Skip to content

National Poetry Month, April 16-18

Deadlines, always deadlines…

So y’all get a Three-for Thursday. 🙂 I still wrote a poem for each day; I just didn’t get to post about them.

4/16

Actual deadline day, so we went for a kinda haiku. Definitely needs work, but the photo is from Kamakura, Japan. I was able to catch one of the golden eagles that hang around there diving for a fish.

4/17

This is from Meiji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. There was a raven on the tori, which looked really cool. It was a super foggy, rainy day, so it took some cleaning and cropping to get the photo to a place where I was okay with it…

I’m also watching American Gods, so Odin’s Ravens decided to poke their beaks in and make this cross-cultural. And about warrior sacrifice and corpses.

I call the pair “Munin at Meiji.”

4/18

This pair is more whimsical and based on American soil…and from Arisia, where I got to go to an Absinthe Tasting room party. There’s a long history of absinthe and artists, so that’s where I went.

Poems and photos are rough and raw; I’ll edit and fix them up later. My April challenge is about the creation, not the finessing. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

 

National Poetry Month, April 5

Not that I figured I’d get far in any poetry journey without a faery poem, but in going through the pictures I’ve taken and am using for inspiration, there’s no less than three that are titled “Faery ________.” If you’ve known me or been following me for some time, I’m sure you’re shocked. Completely and utterly shocked. <insert sarcasm>

This particular photo is “Faery Bed,” and I’ve named the poem to match.  I took this picture in Scotland while I was doing research for my MacArthur series of books. It was at this wonderful and magical place, Traquair House, which is the oldest inhabited home. It has a hedge maze; secret passage ways; Victorian furniture (including a writing desk in the room and a canopy bed!); delicious food (with option for a romantic dinner with fancy crystal-ware!); all sorts of trails through the woodlands, wetlands, and gardens; free range farm animals and peafowl; and nesting grey herons that sound like dinosaurs. Really, what else could anyone ask for?

I found this copse of azaleas that looked like a canopy bed and had recently discovered our camera did this “punch” thing with colors that makes them more vivid. (This was 2012, well before cell phone camera and Instagram filters.) Even without the color “punch,” I was intrigued by what looked like a faery bed of purple flower petals beneath a branching canopy of twisted limbs and green leaves. This was the best of several pictures I took, and I knew I’d write something to match it eventually.

The poem, like all of what I’m posting, is in its rough draft form, too. My aim is to compose the poems this month, and then go back and edit later.

Please do not share the photos or poems I’m posting; I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

Conbust Schedule!

03182018 - Conbust2018Logo

Three months into the year, and it’s a FOURTH convention schedule I’m posting! Woohoo!

(At some point my personal blog posts will be more than convention schedules; I promise! I have thoughts on a variety of things and some health updates, too…)

Anyway, I know it sounds redundant, but this is another beloved convention of mine! Conbust!

Conbust is a student-run feminist SF/F convention held at Smith College every spring.  I found out about Conbust through Broad Universe, not realizing that such a gem was basically in my back yard. (I grew up in Springfield, about 15-20 minutes from Northampton.)

I have a pretty ambitious schedule this year at Conbust, so if you’re looking to follow me to all my panels (and they are pretty awesome panels, so you might want to), make sure you are loaded up on your favorite coffee or energy product! I’m scheduled in the very first panel slot, the very last—with eight panels in between!

Also, I’ll be traveling to and from the convention with my friend and editing colleague, Suzanne Lahna, who has their first novella out.  They’ll be on a bunch of excellent panels, too. Find out more on their blog!

Since Conbust is on a college campus, I won’t be hosting a party here, and we don’t have either a Broad Universe or New England Horror Writers table here, so it’s all panels and catching up with some of the great people I only get to see at this convention. I’m excited!

Oh—quick note, these aren’t the official convention descriptions. They’re mine—and subject to change depending on the audience / panelists.  I’m also not listing the panelists here because there were some last minute changes that I don’t know got finalized… but just check the guest list!  I’m on panels with almost all of these spectacular people!

Without further ado, here’s where I’ll be:

Friday, March 23; 5:00 PM; Room 101 – Fandom and Criticism

Can you criticize what you love? Should you? Why is it important?

 

Friday, March 23; 6:00 PM; Room 201 – Hero, Protagonist

Discussing writing the protagonist hero, or analyzing them.

