Archive for the ‘Musings – Nonfiction posts’ Category

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone and having this incredibly deep conversation where time melts away and you end up discussing things you never thought you would?

Neil Gaiman’s latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was a little bit like that for me–I became immersed in the story, and it felt like I was having a conversation with this world of imagination, where things that I had not realized were dormant woke up, and demanded to be expressed.

Of all the books I’ve read, I’ve never had to stop to write a poem, but with “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” audiobook, I hit pause three times and the poems fell out. I’m posting them below in their first draft form (see preface with the adjustments I made).

Possibly unnecessary fine print: I don’t want to color anyone’s view of Mr. Gaiman’s story itself, as poetry comes from weird places and sometimes has an oblique connection to the inspiration. So I disclaim any relationship between the poetry and the plot of the story.

I’ll post my official review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane later, but as I’m going to meet Mr. Gaiman on his last US book tour, I thought I would share my experiences and — for what they’re worth — my poetry.

This is the kind of poetry I’ve been writing a lot of – it feels like I have various people inside me that have things that need to be said, and if I don’t let them have their moment, they throw hissy fits that come out in other ways in my life. I would usually not share some of it – like “Things We Fear” – because I don’t want to let that darkness out, but I’m learning from Mr. Gaiman how to celebrate the spectrum that is life, and to let it come out in my writing and share it anyway.

Preface: I don’t remember the order these were written. As they are first draft, they’re all untitled but I’m putting pilot-titles for now. My first drafts also don’t usually contain any punctuation or verse breaks, because I hear the rhythm in my head and don’t need them, but I added some punctuation here because it’s expected. I’m still trying to work out the right balance of punctuation since I sort of expect everyone to instill their own rhythm to the words and the imposition of mine feels somewhat intrusive.

Butterfly Wings

Catch the butterfly
Before it goes away.
Put it in a jar
If its beauty will be contained.

But vividness changes—
When we try to hold it still
Its dynamic nature
Won’t permit motionlessness.

Life is vivid—
Changing all the time.
We try to hold our breath;
Catch the butterfly by its wing.
But life won’t be contained
And it flies away.

Things We Fear

The fear of knowing
That it’s coming
Is not quite as terrible
As the fear of knowing
It is already here—
Always waiting.

That the moment I let go of my hold
My guard
I will be assailed
By people long gone
By truths I’ve discovered already
To be false
But are made real again
When that cruel knowledge—
The certainty that I’ve already lost—
Attacks me once again.

As I’ve gotten older
It’s a little bit better;
I see it coming—
Feel the veil between
Reality now
Reality then
And nothing but empty promises
Can comfort me.
And only sometimes can the assurances
Remind me it’s over.

But as I’m older
I also despair
That it’s never over.
Time doesn’t heal so much
As creates a promise of distance.

And we have opportunities
For other truths
Stronger realities
To stand between
The hopelessness of a child
Trapped, terrified, alone—
And an adult, bigger
Less bound by the whims of others.

Now I can trust the sense
Of entrapment, loneliness and fear
That fades but never leaves
Will at least seem gone by morning.

Gossamer and granite

Bittersweet magic
Moments, realities
Dreams, almosts—
Better thans and could-have-beens,
Just likes, one days,
When I Grow Up—
All the things that paint our days
And taint our pasts
And lead us to now.

All there to explore
And discover through new eyes.

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For anyone who noticed my abrupt and prolonged absence, I sincerely apologize for dropping off the face of the Earth. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had thrown many seeds to the wind, hoping a few would catch and grow, and lots of them did and I was dealing with a wild garden.

Well, it morphed into a full-out jungle, and after a while I couldn’t even machete my way through. I thought I could push myself like I did when I was sixteen and cramming forty-hour days into twenty-four hour ones, but it turns out that when people say “I’m too old for this” there is some truth to the statement. I hadn’t thought I would say it in my late twenties, but evidentially I’m too old to whip myself into a frenzy like I used to. My body sent every form of message possible asking me to take a break, but I thought I would rest by reading, or listening to audio books, or watching movies (thinking that when I regained my full mental faculties I could review in retrospect) so finally I got my “All Right, That’s It!” signal when my body broke down with three simultaneous infections and I was forced to sleep for like four days.

So it turns out that there is a need to schedule Doing Nothing, and actually doing nothing in that time. I will endeavor to catch up with all the backlogged reviews, interviews, short stories, etc. but I’ve learned my lesson and am not making any promises.

I’ve almost wrapped up all the romance novels I was backlogged on, and my next project is all the outstanding reviews from Netgalley, E&K Family Book Review, and in-between, the interviews, travel pieces. and articles I have pending. There may be another flurry of activity coming soon.

