what you were born intoMy friend immigrated from Pakistan when he was eleven. He might be thirty years or so old now. He has an accent. He looks Middle Eastern with large, dark brown eyes and glossy, black hair and a quick and ready smile. He prays to Allah every day facing Mecca, several times a day and quite visibly, when he is at work. He enjoys toilet humor (I make him laugh so hard he cries), playing with his 2-year old daughter, eating his wife’s amazing traditional cooking, and taking care of his extended family. He’s also a Pittsburgh Steelers fan living in the Baltimore area. Brave man.

I worry for him. With all the business about Daesh and the accusations of genocide and the threat of terrorism, I have that small thought in the back of my head that he will be harmed by the bigots and war mongers as well as the fear of otherwise kind and rational people. Fear has a tendency to blind the heart and mind to the truth and to the history that has been created over the course of years.

People who know my friend also know that he loves the United States. He is proud to be a citizen. He works hard, pays his taxes, and is active in his community. He cares for and respects his aging parents. He is a good friend, treats everyone with respect, and is very generous with his time and his resources. He is wise, compassionate, and just like the rest of us, he is flawed and beautifully human.

He also enjoys the traditions of his country of origin. He saw wisdom in his parents’ desire to select a wife for him. He explained the process to me, how the woman or the man could refuse, and how the family supported the couple when hard times hit, which in his opinion increased the chances of marital success. He asked me how many love match marriages have stood the test of time. Mine hadn’t, but he wasn’t suggesting that I should try his way. He just asked me to think about what was important to me and to go from there. It was a breakthrough conversation.

So this is my request to everyone who reads this post. Judge people by their actions. Your experiences with the person should be the barometer by which you determine to continue association with them or not. If you don’t know someone, regardless of color or culture or creed, don’t be hasty to pigeon hole them on first sight and react. Take a step back, gather your awareness, and give yourself a moment to be in the moment. Unless they’re pointing a gun at you or have obviously malicious intent, they are just another person trying to make a living and hoping to find a bit of peace and happiness throughout the day.

Peace be with you. Blessed Be. As-salamu alaykum. Namaste. Shalom. Peace exists in the hearts that live it.

2014 © “Immigrant.” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, “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.

Album Review Rationale for Annoyed Artists

I know the pen is mightier than the sword. If you are an artist, do not take my ratings as a personal attack on you as an individual. I know it’s hard to not do so. Artists are some of the bravest people I know because they consistently put their guts out on display for complete strangers to poke over and discuss. This is not an industry for cowards but yes, I acknowledge that if I give you anything less than a 4.0, you’re probably going to feel a little butt hurt. Just realize that my review is one of many, probably won’t affect your bottom line, and I don’t know you personally so it isn’t personal. If we are friendly and on a first name basis, realize that I agonized over giving you anything less than a 4.0.

That said, I’m going to explain the mechanics of my rating system:

Anything below a 3.5 needs to be rethought because this signifies a serious craft-fail. If I take the time to review a work in this category, it isn’t to bash the artist with how bad it is but to provide constructive criticism on what needs improvement and why. The fail could be in production. In these instances, I find that the live performance deserves a much higher rating and also gives the work a higher rating post-review. If it is a production fail, I will say so. It’s still a craft fail but it may be outside the artist’s control (or budget).

A 3.5 to 3.9 is an endorsement of solid craft but there are underdeveloped elements that I would like the artist to address and lavish with attention in the next recording or redevelop in the live performance. Oft times this rating is based on a comparison with previous recordings. I also find that artists with line-up changes and “super groups” have this rating on their first release with the new personnel. It is very rare that people who have just started working together put out an opus. Sometimes I do go a little hard on the artist here, especially if I am a fan of individuals in the group. I personally want these bands to grow artistically and succeed. Often the live performance is so much more than the recording. As an artist, if your album received this rating, your live performance rating most likely will jump up to one of the next two categories.

A 4.0 to 4.4 indicates that the artist has exceeded expectations. The work is not only well-developed but there are elements that surprise and excite my senses. I’ll point out a few things that need attention, but overall, the work is worthy of critical acclaim and the artist is deserved of hearty slaps on the back, thumbs-up, and at least a six-pack of good craft beer or a fifth of preferred poison.

A 4.5 to 5.0 means that I had a visceral, ecstatic response to the work. Endorphins were released in large quantities. The craft is superlative and sets the bar for all other works in the (sub) genre. This is where I want every artist to be. I know it won’t happen on every album, and the artist should know this too. This kind of work deserves a gala with lots of champagne. If there is criticism, it’s with a light touch because having one song on an album that doesn’t make me cream my pants isn’t a bad thing. Everyone needs a breather between orgasms.

