. There are very few people on the face of this spinning planet who have not been harmed by the damage we do to each other on a daily basis.

bikini rainbow

This is the article that started my rant:

The Actual Difference Between Women Who Are Hot And Who Are Beautiful

What man is going to read this rant and feel empowered to see the beauty of women? Does she have valid point about women’s beauty? Absolutely, but this article has painted men as the ugly creatures when its true intent is to empower women in their own beauty. Are there ugly creatures like the men this article has described? Absolutely, but they are few and far between, though most unfortunately vocal in their opinions. Since these kinds of men react out of a deep seated sense of fear of losing their man-card, the real key to avoiding such ugly creatures is to love yourself and know when to walk away.

This article’s anger is every bit as valid as the anger white men feel. This author has every right to express her rage at how things are and to demand change. I just wish she had done it in a way that empowered EVERYONE. That’s the true sign of being comfortable in your skin—of being beautiful. You take full responsibility for how you experience the world.

We are all beautiful, amazing human beings with different talents and capacities. I want to live in a world where we build each other up. I want to live in a world where we compassionately and constructively become the change we want to see.

What are your thoughts on -isms, -ions, an – ities? Hit me up in the comments below.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “Why White Men Might Be Pissed Off” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

Change (in the House of [Butter] Flies)

Change-Quotes

I keep hearing people who love metal music telling me that it bores them these days. It’s not the same. The market is oversaturated with Djent or Metalcore or [put overdone subgenre here]. Good news is, I’ve heard this complaint before in other genres and they’ve survived and thrived after the fact.

I have a way of approaching metal music that has nothing to do with tradition and “how things used to be.” I’m open minded because I don’t hold any preconceived notions of how a genre is supposed to sound. I understand that there are genres and subgenres, but it’s like saying this human is brown and that human is pink; therefore, they are fundamentally different species. They aren’t but that’s how humans tend to think.

I watched a change in you
It’s like you never had wings
Now you feel so alive
I watched you change
~”Change (in the House of Flies)” | Deftones | White Pony

I know that I can’t stand it when something I enjoy is discontinued or the formula is altered. Most of the times, it’s for the worst, but everything evolves. Try to remember that as something transition, we may find ourselves witnessing the chrysalis.

chrysalis

A chrysalis is neither the caterpillar nor the butterfly. It doesn’t look like it’s doing anything special on the outside, but inside magic is happening. Think of all the bands you’ve enjoyed and there is usually a “cocoon” of an album in there somewhere as they transition from the new band to watch into a long time player like Dream Theater or Tool.

Change is a condition of innovation. Music goes through slumps where even I despair of finding something fresh and engaging. Music also has mind-melting bursts of creativity.  I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. A slump is just a marker that something amazing is about to break free and take flight.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “Change (in the House of [Butter] Flies” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

The Dark Side of Living La Vita Local

I love going to live metal shows, especially when there is a mix of local and national acts. I love it best when the venue is intimate and I could, if I was so inclined, reach out and touch whoever is onstage or bump into one of the musicians trying to get to the bar. There is nothing like turning as you’re ordering a drink to find Shannon Lucas waiting for a water and saying to him, “Hey, great show tonight.”

cory and lucas

Cory met his extreme drumming role model, Shannon Lucas. He is a very good example of graciousness.

What chaps my thighs is those bands who feel they are above their fans and the local musicians that made their headliner show possible. They hide out in their vans or cheap hotel rooms, avoiding the people who bought their records, who sold or outright bought the tickets because they couldn’t sell them, and who buy their merchandise so that the tour machinery can keep moving to the next city.

I’ve talked to a number of local bands in my area and the consensus is this: they feel taken advantage of by the national acts, specifically the ones who behave as if they are “too good to walk amongst the rabble.” Let me explain how I understand the tour machinery to work.

1. A promoter secures a headliner band that has a reasonably large and devoted following. A fee is negotiated that will be paid to the headliner.

2. The promoter then lines up a number of local bands, and dependent on the cost of the headliner’s fee and the number of local bands, divvies up a set amount of tickets that will cover the expenses of the show.

3. The local bands have to sell their number of tickets or buy them if they can’t sell them. Usual excuses from potential customers is “It’s too expensive,” or “Can’t you get me in for free?” or “I’m too tired.”

4. All tickets sales above and beyond the expense tickets are then divvied up between the local bands (in theory). Sometimes the local bands get paid but usually not.

