Interview with Writer, Published Author, and Blogger: Lynn Love #interview #nonfiction


Welcome to another writer/blogger interview. I’m so pleased to share with you an interview with Lynn Love the talented and published writer, author, and blogger. Her Blog is called: World Shamble: Exploring Fictional Worlds in a Blast.


Lynn Love
Credit: Lynn Love

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself Lynn: 


Lynn Love, I live in Bristol in the South West of the U.K. If you want to conjure the accent, imagine a pirate speaking and you won’t be far off.  I’ve lived in all four corners of England, though, so my accent is truly mongrel. I blog at Word Shamble: Exploring Fictional Worlds in a Blast.

I’ve also worked as a florist for most of my adult life, so if you need a bridal bouquet — I’m your woman. I’ve been married for twenty-five years this year – which gives you an idea of how old I am! And, also I have one cheeky, funny teenage son. Last summer we moved into a 1930’s terraced house. There is a primary school in the street behind us and a family of six live next door, so I can always hear children laughing – or crying!


2.  Can You Tell Us More About Your Writing Experiences and How You Began Blogging? 


I’ve won writing competitions and had my short stories published in magazines, but my ultimate goal is to leave floristry and write.  I’d love to be a full-time novelist but realistically, there is only a tiny percentage of authors who accomplish that hallowed goal. I’m also taking a copywriting course at the moment, as a way to achieve a more reliable income stream.

For years I kept reading how writers needed an online presence but it was something I never got around to doing. I didn’t know what to write about, and how to pitch the tone of the site. I began one site that was soon abandoned for precisely those reasons.

Then in 2015, after I’d had some short stories published in a writing group anthology, I thought it was time to try blogging again. This time, my approach was to be less self-consciously ‘writerly,’ and more light-hearted. Perhaps, I’d developed my writing style by then.

I love blogging and have met wonderful people from all over the world online – people who love reading and writing as much as I do. But also I think blogging has helped me as a writer.

I’ve produced over 750 blog posts – that’s at least 225,000 words and a lot of writing practice. I’ve written in a range of styles, from book reviews and opinion pieces to flash fiction and a serialized novella. Word Shamble is my online home, my space.


“I love blogging and have met wonderful people from all over the world online – people who love reading and writing as much as I do. But also I think blogging has helped me as a writer.” – Lynn Love


Nick Morrison Unsplash
Credit: Nick Morrison via Unsplash.

3. What Motivates You to Write? 


Motivation is easy – I love the process of writing. I love sitting at a keyboard, plucking an idea from the air and spinning a plot and characters from it. When I was a child, I disappeared into books and into my fantasy world for hours. Now, I create the worlds for myself.

Inspiration comes from everywhere – from dreams, from misheard song lyrics, from picture prompts online, from watching people on the bus, wondering what their story is, and how they’ve become who they are. Sometimes I begin with a setting, sometimes with a character, quirk or a plotline.


4. Where Do You Prefer to Write on Your Blog and as an Author? 


I can write almost anywhere – cafes, public transport, at work on my lunch break – but my most productive times come at home in front of my laptop on my days off. I can write from very early morning until mid-evening if I get the chance. Sometimes in the evening as my brain shuts down as the sun sets!

Moreover, I love disappearing into a world, creating places and people so that they live in my head. A YA novel I wrote was largely set at my local museum and for a while each time I passed it, I wondered about my character — what she was doing (etc.). I just love how characters in books can become so real. 

Also, I take part in a couple of writing prompts a week particularly Friday Fictioneers and What Pegman Saw. Both writing communities are talented and have taught me so much. We are all terrifically supportive of each other. Away from the blog, I’m rewriting my Urban Fantasy novel after feedback from my Alpha Readers. Right now my brain is filled with ghosts and demons and Hell mouths.


“Moreover, I love disappearing into a world, creating places and people so that they live in my head. A YA novel I wrote was largely set at my local museum and for a while each time I passed it, I wondered about my character — what she was doing (etc.). I just love how characters in books can become so real.” – Lynn Love


Tyler Nix via Unsplash
Credit: Tyler Nix via Unsplash. 

5. What kinds of Connections Have Helped You As a Writer and Blogger? What Inspires You to Write?


I was lucky enough to be involved in a very proactive writing group early on and we had an anthology of short stories and poetry published a few years ago. I’ve been published online many times, won and been shortlisted in magazine competitions and this year had my first serial publication in a British magazine called The People’s Friend, which was terrific. I hope to have more published through them and to have my novels published eventually. Writing is my passion and earning money through it just means I get the chance to do more.

Sometimes I’m inspired by a photograph, sometimes people-watching, and other times by filling in someone’s fictional backstory. Sometimes inspiration comes from a ‘what if’ – ‘What if that alleyway isn’t only filled with rubbish and bad smells, but opens to something wondrous?’ ‘What if I could use this Tudor sixpence to take me back in time?’ Then my imagination sparks off and I’m away, trying to hammer a plot, characters, and arcs (etc.).


6. Please Share with Us Your Experiences Publishing Your Serial in a Magazine?


For my recent serial publication, I entered a competition the magazine was running to discover new writers. I developed a plot, wrote the first part, and sent it off. I didn’t win and chalked the whole lost-effort up to experience.

Almost two years later, I was about to delete the story from my hard drive when I got an email from one of the fiction staff at the magazine asking if I would still be interested in writing the story for them. Usually, rejection means just that, but sometimes magazines and publishers can throw you an unexpected lifeline.


“Usually, rejection means just that, but sometimes magazines and publishers can throw you an unexpected lifeline.” – Lynn Love


Mattias Diesel Reading Magazine via Unsplash
Credit: Mattias Diesel via Unsplash

7. Do You Have Preferred Reading/Writing Genre? What is the Best Advice You Can Give New Writers and Bloggers? 


I read the same genres as the ones I read as a child including historical fiction and fantasy, though I’m more drawn to Urban than High Fantasy. These genres are also what I write. In fact, if I can read or write an amalgamation of the two, then I’m most happy, which probably explains my YA time-travel novel and the Urban Fantasy peopled with ghosts from all eras of history.

