Wishing Will Not Make It So


, , , , , , ,

Yesterday on CNN, Van Jones commented on the death of George Floyd, and in sharing his insights on this tipping point in American society, he spoke some wisdom to me. Not to me personally, but to white allies like me, who have been hoping like hell that somehow the Black community has been overstating its case all these years. I, and likely most people I know, have been desperately clinging to the idea that incidents like this are anomalies, exceptions, one-offs. We stubbornly resist the idea of systemic, pervasive racism and hatred in this county because we want it to be something that can be and will be and has been overcome.

Mr. Jones’ words were hard to hear. So hard that I couldn’t stand it. I felt seen, and shamed, because my amazing loving husband, who is a Black Man, has been gently trying to make me recognize this in myself for nearly thirty years. And at last, I get it.

And then today, Joe Biden said that he used to think you could beat bigotry, and that he eventually realized that it just learns how to hide, waiting for the oxygen it needs to breathe. And then it resurfaces. And he’s right. I used to think the same thing. I know better now.

I’m not just an ally, I am a family member. I live every day honoring my husband and my children, and I stand in awe of what they endure. I also share their fear, although I will never know it the way they do. I cannot walk in their skin, but I can use that milky white, privileged sheath that I was swaddled in at birth to fight for them. 

A white friend asked me today if I could tell them what more they could do. I didn’t know how to answer at first, because I have been searching for that same advice. But then my husband reminded me that I’m already doing all that I can do, so I thought it might help just to list some of the things I consider everyday rules to live by, in case some of you are wondering what you can do:

*Lead by example, in action and intent, not just in word. Walk the talk. All the way, every day.

*Realize that racism is everywhere, in every city county and state, all the time. Remember, it knows how to hide – it’s standing right next to you in the grocery store check out line.

*Refuse to accept racism or bigotry when you hear it or see it. Call it out, shut it down, turn your back. Silence is complicity, not courtesy. Do not accept the unacceptable. Stop hoping for the best to come out in others – demand it from them. Right now.

*Understand that racism is not learned behavior that can simply be unlearned. It is not a lack of education or understanding. It is an indoctrinated belief system. It cannot be challenged or changed in an unwilling heart. Enlightenment is something that must be come to, it cannot be imposed.

* Believe people when they show you who they are. People who say racist things are racist. It’s not innocent, or accidental, or unintentional. It’s not ‘how they were raised’, it is WHO THEY ARE. Welcome sincere change in others when you see it, butremember that true change comes hard and slow.   

* Aid those who are being victimized any way you can. If you wait for someone else to act, help will come too late – if it comes at all.

*And last but not least, prepare to stand your ground, even when it is uncomfortable. Especially when it is uncomfortable. You may be the only thing standing between life and death.


How to Grow Writer’s Skin


, , , , , , , , , ,

Image“A Writer’s Ink” by Norman Duenas

Years ago, in a Twitter exchange, writer Kevin R Hill commented that many great books might never see light of day because the authors were not tough enough to stand against years of rejections. How true, I replied, and the idea of “writer’s skin” came up. We should coin a phrase, Kevin said – writer’s skin, the thick layer that protects tender hearts.

If only one could buy writer’s skin ready-made, I said, like a magical cloak or suit of armor, instead of having to grow it from the inside out. Yes, if only. But as it turns out we all must cultivate our own thick layer of protection.

Today, like that day, I happen to be suffering from some of the soul-wounding that all writers must endure. Although knowing that this ritual scarring is an unavoidable test of author-hood helps you prepare for the battle, it does nothing at all to stop or even slow the blood-letting. Kevin’s tweet reminded me then and now that this uncomfortable truth was universal – that I was not alone. And neither are you.

To help you get a good start, here are some tips for growing a healthy, hardy sheath of writer’s skin:

Start with a Rich Growth Medium that has been fortified with equal measures of patience, persistence, and perseverance, and is resistant to infiltrations of noxious weeds like self-doubt, jaded perspective and bitterness.

Sow Only the Highest Quality Seeds by selecting the most unique and well-formed ideas for cultivation. This will help to ensure that your writer’s skin is fashioned from the strongest creative fibers.

Water Frequently from the deepest wells of knowledge and most trusted fountains of inspiration. Avoid shallow, stagnant ponds and shark infested pools.