Of course the cost of playing with the headliner can pinch a few purses, especially if the local band is still building a following or their fan base does not align with the headliner’s subgenre. I’ve been at proggy metal shows where I’ve spoken of thrash metal and my audience has looked at me like I pooped in my hand and threw it at someone.

This is how the system works. Everyone knows it. I’m not telling anyone something new. I’m not inciting a revolution here.

henry rollins

Rollins knows it’s just common courtesy. We’re all people on this big blue ball hurtling through space.

If you’re the headliner, don’t act like you’re above everyone else even though you have certainly earned your place at the top of the totem pole. Don’t hide away from the bands that are making your livelihood possible. They accepted the yoke of playing with you not just to showcase their talents in front of your fans but to meet you as well. Shake some hands. Let them buy you a drink, even if you prefer soda pop.

Graciousness wins you loyalty even though there may be nothing you can do to help the bands supporting you other than say “good show” or offering some technical advice. Face to face time is important, especially in heavy metal, because it is a minority genre in the music industry. You’re fighting for every single fan you have. Pissing people off with indifference earns you bad word-of-mouth. Even if it’s not true, bad mouthing has a ripple effect.

I offer words of warning to established and struggling metal bands. Don’t get above yourself. That entitled attitude, that superiority complex, is exactly what heavy metal and punk rock have raged against since their inception. Once you cross that line, you’ve gone to the Dark Side.

Do you have a differing point of view? Are you a national act that would like to shed light on your perspective? Hit me up in the comments.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “The Dark Side of Living LaVita Local”  All Rights Reserved.

In between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

Tempting Fate’s Illusions: A Beastly Frolic

Tempting Fate’s new eight-song offering, Illusions, made my Beast frolic. Though there were two songs that caused the apple-headed, shark- toothed and besuited bad boy of my subconscious to pause in confusion, overall the album was a deathy Metalcore M&M with an Electronicore coating (or what the band has called Dub-Metal).

Tempting Fate demonstrates a solid compositional formula. They use tempo to great effect and their songs have that deep groove I so enjoy in my metal. Things I liked included modulation on the screamed vocals, clean vocal choruses, heavy double-bass and low-tuned guitar, moderately applied synth/sampling, and melodic cut times with harmonized guitar riffs. I enjoy giving my head a sonic pummeling on a regular and recurring basis and these guys delivered with a few surprises along the way.

My favorite song currently is “Mutilation Line,” while “Get Up” and “This Is A Warning” are running close behind. All three are heavy and the lyrics are eponymous to their respective compositions. They will take their places in my Extreme Metal playlist and “Filthy,” “Run,” and “State of Unrest” will follow.

“Questions,” the first song, was my Beast’s least favorite. The lyrics are polluted by the rallying cry of “Oh my god” which personifies the whining snarkiness of the poppier end of Metalcore. “Oh my god,” should never go into a song unless it’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex. ”Questions” is still solid, still heavy, but the chorus ruins the vibe for me.

“Get Weird” didn’t excite my Beast either. It was the least cohesive of the songs, though the guitar solo and catchy tempo changes in the middle might be redeeming factors for some. I recommend a few listens to make sure.

This is the first time I have heard Tempting Fate’s music. Illusions isn’t the groundbreaking album that the band may have hoped for, but they did generate a high-quality, professional production relying only on their collective talents. There are fresh elements that could evolve into something definitive as the 4-piece band matures.

With an official 2010 birth year and three self-produced albums under their belt, Tempting Fate may benefit from more time on the road (maybe come out to the East coast, hmmm?). Old-school my view may be, but nothing rounds out a band’s chops like touring the U.S.A. in a cramped, stinky van for months on end, loading into and loading out of B-list venues, and playing night after night to crowds who came to see the headliner only to steal the show.

I have not seen Tempting Fate live, and anyone who has should comment below on their energy and delivery. I believe that a band should be viewed as a whole in production and in live performance.  I’ve heard rumors that they are kick-ass and would definitely like to see for myself-in person.

If Metalcore is your cuppa, keep an eye on Tempting Fate. Having made six out of eight songs onto my Beast’s Extreme Metal playlist, I expect them to get that groundbreaking formula dead to rights next album.

\m/(^^)\m/

To buy the album:

Amazon or iTunes

 

To learn more about the band:

Website: http://temptingfatemusic.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreTemptingFate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TemptingFateBnd
ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/artist_897482/bio
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TemptingFateBand
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/TemptingFate

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Tempting Fate’s Illusions: A Beastly Frolic” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More

I had talked about metal music and recalling unpleasant memories in an earlier post. Wouldn’t you know it, I had the most vivid, controlled recall of my life a few days ago. I was alone, almost as if the part of my mind that controlled access to those memories had read the post, and I was fully aware.

