In Case You Wanna Get To Know Me…


I have had a massive influx of followers on WordPress and Twitter lately. First of all, THANK YOU ALL. Secondly, I’d like to tell you a little about myself, so you know who you’re following.

I’m just going to answer a few simple “about me” questions here:

Full Name: Haley Despard

Age: 23 (24 this month)

Location: Greer, South Carolina (I believe this might be new info… can’t remember if I ever mentioned that or not. So yeah, when I write about Southerners, you’d best believe it’s accurate, y’all.)

Occupation: Stay-at-home mother, author, and part-time student

Hobbies: Writing piano music, writing the occasional poem or song lyrics, amateur photography, and… yeah, that’s about all I have time for these days.

Loves: My family, chocolate, cats, popcorn (seriously, few things in life compare to my love for popcorn. We always have to be well stocked), hugs, laughter, music, life, and fro-yo. Definitely fro-yo. (there are a lot of other things I love, too, but this is a pretty good list)

Hates: Prejudice, intolerance, bullies, folding laundry, dishes, mice, and snakes

Favorite bands: Evanescence, Three Days Grace, Green Day, Linkin Park, Muse, Daughtry (I could listen to Daughtry’s self-named album over and over all day long), Avenged Sevenfold, Within Temptation

Favorite solo artists: Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Tove Lo, Adele, P!nk (yes, my music tastes are spread far and wide)

Favorite authors: L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth (love love love her blog), John Green

Favorite drink: Lemon drop martini

Favorite TV shows: #1 of all time is HIMYM (if you don’t know that acronym, we can’t be friends… jk… I guess I’ll forgive you, but you’re missing out on one LEGEN-wait for it-DARY show), I also like FRIENDS, The Mindy Project, (used to like New Girl, but then it got dumb), South Park… basically any comedy, really.

Clothing style: Mom/gamer/rocker-chick-wanna-be

Favorite game: WoW (you’d better know that acronym, too)

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore anyone 🙂 If you wanna know anything else, just ask!

A little shameless self-promo to wrap this up… Diary of a Rocker’s Kid is free for ONE MORE DAY! Get it tonight or tomorrow because after that it ain’t gonna be free no more: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012KXYCLC

Also, please remember, if you’re an author with a free book out, I would love to read and review it! Currently working on Seventeen Shades of Love by Olga Toprover, which I will be finishing and reviewing ASAP.

Thanks again, everyone!

H.D.

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I Guess I’m a Feminist


I have not always been a supporter of “equal rights,” not because I didn’t want equal rights for all people, but just because I had no idea how important they really were. Once I got out into the real world as an adult, I realized that many people still don’t see women and men as being on an even playing field. Women are traded, sold, objectified, forced into marriages, roofied and raped, belittled in the workplace and abused… On and on the list goes and if you think about how women are treated for too long, it can really make you hate the male gender.

On the flip side, being married has taught me that men deserve equality, too. Not all men are rapists and abusers and every human being on the planet has feelings and rights. If men were “allowed” to express their feelings openly as much as women are, they might not harbor so much anger and resentment against women. My husband and I have faced shifting balances of power in our marriage but our goal is always the same: equality and freedom of expression. I want him to express himself and feel valued and I want the same for myself. It’s not always easy, but the alternative (one person dominating the relationship) is simply unacceptable.

I look at the world the way I look at my marriage. Women and men should coexist in harmony and everyone should have the right to the life they want to live. If a mother wants to work outside the home and make the same wage as her male counterparts, it shouldn’t even be an issue, it should be a given. If a father wants to be a stay-at-home daddy and support his wife’s career from the home front, I think that’s awesome and should be encouraged and accepted. Alternatively, mothers should be encouraged to stay home with the house and kids without guilt if that is their calling and purpose in life. Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you can’t still support the equality and freedom of women everywhere. (of course equal rights aren’t just for moms and dads, but that’s the example I’m the most familiar with right now)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as:

“the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests; the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”

I always thought that feminism was more complicated than that, or that it meant exalting women above men and trying to make us the “dominant sex,” but it seems to be more about equality and freedom for all. I really wish we had a different word for this idea since it’s not just about “female equality” anymore. I guess “gender equality” is the best term for the idea but “gender egalitarian” is just too much of a mouthful. So until they come up with a better label, I guess I’m a feminist.

Happy Wednesday readers!

A.D.

Catching Up


How do you catch up on a lifetime of experiences? How do you find the truth when all you’ve ever known is lies?