As for good advice, an old piece of advice but a good one I follow is to write, write, and keep writing. Only practice will get you where you want to be as a writer. Well, that and robust feedback from fellow writers who love your work and want you to succeed.

Oh, also don’t let rejection letters/emails send you scurrying back to your study, swearing never to venture out. Every single number one author has been rejected more times than you can count. It’s people who bounce back from multiple rejections who become writers.

Also, you just have to love writing or it will become a chore. Let it become part of who you are in a quiet way. You don’t need to tell people what you’re writing and how great it is. Just be quietly satisfied with what you do when you’re alone with a keyboard or your notebook and pen.


8. Who or on What Sites Are Your Favorite Bloggers and/or Prompt Sites Found? 


There are far too many wonderful blogs to mention – can I do five? I’ve taken part in the Friday Fictioneers prompt most weeks for two-years and it feels like a home away from home. Also, the flash fiction prompt What Pegman Saw comes a close second for providing me with inspiration.

As well, I love Joy Pixley’s Tales from Eneana, a fantasy blog with a rich mythology and depth-of-story. Also, I recommend Jane Basil’s Making it Write for her wonderful poetry and blistering honesty. Lastly, Bill Pearse at Pinklightsabre  is a sight I love because of Bill’s skillful life-like writing. As a whole, bloggers are the most inspirational and supportive group of people I know. 


“Also, you just have to love writing or it will become a chore. Let it become part of who you are in a quiet way. You don’t need to tell people what you’re writing and how great it is. Just be quietly satisfied with what you do when you’re alone with a keyboard or your notebook and pen.” – Lynn Love


Ana Tavares via Unsplash Writing


9. Lynn, Can You Share with Us A Most Loved Blog Post? 


 

Friday Fictioneers: One Amber Night.

By Lynn Love

February 27, 2018.

*****

J Hardy Carroll
Credit: J. Hardy Carroll for Friday Fictioneers

*****

There’d been a fresh dusting of snow in the night, coating the grimy icebergs of the last fall, the one before that.

Sid edged along the sidewalk,  past the boarded-up liquor store and Cal’s Gym, ‘Waterloo’s Oldest Boxing Establishment’ until the receivers came in last October. He and Cal had sunk a bottle of Macallan that night, glass after amber glass till they were snoring on the folding bed, overcoats as blankets. Cal left for Kansas the next day to live in his sister’s garage apartment.

All his old friends were gone now. Just him and the cold left.

*****

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers.  As the great Russell Gayer said: ‘The key to building an audience is reading and commenting on others’ work’.


I write a lot of flash fiction. Some short pieces open themselves to a longer write, such as Gideon keeps a secret, The fate of the flower seller, The scarlet net, and A single man who can sew. One recent flash fiction I wrote is from the Three Lines Tales prompt, called The Midas Touch.

Although it felt onerous at times, last year I completed a Gothic Horror SerialThe Devil of Moravia. It includes devils, demons, and blood-soaked London streets, and drew quite a following. I hope to develop this serial into a novella in the near future.


Thank you to Lynn for filling out the writer/blogger interview questions and my apologies the interview took so long to post. Here’s the link to Lynn Love’s blog one more time: Word Shamble.

It’s been a busy year, but there are more interviews to come shortly. If you wish to be interviewed as a writer/blogger or because you blog for a cause, you can reach me on my Contact Page. 


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

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Interview with Sarah Whiley: Writer, Blogger, Teacher, & Future Author #interview #nonfiction #amwriting #nonfiction


Welcome to another writer/blogger interview. Today I’m interviewing the wonderful, talented, and gorgeous Sarah Whiley who I have come to know through the prompt website MindLoveMisery`s Menagerie (MLMM). Sarah`s personal blog is called: By Sarah. You can also look for her to do the Saturday Mix prompt on MLMM. Here`s the link to last week`s prompt: Same Same but Different December 30.


Sarah Whiley Interview Pic 1
Credit: Sarah Whiley

1. Sarah, Please Tell Us About Yourself? What Are Your Writing and Blogging Goals? What Do You Hope to Accomplish by Writing? 


My name is Sarah Whiley and I live in north-east Victoria, in Australia. My blog is: ‘By Sarah. I’m a primary school teacher of 17 years and have taught all ages from 5 to 12 years old. I have always loved writing since I could pick up a pencil and create. I am passionate about instilling this same love of writing in my students.

In order to do that, it is important that I see myself as a writer – as an author in my own right. This is what I am hoping to accomplish by writing and blogging. I am so fortunate to live where I do. They don’t call Australia the “lucky country” for nothing!


2. Tell Us About Where You Live and What You Love About It?


I’m originally a city girl from Canberra, and later, Melbourne. I have enjoyed the spoils of both cities’ such as the cosmopolitan cafes and restaurants, nightlife, and their unique cultures.

When I met my husband and moved to the country! I love the wide- open spaces, the varying landscapes and the bush. I am now an avid bushwalker and spend most weekends out and about, communing with nature.


“I am a primary school teacher of 17 years and have taught all ages from 5 to 12 years old. I have always loved writing since I could pick up a pencil and create. I am passionate about instilling this same love of writing in my students. In order to do that, it is important that I see myself as a writer – as an author in my own right.” – By Sarah Whiley 


Sarah Whiley Pic 2
Sarah Whiley

 


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging and Why? What Does Writing Mean to You? 


My journey with blogging began five years ago, after a series of personal setbacks and issues. I commenced blogging primarily, as a cathartic experience to help me work through my thoughts and feelings. Once I no longer ‘needed’ my blog, I had a small break, however always felt something was ‘missing.’

After attending professional development for helping me teach writing, I realized, the hole that blogging and writing had left in my life!

I started my blog, ‘By Sarah,’ to explore my own creative writing, to explore myself, and my talent for writing. I have, particularly, enjoyed writing short stories and poetry. An unexpected bonus to continued blogging has been the great friendships I’ve gained in the WordPress community; I have established so many along the way.


