book case

for my birthday, i want a bookcase
where i can live a different life
page after page
each treasured book a sweet escape
never one to lose my place

for my birthday i want a home
where i can live and not be afraid
like i always am
each day the same unflinching reality
another unfulfilled life on the lam

for my birthday i want to be happy
for life will be short
from here on
i’ve fallen far from where i started
but from this moment on, I’ll be reborn

To Kathryn

books

“When a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”
Mik Everett

I guess when someone you love dies naturally
everything just slows down –
today her heart rate slowed, her breathing stopped
and just like that, she was gone

but in my heart she’ll live on forever
even immortalized on the page
I just can’t help it for she was always there for me
the sweetest woman, a gentle sage

and in all my books, I always see her
sometimes unintentionally
but she lived such a life, and without fear
that writing her in just comes naturally

and as imperfect as my stories are
typos still left unnoticed on the page
it doesn’t matter now, not anymore
she’ll live forever; she’ll never age

 

What A Difference A Year Makes

On Christmas Day, my sister-in-law told me that I was the happiest she’d seen me in a very long time.

“You’re finally doing what you were meant to do,” she said as she reminded me that this time last year, we had talked about how I was going to start publishing my work for 2015.  And while I did the usual, aw, thank you, I’m still working on it, and I’ve got a long way to go stuff (a habit I have to quit doing because such attitude diminishes all the angst and hard work I’ve put in my writing and publishing journey), I had to admit, she was right.

Because a year ago, I hadn’t yet taken that big leap of faith into self-publishing – at least psychologically.  Sure, I went through the motions of clicking that Publish button and all that, but in my mind, I hadn’t yet embraced the idea that I was an author – a self-published author.  I still held on to some guilt and some shame and whatever else that probably plague many self-published authors when they start.  I just didn’t believe in myself.

But what a difference a year makes.

I no longer hold onto that burning shame that I held onto for being a “self-published author” versus a traditionally pubbed one.  I smile when someone callously jokes at the holiday party, “so how many of your 5-star reviews are from relatives?” (Answer: NONE) or when people ask me why I’m not traditionally published or have a literary agent (though if you’d like to represent me, I’m open to the possibilities).

I’m an author, and that’s what matters.

As a writer, a lot of people don’t realize just how much courage it takes to put words out there, whether one is trad or self-pubbed.  It actually feels worse for self-pubbed authors like me when it’s put out there for free (free writing/reading platforms or free downloads) – especially  when you have NO idea whether anyone will connect with your characters or your stories, or worse, wonder if they got their money’s worth paying for your book when they could have gotten themselves a Venti Starbucks Latte instead.

Still, what a difference a year makes – and I wouldn’t trade 2015 with its highs and lows for anything else.

Because, in the end, independent authors like me write because as creative souls, we have no choice.  We take risks and make tough decisions with our writing, from the art (process) to the product (book).  We give away more for free than we receive – something we’re sometimes expected to keep doing just to keep ourselves current and relevant.

Still, we do it because we have to.  We do it to feed the muse that lives in our hearts and our souls.  We do it to allow for that endless flow of creativity that nourishes us and gives us reason to wake up every morning – and because we fear that one day it will stop flowing because we chose to ignore it.

Source: What A Difference A Year Makes

Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap

 
Every time I walk past this little red wagon, I can’t help but look through the selection of books to see if there’s something I’d like to read. Then I remind myself to drop off a book or two in exchange for the ones I picked out. 

Yesterday while my walking buddy found The 36-Hour Day, a guide for caregivers to those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other related conditions, I picked Lincoln, the screenplay version in a book and I can’t wait to read it!

 

“…Reading A Good Book Is the Most Nourishing Thing You Can Do”

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Sitting at my doctor’s office – because this year is the year I’m finally taking care of myself – I spied this quote from one of the magazines in the waiting room.

Benedict…gotta love him!

I’d Pick Elizabeth Gaskell

Today, Audible.com asked the question, “If you could read only one author’s work for the rest of your life, who would it be?”  They also said that it could “easily be the toughest question of the day.”

Probably, if one had many authors to choose from – Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens all the way to the contemporaries like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, and so many more.  However, it didn’t take me long to pick one author I wouldn’t mind reading for the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Gaskell.