I lived in a cage for 17 years. I was isolated from the real world and bought into the fantasy that life follows a certain formula. I thought I was right and everyone else was going to hell because that’s what I was taught. When I was exposed to reality for the first time, it was like culture shock. Everything I had been taught for years crumbled to the ground and I had to start over. There was so much I didn’t know that I started pretending I knew what people were talking about. The more I learned, the more confused I became.

This is why I haven’t been writing lately. There’s so much I still have to learn that I don’t even know where to start. I was raised in a very conservative Christian environment where I was sheltered from almost everything except Christianity. When I first started talking to people outside my environment I barely knew about anything fantasy, yet I was trying to write it.  So I’m taking a little time to get caught up on fantasy lore and other things before I start writing fantasy again because I want my story to be the best it can be. I don’t want to write about what I don’t know.

I’m making a lot of progress, and one thing I’ve really gotten into is World of Warcraft (which by the way is AWESOME and not at all the “boys only” game I once thought). If you need a crash course on all things fantasy, that’s the game/story to get into. Plus it’s just plain fun. And there’s a new expansion coming out. It’s called “Mists of Pandaria.” Check it out.

So yeah, I’ve been away playing games and reading so my novel will be kick-arse when I come back. I’m getting a lot of ideas and the break has been quite refreshing. I have also discovered my other calling through this down time, and that is photography. I’m good at it and I love doing it, which is always the perfect combination.

This is probably the most honest post I’ve ever written, and I feel that was necessary. Thanks for sticking with me! More to come soon!

~N.L.

My Story


I don’t generally follow trends, but seeing as how a lot of my friends have shared their life story and it has been an encouragement to others, I think I’ll give it a whirl. It terrifies me to think about digging so deep into my past, it’s not very pretty, (I’ve tried it before and just couldn’t get through it) but I think it might be helpful for me, and who knows who else it might help, so here goes. (Warning: it’s going to be long… There’s a lot to write about…)

 

My story begins in a seemingly typical fundamental Baptist family. 2 parents, male and female, married, church members, and pretty much middle class. I was a long-awaited first child, and my mom was so overjoyed when she found out she was carrying me that she spilled orange juice all over herself (do I think that was a foreshadowing of how clumsy I was destined to be? Absolutely). The first 9 years of my life went pretty smoothly; I almost always had a best friend, my music talent was discovered and I did a lot of singing in church, I learned to read at age 4, I came to Christ at age 5, and school was pretty much a breeze for me. My brother Christopher developed autism during that time, but honestly, (up until recently, when he got much worse) I loved him that way and wouldn’t have changed him for anything. My only major woes were 1), I had only brothers and LONGED for a little sister, and 2) I developed acid reflux when I was 7-8 years old, which has been a plague all my life. Unfortunately the second woe never got resolved, but I love telling about the way the first one did.

Up until I was 9, I prayed with my mom for babies to be added to the family. Every time I prayed, I got a sibling… and EVERY TIME it was a boy. THREE TIMES I got a boy instead of a girl, and by the time I was the oldest sibling in a house with 3 little boys, I’d had enough. I finally prayed for a SISTER, and lo and behold, I got my wish. Ariel Joy Singleton was born when I was 9 years and 9 days old and that was the day I learned about praying specifically. God wants you to pray what you mean and mean what you pray!

So I had a great life, in spite of some difficulties. Things could only go up from there, right?

Umm, wrong.

Around the time when I was 9-10 we started noticing something was wrong with the family dynamic, specifically with my dad. He was so angry all the time and just brought a feeling of general not-okayness to the household. My mom suspected something was up, but never was able to bring it to light until my dad confessed it. When I was 11-12, my parents began the long and agonizing process of splitting up, due to my dad’s adultery.

I will not go into gross details out of respect for my family, but I will tell you that this event was one of the most defining things about my life so far. To this day, I have trouble dealing with stress, trusting men, trusting people in general, opening up, believing in myself, and much more because of it. But I also feel like without this event in my life, I would not be who I am today. My feelings would not be as deep, my thought processes would not be as enlightened, and in general I would be a much more shallow person, incapable of understanding the traumas that other people face in their own lives. I would not trade my circumstances for anything in the world.

Because of my position as the oldest child in a single-parent home, I had to grow up really fast. Too fast, really, and I lost a portion of my childhood that I feel I can never recover. However, life did go on after the separation, and I had a couple of semi-happy years after my dad left. It was like a weight was lifted from the household and we could breathe again… but yet, at times, the grief from what I had just been through was overwhelming. I often felt a pull to the knife drawer, as if someone was telling me that killing myself would make it all better. I never attempted suicide, but it was a thought in my mind for quite a while after the separation and one that would come back to haunt me later in life when another “man” didn’t treat me very well.

