iTunes Shuffle Challenge, Part 1

Hi all,

Recently, I ran into two different iTunes Shuffle challenges that intrigued me. One was this one, in which you pick the first ten songs off your shuffle and write your first thoughts upon hearing it, but only for as long as it plays. Once it moves to the next song, so do you. I jumped into it full force, and I wanted to share the results with you, as I feel like it might give you a peek into my crazy mind. The second one will be the one I work on in my next blog post. We’ll talk more about that then.

Without further ado, here are the results of my iTunes Shuffle Challenge, Part 1.

Renegades by X Ambassadors, Album: VHS
Cover for X Ambassadors Album VHS

When I hear this song it makes me think of the artists in my life, of how odd we are, of how rare. When you’re young, it can be hard to see how happy your life can be, because odd means bad when you’re in school. You’re never allowed to explore that, unless you have a very special teacher, but even then, your peers are apt to shut you down. It isn’t until you get older that you can finally free yourself up to be comfortable in your own skin and to start being who you are. It took me until I was thirty to truly figure myself out, to openly embrace my geekiness, my artsiness, my open heart and different way of thinking from others, and just accept that as one of the things that make me who I am.


Slow me Down by Emmy Rossum, Album: Inside Out

Cover of Emmy Rossum's Album Inside OutThis song is so about me. My little sister, Megan, introduced me to it and I clung to it. “Sometimes I feel that I might disappear/in the blur of fast forward I falter again.” it never fails to remind me that sometimes I need to take a breath and stop racing through my life, trying to do more than I can handle.


Take On Me by A-Ha, Album: Hunting High and Low

Cover for A-Ha's Take on Me
This song has such odd memories associated with it. For one, I remember loving the video. Also, the bridal party of my best friend’s wedding did a whole semi-choreographed dance number to this song and it was a frickin’ blast. It didn’t even bother me that I was dancing while six months pregnant. I stand by the fact that the wedding was the best wedding I’d ever been to, even if the marriage didn’t end up working out. It was also one of the very few times I got my husband, Ismael, to dance with me. I think those times are: my wedding, my best friend’s engagement party, and that wedding. There may have been one or two others, but I can’t remember…

Counting Stars by OneRepublic, Album: Native

Album Cover for OneRepublic Native
This is one of the first songs I’ve ever heard where I never heard the song, bought the album because I love the band, and suddenly heard my favorite song from the album on the radio! It’s also one of my son, Logan’s, favorite songs, so we sing it often when we’re in the car.
“Hope is a four letter word,” might not be the best message for him, now that I think about it. But he loves the pace. It did give me the opportunity to explain metaphor to him. He didn’t understand why the singer says “everything that drowns me makes me want to fly”. So I explained that he actually means that everything that pulls him down makes him want to lift himself up. It was fun to discuss the idea that art isn’t literal and can be open to different interpretations. It was much earlier than he would learn it in school, and it was fun to give him that lesson.

The Entertainer by Billy Joel, Album: The Essential Billy Joel

Album Cover for The Essential Billy JoelThis is one of those songs that, for me, takes a minute to remember. I have this because I bought the album, and really barely remember it, which makes sense, since it came out in 1974, eight years before I was born. Still, after a longer listen, I did actually recognize it, and now I really love it, because the lyrics truly encompass what it’s like to work in the arts–any of them. I’ve been an actor and I’ve been an author, and really, it’s all a battle to stay relevant. Plus, it’s Billy Joel, and he’s just awesome.

Firework by Katy Perry, Album: Teenage Dream

Cover Art for Katy Perry's Firework
I love this song. Sure, it’s Katy Perry, and a little more pop than most of what I listen to, but I have a very eclectic taste in music, and pop is a part of that. Still, this song is a great inspirational song.
“After a hurricane, comes a rainbow/maybe the reason why all the doors are closed/so you could open one that leads you to a perfect road.” Man, I have listened to this so many times to remind me that I just need to keep going. Eventually, I’ll find my way, my perfect road.

