Interview With Mark Reynolds


Welcome back to my bi-weekly interview series. This week, I’m excited to share with you the creative, thoughtful, and accomplished writer Mark Reynolds. Please check-out his fantastic blog here: Coloring Outside the Lines.


Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

1. Mark, Please Tell Us About Yourself?

Hello, I’m Mark Reynolds, a.k.a  Coloring Outside the Lines. I live outside of Cleveland, Ohio on almost four acres of land with trees and gardens; the edge of a rural area. My Mom and Dad were from small farming towns in Western Ohio.

I’m a professional street-walker. Calling myself a Mailman sounds too boring.  I’m also a traveler. I have the vacation time to find cheap flights to any place I want to go, South or West. I also play in the dirt or garden. I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on  grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature. We live with several critters such as  birds, deer, turkeys, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. I play photographer once in awhile and I have plenty of photos of many creatures and all kinds of landscape.


2. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging?

Complicated question. I began writing as a freshman in College. I wrote short stories for awhile. I could do dream sequences well, but writing the dialogue and including substance in my short stories was difficult for me.

Then a couple decades or so later,  I blew out my knee and was trapped on a couch for a month with a leg brace; that was about a year and half ago. During this time, I started my blog cleverly with a web address of Any1mark66.  My blog changed after taking a WordPress Blogger University Course.


“I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature.” – Mark Reynolds


3. What Does Writing and Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?

Writing is all about expression. Poetry for me is spontaneous writing. A stray thought or string of words can be woven into an image. There’s a challenge to producing a particular feeling you can convey to others. The meaning of fiction for me….that’s personal!

Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters. Additionally, I write because it’s fun, and you can’t kill people in real life, but you can in a fictional story.


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

I participate in several writing challenges. I especially like to mix music with fantastic writing using the lyrics in songs. Nature is also always available for inspirational ideas. And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneous writing when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.


“Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters.” – Mark Reynolds


5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Like to Write? What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?

I write at several different times in a day. Poetry is usually, a  morning exercise. Flash fiction and stories are easier to write in the afternoon or evening.  

I’m finishing up some of my fictional serial stories. I am doing a rewrite of the fairy tale: Little Red Riding Hood which I call: Beware of The Red Cape. In my version, Red is not the small innocent girl you read about in most fairy tales.

My other serial writing project is about a stalker. The stalking begins at a soccer practice and we’ll just say, hasn’t ended yet. Or, maybe it has? I’m not sure yet. I’m still working the serial story out.

I also have a serial story about a Granny whose ghost has become rather strange, a bit crazy. My Granny character has changed slightly as the serial has developed. My characters like to tell me how they wish to be viewed.


6. Have You Attempted To Publish Any of Your Writing? Or Are You Planning to Publish Writing In the Future? Can You Briefly Describe Your Current Publishing Process?

I have been waiting to hear from a group doing a collection of stories from writers with Amazon self-publishing. I have submitted several pieces to this group.I have heard back twice and generally been told, ‘We are not looking for this now but we may contact you in the future.’ So, still waiting unfortunately.

If I understand the process of self-publishing right, I may have professional editing done and have Amazon recommend cover art for my book. It will be in the form of an E-book. I’m not buying a bunch of hard copy books upfront; Amazon does offer demand printing if I wish to go that route in the future.


“And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneous writing when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.” – Mark Reynolds


7. What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Prefer Certain Genres for Reading and Writing?

I suddenly, have an idea; I lose said idea. Then, my idea returns similar, but changed and slightly twisted. Next, I peck out my ideas on my phone or IPad. I prefer to write my entire story all at once. If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.

My preferred areas of reading include science-fiction books, suspense books, horror books, historical reads, science books, and books on nature. Although I write poetry, I have never read much of it.


8. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? 

Forget what you think you know about writing and write outside the boundaries of your daily life.  If you have to research a bit about a subject or place and learn its history, it builds a greater depth of feeling in your writing. Researching and visiting places to come up with new ideas, or more in-depth ideas, will give you a stronger voice in your writing. 