 

Saturday, March 24; 9:00 AM; Room TBA – Believable Fight Scenes

This was my favorite panel of last year’s Conbust. Actual reenactment fighters play out writer battle scenes! Of course, now I need to figure out which gods’ awful fight scene of mine needs the most work / will provide the most entertainment to the audience…

 

Saturday, March 24; 10:00 AM; Room 101 – Suspension of Disbelief

What throws a reader out of a story? How can writers avoid these pitfalls? What’s the term “Flying Snowman” (coined by John Scalzi) and what does it mean to writers and readers?

 

Saturday, March 24; 11:00 AM; Room 109 – Freelancing: More Ways to Make Money Writing

This panel will discuss the ways people can make a living working with words. No, it’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. See if this career works for you or if you want to stick to the day job.

 

Saturday, March 24; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Everything but the Writing

Note above panel on making money while writing? That’s Making Money Writing 101.  This is Making Money Writing 102 and talks about the business decisions you’ll have to make if you decide you want to make money while writing.

 

Saturday, March 24; 4:00 PM; Room 109 – Children’s Fairy Tales

Fairy tales is my jam. So is writing for kids. This is a thing that far predates my efforts, though, so I love studying and talking about it. Come discover all the nerdy, geeky goodness children’s fairy tales have to offer!

 

Saturday, March 24; 5:00 PM; Room 109 – Fairies

Rather apropos that this is in the same room immediately following Children’s Fairy Tales. Except the fey are NOT just for children. In fact, they can be kind of predatory on children—or humans in general. And they go waaaay beyond “fairy tales.”

 

Sunday, March 25; 9:00 AM; Room 106 – Female Protagonists / Female Villains

Because, yes, we still really need to talk about women characters, how they’re included in stories, and how authentic they are.

 

Sunday, March 25; 1:00 PM; Room 102 – A Monster Manual Beyond Dragons

There’s already a panel about how awesome dragons are, but other fantastical creatures need and deserve our love, too! Find out about other magical beasts and their proper care and feeding.

 

Sunday, March 25; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Tarot and Writing

Two great tastes that taste great together! I love giving this workshop at convention. Come learn a little about the Tarot and how you can use it in your life and writing.

 

There it is! It is SUPER crazy, and I am SUPER excited because it’s my last convention until probably July. I am so excited to return, and SUPER excited to catch up with a lot of amazing people.

03182018 - ConbustMascot2018

I’ve never wanted to end my life… #holdontothelight, #alwayskeepfighting, #akf, #mentalwellness

holdontothelight-fb-banner

I’ve never wanted to end my life.

I’ve been sad, angry, lethargic, overwhelmed to the point of being unable to get out of bed. I would never use “depressed,” though, to describe how I felt. Part of it, I’m sure, is stigma. Another part, however, is knowing my friends who have been depressed – clinically or situationally – and who at one point really did want to end their lives.

I was bullied through a good part of school. In first grade, my best friend told me she was leaving me to hang out with the cooler kids. In fifth and sixth grade, my best friend and I were belittled by teachers and physically threatened by classmates for being different. I became the lead drummer in junior high because I spent every lunch hiding in the band room, practicing so I could avoid the lunchroom where no one would sit with me and I’d gotten shoved and told “Stop following us! We don’t want you around us!” by a group of girls I’d thought were friends. In high school, things changed because there were over 2000 kids, so enough of us outcasts and geeks found each other and made our own group – but we all knew we should never travel alone. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or if we were Magic the Gathering people or Dungeons and Dragons players, we employed the buddy system and made friends with the librarians who let us stay there rather than the more dangerous realms of lunch rooms and study halls.

Through all that, I never came close to wanting to end my life.

My emotions didn’t go to the dark level I saw in others, so I didn’t want to take that term “depression” from them. I was worried about appropriation before I’d even heard the word “appropriation.” I loved these people, and I respected what they were going through – even when it made me feel helpless. It wasn’t about me feeling helpless; it was about them. People who were hurting the way I’d hurt – only much, much worse.

I’m going to get into a confessional that some people might just consider “woo-woo” or “New Agey” or some other diminutive term that downplays the intense levels humans can connect. This is a #sorrynotsorry moment where I think such people are wrong.

A friend of mine, also a writer – keeping names confidential – and I regularly share how we both are deeply affected by others’ emotion, and how that affects each of us in our writing  and working lives. We remind each other to protect our energies – because if someone is very excited, we get that way. And if someone was hurting, we take on that pain in hopes that it made them hurt less. Often unconsciously. Often to a level where we need time to physically, mentally, and emotionally recover from a particular conversation.

When I started learning about energy work in my adulthood, I’d been told by more than a few people I needed to protect myself better when it came to energy. I did. Somewhat.

Until I didn’t.