In November 1865, when reporting her death, The Athenaeum rated Gaskell as “if not the most popular, with small question, the most powerful and finished female novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists.” Today Gaskell is generally considered a lesser figure in English letters remembered chiefly for her minor classics “Cranford” and “Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story.”

Gaskell’s early fame as a social novelist began with the 1848 publication of “Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life,” in which she pricked the conscience of industrial England through her depiction and analysis of the working classes. Many critics were hostile to the novel because of its open sympathy for the workers in their relations with the masters, but the high quality of writing and characterization were undeniable, and critics have compared “Mary Barton” to the work of Friedrich Engels and other contemporaries in terms of its accuracy in social observation.

The later publication of “North and South,” also dealing with the relationship of workers and masters, strengthened Gaskell’s status as a leader in social fiction.

via Elizabeth Gaskell: Biography.

I bought the complete works of Gaskell for my e-reader and I’m taking my time reading her stories, beginning with the obscure ones.  I’ve already read North and South, but I can’t wait to read Mary Barton, as well as Cranford.  I loved how astute she was about the social changes around her, the plight of the poor workers, even if it put her at odds with the general thinking of the time.

So, yes, for the rest of my life, Elizabeth Gaskell would be perfect.

Who would you pick?

 

 

Character, I Think, Is The Single Most Important Thing In Fiction

JamieandClaireOutlander

“Character, I think, is the single most important thing in fiction. You might read a book once for its interesting plot—but not twice.”

– Diana Gabaldon

Lessons Forgotten

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

He was a judge, a councilman,
my grandfather.
He taught me how much
the written word
mattered,
that good books read
helped one’s spirit grow,
excellent books devoured
only strengthened what
the soul already knows.
But when he tore that
Harlequin romance paperback
in two,
he told me that among great books,
there would be trash, too,
that none of them would enhance
a brain that continued
to always grow,
so read only the best, he said,
that’s all you need to know.

But if grandfather
were still alive today
would he like what he’d see?
What would he say
of the Kindles and the iPads
with their trashy books within?
Would he gnash his teeth
knowing I’ve gone past
Harlequin –
when he’d find out that among
the hundreds of books in my e-readers –
even the best,
there’s a trashy tale hidden here
and there, tucked in
with all the rest,
of whips and chains
and sex and gore
He’s probably rolling in his grave
right now –
for there’s even more.

Daily Prompt

Dust

500 years from now, an archaeologist accidentally stumbles on the ruins of your home, long buried underground. What will she learn about early-21st-century humans by going through (what remains of) your stuff?

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I have way too much stuff,
more than can fit in this little cottage.
Too many books, more than I can ever read –
of stories, there is no shortage

and if someone might one day dig in
should they really be that interested
they’d find nothing but dust where paper had once been
belonging to one so terribly afflicted

for the love of words, and of wondrous tales
if only they’d been passed on and on
for paper, it crumbles into dust and nothing more
just dust, and then it’s gone.

Daily Prompt

Recommended Reading: I Thought My Father Was God | The Daily Post

In April 1946, Theodore Lustig was discharged after serving three years in the army in World War II. Heading home on a train to New Jersey, he had grand plans for his new life. First, he bought a white shirt: a symbol of his return to a normal routine. The next step? Finding the girl of his dreams: his high school crush.

In his very short piece — “What If?” — he writes:

We got on the same bus — hers — and sat together reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. I told her of my plans and showed her the shirt I had bought — my first step toward making my dream come true. I didn’t tell her that she was supposed to be step two.

“What If?” is just one story among the 180 true stories in I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales From NPR’s National Story Project, a compilation of the best submissions to Paul Auster for this story project on All Things Considered. Each tale is a small window into one stranger’s life: a glimpse into the American mind and heart. The stories are grouped into broad themes: animals, objects, families, slapstick, strangers, war, love, death, dreams, and meditations.

Tales from NPR's National Story Project

via Recommended Reading: I Thought My Father Was God | The Daily Post.

I’ve been a fan of NPR’s National Story Project since it began, and each story they aired always made me cry.  You heard their voices, felt their emotions – and now you can read their stories!  This is definitely one that I’m getting for myself!