The Energy Never Dies by The Script, Album: No Sound Without Silence

Album Cover for The Script's No Sound Without SilenceAnother great song. This one means a lot to me because it is an expression of my viewpoint on life. One, that we should live each day to our fullest, and two, that if we live our lives that way, we create lasting impressions on those around us that can serve as inspiration…what we leave behind never dies. Now, on a less serious note, this song starts and ends the same way. One time, I had it playing in the background while I was working and I didn’t realize that the approximately four minute long song had been stuck on repeat for the last fifteen minutes. In the back of my head, I just assumed it was a much longer song than I’d realized. Because I am ridiculous.

Animals by Maroon 5, Album: V

Cover Art for Maroon 5 Album VThis song is proof positive that there are some songs where I’m completely engaged with the lyrics, and others that I listen to without a single thought. It’s also proof positive that you don’t think about how dirty lyrics are until you hear a little child voice singing them. YIKES. He did manage to unwittingly change the lyrics in a way that made it sound like they were about an actual animal eating someone, and that helped a lot. I still avoid this song like the plague when I’m in front of him. Sooooooo disturbing. Still…I’m singing along. These lyrics are SO wrong.

Fighter by Christina Aguilera, Album: Stripped

Cover Art for Christina Aguilera's StrippedOh, you mean my theme song? It definitely gets me in the mood to do battle with my day, and reminds me how I’ve gotten as strong as I am. I have had a number of unfortunate encounters with toxic people who I’ve had to completely remove from my life. People who claimed love or friendship and held on just to pull me down. I love this song for reminding me why I’m smart to put people like that in my past. “After all of the fights and the lies, cause you’re wanting to haunt me, but that won’t work anymore.”


The Secret’s In The Telling by Dashboard Confessional, Album: Dusk & Summer

Album Cover for Dashboard Confessional's Dusk and Summer
For one, this song reminds me of my best friend’s Dashboard Confessional phase, which is how I have all of their songs. It’s also on my Keys and Guardians playlist, set for a very specific scene that I can’t really talk much about. But I love when a song channels a specific moment in a story, and everytime I hear it I am transported to the part of my imagination that dreamed that moment up.


That’s it for now! See you again next post, when I use songs from my shuffle as mini-writing prompts.


Author Spotlight: Kara Jorgensen

Hi all!

Today I’d like you to get to know steampunk writer Kara Jorgensen. I’m posting about her here to introduce you to her book series, Ingenious Mechanical Devices, and its newest release, Dead Magic. Check it out below, and show her some love!

The Ingenious Mechanical Devices series is a group of interconnected historical-fantasy stories set in the late Victorian Era where steam, electricity, and magic power the British Empire. The series follows six characters as they go into the world to find themselves and discover the mysteries of their world. Eilian and Hadley, the Earl and Countess of Dorset, forgo the life of an aristocrat to search for lost cities and ancient relics. Immanuel, a young zoology curator at the London Natural History Museum hides a magical secret, even from his companion, Adam. He shares a soul with Emmeline, a bratty teenage girl who can communicate with spirits. Together, they uncover cabals of witches out to summon otherworldly creatures, outwit a serial killer dressed as Spring-heeled Jack, and discover there is more magic in the world than they could have known.

Check out the first three installments of this series: 

The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen
Book 1: The Earl of Brass
The Winter Garden by Kara Jorgensen Cover
Book 2: The Winter Garden
The Earl & The Artificer Cover by Kara Jorgensen
Book 3: The Earl & The Artificer









Dead Magic Cover by Kara Jorgensen
Book 4: Dead Magic

Dead Magic (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #4): Available  for pre-order now! Out November 10th. 