Oh yeah, fail at what you want (to write or do in life) once in awhile. Failure teaches a person things; no one ever learnt much from doing something right all the time.


“If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.” – Mark Reynolds


9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us About Yourself Or Your Writing?

I have a passion for spreading information on things such as the food we eat. We have terrible options for fresh food and for finding out what is actually in the food we eat from the supermarket.

Food labeling isn’t often correct and there should be laws to make the labels on the food a person buys truthful and clear. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are terrible for a person to ingest. You may disagree with me, but try dumping weed killer on your garden plants and eating them, its about the same. But of course it’s safe.  Ask the people who made the weedkiller. 


“A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOs are used to produce many medications and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and the production of other goods. . .

The Organic Consumers Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Greenpeace stated that risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities. Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human health from food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products. 

Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply,effects of GMOs on the environment and nature,the rigor of the regulatory process,and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs,or concerns over the use of herbicides with glyphosate.” – Wikipedia: Genetically Modified Organisms


10. Can You Please Share Some of Your Favorite Pieces of Writing With Us.

Beware The Red Cape: Part One

By Mark Reynolds

“Jezzibelle! Jezzibelle! Where are you?”  Mama calls out.

She washes her hands with lye soap as she looks out the open window.  Mama is nervous about sending the girl off alone.  She is of age now, but so easily swayed from her chores.  Mama knows the family trait to do the easy gains runs deep in her.  But Mama’s love can cure all ills.  Her Mama told her the way to be.  It’s that figure Jezzibelle is developing she is more concerned with.

Her own Mama has not responded to the traditional cures.  Leaches have proved ineffective to her maladies.  Herbal wraps have made her skin glow in the palest of white, lacking the rudiness of life.  Charcoal chunks have pasted through her without taking the problem with them.

Mama shuffles through bottles of homemade wine.  Dandelion wine, it’s pale yellow color and gentle flavor would be prefect for a picnic.  Today it’s a message to get well.  A smoked chunk of beef rests inside a burlap sack.  Two half pieces of bread complete the basket.  A single sage smudge stick wrapped inside kept out and bugs.

“Where is that girl?  I shouldn’t trust her.  My Mama isn’t getting better since Jezzibelle has taken over the role of care taker.  I hope Jezzibelle isn’t a burden to her.  Mama loves her so.  The red cape of velvet came from her grandmother.  It gave her a certain glow of vibrant womanhood at the young age.  And I remember being that age….The day Derrick came to the farm…I could careless he was so much older.  There are men waiting to get a hold of her.  Her uncles tell me how much she would fetch us.  Maybe the men know best.  It’s a lot of money.  She will need someone to keep her well.”  Mama reflects on the regrets of life and what future her daughter will be strattled with.

“Mama, what is it.  I was playing with Mindy’s dog.  He’s so cute.  I wish we could have that dog.  He keeps the ghastly beasts from the forest at bay.  Please, could we get one! I really think it would be best.  They haven’t lost a single chicken in months. And I would…” Jezzibelle tries to plead her case.

“Enough child!  You know what I need from you.  Take that basket to grandmother!  She hasn’t been by.  She still bed ridden.  You must take care of her for me.  I packed it well.  It’s early.  The field and woods will be cool.  Make haste child.  If it gets too warm the animals will smell the food.  They will stalk you, and steal the food.  Those ugly old wolves might hunt you too.  Take your cape!  Grandmother will only recognize you in it.  Her vision was really poor last week.”  Mama is nervous and shaking.  “Don’t you snoop around her corners!  She will hear you!  She doesn’t like snoops.  You may get her home one day.”

“Mama, I love grandmother.  Will she be ok?  I fear she’ll die.  I’ll never have her long enough. I want her to know my babies.  I don’t want to live there without her.” Jezzibelle kicks at her feet and tries to avoid her mother’s gaze.