12202010-moon

I was visiting another dear friend of mine who was going through an especially difficult time in her life. She was successful, happily married, brilliant in literary gifts as well as science… And for the first time, she was actively thinking of ways she might end her life. She was even planning ways she might do so with as little impact to others as possible – because she didn’t want to hurt anyone. I listened, we held each other, and I just wanted to do something to help.

Perhaps I did. I don’t know. I know she is still alive and at least posting happy things on social media.

I also know that I was more drained than I’d ever been. And a few days later, I was feeling things I’d never felt before.

I didn’t want to kill myself.

But I didn’t want to do anything. I hurt. Everywhere. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt utterly and completely empty, like there was nothing inside and nothing good would ever happen again. My brain was spinning its logic wheels; there was no reason for me to have these emotions. My work and money issues were actually doing well, I was writing a story I really enjoyed, no one I knew was terminally sick or dying or dead…

I was sitting in the car while my husband had run into the store and I was just sobbing uncontrollably.

Not only were there all those negative feelings, but the fact there was no logical reason for me to have those feelings, feelings I’d never felt before, was utterly terrifying.

Fortunately, I do have a wonderfully supportive husband who took how I was feeling very seriously and spent the day doing things with me. He looked online for ways to help “reset the brain” while I napped. Then we went walking in the woods. After that, we visited our long-time friend, apothecary, and “kitchen witch,” who smudged me and suggested foods with garlic, tumeric, and chocolate. My husband drove to all this so I wouldn’t have to, and he listened to me going on and on while he drove.  Then we went home and I took the “day off” and snuggled with him as we binge watched Supernatural.*

The feelings alleviated as the day passed, but not entirely. It was not an immediate fix. Not for a week, maybe two, did I feel even close to my usual self. And the memory still chills my stomach and grips my lungs so I feel I need my asthma inhaler.

Those feelings – the combination of them all at once – that is how I understand depression.  It’s not just one thing. It’s everything all at once at the loudest volume and THE HIGHEST PRESSURE. And no strength to handle it.

I’ve never been diagnosed as clinically depressed. In fact, I even got turned down for a weight study because, during the interview, I had no signs of depression whatsoever.

But it happened to me.

It happened to me, and it can happen to anyone. It could happen to everyone; you don’t need a diagnosis.

Do I know what my other friends with depression know? Certainly not. I know enough about emotions that they are not the same for any two people. And everyone has a different pain threshold. Can I speak for people who suffer clinical depression or any other type of depression? Absolutely not.

But I can say how I felt. And I can share the stories I’m permitted to share. For those who are suffering, you aren’t alone – even if someone might only share a moment or a piece of that pain – someone has felt desperation and depression.  Someone believes what you say you feel. Someone wants to help.

For those who don’t understand, can’t imagine…perhaps my short moment will give you pause, will describe it in a way you can understand and help you empathize. It happened to me; it can happen to anyone; so everyone needs to be aware and everyone should be more compassionate. I hope that adding to this conversation, we can build a better support system and a kinder, more aware culture.

If you are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts, here are some resources for you. Remember, you’re not alone and people care about you:

http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#  – 1-800-273-8255

http://suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html – has a list of numbers for specific states and regions.

http://www.nami.org/ – The National Alliance on Mental Health has a lot of resources you can call for emergency help, to educate yourself,  to find community support, and more.

* When I had my writing colleague who has confided about me about her depression beta read this article, she gave me a lot of great feedback, but one thing she told me was that I needed to detail what I did to get through my depressive episode. I was reticent to do so because I get infuriated at all the “inspirational” posters, memes, messages, etc. that say “You don’t need pills; you just need to walk in the woods.” I want to slap the people who post them because it’s insulting and outright deadly. Period. Long explanation short: Sometimes natural, herbal, cognitive-behavior methods work; sometimes they don’t and medicine does. There are good reasons to take medication and there are good reasons to not take medication. Respect what works for each individual, share information and techniques, but NEVER shame someone or belittle their choices or needs.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

holdontothelight-fb-banner

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Ian from Terry Bruce’s THEREAFTER

03042014 - thereafter_ebookI’m very pleased, today, to have a special visitor here at A Novel Friend thanks to Terri Bruce’s Blog Tour! Ian, the cowboy from Terri’s newest release, Thereafter, took a few minutes out of his adventures in the Afterlife to chat with us!

Thanks for stopping by my blog here, Ian! Terri and I do a lot of talking about horses, so I was excited to meet the cowboy she’s been talking about. I know Thereafter has just come out, so a lot of people might not have read it yet. Can you tell these folks a little about yourself in the book?