Immanuel wants nothing more than a peaceful life as a scientist, but his happiness is short-lived when his past demons refuse to go quietly. As body-snatching spirits attack and creatures rise from the dead, he fears his sanity is slipping. Burdened with strange new powers, he struggles to hide them from his lover for fear of losing the only person he trusts.

But the woman who shares his soul has a secret of her own. Disillusioned with her life, Emmeline turns to a handsome suitor who offers her a world of limitless possibilities at an exclusive club. Rumors swirl of occult rituals and magic, and Emmeline soon fears he desires more than just her love.

Something wicked is heading for London that threatens to destroy everything Emmeline and Immanuel hold dear. And it wants more than secrets.

Get to know Kara!

Kara JorgensenKara Jorgensen is an author of fiction and professor from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.

Her social media links:

Guest Post: The Real Story Behind Creation

Hello all! First, I want to apologize for not being a timely poster. These days, while working on cleaning up my main book and preparing it for submissions, I have been figuring out what needs to be done on a rewrite for another book, and simultaneously brainstorming two projects, one of which will become my Nanowrimo project in November. So, my time has been used elsewhere, and I apologize for my inconsistency. An original post from me is forthcoming. In the meantime, I’m preparing some guest posts for you. Today, I am joined by the lovely CA Morgan, who is here to discuss, aptly, what goes into the act of creation. I hope you enjoy her post!

Woman writing in red notebook

Success is elusive. It’s true – and it stops most of us in our tracks on our way to “becoming” all that we could be. We cower before the doors of destiny, knocking timidly, if at all, offering only halfhearted attempts to enter into the lives we were meant to lead.

But, here’s the thing: Those doors only open inward. You have to push to get through. How could it be otherwise with all the frightened, huddled masses blocking the way?

“Not everyone is born for greatness,” you may argue. “Some of us belong right where we are. We don’t want to push. We don’t want to change. We don’t want to grow. If we don’t try, how can we fail?”

Failure is inevitable – this is true, too. Some time, some where, we all fall short. Everyone has within them the potential to be more than they are, yet not one of us fully lives up to it. We are human beings, after all, not gods. But, that shouldn’t keep us from striving to be better human beings.

If we are really content, why then is there still so much need and discontent in the world? Why do people grumble about their lot in life, the have-nots begrudging the haves and vice versa? If we were all our best selves, wouldn’t everyone have enough?

I think, perhaps, we all know we could do better.

Some of us see those who succeed as a threat to our mediocrity, as if we are being graded on a bell curve. We despise that student who gets the “A+” because we know we didn’t put forth our best effort. Or we work and work, and feel like we still don’t measure up. On the flip side, some of those top-of-the-curve students resent sharing the fruit of their labor, and hide it away, not grasping that basic tenet of childhood: Good kids share and play fair.

Also true, not everyone wants more for themselves. And that’s just fine. But in a world that has such great need, we should at least want more for others. We should want to create a world where bell curves are unnecessary. The best way I know how to make that happen is for ALL of us to try, to push forward and give it our best. It may not be required or even expected, but it’s sure to be appreciated by someone who needs what we have to offer the world…

…and that’s what makes it worth the effort.

CA Morgan

C.A. Morgan is a wife and mother of five, author, illustrator, singer, performer, music & art teacher, blogger ( and formerly and is currently working to put kids thru college — in other words, a very busy woman! An avid reader and self-taught writer, she earned her degree in Commercial Art from Michigan’s Ferris State University eons ago, but now calls Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom home. She is currently working on a prequel and sequel to round out her YA Fantasy Emrysia series, along with several other projects including picture books.