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Continue Writing and Blogging? Why Is It Vital for you to Keep on Writing? 


I have some seeds of ideas stashed away in my writer’s notebook. I tend to work on these pieces over a long period of time. For other ideas, I rely on a range of prompts. I feel it’s important to write regularly in order to develop my skills and continue to write and maintain it as a habit. Also, I experience a great degree of stress relief from writing.

Moreover, as a teacher, it is easy to get stuck in a cycle of hyper-vigilance and not to give yourself enough ‘down time’. I find a variety of prompts extremely helpful for motivating and inspiring writing for myself and in my teaching.

As well, I have a schedule of sorts and I endeavor to write every day aside from Wednesdays (which is my ‘well-being-do-nothing’ night!


 

Sarah Whiley Group Pic 3
Credit: Sarah Wiley

 


“For other ideas, I rely on a range of prompts. I feel it is important to write regularly in order to develop my skills and continue to write and maintain it as a habit. Also, I experience a great degree of stress relief from writing.” – Sarah Whiley


5. What Are Your Writing and Blogging Habits? Do You Prefer Writing a Certain Time of Day? 


I set aside time each day to write. Usually, I can be found on the couch with a dog or two keeping me company, along with some background noise from the TV (I am one of these people who can’t concentrate when it’s quiet). I enjoy writing poetry most. I have a knack for rhyme and rhythm and find it easy to whip up a poem.

As well, I have been challenging myself to explore other types of writing and short stories to extend my skills. I don’t write in the mornings as I am in a rush for time once I wake up. I rush out the door to teach school, but I write after dinner, sometime between 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at night. I find Tuesdays and Thursdays to be my busiest and most productive days.


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing or Blogging Projects? Do You Have Projects Outside of Your Blog Involving Writing? Do You Plan on Publishing Any Writing in the Future? 


Currently, I am undertaking Sammi Cox’s  ‘A Month of Mini Writing Challenges’ and have am the new host for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s ‘Saturday Mix’. Outside of my
blog, I keep a writer’s notebook and am busy maintaining a Class Dojo Story (similar to a blog) for my classroom.

I will soon be published as a feature writer in Linda J. Wolff’s upcoming eBook. Linda runs a fantastic Urban Poetry site and I was the winner of her Fibonacci poetry competition earlier this year. At the end of the year, I plan to convert my blog posts for 2017 into a self-published collection for family, friends, and anyone else interested.


Toa Hefitaba Sarah
Credit: Toa Hefitba via UnSplash

“I will soon be published as a feature writer in Linda J. Wolff’s upcoming eBook. Linda runs a fantastic Urban Poetry site and I was the winner of her Fibonacci poetry competition earlier this year. At the end of the year, I plan to convert my blog posts for 2017 into a self-published collection for family, friends, and anyone else interested.” – Sarah Whiley


7. Can you Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? What Do You Think Will Be Your Process of Self-Publishing Your Writing? 


Being a teacher, I find the writing process natural and not something I have to think too hard about. Storytelling and explaining my ideas is something I innately do. Upon analysis of my writing, though, I definitely follow six-traits in my writing process including ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.

After I am happy with a final piece, I often bounce it off my husband or my mum, seeking their feedback. They are a tremendous help to me and improve the end result of my stories and poems and their overall flow. When I self-publish at the end of the year, I am investigating the use of the ‘Blook-Up Service.‘ (As Sarah gave me these answers super-quick back at the end of August or September, please ask her about the progress of her book and her published poem!!).


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing and Reading Genres? And Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers and Bloggers Starting Out? 


Well, I’m definitely drawn to the dark, somewhat macabre styles of writing. My pieces often take a dark turn or have a twist at the end. I am not a fan of science-fiction or fantasy, at all, but I prefer supernatural, horror, thriller, crime, mystery, drama, historical, and biographical works.

My advice for new bloggers is:

  • Write what you know. Capturing a small moment in time can sometimes produce the best piece of writing! Also, go with the flow….literally! Don’t overthink it. Go with your ‘stream-of-consciousness’ and see where it leads.
  • Find like-minded people. Better to have fewer blog followers and likes, and better to have more feedback from those few who ‘get’ you and your writing, those who appreciate your efforts! Quality not quantity as they say.

Sarah Whiley Hiking 4
Credit: Sarah Whiley and Her Beautiful Photography!!

Find like-minded people. Better to have fewer blog followers and likes, and better to have more feedback from those few who ‘get’ you and your writing, those who appreciate your efforts! Quality not quantity as they say.” Sarah Whiley


9. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share With Us About Writing Or Yourself? 


My experiences growing up in a large family and my relationships with my siblings have certainly shaped many of my ideas and stories! I am the eldest of six children (No, we are not Catholic!). My mum just wanted another son and kept trying until she got one! It’s ironic how she wanted four boys…she ended up with four girls! Despite the large age gaps between some of us, we are reasonably close and hang out together and, at times, travel together.

Also, I LOVE to travel. Whether it be exploring local gems, interstate expeditions or overseas adventures. I am curious and interested in the world around me. I soak up information and facts like a sponge (you never know when they’ll come in handy for a trivia night!) I enjoy nothing more than experiencing new things. I adore the outdoors and take every chance (money permitting of course!) to jump on a plane and go somewhere different.

As well, I love New Zealand and have holidayed there four times now – with plans to go back! I have also traveled to the US (including Hawaii), England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Indonesia. All of these factors have helped develop my writing.


10. Can You Briefly Tell Us About Some of Your Favorite Blogs? What Do You Like Most About Them? 


Gosh, it’s hard to name a few. There are a lot of my WordPress friends whose work I truly respect and enjoy. But, if I have to narrow it down, I would have to say:

  • Jane Dougherty Writes – Jane has a wonderful turn of phrase and is able to use colorful words to create great imagery in her poems and stories.
  • God’s Chair – Jael Sook is an engaging and diverse poet and writer and I thoroughly enjoy her work, anticipating each post she makes.
  • RedStuffDan – Dan is an incredibly artistic photographer. His subjects include Bordeaux vineyards, local village life, architecture, doors, mirrored
    images and digital photography as art.

