Still Aches

My heart still aches

it breaks for you

but you’re long gone

intensified

bottled up and beat down

gasping at the freedom

you left behind

yet your light still shines

warms my face

my cheeks

lifts my chin

pounds in my ears

memorialized for life

depression

ativan

anxiety

suicidal thoughts

Is this your pedestal?

your legacy?

what you wanted to leave behind?

Not your Crooked Steps

or those days you tried to live?

From your Eyelid’s Mouth

to A Thousand Days Before

you walked through

to the Superunknown

with your Pretty Noose

like a Spoonman who

Fell on Black Days.

Its hard not to see your tears

everywhere

because we all have them

everyone has something to hide

but you

now you’re Beyond the Wheel

of time

of life

of love

of death

One Minute of Silence isn’t going to cut it.

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Pockets and Pretty Things

I don’t really exist.

Though I was created to make the world a better place,

an easier game,

but I’m not really worth much at all.

I’ve been everywhere and

I’ve seen all types of people.

Everyone wants a part of me,

more than I can give.

I am love.

I am hate.

I am art.

I am pain.

I am never enough.

I am more than enough.

I am a poor excuse for a saviour.

For I will enslave you

You will worship me

though I am corrupt

You’ll lie awake at night and wonder when I’ll arrive

Your heart will ache for just a little more of me

I am exhilarating

I am debilitating

and inadequate

I am needed

I am wanted

though not readily available

I create beauty

I create beasts

I’m insufficiently distributed

though easily manufactured

And I’m in charge

I decide who you think’s in charge

I control what’s up, what’s down

I fuel wars and terrorism

I fuel freedom and red carpets

I fuel hunger and homelessness

I give life and take it away

I am yours

You are mine

I’m archaic

I’m stupid

I’m brilliant

I’m paper and coin and numbers on a screen

I’ve survived countless revolutions

And I can make change

But I depend on your ability not to.

*** Written for the #NBR August Prompt Challenge: write about the stupidest yet most meaningful and poetic thing you can think of. 

Manuscript Editing Tip

I’m still at it. There have been other priorities that have been taking over as of late, yet I managed to create and format a new manuscript for Valterra. Though I don’t think I’ll send it out before reading it through on paper, taking notes, and making one more round of changes. I haven’t had a complete read through since before I starting posting to Wattpad. Now that it’s a featured story there and doing well (up over 6000 views since June 2,  11k views in total) I most likely won’t bother editing the online version. I will maintain my edits to the manuscript only and when I feel it’s completely done, I’ll mail it out.

I thought I’d write about a quick tip I learned that seemed to help one of my peers on Wattpad who was having her story critiqued by the #NBR team. She had a bunch of short but descriptive sentences in her scene. So much so that it made it choppy to read and didn’t help fully engage to reader to visualize her setting and characters.

I told her about a tip I’ve learned to stretch a sentence. I’ve been teaching it to kids now at the library for a couple years. Basically, it gives you a formula to create the most visual and engaging sentence for your reader.

It’s simple really. Ask yourself this series of questions when trying to stretch a sentence. Who? Is doing what? When? Where? Why?

It’s very easy to apply to any sentence that needs a bit more detail while your editing. With kids, we start off bare bones;

Who?  My stinky dog.

Is doing what? My stinky dog is taking a bath.

When? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight.

Where? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight in our tub with tomato juice.

Why? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight in our tub with tomato juice because he got sprayed by a skunk.

But this formula works with any sentence structure. If you’ve already clearly described the who, what and when… make sure you add the where and why!

Here’s an example of a few sentences from a short story of mine. I’ll post the paragraph before and after adding this formula.

Before:

Dusk was inevitable. Jax sat in his cellar waiting for this specific dusk’s approach. The sun’s glow still lingered over the horizon, but with each passing moment it’s pink hue faded to grey. 