Well, it’s gonna sound mighty strange, but me and a bunch of other folks are stuck by this river in the afterlife—we’re all dead, you see. And there’s this woman, Irene Dunphy—well, she comes along with a plan to spring us all. So I end up fallin’ in with her and this other fella—Andras—and we set about trying to get on out of there.

Before you ended up where you are now, what was your life like?

I worked on a horse ranch in Kentucky. Weren’t much excitement—it was sun up to sun down back breaking work. It was hot, it was dusty, and the only good part was headin’ to Ms. Lydia’s Dancing Girls Emporium on Saturday nights.

Being a horse person myself, I’m curious to how horses are in the Afterlife. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, I don’t rightly know, now that you mention it. I ain’t never seen many horses running around the afterlife. There’s a few, now and again, with some of the older folks, them that died in way back times, but otherwise, ain’t too many. God only knows how Irene ended up with a horse—she don’t strike me as much of a horse woman, prancing around in that little nothing of a dress she wears and all.

What were some of your favorite pastimes or hobbies before? How has that changed?

Outside of Ms. Lydia’s, there weren’t much time for much else in the way of hobbies. When I got hitched to Irmaguard, I had to give up Ms. Lydia’s, which was a damn shame. But Irmaguard, God rest her soul, was a sure-fired jealous woman so there wasn’t any help for it.

What did you think of Irene when you meet her? How does that change as you got to know her?

Oooo-eeee! I was looking over this vista, admiring the view, and all of a sudden this woman, well, more of a blur, really, comes flying at me like a bat out of hell. I didn’t know what she was doin’. She tackles me, and the next thing I know I’m flat on my back, lookin’ up into a mass of red hair, the most beautiful brown eyes, and the sweetest little mouth I ever did see. She wanted to take off right after, but I sure wasn’t lettin’ her out of my sight that easy. Then I found she was fixin’ to find a way across the river, and then I certainly wasn’t goin’ to let her out of my sight! I been stuck there by that river for a couple hundred years and was mighty sick of it, I can tell you.

Something I always like to ask folks I interview is this: What is a question you want me to ask? And what would that answer be?

Well, now, that’s a toughie. I guess, I wish you’d asked when I wish I would have lived; I can tell you that Irene told me a bit about the future and it sure did sound good. I wish that’s when I’d been born. Life sure does seem like a lot more fun.

Thank you kindly for stopping by my blog, Ian!

No problem! And shoot, thanks for havin’ me!

03042014 - Terri Bruce Author Pic Official

Find out more about Ian, Irene, Andras, and Terri by picking up Thereafter! Here are the details!

Book Details:

ISBN: 978-0991303625

Cover Price: $14.95

E-book Price: $4.95

Buy on Amazon!

Buy on Barnes & Noble!

Jacket Copy:
Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either.

When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.

Boy, was she wrong.

She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.

As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.
Read More: http://terribruce.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=311#ixzz31l8bBDvk

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

You can win stuff, too, by leaving comments!!

Launch Party Blog Tour Giveaway  – May 1st – May 31st

2 $50 Amazon gift cards

5 signed paperback copies of Thereafter (U.S./Canada Only)
CLICK HERE FOR THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY!

 

Halloween Blog Post: Justine Graykin

10252013 - ANcoverLarrythumbWelcome to the Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour!! A few of my author friends from Broad Universe and I adore Halloween, so we’re trading blog posts every other day for this last week of October.

Justine Graykin‘s second post in this tour tickles me to no end. I’ve been a fan of her Archimedes Nesselrode since she started reading excerpts from it at Rapid Fire Readings years ago. It was an audio book first, and I just don’t do audio books. So, when she finally, finally, finally had a huggable book published, I did, indeed, drive all the way up to her release party in New Hampshire so I could immediately hug my own copy. Squee!

Happy Halloween!!

An Excerpt from Archimedes Nesselrode by Justine Graykin

Archimedes Nesselrode, my newly-released novel from Double Dragon, is mostly gentle and whimsical, a tale of an artist with strange and wonderful creative powers.  But these powers also have a dark and frightful side, one which even the artist himself fears.

In honor of the this shiversome season, I offer to the readers of my dear friend Trisha’s blog an excerpt from the book in keeping with that spirit of darkness.

We join the artist and his devoted housekeeper attempting to escape from the vengeful anger of Zarah Trebbiano, the operatic diva whose advances Mr. Nesselrode has rejected.

“Get in the car, Mr. Nesselrode,” Ms. Mare said firmly, “I shall handle this.”