11. Can You Please Share With Us a Few Links from Your Blogs:

TASI

By Sarah Whiley

*Inspired by “Whiskey In the Jar” Music Prompt

*****

 

Tasi Sarah
Credit: Sarah Whiley

 

*****

My summer holiday in Hobart, Tasmania had not begun quite as I had expected. A thunderstorm, a severely delayed flight, and an inaccessible hostel topped off with some bitterly cold weather that I had most definitely not packed for. Finding myself with a few hours to spare, I decided that a stroll around the CBD to orient myself was in order.

The gathering, dark clouds had other ideas.

I had no sooner ventured out onto the streets when the skies opened and a torrential downpour began. Cursing, I sought cover under the awnings of the few shops that had them.

And that’s when I saw it from across the street. ‘Lark Distillery’.

I have never been a whiskey drinker, but I could not resist the pull of the plume of smoke coming from the chimney, nor the cozy 1800’s building that housed it. I ran across to the front door and pushed it open.

Immediately, a warm, yeasty aroma hit me. Unsurprisingly, I was the only patron. The young man behind the ba took in my sodden, street-urchin appearance, and without a trace of disdain, offered me a tasting.

‘But I don’t really drink whisky,’ I protested. ‘Can I just stay in here until the rain passes?’

‘Sure,’ he replied. ‘But why not have a little taste, just to pass the time?’

He took a glass and bottle from the shelf behind him and sang a few lyrics of the Metallica song, ‘There’s whisky in the jar oh.’ He winked, and with that, I took a seat at the bar.  I felt somewhat lonely amongst the long row of empty bar stools. Clearly, they were used to a greater custom.

‘So what would you like to try?’ he asked.

‘I’m in your hands,’ I admitted. ‘What would you recommend?’

‘Let’s start with the single malt. It’s a classic,’ he advised.

He poured a sample into the glass. The glug-glug and almost syrupy quality of the liquid was mesmerising.

‘This whisky is double distilled in locally crafted copper-pot stills and aged in small, 100 litre oak casks. We store our spirits for 5-8 years in smaller barrels for faster maturation,’ he explained.

I took a sip and promptly spluttered. He laughed.

‘Try throwing it back in one go,’ he suggested.

So I did.

After the initial burning sensation and urge to cough, the most amazingly delicious warmth spread from my belly to my brow.

‘Mmmm,’ I approved. ‘Nice. Smooth.’

‘Well if you like that, you’ll love the cask strength. It’s got the same smoothness but is more full bodied due to a higher percentage of Tasmanian malt. It bursts across the palate with hints of maple syrup and sweet notes of highland peat.’

‘Right,’ I said, not having a clue what that meant. Irrespectively, I nudged my glass forward and said, ‘Hit me.’

And I threw that back too.

This bloke knows what he’s talking about, I thought. It was amazing. My palate was dancing and my whole body was alive. The rain outside had faded away, and I felt all toasty and warm and happy.

‘How much alcohol is in this?’ I demanded.

‘58%’ he replied, with a twinkle in his eye, as if he knew that I was feeling tipsy already. ‘How ’bout we mix it up a little? Wanna try some gin?’

‘Gin?’ I replied with enthusiasm. Now we were speaking my language! ‘Oh yes please! Definitely’.

Again, I pushed my glass forward.

‘Now, here at Lark, we do a gin each season,’ he explained, ‘that way we can capitalise on the unique flavours available at different times of the year. This one is our summer release.’ He poured a more than generous sample.

This time, before I drank, I lifted the glass to my nose. The aromas were incredible. Bold and beautifully sweet, I inhaled a balance of citrus and rosewater with undertones of juniper and coriander. It made me think of the warmth of the summer sun. It was almost as if I could feel it on my skin.

I drank and closed my eyes with satisfaction.

‘That was good.‘ I could hear my voice starting to lilt and slur with the effects of the high alcohol content. I sat with the gin in my hand and sipped from the glass again and again. As if wanting to savour it but devour it at the same time, until every drop was gone. I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

‘This is slainte,’ he declared. ‘This is very, very special. It was developed by one of our owners in response to the strong demand for a unique Australian whisky liqueur. Slainte is the marriage of our single malt whisky and a distilled spirit of herbs and spices. The two are carefully combined to give a complexity of character, spiciness and sweetness, while maintaining the overtones of the whisky.’

I could listen to this guy talk all day! I thought. Such passion for the product.

My head was swirling, and I though I still didn’t fully understand what this whisky was all about, I had decided I liked it. Very much. I slid my glass towards him.

‘Now, Tasi,’ he began, as he pulled out a new bottle from behind the counter, ‘Tasi is something different altogether.’

‘What is it?’ I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.

‘Tasi is a unique herbal liqueur derived from a single native Tasmanian berry.’

‘I know about the Tasi berry!’ I interjected, surprisingly myself. ‘It’s actually called a Myrtus berry isn’t it?’

‘Yes, that’s right. It’s unique to Tasmania. So this really is something you can’t find anywhere else,’ he was speaking almost reverently. ‘Pass me your glass.’

Unlike any of the other tastings, he first scooped up some ice cubes and placed then delicately in the bottom of my glass.  Intrigued, I leant forward as he carefully poured. Tasi was a glorious deep yellow in colour and looked like liquid gold, flowing over iridescent rocks.

I will never forget that first mouthful. It was as if the liqueur curled around every inch of my teeth and gums. It stuck to my tongue and was like treacle down my throat. That liquid gold coated every surface it touched within my body and I felt like royalty. I smacked my lips approvingly and even moaned out loud. I appreciated every last golden drop and licked the ice cubes once my glass was drained.

He smiled.

He knew.

It was THAT good.

I bought three bottles and thanked him for his time, his advice and his expertise. The bottles clinked as I pulled the door open and reentered the world outside.