Visit the Author on FaceBook: or her Amazon Author Page:

Learn about CA Morgan’s Three Sisters Trilogy:


Welcome to Emrysia

Step into the light and you’ll see them… Forget everything you think you know about fairies, mermaids, and fauen – pretty little tales to put children to sleep. Enter the magically shifting landscape of Emrysia, where sentient swamps and ancient forests enchant disobedient daughters – to death! Journey with three youngsters: Aryelle, a winged healer with an amazing gift; Lureli, who shimmers with secrets as deep as the sea; Eleanor – she has horns, even if you can’t see them! Three “sisters”, separate races, one common destiny. Enter their world, part fairy tale, pure fantasy, but not for the faint of heart! Because here in the light, the shadow is growing…

From Emrysia: Awakening:

Awakening Cover
Defying her father Elazaryn’s wishes, Aryelle – luminarie maiden and heir to the Seat of Ka’Andharra – empathetically “assumes” a wounded messenger who arrives bearing portentous tidings. In response, Elazaryn sends Aryelle on a two-fold journey of self discovery, charging her with the care of her younger cousin, Karril. They are joined in ancient Wellwood Forest by Lureli of the Mer and her four mute slaves, as they seek to overcome the Reign of Shadow by attending a Summit meant to unite the varied races of Emrysia. Overwhelming obstacles challenge the trio along the way, including a run-in with three ancient, cannibalistic hags. These “Omniscients” – the keepers of the Swamps of Dire – unwillingly offer the key to conquering the present darkness. With the help of Eleanor and her foster father Nodd, fauen of the Aurrac clan-herds, the youngsters finally ascend Mt. Cor only to find that the Summit is a sham. Borrac, Aurracan Head Chieftain, shows his true colors, which are as black as his beard. The luminaries, along with their new companions, Rona the praircat and a handful of others, escape with their lives, if not spirits, intact. But at least one of their number is not to be trusted as they begin the perilous journey homeward…

From Emrysia: Lament:

picture3Barely into the homeward journey, disaster strikes as Lureli’s servants vanish and her precious transformation potion is lost. Tensions rise and the group splits up, reaching Rona’s warren separately. But before they can query the Stone of Seeing or even witness the birth of Rona’s pups, they are swallowed in a timeless void. Traveling through what they come to know as the Connectedness Locus, they encounter Lydian shape shifters, an angry Dezrot, and Lureli’s evil former mentor, Japhra. Alone, but now certain they are the Chosen who must save Emrysia from the Reign of Shadow, Aryelle, Lureli and Eleanor go their separate ways until fate calls them together once again.

From Emrysia: Endurance:

Endurance Cover
Sent home by Mandelbrot to prepare for their role as “Chosen”, each of the Three Sisters finds herself in unexpected circumstances from which there is no easy return. Will they learn what is required and be able to reunite in time to save Emrysia?

10 Things To Know About Me…Er…If You Want To…

Hi all!

waving hello
Mini-fact: There is always a hair-tie around my wrist. It rarely matches my clothing.

When I started this blog, it was titled Pieces of the Puzzle, and the first thing I did was give you a breakdown of my life and where it was at the time. It’s been years since then. In some ways, my life is completely different. In other ways, it has come full circle. So when I saw a prompt on Pinterest requesting 10 things to know about you, I decided to run with it. Some of these things, you may not know. Others, you’ve read enough blogs to guess at. Either way, I hope you get something out of reading this and getting to know me a little better.

  1. My first dream job was to be a performer. All my life, I have enjoyed singing and acting, and in high school, performing was my entire life. I very nearly launched a career in it. I still harbor a weird little hope that I will be discovered, but I could never pursue it full time. It’s such a drain on your well-being. So much is based on how you look physically, and I’m really not the glamour type. For more on my love of performing, you can check out these other posts:
    Performing on Demand
    Alma Mater Hail to Thee
  2. I got my writing start working on fanfiction. When I first started writing, I didn’t create my own characters. I started as a writer working with fanfiction, because I was always intrigued by the places a story didn’t choose to go. I got my experience working with other people’s characters in other people’s worlds, for fun. I wrote Stargate stories that shocked me by winning awards, and that’s when I started to feel like maybe I could do this. I also wrote fanfiction for several Kelley Armstrong stories. Then, once I felt like I’d learned all I could learn, I decided to start playing with building my own worlds and my own characters. While I love working on my own stuff, I still get an itch to play in other worlds sometimes. I won’t say if I do.😉 For more on my fanfic work, you can check out these other posts.
    Write Like a Fangirl
    4 Misconceptions About Fanfiction
    You can find all my fanfiction here.
  3. While my main series is a YA Fantasy, I also have adult fantasy novels, romantic comedies, and a literary novel in the works. A story really needs to have a strong hook, something that makes it different from anything else I’ve ever read, for me to latch onto it and chase it, but other than that, I’m comfortable writing anything. As long as it’s not inherently normal. Too much normal, and I get bored.
    I Write Weird Stuff.