After:

Dusk was inevitable. Jax sat in his cellar, wishing things were different and waited for it’s arrival as the hairs on his arms and neck tingled in anticipation. The sun’s glow still lingered over the horizon, but with each passing moment, while its pink hue faded to grey, Jax’s pulse raised as steadily as the coming moon. 

This quick tip allows you to identify what information is missing, not only from sentences, but also short descriptive paragraphs as well.

Hope this helps anyone working with a rough draft and are looking for new ways to pull the most out of your story and really make it come alive for your readers.

  

 

 

Being Featured on Wattpad

It feels good having my story featured on Wattpad. I’m getting some great feedback and people seem to like the story. My views have jumped quite a bit and it’s only been a couple days. I can’t imagine what they may be when all is said and done.

I’ll only be at the top of the featured list for a couple weeks. Then I’m not sure how far down I drop and for how long. They asked that I not remove my story for at least six months, so hopefully that’s how long I’ll be featured too.

I think publishing on Wattpad can only help getting your story exposure, especially since it’s tracked and displayed. Plus, you can get some great critiques and improve your story while you gain readership in your characters. Also, publishing on Wattpad does not count as first rights. And if you do end up getting picked up, most publishers these days use Wattpad as a tool for sales, it’s a win/win.

We even carry titles published on Wattpad in our library collection at my work. Like Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillians) by Laurie Boyle Crompton. I first saw that story on Wattpad and read it through. A lot of it was cut out after paper publication, but it still climbed to over 2 millions views and it was first posted on Wattpad three years ago.

So you’re probably wondering how to get your story published on Wattpad. Don’t worry, it’s simple. Just have a complete story and have at least all of of posted to Wattpad. As long as the grammar is sound and it is readable, you will get featured. I think the only stipulation is that it can’t be a rant book, or quote book. It has to be a fleshed out story from beginning to end.

I submitted Valterra a few months ago when I had almost completely posted all its chapters. It took 2 or 3 weeks for them to get back to me and let me know the exact date, which was a couple months away. Yep, it was that easy! So now I’m still critiquing and editing when I can. My weekly freelance work is still a priority though because of the money, and I’ve been practicing the piano more recently, gearing up for a recording sessions with my husband’s progressive grunge band, Help (the picture is from one of many a band practice).

So yes, I should have had my manuscript finished by now, but there is still much that can be added. I need to read through and make notes and make sure there are no plot holes. Plus I have been learning about writing dialogue and think I could rework some of my heavier talking scenes. But it’s the process. Each time it will be easier because I’ll know so much more before I begin writing book two.

If you want to check out my story, I would love some honest feedback!

https://embed.wattpad.com/story/49692752

Embedded Description to Improve Narrative Flow

As I rework my manuscript, I find myself continually trying to rework or add embedded description within my paragraphs to help improve the narrative flow for the reader. Embedded description refers to the details a writer adds about the setting or characters that falls in between a dialogue or action taking place in the story. This was one of the many lessons I learned during critiquing on Wattpad.

A very simple example would be; “She squinted through her pink glasses and pushed them farther up on to her nose with her index finger.” Or “She walked over to her bed, grabbed her silk red dress and pulled it softly over her slim frame.” Basic stuff.

However, when drafting a story, my main concern is getting the story out rather than focusing too much on what’s going on around my character. As I read back and edit, I am able to find all the instances where world building and character building can be improved. Simply adding description during the actions, while trying to touch upon all five senses, I can build a better picture of the story for the reader.

It’s also best to try to avoid clumping all your description into one or two paragraphs. Spread the description throughout the chapter to keep the action and narrative flowing. Readers like background information and descriptions, but don’t want to get bogged down by it all at once. It’s easiest if you describe what your characters are most likely to notice around them and use strong, concert verbs while describing action and limit the use of adjectives.

Remember to not let excessive description get in the way of drafting your story. Don’t think about it too much unless it comes natural to you, there will always be time to add description in later without interrupting your writing process.