“Stay on the path!  Don’t stop to talk to anyone!  There are strangers who might want this food or try to take you away.  A pretty girl like you needs to be careful around strangers.” Mama warns her.

“You worry too much, Mama.  I’ll be fine.  I have seen a few people in my trips.  They know me now.  They will help me.”  Jezzibelle puts her hand on Mama’s arm.

Mama looks at her with a mix of unsure feelings and hope. Her heart lends itself to worrying about one thing at a time.

©MarkReynolds (2016).


Here Are Some More Links to Mark’s Writing On His Blog:


Thank You so much Mark for the interview. It was great to read about your writing process, your inspirations, and your thoughts on writing and other topics. Here is one more link to Mark’s Blog: Coloring Outside The Lines


If you would like to be interviewed on my blog and share with other writers and bloggers about your writing and the process involved with how you write and how you publish your work, you can reach-out to me on my Contact Page.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

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Just To Make a Few Things Clear with Feminism


First International Symposium on Chinese Women...
First International Symposium on Chinese Women and Their Network Capital (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On http://www.dictionary.comfeminism” is defined as ” the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to men.” Given this definition I am in complete agreement. Women should and do have the right to vote democratically for a leader, to hold public office (we do have a female Premier, Alison Redford), to work and go to school for whatever subject or vocational area they want, to have kids if they want; to be a person unto themselves with all rights and privileges equal to any man. To further this definition I look to Wikipedia who describes “feminist theory” as that:

which emerged from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender.

But if I am really truthful with you there are some things we often hear associated with feminism and the like, that I do not agree with, or do not agree with completely; and there are things I like about my femininity (” a set of attributes. behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women such as “gentleness, empathy, and sensitivity” ( Wikipedia)). Many women would argue that “biologically” we are pretty equal to men but I just do not believe we are created that way. I am thinking of perhaps,why women can multitask and most men can only concentrate on one thing at a time.  Or why men compartmentalize things and women think of problems and life in general as everything being connected to something else; or that most women are not fire fighters or wrestler’s because it takes a woman of special strong, big-boned, and athletic build to be one. I mean, most women do not have the upper body strength that men do, it’s just that we are physically different. Some woman can do this, but most cannot.

I think woman have the right to try to be equal and do whatever a man can do, but why do we want to give up our femininity to do so? I like shopping, and playing with makeup, I am a girly girl. I like pink and I like snuggling up next to my boyfriend. I do not want to be as insensitive to others, as some men are; or not wear makeup like most men do not. And I think that woman have a unique view on the world, just as unique as men – but we need both viewpoints to balance each other out. And I do not want to be one of those crazy women who swears off men because she thinks men are all are in the way of  a woman’s potential.  Maybe these are extreme versions, but I like it when men act like men on dates. When they pay for the bill, pull out my chair, and pick me up. I like that my boyfriend gives me a little ‘swat’ on the ass, even though it maybe a guy thing to do, but he is just teasing!

Lets have our “feminism” but not at the expense of  making woman ashamed to stay at home with kids, or not be a CEO – just a secretary; we can do things that men do but do them our way. We do not have to act like men to be equal to them, we should be ourselves whoever we are and value that although we may want all the rights and freedoms men have (and should have) it is still okay to be just a girl – liking girly things, and not being able to throw like a boy. I am okay being a little traditional, but sometimes I feel feminism is not? So are you a feminist or are you like me, just happy to be your  girly-girl self in the world?