  4. I love working with other authors, and would pretty much do that as a full-time job if I could. I absolutely love brainstorming ideas, talking through problem areas, and just generally helping people on their road to becoming a published author. I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to go anywhere unless I’m helping pull others up along with me.
  5. I do have a different, paying job as a legal assistant, and I love it. I work with some of the best and, simultaneously, most laid back people in the field, and while it doesn’t have the excitement of dagger fights and magic spells, it’s still a cool place to be. Plus, it actually pays me money and that’s a very hard thing to get as a writer. So….
  6. My husband, Ismael Manzano, is a writer, and I have worked with him through every step of all of his projects (and vice versa). We consider ourselves a team. You know that thing I said above about loving to help authors? I learned that from working with him. We read each other’s work, debate aspects of our work, and pretty much live in each other’s work worlds so we can help out whenever the other is stuck. It is a genuinely rewarding partnership on all of the many levels we work together on and I’m very grateful to have it. To learn a little about our work relationship, check out these posts.
    On Common Ground: My Marriage to a Fellow Writer
    You, Me, Doug and Leah

  7. I have a son named Logan, and together with my husband, we have plans to start a geek-related YouTube channel, because we are all very geeky. It’s only a matter of time before it is released. Right now, I’m just discovering that every time I think I’ve figured out something and it’s ready to go, I hit another roadblock. But it is coming soon, and it will be called Geektastic! And we are excited to share a glimpse into our geeky world. To read more about Logan and me as a Mommy check out these posts. Keep it Simple, Stupid: What My Son and Twitter Taught Me About Writing
    Mommy Guilt

  8. My body is kind of a mess. I had spinal surgery when I was fifteen years old to correct scoliosis. I suffer from migraines, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and I’ve recently been told I might suffer from a mild form of Dyscalculia. This results in two things: 1) Writing is a great way to get out your frustrations about a few things and having all of these experiences gives me a lot of writing material; and 2) some days, I can pin the chores on the boys.😉 To read a little about how my health has affected my writing, read these posts.
    Too Close for Comfort
    Organized Chaos: Writing with Mild ADHD
    To read the blog post that made me realize I had Dyscalculia, read this.
  9. I am not a domestic goddess. I can’t cook. It’s bad. My house is not sparkling. I am not a perfect housekeeper, or wife, or mother. Most days I just feel like I’m scraping by. People tell me that makes me human, but I beat myself up for it all the time. Aren’t we supposed to have it all? Why can’t I balance that? These are questions that I constantly mull over.
  10. I’m a huge NY Mets fan. Since I was a child, rooting for the Mets was in my blood. It still is. I go to a few games a year, root them on from afar otherwise, and just generally love them even when they are awful. What does that mean? I always root for the underdog. I identify with the underdog because I often am one, trying to make my way through a writing world with my strange little stories. And also…my dad was a Mets fan and so was my sister and brother. So, without all the sentiment, there was probably no escaping it anyway.

Okay, that’s all for this week. Join me next time, when we have some fun with iTunes shuffle.

Guest Post: An Intro to Wattpad

Hi all,

Today I have invited guest blogger, author Gaby Cabezut, to pop over and talk a little about Wattpad, a great place for writers and readers. Check out her experience with Wattpad below. Enjoy!