I did not notice if it was still raining.

And I did not care.

****

Sarah 2017©


12. Here Are Some More of Sarah’s Link’s to Explore!

Some of her favorite Short pieces:

Some of Sarah’s Poetry:


Thank you so much to Sarah for filling out the interview questions and providing such honest and thoughtful answers. I’m so sorry it took so long to put the interview together. This last past year has been crazy. Make sure to check out Sarah’s Blog: By Sarah.


I should have another interview out in the next couple of weeks, with no promises. If you would like to be interviewed and are a writer or blogger or if you blog for a cause, please reach out to me through my Contact Page. If you’re a regular, you’ll notice I’m playing around with my blog to update my theme. The Contact Page info also needs to be updated eventually.

Have a fantastic week!


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

Interview with Christine Ray: Writer, Blogger, Poet, and Barista from the Go Dog Go Cafe #amwriting #interview #nonfiction


Welcome to another Tuesday edition of my interviews series. Today I have another new interview for you, a talented writer, poet and a Go Do Go Cafe  Barista, Christine Ray. 

I hope you love her blog I have found it fascinating. You can check out some of Christine’s wonderful writing on the topics of Poetry, Erotica, Spoken Word,  and for you newbies out there, B & R Advice for New Bloggers.

Before we go any further, I need to introduce Christine’s blog as a whole, it’s called: Brave and Reckless.


Christine Ray
Credit: Christine Ray

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself, Christine? 

My name is Christine Ray and I’m from Havertown, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia). I blog at Brave and Reckless. I feel as if sometimes I should call myself the ‘accidental blogger!’ I came to the WordPress blog site to do one piece of writing called: What Every Woman Knows. The piece is based on rape culture, sexual harassment, and sexual trauma and is, sadly, more relevant now more than ever.

Writing that one post literally changed my whole life. I rediscovered that I loved writing. I also love to write poetry and I’m thrilled to be part of an active writing community. My blogging goals include continuing to grow and strengthen Secret First Draft, the Go Dog Go Café and Blood Into Ink, all projects that are very near and dear to my heart.


2. Do You Have Any Particular Blogging Goals or Things You Want to Accomplish? 

My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.

The idea was that I develop discipline and prioritize my writing. I am involved with a lot of other collaborative blogs. And sometimes my own personal writing keeps moving further down the priority list than it should be moving.

Additionally, I’m registered for a course about writing child and young adult literature in the Fall that I’m really excited about.  The thought of a low-residency program to earn a Masters in Fine Arts has crossed my mind a time or two (or maybe ten!!).


“My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.” – Christine Ray


3. When Did You Begin Writing or Blogging and Why? What Does Writing Mean to You? 

I honestly can’t remember how old I was when I began writing but I was definitely scrawling short stories into dog-eared notebooks in middle school. As well, I started writing poetry as a teenager.  I was also the editor of my high school newspaper and my senior yearbook.

Nevertheless, I have taken long breaks from writing when life has become busy but it has always been something I come back to when I’m in transition. I turned fifty-years-old in 2016 which was a major life reassessment period for me. Writing became a primary method for me to work through my feelings. 

Finding my voice again as a writer has been really powerful, though to be honest, I think other people took me seriously as a writer long before I did.  There were most definitely several months where I transitioned from when I thought about myself as a middle-aged woman (who happened to write), to identifying myself as a writer and a poet, being who I am today.

Writing has become, and honest, always has been an essential part of my identity. As well, began my blog: Brave and Reckless on October 8, 2016.


4. Where do you Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Continue Writing? Why is it Significant for you to Continue Writing and Blogging? 

I find inspiration everywhere. Music is a big part of my writing process and song lyrics frequently inspire my work but I’ve also been inspired by movies (Paterson is amazing); TV (you’d be amazed how much poetry there is in American Gods); beer menus, conversations with other people, and currently, a collaboration with Aurora Phoenix inspires and motivates me. The collaboration began in the comments section in one of my blog posts.

This sounds silly when I say it out loud, but when I started this particular blog in October, I had no idea that I had anything to say! The vast majority of my writing is inspired by exactly what is going on in my emotional life, in the moment. Sometimes I approach writing about those things obliquely, but often what you see is a direct reflection of my experiences during the day.

One of the most transformative experiences of blogging for me was realizing my writing resonates with other people. Every time someone writes to me and tells me that I captured exactly what they were feeling, but couldn’t articulate it, is an incentive for me to keep up with my writing.  

Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself. 


“Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself.” – Christine Ray 


Rawpixel.com UnSplash
Credit: Rawpixel.com via UnSplash

5. Do you have any Particular Writing or Blogging Habits? What do you Enjoy Most About Writing? Is there a Time of Day you Prefer to Write?

I have a busy life and have discovered that the only way to fit writing and blogging into my life is to awake at 4:00 a.m. From 4:00 a.m to 6: 00 a.m. I write, I answer blog related comments and emails, I record ‘Spoken Word’ versions of my writing, and see to editorial duties.

As well, I have been known to write whole pieces in the Google Docs app on my phone during my commute on the bus or train. I also eat lunch at my desk, at work, and try to catch up on reading other people’s blogs.  At times, I’m still awake at 10:00 p.m. doing blog related activities and tending to my own writing. I must admit that I’m tired right now. However,  I expect things to calm down a bit over the upcoming summer months.


6. Can you Tell us About your Most Current Writing Projects on your Blog or Outside of it? 

In addition to writing and publishing daily, I’ve been running various writing challenges on my blog.  This week I challenged readers to write about a life experience using ten objects and will be publishing my favorites on my ‘Brave and Reckless’ blog. I’ve already committed to two Writing Prompt Challenges and have my third occurring now using the prompt: “I Am More Than Breath and Bones.”

I do publish some of my work, the pieces I call “the softer side of Christine”—on Poetry Corner. I’m also happily involved as a Barista at the Go Dog Go Café.  It’s been fun to put the site together and to work with a  lovely cadre of writers, some of whom I’ve met and some of whom are new to me. The Cafe has a wonderful community vibe and brings out the best in writers.