Some Nights


Mission Statement
Mission Statement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The band Fun.sings a song called Some Nights where they sing ” some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck, some nights I call it a draw.” While I am not particularly sure  what the lead singer means by “cashing in . . .  [his] . . . bad luck” I think it has something to do with all these bad things that are happening to him and they are happening all at once. Sometimes he is able to stand up against the bad enough that he and his bad luck “call it draw.” But overall, as he mentions later he does not know “who he… [is] and “what he stands for.” He is in a conundrum and needs purpose in his life. Something that goes along way to helping someone who is not sure where they stand or what is their ‘mission statement, ‘

 

A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization, its reason for existing (Wikipedia 1). An example of a mission statement would be Starbucks who on their website http://www.starbucks.ca write (2):

 

Starbucks™ Shared Planet™

Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ is our commitment to do business in ways that are good for people and the planet.

It’s our commitment to purchase only the highest quality, ethically sourced and responsibly grown coffee. To reduce our own environmental footprint and fight climate change. And to give back to the neighbourhoods and communities we’re a part of. Thanks to the customers who buy our coffee, together we are able to make – and make good on – these commitments on a truly global scale.

Acting Responsibly

We’ve always been committed to doing business responsibly and conducting ourselves in ways that earn the trust and respect of our customers and neighbours – from creating a great workplace to ensuring our customers have access to nutritional information on our products. Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ means focusing on the core areas where we have the biggest influence – ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement.

Above all, Starbucks believes in engaging, collaborating and openly communicating with our stakeholders. Since 2001, one way we’ve tried to do this is by producing a Global Responsibility Report that details our efforts to do business responsibly.

Or for another example the YMCA Recreation Centers in Edmonton:

Mission/Values

Who Are We?

YMCA Mission

The YMCA of Edmonton creates life-enhancing opportunities for the growth and development of all people in spirit, mind and body.

YMCA Vision

Strong kids, healthy families, thriving communities.

The YMCA believes:

  • That the growth of individuals in spirit, mind and body is fundamental to everything we do as an organization.
  • In the equality of opportunity for all members of the community.
  • In the values commonly shared in our community such as:
    • Caring
      • To love others, help them and to be sensitive to their well being.
      • To appreciate and live philanthropy in our daily lives
    • Honesty
      • To be truthful, building trust and integrity in all that we do.
    • Respect
      • To value the worth of every individual, to live by the golden rule, to honour the diversity of community.
    • Responsibility
      • To know and do what is right.
      • To be accountable for our behavior and obligations.
      • In the importance of philanthropy (giving of time, talent, treasure and trust), and the significance played by a volunteer/staff partnership in fostering a caring community.
      • In the importance of world-wide fellowship and its capacity to support the growth of individuals, communities and nations.

YMCA Diversity Statement:

The YMCA of Edmonton is an inclusive, charitable organization that believes in diversity.

YMCA Family Violence Statement:

The YMCA of Edmonton believes that violence in any relationship is unacceptable and that everyone exposed to family violence is impacted including unborn babies, children, youth and adults. We also believe that everyone has the capacity for change and growth and we will support anyone in an abusive relationship to get the help they are looking for.

(YMCA 2).

But I think individuals have mission statements of their own as well; things that they “stand for” and what they want to achieve in life; things such as goals, where they want to be 5 years from now, ways they can better themselves, morals, responsibilities, and personal beliefs.And I do not know about you but I feel very lost in life without some purpose.I also feel that a mission statement is something that you can look at to  give you purpose and keep you on track, such as it does in the business world. But people change, companies change, so I also believe that a mission statement can change with you. Certainly 10 years down the road from now you might care for different things in your life then you did before. Then again somethings may never change such as religious beliefs, the importance of family, or the desire to help people.

 

If I think about my own personal mission statement – or my set of values that make up that mission statement I think of :

 

– the importance of family

 

– being a Godly person

 

– being someone who can help and share her life with others

 

– being someone who is open to new ideas and has a thirst for learning

 

– to not hurt other people whenever possible

 

– to share God with other people

 

– to be accepting of other people, because you cannot even imagine how differently each person thinks; we always think people are like us; but really few are.

 

– to be creative with writing and drawing and in other areas of my life

 

– to take care of my dog and other pets

 

– to take care with my appearance as you only ever have one first impression with other people

 

-physically care for myself with exercise, watching what I eat etc.