As the memories unfolded, I expected my soul to cringe. I expected to die of mortification or to turn into a psychopathic killer that police would shoot in the middle of the street if I didn’t off myself first. I expected to disintegrate into dust or burst into flames.

Guess what?

I think it’s obvious none of those things happened. I started to laugh, actually. I laughed at the things that had crippled me for so long. I started to sing. In the middle of the night. I banged my head. I raised the horns. I danced with joy.

I sang the song of my people:

 

…Tamed with confidence of a brighter future
I found a flame in the burnt out ashes… burn out, burn out!
Fueled, these new shores burn, dark past lies cold
Shadow, my sweet shadow, to you I look no more…

–“My Sweet Shadow,” In Flames, from Soundtrack To Your Escape

 

I’m free.

Every time I think about it, I start to cry. Happy tears.

I’m fucking free and I am on fire!

 

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Metal Grrrl: I Am A Subject Not An Object

I move in male-dominated circles. I’m a metal junkie and yes, I’m learning the ropes, but I’m not some vapid groupie who is only on the scene for the 5:1 male-female ratio that stacks the odds in my favor. I’m going to shows, buying albums, buying merchandise, and writing about metal. Of all the genres of music, it is the most diverse, fascinating, and intellectually challenging.

I am an attractive female, a rarity on the scene relatively speaking, but the way I look is an accident of birth. First and foremost, I am a mind and a heart and a set of unique predispositions that are infinitely complex and interesting. I have thoughts and feelings like any other person and I want to be treated as a person, a subject.

Too often, I find myself the object of other people’s projections, male and female, and it frustrates me. Few of the people who project their assumptions on me mean any harm. Those that do are dealt with quickly.

Metal is a divine gift...

Metal is a divine gift…

Here are the assumptions in the order of their irritation factor:

Assumption #1: I have to like the kind of metal you like because I don’t have the capacity to know what I like about metal.

Assumption #2: I pretend to like metal because the metal scene is the male-female ratio equivalent of Alaska.

Assumption #3: I can’t appreciate the raw energy of metal because I’m a helpless, passive female.

Those are my top three pet-peeves. I do understand that these assumptions are based on partial fact, but usually the model of choice is the girlfriends or wives of musicians in the genre. I’m not knocking these women either. Just because my ex-husband liked baseball and played in a league didn’t mean I had to do the same.

Assumptions are like spiders. I HATE spiders.

Assumptions are like spiders. I HATE spiders.

I will address each assumption, so if I’ve handed you my card at a metal show and you thought you knew what I’m about, you can read this post and get the skinny on what I’m REALLY about.

Assumption Buster #1: I studied music. I’m a vocalist. I was raised in a musical family and I’ve raised an extreme metal drummer. Thrash metal is one of my favorite subgenres, but I also like Djent, Groove, Melodic Death, Progressive, Power, and the list goes on. I think my least favorite genre is Black Metal though I do enjoy black metal elements in other subgenres.  WARNING: A band can’t tell me their music is Mathcore and then have none of the Mathcore elements in their compositions. I will call that and I will bust balls.

Assumption Buster #2: I don’t pretend anything. I won’t pretend to like a band that sucks. I won’t spend my money on a band that sucks. I won’t pretend to like you and I don’t care what band you’re in if you’re a douche-bag. I won’t deny that I prefer guys who prefer metal. I won’t deny that I like the odds. I don’t pretend.

Assumption Buster #3: I got knocked down at the last show I attended. I wasn’t even in the mosh pit. I was singled out and dragged from the sidelines against my will by a guy twice my size. Needless to say, when I got back up, my inner Beast was growling and I was about a hair’s breadth away from an old-fashioned Irish war spasm a la Cu Chulainn.  I busted chops as I waded back to the sidelines and my Beast approved. Don’t tell me I can’t appreciate raw energy because I’ve been familiar with metal and mosh pits longer than you’ve been out of diapers.

The lesson here is even though you’ve met me, assessed me, and dismissed me with one or all of the above assumptions doesn’t mean you know me. Any more than I would know you based on the metal head stereotypes that have cropped up over the years.

So check your assumptions at the door. I’m here to enjoy a metal show. Everything else is gravy as long as it’s based on the actuality of my being a subject: a thinking, feeling individual with an autonomous existence that transcends stereotypes and projections. I’ll return the favor. I promise.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Metal Grrrl: I Am A Subject Not An Object” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.