My most recent project was launching Blood Into Ink  (with a group of writers from WordPress and off of it).’Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths. 

It is open to men and women and already features some pretty fierce writing.  I am proud of this project and hope that it encourages many writers to tell their stories and aids them in receiving the support and respect they deserve for their stories of survival and dealing with them after the fact.

Also, I’m working on a project called Whisper and the Roar, a feminist literary collective site. I am still an author for Whisper and the Roar. All of the writers on this site are feminist but the content is not overtly feminist. I piece I wrote for this particular site is called “Ode to a Black Eye.” Such as many of my pieces, this post is autobiographical (my childhood friend Wendy had the black eye and we finally talked about the incident when we reconnected on Facebook.


Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths.” – Christine Ray


7. Have you Published any Writing or Poetry outside of your Blog? If not do you plan to in the Future? 

I recently had a couple of pieces of poetry published in Felan Magazine which has lit a fire under me to publish more writing into print. Felan centers its issues around a particular feeling so it was easy to pull my best pieces about Anger (Issue 10) and Love (Issue 11). 


8. Can you Briefly Describe to us Your Writing Process? Are there Certain Genres of Writing and Reading You Prefer? 

The vast majority of my writing happens on my PC in the early morning hours with music playing in the background. Some of my work happens on my phone on the train.  Some it is sprawled into notebooks until I have time to type it up. I’ve been known to write a poem or two during long and dull meetings at work (hopefully none of my co-workers are reading this).

Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy! I’m obsessed with Jane Austen (I’ve got a Jane Austen quote as a tattoo) and I’ve read the Harry Potter series a ridiculous amount of times.  I love psychological British mysteries,  Young Adult literature, as well as, science fiction, and fantasy. All in all, I’m a serious book nerd!


“Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy!” – Christine Ray


Nicole Jones UnSplash
Credit: Nicole Jones via UnSplash

9. Do you have any Wisdom for Other Bloggers and Writers?

Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!

Also, don’t obsess about numbers. Fifteen extremely engaged followers are more rewarding than two-hundred disengaged writers. Be brave and leave thoughtful comments on other people’s writing. I have picked up a lot of followers this way. Most vitally, I have made excellent friends by commenting on the writing/blogs of other people. 

In addition, I recommend subscribing and responding to the Daily Post. I want everyone who writes and/or blog to know that their voice matters and their truths matter too. Don’t worry about your audience, worry about what you need to say.

There are twelve million people on WordPress—your people (your followers) are out there. You may need to look for them, but there is someone out there who wants to read what you have to say.


10. Is there Anything Else you Want to Share, something you think is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself? 

One crazy thing that happened to me in May is that one of my pieces was chosen for featuring as WordPress Discover blog called: Brave and Reckless Advice for New Bloggers – Part One.  I went from 164 views on May 1st to 2,439 views on May 2nd. It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time!

Things have calmed down a little but I spent three days replying to all the comments I received! I still don’t know how the WordPress editors found me or that piece. However, I try to use my newfound readership for good and give lots of other really good writers exposure on Brave and Reckless (I feel like I should be quoting Spiderman or something here)!


“Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!” – Christine Ray


11. For fun, do you Have Any Especially Favorite Bloggers that you Love to Follow? 

There are so many blogs that I love! My big writing crushes are:

  • The Feathered Sleep — Candice Louisa Daquin’s writing is elegant, exquisite, and emotionally resonant.
  • A Journal for Damned Lovers — Nicholas is gritty and dark and never glamorizes life, love or himself.  He takes you on journeys into the human psyche that you didn’t even know you wanted to go one. He appeals to my darkness and I want to grow up and write like SK someday!
  • The Lithium Chronicles –Nicole Lyons and the other poets she highlights on her site are badass warriors! There is an electricity to Nicole’s work, a buzz that gets under my skin, and into my blood. Some of her writing is similar to what could be pulled from own diaries.
  • Additionally, all of the writers at the collectives I work with are amazing and deserving of a read.

12. Can You Please Share with us a few of Your Favorite Pieces from your Blogging? 

Poet’s Love Song

by

Christine Ray

*****

Christine Ray = MM photo
Credit: From Christine’s Ray’s Blog ‘Brave and Reckless” for this post.

*****

I see you

Yes, you poet

You who lives

Behind the misty veil

Dwelling in the border

Between this world

And a hundred other

Shadow worlds

*****

see you

*****

see those ink-stained

Fingers

That hold your pen

Like a lover

That fly across the keyboard

In a torrent

Before stopping, hesitating

Waiting

For the flow of words to resume

*****

see the permanent rings

Countless cups of coffee

Have left on your writing table

The chip in your favorite mug

I see the frayed fabric

On your cuffs

Of your favorite writing shirt

The fabric worn thin at your elbows

*****

see those mesmerizing eyes

That seem to simultaneously

Be looking through me

Straight into my soul

While studying the cosmos

And gazing inward

All at the same time

see the contradictions you are

Your eyes are haunting

Full of knowing

Full of pain

Full of longing

*****

see the dark smudges

Under your otherworldly eyes

Reminders that poets

Are night dwellers

Insomniacs

Who haunt the still hours

Who understand the depth

The texture of darkness

Who can capture the qualities

The acoustics of silence

*****

see the way

That words spill out of

Your sensuous mouth

Like pearls, like diamonds

Beautiful treasures

Embedded with your tears

Your sweat, your blood

*****

Yes poet

see you

You who makes me fall

In love with language

Over and over

Whose words

Stab me in the heart

Punch me in the gut

Jangle my nerves

Bathe me in your radiance

Soothe my weary soul

Take me on a journey

I didn’t even know

I wanted to go on

*****

And you are beautiful

*****

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved



Thank you so much to Christine Ray for being so detailed and open sharing her writing and poetry with us on my blog and on the Go Do Go Cafe. If you would like to be featured as a writer, blogger, or person who is blogging/writing about a cause please reach out to me through my contact page. Next week`s interview will be a ‘Rewind Interview,’ a blogger I’ve interviewed in the past.