I have several stories I need to rework, though my first priority is Valterra. It’s been reread and edited several times, but some of my chapters are still very short and could use a bit more building.  I’d also really like to give Jonas and the Mermaid Curse a good facelift. It hasn’t been re-worked at all and still sits as a first untouched draft. Much work to be done there. One day, one sentence at a time.

Writing Poetry from Within

I’ve never really thought of myself as a poet until recently. Looking back on my life I realize that I have probably spent more time writing poetry than any other type of literary work.

Poetry consumed me as a teenager. I couldn’t get enough of it. My reading favourites included Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Jim Morrison, William Blake… anything I could get my hands on at the library.

I spent hours in my room crafting horrible love poems to boys or venting my frustrations and angers into hidden mysteries. I allowed my state of mind to spill on the page, often times recklessly and without abandon.

However, since becoming a mother my poetry has lapsed quite a bit. Juggling my time between family, home and work has left me with little wiggle room to write. With my new found fiction focus (I had never written a fiction story until starting Valterra in 2014), storytelling has now taken over my psyche. I am in constant idea mode; always seeing details and people around me as characters and situations I can put them in. So my poetry has taken a hard hit.

Yet when I do write, I always find that it’s about something that is deeply troubling me or something very intimate or personal, like a dream or a fantasy, or my hopes and fears. Whether it be a relationship or a world issue, poetry is where I transform my feelings into words. It’s almost a release of tension versus a battle for perfection. The way the words roll off my tongue and collide with the rhythm I create, it’s therapeutic. I guess it always has been.

Whenever I finish a poem, I either love it or hate it. For me, there’s nothing in between. Nonetheless, I’ve never trashed a poem. I may not share it with anyone if it’s really bad, but sometimes bad poetry is fun to read.

Some of the poems in my Grunge Girl Diaries on Wattpad are pretty bad but they are also juvenile and honest.  There are a few hidden gems but I’ve shared most of them to stay authentic to myself at that age, for the diaries sake. I almost feel grateful that I have them to look back on and remember all the turmoil and angst I felt and all the infatuation and romance of my high school crushes. I’m glad I can share them and not be embarrassed about it. It’s my history after all.

So I guess I am a poet. Maybe not a full-time poet, the only thing I’m really full-time at is being a mother and a wife, all the rest just falls into place when I move from here to there and back again.

Yet poetry is a constant. That’s why I decided to go for it and submit some poems for publication. I chose Arc Poetry Magazine. It’s a popular Canadian publication that features the best emerging poets, mostly from Canada. They had a call-out for submissions regarding Art in the End Times which I felt I had the perfect poem for, plus a couple others for their a later issue, most likely Winter 2017.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted in this and my other publishing endeavours.

 

 

Poetry Submissions

With all the research I’ve been doing lately, I’ve realized that I’ve missed out on so much in the poetry world. Poetry has been a constant companion for me throughout my life. Even as a young teen, I found myself drawn to putting words together in different ways.

Reading through the Writers Market (still only at the C’s in the Publishers listings) I’m shocked at just how many publishers accept poetry, or who run annual poetry contests or who accept only poetry. I have literally hundreds of poems tucked away, possibly about 100 of them up on Wattpad, and I have never really considered trying to get an MS out of all of them.

So that has been my focus for the last day. I aim to go through all my poems today and pick out the ones I like the best, and then try to group them together in such a way that they flow nicely as a collection. Perhaps have different sections for each similar theme. Love, heartache, world issues, fun, humour, dark; I’ll have to see what I can come up with as I sift through them.

If anyone reading knows of any poetry contests currently running, please leave me a comment! It would have to be something International or Canadian though. Thanks in advance!

(Oh look! I found this list from the University of Calgary listing some Canadian journals that accept submissions for single poems. Hey, it’s a start! Check them out here:

Poetry Submission Opportunities (Canada)