Tragedy struck again 2 years after the separation. My grandfather on my mom’s side, Raymond Hayes, came down with pancreatic cancer when I was 14. That year was very hard for the entire Hayes family as we watched Granddaddy’s health decline, praying for a miracle but knowing deep down inside that there wasn’t much to be done. He was such a special person. Some people couldn’t understand why I was so devastated about his death, but there was just something about the way he treated all his children and grandchildren that made you feel like you were someone TRULY special. He loved it when I played the piano and always said he wanted to see me playing the organ in a church someday. Truth is, I hated the organ, but I wish I’d had the chance to learn it and play it for him now. I think he’d be proud of me for going into Music Ed. Sometimes I hate cancer for taking him away.

Granddaddy died while I was gone on a mission trip to New York City, and I hate to admit it, but I was bitter about that at the time. I thought God had failed me. After all, I was gone serving God and I begged God not to let him die while I was gone, but He did anyway. I spent about 2 weeks being angry at God for that, but then wised up and realized I NEEDED God right then. I missed Him, and it was in preparation for, during, and after that mission trip that I really made my salvation and my relationship with Him a surety. I know we have a relationship, because when something comes between us or I run away, I FEEL it. My mind, body, and spirit cry out in pain until I return to Him, and I can recognize when He’s calling to me.

4 weeks after Granddaddy died, I went to Music Camp at Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin. It was the best camp week of my life, and it was there that I surrendered to God’s calling on my life to be a music teacher (I wandered from that for about 5 years, and have finally come back to it now because God just won’t let anything else work out until I obey Him… heh). I also learned while I was there from my counselor, Stephanie, that I wasn’t just a “victim” of God’s will for other people’s lives. Everything that had happened to me up to that point was for ME, so I could grow as a person in the specific situation that I was placed in. That has made such a difference in my life.

The next couple of years were full of friends, fun, and laughter. My high school years were not perfect, but I have tons of great memories with great people. I discovered in high school that I have talents in composing music and in writing, and it was a very exciting experience to feel like I could create something that other people could really enjoy. My first attempts at writing were… well to be frank, embarrassing… but it was obvious to everyone that there was both an aptitude and an interest there and ever since then, I’ve just had this feeling that I’m going to accomplish something big someday. The way my writing started was actually as a coping strategy for the traumas I had gone through in my Jr. High years. When I was overwhelmed with the sadness and the depression around and inside me, I would go off on wild flights of fancy in my head; usually about my favorite characters from my favorite TV shows. One idea from that time period has stuck with me up to the present day: Siranai. It was not called that at the time (and I have to give my friend, Danae, props for a lot of the original ideas) but the idea was born in that era and has grown ever since.

My life took on a dramatic twist when I met my first boyfriend online at age 17. It was a whirlwind cyber-romance, and 5 days after meeting each other we were boyfriend and girlfriend… and stayed that way, foolishly, for over 2 years. I alienated a LOT of people during that time in my life, and I can’t ever say how much I regret it. It was during that time that some of my depressive/suicidal thoughts came back and I wasn’t a very fun person to be around for a while, plus I refused to listen to a lot of smart people that told me to get away from him. However, I did break up with him about a year ago, and since then I’ve begun to pick up the pieces and I’m chasing the stars once again. I have to say this is another one of those events that in a way, I wish had never happened, but yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The experience I gained from being in a failed relationship has helped me to understand other people even more and I know it will be used greatly in my future.

Now, at age 20, I am so glad that my coping method for my depression and suicidal thoughts 8 years ago was my imagination. I am not ashamed at all to say I have never smoked, drunk alcohol, done drugs, or had sex (not that I think all of those things are inherently evil, but people in traumatic situations can easily become trapped by such things). God has been very gracious in preserving me from the addictive power of all of those, although I still have my own struggles. Things like overeating, severe anxiety, and a cutting/complaining tongue are HUGE problems for me, and while that may sound minor to some people, to me those are enough to keep me out of heaven had Jesus Christ not taken the punishment for my sins. I still struggle to believe sometimes that such an amazing story could be true, but I see the evidence of God’s existence all around me and cannot deny His love for me. He is real, He is involved with us, and He loves ALL of us enough to send His own Son. I pray that my life will become better and better at proclaiming that through the years.

My plans right now (subject to change) are to keep writing and composing as I simultaneously pursue a degree in Music Education, with voice as my principal. My writing will mostly be focused on a pilot episode of my TV-series-in-progress, Siranai, which I hope to actually sell within the next 5-7 years. What really happens in my life is all up to God. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

If you made it this far, congrats, and thanks for reading this novel 😉

~N. Lingarow