©Mandibelle16. (2017). All Rights Reserved.

Interview of Writer, Blogger, and Photographer Yinglan Z #amwriting #interview #nonfiction


Welcome to my regularly scheduled bi-weekly interview series. I am pleased to share with you the blog of a talented writer, photographer, and world traveler. I have blogged with Yinglan for a while and am pleased to call her a good friend in the blogging world. Please visit her blog here: This is Another Story – About Life, Fantasy, and Everything In Between.


Interview - yinglan
Credit: Yinglan Z

1. Hi Yinglan, Please tell us About Yourself? 

Hi, my name is Yinglan Z. and the name of my blog is This is Another Story because isn’t every day in life another story?

I recently completed my second academic degree in Accounting and am currently spending a brief four months in my hometown of Zhongshan, China to get reacquainted with my relatives as well as the place I lived during the first decade of my life. When I am not in China having an adventure, I lead a pretty boring life in the suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the moment, I am a self-employed translator, working with my mom to update the Chinese version for a software guide widely used by schools around the world. However, my personal goal is to either become a full-time writer or find a job where I’m applying what I’ve learned from my two degrees because isn’t that why I got two degrees?


2. Please Tell Us About Your Writing and Blogging? What do You Hope to Accomplish in Writing?

I began writing in 2013 and the purpose of my blog (at first) was to post the speeches I’d written for Toastmasters, an international club for public speaking. Then, I fell in love with storytelling; thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.

Once I began participating in challenges the readership for my blog grew and in 2015, I made the decision to make my blog both a fiction and lifestyle blog to add more variety and so I could write what about whatever I wanted to write about. In late 2015, I made another decision — to change the name to something more fitting: This is Another Story.  


“Then, I fell in love with storytelling and, thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.” – Yinglan Z


3. When did you really begin writing and blogging? Why is Writing Meaningful for you? Do You Find You Are Able to Help Others Through Your Blogging? 

I began writing after I joined Toastmasters in 2011. That’s when I discovered my love for storytelling. Before that, the task of sitting in front of a computer typing and writing an essay or a story seemed daunting to me, although, I don’t know why.

Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.

When I was attending school full-time, working multiple jobs, I would come home to write because it would mean I was able to let my mind drift to another reality even if it was only for a few minutes.


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Why is Writing and Blogging Significant to You? 

A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from around me – television shows, movies, current events, (etc). There’s always a story going on in my head and if I let it stay in my head, it’ll drive me insane. Maybe it goes with my stubborn personality? Also, it’s important to record my thoughts and feelings because bottling them up won’t help me or anyone.


“Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.” – Yinglan Z


Interview - Yinglan City
Credit: Yinglan Z

5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Have You Ever Had Any Writing Published?

I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel. Both of those things are progressing slowly due to the number of events I am attending in China but they are coming along.

I published a story in an online newsletter for NLSC – National Language Service Corp – a few years ago about the Mid-Autumn Festival and that was the only piece I have ever published other than blog posts. My future are noted above, to publish a collection of short stories and a novel. Who knows, maybe I’ll submit a piece to a magazine or something when I have time.


6. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Prefer Certain Areas if Writing and Reading Genres? 

I’m still trying to figure out my writing process. I write whenever a story pops into my head which is usually night time. I’m not sure why, but my imagination feels blank during the day. Maybe it’s the fact I’m tired and my mind is getting ready to dream?

I am also a huge fan of the suspense and thriller genres because those are the stories that keep me at the edge of my seat. I also enjoy investigative and crime-solving stories. I used to like to read Young Adult fiction and the supernatural genre but lately, not so much. Maybe I’m growing up?


“I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel.” – Yinglan Z.


Interview - Yinglan Quote
Credit: Contributed by Yinglan Z

7. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers?

My advice for new writers and bloggers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying. Also I encourage you to visit other blogs and comment on other bloggers’ posts. Participate in challenges and sooner or later, other bloggers will pay you a visit and almost always this starts a chain reaction. You discover new blogs and bloggers and their followers may also follow you in return. As well, leave your link and some information at blogging parties and learn to network through and with other bloggers. Be willing to look at other blogs and learn from them as well.


8. For fun, do you have any particular blogs you follow? What Do You Like About Them? 

Oh wow, that is difficult to choose since I follow thousands of blogs. I will say my favorite kinds of blogs are photography, travel, and flash fiction. I like these kinds of blogs because I can often learn a thing or two from them.


“My advice for new writers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying.” – Yinglan Z


9. Can You Please Share With us a Few Favorite Links from Your Blog? 

I wrote this poem a long time ago (about 14 or 15 years old) and decided to share it about two years ago. It was written during the phase when I wanted to be a singer-songwriter.

Change

By Yinglan Z.

*****

Your yesterday is gone
But your today is here sooner than you think
You wish you haven’t gotten everything wrong
And you wish you can make all the bad go away
And you say

*****

Tomorrow
Things are going to be okay
Tomorrow
It will all change

*****

Your today is gone
And you have made no commitment
To bring changes
Oh and you just kept on saying that

*****

Tomorrow
Things are going be all right
Tomorrow
It will all be bright

*****

Day and day went by
You just sat behind your table
Waiting for changes to come to you
You say, “It’ll be okay”
And I say “it’ll be okay when you start making changes for yourself”
And you say starting tomorrow

*****

Things are going to be all right
Tomorrow
It will all be right
It will all be bright
It will be the day when I set thing right

*****


Here are some of Yinglan’s short stories:


Thank you to Yinglan for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing about her writing and her life. 

Just to note: Yinglan has returned from her relatives in China and has been visiting my home country of Canada in Alberta checking out The Rocky Mountains in Banff and around Lake Louise. She was recently in Yellow Stone National Park in the U.S. and if you follow her blog, Yinglan’s photographs of her travels are also a huge highlight when you read her posts. She is talented at taking beautiful shots of scenery while traveling and finding interesting places abroad and from around her home. 