“Oh, yes, get into the car, Michel!” the singer mocked.  “Do as your woman servant says!  Spineless worm!  That is all you are!  Gutless and spineless!”

“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare snapped in an imperiously commanding tone that any school mistress would have envied.  “You will leave immediately and do not dare attempt to contact Mr. Nesselrode again in any way!”

“Call off your dog, Michel,” Madam Trebbiano said, “her yapping annoys me.”

“You are a crude, ill-bred woman who ought to be ashamed of herself, but is too arrogant to realize it!  Now, good night to you!”  Ms. Mare turned on her heel to go.  Her employer had still not moved.

“Ill-bred?” the singer cried.  “This from an illegitimate brat of the serving class!  Oh, yes, I know who you are!  You’re the housekeeper, aren’t you?  Do you think to improve your position by coddling your master?  A bit of advice to you–don’t attempt to bed him!  He is a passionless, impotent fish!”

“How dare you?” Ms. Mare cried in outrage.

“Can’t you say anything, Michel?  No, you pathetic, sniveling poseur!  I should never have wasted my time with you!  You are not a man at all!”

“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare commanded, uncomfortably aware that they were beginning to attract a crowd.  “Mr. Nesselrode, get into the car.  We are leaving!”

“Go on, Michel!  Run with your tail between your legs!  That’s all you’ve got down there!  Go home with your faithful dog!  Perhaps you can reward her with a few limp-wristed caresses!  Or do you prefer little boys?”

“Zarah, shut up!”

The transformation of Archimedes Nesselrode from rabbit to wild-eyed fury was sudden and astonishing.  He spun around to face her and his voice rose into a screech.  “Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!”

Madam Trebbiano was shocked speechless, taking a step away from him.  Ms. Mare was frozen, her mouth open.  She had seen him annoyed, fretful, peevish and irritated.  She had never seen this.  His eyes blazed with madness, but not the gentle, harmless madness she was accustomed to.  His face was twisted horribly and malignantly.  The winged snake flew up into the air with alarm and darted over to Ms. Mare, coiling about her legs and cringing, afraid of her own master.

“You summon great passion in me, Zarah!  Oh, yes!  You inspire me with wild emotion!”  He laughed, but it was a fearful, maniacal sound.  “You are fascinated by my magic, eh?  I’ll give you a demonstration!  See what I create in your honor!”  He held out his hands.  To Ms. Mare’s horror they were dripping with scorpions.  If there was any creature which inspired greater loathing in her than spiders, it was scorpions.

Madam Trebbiano’s expression showed much the same sentiment.  She was grimacing in revulsion.  Archimedes Nesselrode, quite monstrously insane, walked towards her.  “Embrace me, Zarah!  I’m all yours!”

“Get away from me!” she cried, backing away.  But she found her retreat blocked.  They were no longer standing on a city sidewalk.  Archimedes Nesselrode had conjured a chamber of horrors.

The stone walls that enclosed them slanted at bizarre angles and intersected with unbearable asymmetry.  The seams where the stone blocks met were cracked and seeping with fungoid slime.  From the slime bubbled shapeless things which crawled and dripped to the crazily tilting floor.  The ceiling was thickly hung with sticky webs which seethed with black legs and bloated bodies.

“Gifts for you, Zarah!” he shrieked, his voice cracked and shaking, “From the bottom of my heart!”  He threw the scorpions at her, and began to laugh hideously.  He became swathed in robes of black and scarlet, and from beneath the folds of the robe erupted monstrosities, deformed and hideous.  Writhing hunks of severed flesh, embedded with eyes, oozing like open wounds, they flopped and crawled around him.  Zarah Trebbiano screamed and clawed helplessly at the venomous creatures that clung to her, stinging her repeatedly.

Stunned with horror, Vivian Mare stared, unable to believe that her timid, sweet employer could have so suddenly mutated into this terrible monster.  It took an act of strongest will power to break the paralyzing spell.

“Snake, for pity’s sake, let go of me!”

My thanks to Trisha Wooldridge for her gracious hospitality.  Archimedes Nesselrode is available as a paperback 10252013 - j_graykin_photothrough Amazon and as an ebook though most major distributors.  You may learn more about this and my humble self on my website, at justinegraykin.com

About the Author:

Justine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science, Humanity and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. Author of Archimedes Nesselrode, a book written for adults who are weary of adult books, she is producer of the BroadPod podcast.   She lives, writes and putters around her home in rural New Hampshire, occasionally disappearing into the White Mountains with a backpack.

The Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour runs every other day October 23-October 31.  Join us all five days for Halloween fun!  Be sure to say hello on any post to be entered in a giveaway at the end of the tour!