So that’s how I do it. It took me a while to get to this point. Just like every artist, I am honing my craft and trying to figure out where I fit in the big picture. I don’t get paid a salary for doing this either. I’m not rolling in dollars here so music is just as much a passion of mine as it is to the various artists that I critique.

I write. I listen to music. The two go together. It’s what I do. If there’s one thing you can count on from me, it is honesty. I’m not afraid to tell the people I admire the cold, hard truth. Will I be mean about it? No. There is a responsibility that comes with the mighty pen and I choose to use my powers for good.

©2014 “Album Review Rationale for Annoyed Artists.” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, “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.

Summer Blog Tour: The Needless Series

I was asked to participate in a Summer Blog Tour by my colleague Ruth L. Snyder. We were to write about our current work in progress and I decided to tell everyone about my main protagonist in the new series The Needless.

What is your name? My name is Verity Wilde. No nickname though some people try to get away with Veri. Just say the short name and my last name together and you’ll figure out why I’m not happy about it. What was my mother thinking?

What one word best describes you? Only one? Hmmm, gotta look at my thesaurus on that one. Don’t you dare tell anyone I have a thesaurus. People might begin to have expectations. Okay, here it is. The word to best describe me is diligent.

How did you first become involved in the story? When I moved to San Antonio, TX, Mom swore it was the last move so she wanted me to join a club at school. I joined the M.O.R.G., a gamer’s club, and that’s the lid off the coffin, so to speak. M.O.R.G. stands for Masters of Reality Guild, if you’re wondering.

What worries you? You got a few hours? My life was supposed to become normal after the move, not crazier. Mom’s talking about trouble finding me, my friends and enemies are getting killed or kidnapped, a really cute not-human (angel? demon?) turns up out of the blue telling me my father’s alive—oh, and something’s out to get me. Something nasty called Dybbuk.

What’s your favourite song? “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles. Mom always sang it to me when I couldn’t sleep. She has a lovely voice and the song always worked. I have it on my iPod. Paul McCartney does an okay job.

What’s your favourite food? Cook at Hendrix’s house makes a guacamole so fresh, my taste buds explode when I eat it. I like trying new stuff. Snails are tasty if they’re cooked right but so much can go wrong.

What do you think of the other characters? I really like Alexi but she needs to grow a backbone when she’s outside the game. I would kill to be a beanpole like her and eat all I wanted without gaining a pound. Hendrix is a cool guy, almost a little too chill, but he’s easy on the eyes and he’s got superlative judgment when it comes to friends. Chad’s fat and soft, like a tower of marshmallow, and he’s quiet but I would trust him in a tight spot. He knows how to hold your back. Mike, well, he’s difficult, but he might be my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know, it’s complicated. He’s vertically challenged and he’s got a huge chip on his shoulder, but we’ve come to an understanding.

What do you think should happen? Dybbuk needs to eat it, permanently. I’m not the blood thirsty sort, but I won’t hesitate to protect what’s mine. That’s what I mean by diligent. I didn’t want to be the “chosen one” but it looks like I’m it. Even the people who irritate me are MINE.

Are you happy right now? I’ve got an unknown evil after me and it’s not going to let me alone. Happiness is a warm gun and I don’t have a carry permit. I’m hoping to change that in the near future.

What do you hope to do with your life? Survive high school? I’m starting to collect battle scars. My life expectancy rate has taken a nose dive. These are factors that shift a girl’s priorities.

Check out the other authors in the:

Summer Reading Tour

Monday, July 14 – Ruth L. Snyder

Tuesday, July 15 Cindy Noonan

Wednesday, July 16 Mishael Witty

Thursday, July 17 – Michele Huey

Friday, July 18 – Patti J. Smith

Saturday, July 19 – Amber Schamel

Sunday, July 20 – Mark Carver

Monday, July 21 – Marian Baay

Tuesday, July 22 – Jen Cudmore

Wednesday, July 23 – Tracy Krauss

Thursday, July 24 – Marcia Laycock

Friday, July 25 – Joy Davis

Saturday, July 26 – Travis Perry

Sunday, July 27 – Mark Venturini

©2014 “Summer Blog Tour: The Needless Series.” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, “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.

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


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.


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.


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 “Why White Men Might Be Pissed Off” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for, 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)


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.


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

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for, 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 “The Dark Side of Living LaVita Local”  All Rights Reserved.

In between bouts of writing for, 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.