Here are the reviews that were published since April:

“SWEETHEARTS IN BLOOM by Cher Green, Miranda Heart, Joy Brooks, Georgina Sellwood”, TRR, June 2013, (published online).

“BORDERLAND BRIDE by Samantha Holt”, TRR, June 2013, The Romance Reviews Top Pick, (published online).

“WIFE IN NAME ONLY by Hayson Manning”, TRR, June 2013, (published online).

“FATHER BY CHOICE by Amanda Berry, TRR, May 2013, (published online).

“THE KASHMIR SHAWL by Rosie Thomas”, TRR, May 2013, The Romance Reviews Top Pick, (published online).

I’ve written about thirty poems in the last few weeks- it became a form of oxygen and perspective to capture a moment in words. I have no idea if they’re any good, but they did their duty at the time.

I’m also working on my first romance novel. I’ve decided that instead of fretting endlessly over how I will make the best impact with my debut novel (and coming up with ten or twelve half-finished novels in the process), I’m combining all my favorite elements as a reader into one book, and I will eventually finish it and publish it and then I’ll be done with the whole Voodoo of having a “debut novel” and I can get on with writing and publishing the rest of my projects.

Some of the stories that come to me and that demand to be told have these dark elements to them, which I was unsure about. I didn’t want my “style” to become that of “bittersweet”. Then I discovered, on the flip side, that some of my stories have a natural humor and flippancy. So apparently worrying about my style is futile, since I can’t make sense of what and how things come to me, and attempting to box myself into a category is just driving me crazy. I therefore apologize in advance to any readers who are trying to determine what they can expect from me.

If I had to choose a word to describe my writing, I think I would like “sincere”, because then regardless of whether it was weird, funny, sweet, haunting, or slightly off-kilter, it would still be true to the original story–that original moment that needed to be expressed, regardless of where these things come from.

Thank you for bearing with me, and for your support through this fascinating process.

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Earlier today, my article “Self Worth and the Stories We Tell Ourselves” was published on Blogcritics.

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This week I published “The Value of 99 Cents” on Blogcritics (and it was picked up by Seattle Post Intelligencer later that day).

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Usually I would post my Friday Night Reviews but as it turns out, this week I didn’t have any book reviews published. My two-part interview with Cliff Hines was published on Blogcritics and then picked up by Seattle PI, and I have a couple of book reviews I expect to be published over the next few days.

The last week, I’ve been focusing on putting together short booklets of my poetry and short stories to self-publish via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I posted my first story under a new “Store” page but then I decided to hold off on a “Store” page until I post a few more titles. I hope to have 7 or 8 “titles” by Sunday.🙂

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

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Original article (originally posted on my blog, first official publication): “What Does it Mean to be Successful?” on How to Tell a Great Story.

Reprint of my review on the nonfiction anthology about shame, freedom, bittersweet moments, and hope: “Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, edited by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter” on The Compulsive Reader.

Reprint of my interview with Amy Friedman, who contributed to the anthology: Interview Amy Friedman on Shame, the Power of Memoir, and Inner Truths on The Compulsive Reader.

Reprint of my review of my Reviewer’s Bible: “The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything” by Magdalena Ball in the “Reviewer’s Choice” column of “Reviewer’s Bookwatch”, Midwest Book Review.

My review of the adult fairy tale/fable/myth that weaves passages from Scripture, the story of Perseus and Medusa, and bits of Shakespeare with an original flair: “The Crystal Scepter” by C.S. Lakin on Blogcritics Reviews in Brief.

Reprint of “The Crystal Scepter” on Seattle PI.

My second low-rated review (in case anyone thought I only do glowing reviews), of the audiobook for the contemporary romance with a mildly western twist “City Girl” by Judy Griffith Gill for The Romance Reviews. (Please note this is not a review of the actual book, which I can’t accurately gauge from the audio experience.)

My third low review, of the sweet romance retelling of Cinderella that had very little to do with Cinderella: “The Cinderella Substitute” by Nell Dixon for The Romance Reviews.

My review of the wildly fun and different time-travel romance novel “The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl” by Gina Lamm (the cover’s a giveaway for Hot rating) a Top Pick for The Romance Reviews.


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“Keeping Promises… And our Readers”, (Blogcritics, There, I Said It!).

“Writing Can Be Managed Like Everything Else”, (How to Tell a Great Story).

[Reprint] “Overcoming Shyness in Public Speaking”, (How to Tell a Great Story).

[Reprint] “Making Workshops Work”, (How to Tell a Great Story).

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