Snapchat-3647355642347251211-01First of all, thank you, Justine, for inviting me to talk a little bit about the place where it all began for me, Wattpad.

What is Wattpad, though?

It’s a community where creative minds join together with one love in common–books.

The key word in the whole equation is the word community. Wattpad is a great place for readers looking for free stories, writers who are only starting, or established writers looking for a fan base. The best part is how those readers interact with you throughout your story. They can vote and comment and, let me tell you, those comments are like gold.

I’d like to tell you a little about my own story, so you can understand how Wattpad works. I found the app as I randomly searched for free books in the App Store about five years ago. I was bored out of my mind and to be honest, a bit short on cash, so when I saw that it was free, I didn’t think twice.

I downloaded the app and started to read one of the recommended stories. It was about a girl who falls in love with her teacher (who happened to be in a gang). It was so good, that I didn’t sleep for that night until I finished the book. Then, I followed the author and read the rest of her stories. Turns out that it was written by a 16-year-old girl, something that blew my mind because it was really well written.

I read different stories for about a year and a half, and I found myself itching to write my own, but I was scared that no one would read it. Besides, I’m a stay-at-home Mom and my first language is not English. That little fact, the one about my language, made me feel brave about posting my story. Writing in English was a sure way to assure that no one that knew me would read it.

My hands were shaking so bad when I clicked that “Publish” button. I didn’t expect anyone to read my story, and I was sure it had more than a gazillion mistakes. I was wrong, sort of. It did have errors, but I learned that as I read other stories, and voted and commented on them, people actually went to my own book and started to read it and give me comments.

I even wrote to a few popular authors, not asking them to read my story, but to give me advice about how to start on this. Out of the six I sent questions to, only one girl who had written an amazingly popular story about a girl and a quarterback answered me. She read my one chapter and sent me a few links on how to start writing and such.

1436305542113One chapter turned into ten and those ten turned into thirty, and when I was about to finish that story, I started a new one, about this girl who meets a prince, because who hasn’t dreamt about meeting a real-life English prince?

I didn’t care if it was believable or not. I wrote it for me. I wrote it because I wanted to read a story like that.

And guess what? For some unknown reason, people started to read it like crazy. I didn’t realize how big or how fast everything was happening at the time, but my story started to rank on the what’s hot list, and every time I updated, I had over 30 comments. In one day.

It even ranked on the number one spot several times, and nobody in my real life knew I was doing this. I started a Facebook page and people started to show up there. As I was busy and I only wrote in my free time, it took me almost three years to finish the story, but every time I updated, people would be there for me. One day, when the book was almost finished, I got a message from a girl from the Philippines. She asked me if she could submit my story to her boss, and I didn’t know what to say, I mean, are you talking about getting it published? Me? A complete nobody? It seemed too good to be true, so I went along with it. Then, I got a message from someone on Wattpad. They wanted to talk to me.

Talk. To. Me.

Things sped up from there. I talked to Wattpad HQ a few times. Turns out that the Facebook girl I messaged with, was working with one of the biggest publishers in the Philippines. Wattpad knew about them, they even worked together.

It was time to come clean with my family.

I still remember my husband’s face when I told him that I’d found this app and I wrote a book and guess what? I’m getting an offer to publish it!

Two years have gone by since then. I’ve got a published book with Pop Fiction Books, I’m part of the Wattpad Stars and Wattpad Ambassadors programs and I have a new series getting published with Limitless Publishing (Book one, Hopelessly Imperfect is already Limitless publishingout).

I’ve found the best friends a girl could ever ask for, and even though we don’t live in the same country, they’re really supportive and they understand me better than anyone. I’ve met absolutely talented people, best-selling authors willing to share their secrets with you, readers who have been touched by your stories, who thank you for letting them forget about their problems. We’re not competing against each other, we help each other.