Fertilize As Needed with only the highest quality, well-credentialed experience you can find. Choose carefully – there are a lot of low budget brands out there that promise plenty but deliver little results.

Be sure to harvest your writer’s skin before the beginning of the submission season, and wear it whenever you venture out. This should help to shield you from the harsher elements.

Remember, writer’s skin is susceptible to normal wear and tear and that frequent use will erode its protective qualities. Therefore, it must be replaced periodically. While writer’s skin tends not to flourish in intemperate climates, it is a self-sustaining renewable resource and can be grown almost anywhere and at any time by constructing a green-house like environment that recreates the favorable conditions mentioned above.

Upcoming Writerly Things

Here’s the stuff and such I’ve got calendared for November, in case you’re in the area and wanna come –




Summer Writing Workshop


, , , , , , , , ,

I’m returning to the workshop world with a presentation hosted by the WRITE NOW program through Sno-Isle Libraries. Join me on August 4th at the Edmonds Main Library for a two-hour intensive on #synopsis #writing. Click through to register!

Write Now Edmonds

What an Old White Man Taught Me About Racism


, , , , , , , ,

I was born in the midst of the civil unrest of the 60s – just months before the assassination of JFK. I was also born white, to an educated middle class family, in the socially progressive bubble of the Pacific Northwest. My father was nearly 50 when I was born, and he struggled with the challenges of parenting on a lot of levels. But wherever else he may have failed, he got the most important things right.

When I was in the seventh grade and Portland Public Schools began desegregation, my father made a radical suggestion. I had been lamenting how unfair it was that my new friend, an African American girl who was bussed from her familiar surroundings every day to an all white neighborhood far from her home, never got to spend any time with schoolmates outside of class or recess. Invite her to come home with you after school one day this week, my dad says. He even offered to drive her back to her house after he finished work.

Just the idea, at which I was simultaneously awed and terrified, was shocking. Even at 12 years old, I understood that what my father was advocating was more than a little risky. It was provocative, if not dangerous, bringing a person of color into our neighborhood. And equally provocative, if not dangerous, for my father to drive her home – a white man with a black child (especially a girl) in an all black neighborhood. But my father made the offer and encouraged me to act on it without addressing any of this. It was an ordinary, everyday extension of hospitality.  He was teaching me not to treat others differently just because they looked differently, no matter what others might think or say or do, without ever saying the words. Because he knew that the words could never ever be as powerful as his behavior.

I remember how hesitant my friend was to even entertain that invitation, and we both were pretty sure her mother would never allow it. But, she did. And that’s how Jackie came over to my house after school one day. It was fun. But it wasn’t lost on either of us how nervous my mother was when it was time for dad to drive Jackie home, especially when he allowed me to come along for the ride. We all knew what was at stake, and we did it anyway.

A couple of months later, I took a punch defending a friend from a schoolyard bully. Two years later, with my father’s guidance, I reported a city bus driver for forcing a black child off the bus claiming she hadn’t paid her fare. She had, and everyone on the bus knew it. And that was just the beginning.

In the decades since, I have never once questioned who I am or what I stand for or what to do about it. I have always known to the core of my being where my line is drawn and to what lengths I will go to hold it. In case you’re still wondering, THAT is what it looks like to stand up for what is right in this world. DO right, even if it means you might be putting yourself in harm’s way. Because, though you might not realize it, you already ARE in harm’s way.

I’ve seen a lot of folks struggling to find a way to respond to recent events, and a lot of social media peeps advocating for donations to various civil rights organizations and social justice activism groups – which is awesome. By all means, throw your support behind the folks already fighting on the front lines. However, if that’s ALL you do, if you’re not actively pushing back against injustice when you see it happening in your daily lives, I’m sorry, but you are part of the problem. You are, and you need to own that.

But if you ARE pushing back, if you are calling out bad behavior and shouting down hate when you’re faced with it, then for goodness sake, ease up on yourself a little. You’ve already got this. And I should know, because an old white man taught me so.