 

– to get back to working part time

 

– to be a certified interior decorator

 

So this would be my personal mission statement and you could then write that into a paragraph, stick it on your wall and see what guidance it gives you in life. I encourage you to try it. As important as it is where you come from, life is also what you make of it, what your future will be.

 

 

 

Starbucks. Responsibilities.Page 2. 10 Oct 2012. <http://www.starbucks.ca/responsibility/learn-

 

more/starbucks-shared-planet.>2011.

 

YMCA of Edmonton. “Who We Are – Mission/Values.” Page 2. 10 Oct 2012.

 

< http://www.edmonton.ymca.ca/WhoWeAre/MissionValues/tabid/68/Default.aspx. 2012.

 

 

Beauty – Beyond the Ideal


Beauty and the Beast (1992 film)

What is considered beautiful? Why do we consider such things beautiful? And how can one obtain beauty? Wikipedia describes beauty as ” a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea, that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction” (Wikipedia 1). Moreover, “beauty is studied as a part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture . . . [Because] beauty is a subjective experience, it is often said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder'”(Wikipedia 1). Often, we look for the ideal beauty.

I think I have a love beautiful things, at least things I consider beautiful ( I being the beholder). There have been pieces of art I am in awe of,  architecture, and too many pieces of clothing and fashion, artful makeup, and some unique tattoos. Not to mention people – other women who just seem to have that elegant and graceful quality about them, certain tall men, with long eye lashes and full lips that I have swooned over, children beautiful in their cherubic way, soft and adorable little puppies and kittens, pink skylines, and orange sunsets, bright and shapely flowers and green nature, and most of all moments in time that just have that idyllic quality of beauty. There is also beauty that grows on you. Things that may be seemingly ugly at first, but turn out to be the most beautiful things of all. Songs on the radio ,for example, that hearing once you hate but hearing twenty-five times you love – the first song I have heard by Lady Antebellum affected me this way Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. People often have this effect, someone you do not consider very good-looking or friendly to begin with but upon discovering their great personality or wry sense of humor suddenly become attractive or seem like they would suddenly make a great friend.

Fairy tales for instance, often have this theme – the entire story of Beauty and the Beast carries out this theme as Belle learns to love a hideous bad-tempered beast which breaks the spell, and turns him into a handsome prince. Or Cinderella a maid who becomes a beautiful princess at the stroke of a fairy godmother’s wand. If we wish to continue on this them of beauty being where once ugliness was, we can look at Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice who at first seems high-handed and snobbish to Elizabeth Bennet,  but eventually becomes her beloved husband. Or an even better example in Jane Eyre where both Jane and Mr. Rochester are plain people who end up loving each other despite their ugly qualities. Yes, beauty is truly in “eye of the beholder” (Wikipedia 1).

When I really think of beauty though, I consider all the  models in the fashion magazine’s who are stick thin and considered the ideal beautiful when really 3/4 of the population is not a size zero. I am a firm believer that women in every shape and size can be beautiful even those models, but not only and not as an ideal. Fashion should demonstrate clothing and makeup on a variety of models of shapes, sizes, and heights. Glamour magazine is one magazine that is excellent at showing models of different shapes and sizes. I was pleasantly surprised a few years back to find an article and layout of models who had bellies and curves. I wonder though, why the rest of the fashion world does not catch on, or at least not in a big way. We should endeavour to find beauty in all shapes and sizes of people and even things. If we can understand what’s beautiful to one person and why, we have come along way to bridging the gap between ideal beauty and beauty in the real world. So I hope you can find beauty in everything in around you from the ugliest creature to the most heavenly thing. Consider that, people in particular cannot always be beautiful, that we have good days and bad days and that other people have valid opinions of beauty, not only your own opinions are valid. Beauty maybe in the eye of the beholder, but it is also all around us if we will only look.

Lizzie Miller