It all happened because of Wattpad.

1471321587161-life-is-made-of-moments-but-its-up-to-us-to-choose-what-kind-of-moments-we-have-itNow Wattpad is growing at an extremely fast pace. They have over 45 million readers each month. They’ve opened up Wattpad Studios, a partnership with TV and film studios ,and they just launched Wattpad Futures, video ads in between the chapters so the author can get paid and the app can stay free for everyone else.

I’ve met authors who are wary about the platform, and I always tell them that even Colleen Hoover has a profile there and she posted a new story that hasn’t been published. That’s how big it is.

Can people copy your stories? Well, that can happen even if you’re not on Wattpad.

Wattpad is about writing with your heart, building a strong base, getting your name out there.

I love writing and even though I don’t know what the future will bring for me, I know one thing:

I’ll always be on Wattpad.

It changed my life, it made my dreams come true and I’ll always be grateful. Plus, I’ve found a place to be myself and to meet wonderful people.

If you’d like to grow your fan-base, then you should definitely give Wattpad a chance.

Gaby Cabezut is sappy and sweet like a box of chocolates. She believes that we could all do with a bit of romance and magic in our lives. She loves to write romantic, emotional stories that will make you laugh, and sometimes cry. She’s evil and loves cliffhangers, too. Ask her readers. But she’s not that bad, she can sweeten your life with a batch of Nutella cupcakes or brownies.

Prince with Benefits:
Hopelessly Imperfect:

You can find her here:

Amazon author page:

Gabs logo tiny

Those That Shout Loudest, Need A Lozenge

In my earliest memory, I’m standing in a walker or some other childhood accoutrement, and I am screaming. I remember little else about this. The lights seem bright, and I am unsure of whether or not I am in the living room or dining room of my childhood home. I get the feeling that work is being done around me, the kind of heavy lifting that always led to tension between my parents. Maybe a new rug was being put in, or new furniture. I can’t remember. But what I do know is that I’m not getting a lot of attention and that bothers me. So I scream. I scream a lot. And I keep doing it, because it turns out I enjoy hearing the sound of my own voice.

Apparently, this was a thing I did. There are pictures of me sitting on the stairs on the way out the door with my mother, screaming while I played with her keys. There are pictures of me all over the house screaming. It was like I believed I was born to be heard.

Maybe I was.

We all have that. I watch my son and his friends do the same thing. When we’re kids, we look at people, and we think they should want to hear what we have to say. After all, the world is so interesting, and we’re making discoveries about it, and we don’t know if you know that really cool thing yet, so we’re going to tell you all about it. Then, you’ll love it too, you’ll share that love, and we’ll have common ground.

Children don’t ask for permission to speak. They demand it, because it never occurred to them that they should shy away from the world that’s unfolding before their eyes.

At some point, we lose that. We start to wonder what people will think about what we have to say. We start to shy away from trusting ourselves, from wanting to send our own voice out into the world, from believing that we should be heard. We should be heard.

But the public doesn’t always feel that way. If you wish to be heard, if you believe what you have to say is important, you’re going to have to ignore a lot of nay-sayers, a lot of people who would like you to get back into your box, a lot of people who believe you should shut up.

You should never shut up.

People behave as though your voice should be kept quiet. Like we should only take the time to use it to entertain our small circle, like we should never pipe up, never shout louder, never draw too much attention to ourselves.

Draw attention to yourself. If people don’t find you interesting, they don’t need to listen. The message wasn’t for them. But so many people may need that message, may need you to be the one to deliver it.

Someone once told me that those who shout loudest, often lose their voice. My response? Tell them to pop a lozenge and move forward.

Don’t let yourself be silenced by fear. Don’t let your dream be squelched because someone doesn’t think you’re cut out for it. Don’t change who you are to fit into a bubble some gatekeeper said was yours.

Be you. Unabashedly. Scream like baby Justine. Be heard. Because you deserve it.