Blooded – Episode Three: Deadfall


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to my Writing in Real Time serial novel experiment – this first story in the Realm Wraith Trilogy will unfold here on my blog in weekly episodes, and is yours to enjoy. Friendly discussion and thoughtful comments are welcome. Who knows – your ideas might just help shape the story as I write! If you’re joining us in progress, start with Episode One: Leap of Faith 

Warrior Elf Blooded


The last ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle is already boarding.

I hand a twenty to the glass-eyed attendant, a middle-aged woman whose dragged-down looks suggest decades of self-abuse, and wait for the change. Money perplexes me. Not the money itself so much, though it is weird. What doesn’t track for me is the concept of trading effort for colorful paper and coined metal that represents value, but has no particular inherent value itself. Little in this realm can be accomplished without it, either as motivation or as purchase. Once people start chasing after shiny objects instead of looking for ways to make a real contribution in their world, it’s a downhill slide into oblivion.

The attendant forces a smile over gritted teeth as she hands back the leftovers and waves me ahead. I thread the jeep through a maze of orange traffic cones and multi-purpose lanes, and line up on the boat deck. Not as many travelers as one might expect on a clear spring night, but enough that I’d rather ride the trip out in the jeep. The late night crowd is an oddball mix, but not so odd that I wouldn’t stand out.

This crossing is almost as brutal as the one that brought me to this realm. Before the boat chugs halfway to the Seattle dock, I can sense the elemental harmonics pitching toward a screech. Not that anyone of this world would notice, but the closer the ferry carries me to the city, the more distorted the spectral fields become. It’s a skewed view, like a reflection in cracked glass. The Seattle skyline is less a majestic backlit silhouette, and more a glaring clash of shifting angles and arcing pulses. It never ceases to astonish me that humans can’t see how broken it all is.

They live blissfully unaware of their surroundings, which is really just a poetic way of saying mankind is totally oblivious to its own impending doom. How the entire race came to be in such a predicament is a hotly debated topic among the leaders of the preternatural races – are the humans ignorant or apathetic, are they victims of an innate drive toward self-destruction and thereby unable to escape the consequences of their actions, or are they simply so arrogant they have convinced themselves there are no consequences to escape?

I guess it’s like the Caretaker says. They’ve adapted. Maybe Melody adapted too. She would have had to, in order to survive so long in this place. At some point, she must have made that choice, and that is the thing I just can’t get past. My sister decided to stay, decided to acclimate. Melody abandoned who she was.

I never could. I never would.

The low, steady grumble of the engine chucks into a whiny grind as the ferry gears up to dock, kicking me back into gear too. Much as I loathe the city, this is where I need to be. The perfect place for otherworldly creatures to hide in plain sight, especially in the dark. The freaks really do come out at night. Continue reading

Reader Comfort Kit Giveaway!


, , , , , , , , ,

Because I think we all need a little more whimsy in our lives, I’m giving away some goodies over on my Facebook Author Page. Click here to enter: Comfort Kit Giveaway

*Giveaway open to residents of USA/UK/Canada/Australia only 


The Week in Review


, , , , , , , ,

It’s FriYay, everyone! Is it wine o’clock yet? I’m ready to get my happy hour on, so let’s get this week’s wrap up in the books. ICYMI:

*The second installment of my serial novel is now live. My Writing in Real Time experiment is really helping to keep me focused and committed to the work. To read along, click here to start: Blooded: Episode One – Leap of Faith

*I’ve also posted the episodes on #Wattpad, so if you hang out over there and would like to add the book to your reading list, here’s the link to the story and my profile: BLOODED by Roberta Trahan

*Last week on Marketing Monday, I talked about tapping into the collective consciousness and Accidental Advertising – some helpful insights, I hope.

*Looking ahead – on Monday of next week I’ll be posting entry details for an upcoming giveaway on my FB author page. Be sure to like my page to get the latest news and updates on fun stuff.

*Episode Three of my serial novel will go live on Tuesday, so stay tuned!

*And, if you haven’t already signed up for my monthly newsletter, you can do that here!

So that’s it! Questions? Comments? Let me know below, or hit me up on social media (handles in the sidebar). See you on Marketing Monday!

Marketing Monday: Accidental Advertising


, , , , , , , , , ,

Authors, like every other person or company plugging their products, are constantly refining their marketing message and dry-running new social media strategies, trying to figure out how to engage our potential readers – whoever they are. It’s all a very frustrating exercise in futility, most of the time, because who knows? No one, really.

There are paid services and books and blogs with tips-o-plenty, but the truth is no one knows what makes a video or photo or post or tweet go viral, just like no one knows which books will hit the best-seller lists or get made into blockbuster films. The only thing we know for sure is that there IS a cultural stream of consciousness out there that everyone is tuned into on some level, and if you’re lucky enough to accidentally tap that vein, anything is possible.

Accidental advertising is just what the term implies – unintentional. You can’t plan for it or pay for it or pick the place or time to show up. It happens organically, but oddly enough, not necessarily randomly.

One of the universal truths in marketing is that people respond to messaging with their emotional right brains more than their practical left brains – even when making a perfunctory purchase. They respond to things based on how those things make them feel more than anything.

Take as study the most amazing example of accidental marketing I’ve seen in years – the case of Dillon Josephsen, who inadvertently blew up the internet last week by tweeting something kinda silly-sweet he noticed about his dad’s business Facebook page. Dillon discovered that his dad, a flooring guy in New Jersey, had been taking pics of dogs he met on the job (in his clients’ homes) and posting them on the page as his “employee of the week”. Super cute, right? Dillon innocently tweeted a collage of the photos to his friends, and inadvertently staged a mega marketing coup.

EVERYONE LOVES DOGS! Who knew right? I know *I* do. When I saw that tweet retweeted in my feed by someone I follow, I clicked on it SO FAST. And then I clicked through to Dillon’s dad’s Facebook page because I just had to see it for myself.

And now, like over 14,000 (!) other people across the globe, I am a fan of Stairfaces & Josephsen Hardwood Floors for no good reason, except DOGS, and of course one day I might move to New Jersey and need some reclaimed barn door planks refinished and installed as flooring in my home office. It could happen, right?

But, even if it doesn’t, my heart has been warmed by some guy I’ll never meet and the pets he posts on his business page. I’m ALSO now following his college-age son on Twitter, because this kid? He’s trying to make something of himself, maybe in the media/entertainment industry, and I’ve got a daughter his age who is trying to make her mark as a vocalist. ABN (always be networking), people!

See how this works? Sometimes it’s just about being yourself and sharing information that matters or moves YOU. If it makes YOU happy or sad or mad, odds are pretty good it will affect others the same way. Being a member of the audience you are trying to reach and engaging in honest dialogue without contrivance or artifice or hidden agenda is the easiest form of social media marketing and networking there is. And it works surprisingly well!

To learn more about Dillon and his dad, here’s a great article (one of many) that popped up after that tweet went viral:

Fox 5 Employee of the Week


The Week in Review


, , , , , , , , , , ,

This week was exhilarating, and exhausting. BUT, I accomplished all of the goals I set for myself, AND was able to track some measurable results from my efforts. Here’s a brief recap:

  • Got this week’s Marketing Monday post up – late, but better than never. Next week’s is already in the can and will be uploaded early!
  • Consulted with a very successful author friend who gave me some solid, specific suggestions on my new project. This was hard, because it’s always hard to ask others for help, but she was very gracious and her guidance has already paid off!
  • Asked three other successful author friends to help me with some promotion. I felt I could do this because a) I’ve been supportive of their careers and b) we’ve traded these kinds of favors in the past. A trusted writing community is essential, so if you don’t have one yet, start building.
  • Launched a new project – my Writing in Real Time endeavor, a serial novel released in episodes, for free on my blog. This is a controversial thing to do, but my number one goal right now is to build an audience for my work. It’s been five years since my first book was published, and more than two years since the sequel. Since then, my career has stalled. I need to feel inspired again, and interacting with readers can do that for an author. But first, I need readers! Here’s the link to the first episode (read and share!): Blooded – Episode One: Leap of Faith
  • In support of the serial novel project, I made a directed effort to raise my public profile – I spent some $ on boosting likes on my FB page, and invested a big chunk of time in social media. This is where I’m seeing those measurable results I mentioned. I’ll be talking about this in more depth on an upcoming Marketing Monday.
  • Got some writing done, too!

Whew, right?!! I don’t know if I can keep up this kind of pace every week, but I’m going to try. For now, it’s wine o’clock somewhere…

See you on Marketing Monday!