If you would like to be a part of my bi-weekly interview series please let me know via my Contact Page. See you in two weeks with another exciting interview 🙂


©Mandibelle16. 2017) All Rights Reserved.

Photo Challenge Prompt: Fiction – Wishing You’d Stayed


Thanks to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie for hosting this photo prompt.


Man Against Blue
Ronnie Garcia Moron

 It takes a great deal of pushing and a lot of poking to make me angry, but Yasmine knew which buttons to push. The neighbors never heard us fight, until that night in August.

“You always want to be together; I can’t be with you all the time. I’ve work and sometimes I need alone time, and occasionally, guy time.” I yelled.

Yasmine flicked back her long brown hair and laughed at my rage; she was far away inside her head again; I could tell.

“Look who’s upset,” she said softly. “It took me a long time to make you this angry, Logan. I thought you would never notice me. You’re always leaving me home alone.”

“Yasmine, I’m extremely upset at you, scared for your mental well being, and scared for our relationship. But you think my words are a joke.” I say.

She laughs and slids her arm around my shoulders. I shrug it off. Yasmine crosses her arms and says:”Calm down Logan. Stop being such an ass. Your married, you don’t get space anymore.”

“Being married doesn’t mean no space.You never used to be this way Yasmine. You did stuff with your friends and visited relatives. You also worked as a successful interior designer.” I told her.

“Now, you stay home all day and you lay in bed. I’m trying and I know you’re not well. But one of us has to work and support us financially. You need to look for ways to occupy your time. Read, write, watch TV, walk, or pretend you’re designing a new interior space.”

Yasmine gave a thin smile at my suggestions. “I suppose you want me to keep visiting the psychiatrist, the doctor who says I’m suffering from depression because I lost our baby.” Tears leaked out of Yasmine’s deep brown eyes. I wiped them away.

“I think it’s best for you Yasmine. The psychiatrist makes sense. You’re sad, tearful, and you can barely make it out of bed. You’re also anxious and you’ve terrible self-esteem right now. When I tell you you’re wonderful, talented, and beautiful, you don’t believe me. Yesterday, you said you believed you were a baby killer.” I said.

Yasmine smirked.”Before the baby died, I believed you. Now, I don’t believe you’re telling me the truth. I’m in awful shape and I think you’re placating me. I believe you’d rather by anywhere else and not with me.”

“Listen,” I told Yasmine. ” When I said I need space, all I meant was I need some time each week, where I can tye up loose ends from work. I also need a night away from you every week or two. For my own mental health, I need a few hours where I can forget and not deal with our issues.” 

“I talked to your friends Becca and Lynn,” I told her. “They said they’d love to take turns hanging out with you one night a week if you’re okay with that? You guys could go see a movie or go shopping, something along those lines?” 

Yasmine buried herself beneath the comforter on the couch.”I don’t want to see my friends, look at me? And I need you here Logan; I was thinking, we could have another baby?” 

“It’s not that I don’t want another baby with you sweet heart, ” I say carefully. “I keep telling you, it’s not your fault Jacob died. It happens to many woman with their first pregnancy. It’s just right now, you’re still recovering from losing Jacob.” I told Yasmine.

She covered her ears, “I don’t want to hear it Logan. Stop talking. It’s my fault Jacob died; I didn’t take care of myself. Now, I’m sick and I feel I can’t do anything. Everything makes me tired and I’m so mad at myself.”

I sat down beside Yasmine and rubbed her back.” Relax. We have time. Work on feeling better. Try to take a short walk, even around the block. Be in the sun on the patio to get more vitamin D and sleep whenever you need. However, you have to promise to take your pill.” I said.

“I don’t want to! I hate my med. It makes me feel foggy.” Yasmine complained.

“The doctor says in a month or so, when you’re used to the medication, the fogginess will go away. But you have to let your body get used to the anti-depressant. I notice when you take them, you’re much happier. You get out of bed. You make conversation. You sketch out designs for rooms,” I tell her.

“But Logan . . .”

“Please, for two-weeks, try taking your pill. If you don’t, the Doctor says you’ll have to go back in hospital, Yasmine, ” I begged.

Suddenly, Yasmine flew into a rage. She pushed at me and screamed. She grabbed her car keys before I could catch her and snuck in the elevator. When I reached her parking space, it was empty. I’ve never seen Yasmine again.


Yasmine’s my wife and it hurts me to know she could be anywhere and I can’t help her. I don’t know if she’s well or still suffering from depression. No one’s been able to find her, not even a private detective.

I grieved for Yasmine. It took me two-years before I started writing my stories down in journals. I thought, when Yasmine came back, she could read about what happened in my life after she left. I tried to make my journal entertaining for her to read.

Then, they found her body. Parts of me ached which I never knew existed, when I learned Yasmine was dead. I’m not sure how they can find out how she died now. But I’ve convinced myself I caused her to commit suicide.

I tear the pages out of my journals; I had had them bound and printed into volumes for Yasmine to read. Now I know she will never be able to read what I wrote. 

Broken and grieving, I destroyed all my journal volumes. All the typed pages scattered across the floor in my office. Broken journals, like my heart. 

How does one heal after hurting so long, believing their other half, couldn’t be dead? 


©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.

Interview With Christopher Leo Couch


Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.


Christopher Leo Couch
Christoper Leo Couch
  1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medieval furniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA.  My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania to work. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).

I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.


2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?

I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while in college. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.

As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working  with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.

I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.


” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.

I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.


4. What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.


“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.


5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?

Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.

Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?

I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is a song to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be something lyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.

It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.

While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted  a verse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often in dramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.

I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.


“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch


7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?

I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.

For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lenten observance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.


8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?

I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literary agent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a group which might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.

On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?


“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch


9. What is Your Writing Process Like?

I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).

I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why or how. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer)  I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about something difficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.


10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?

I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres for fun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wife Charlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adult literature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.


“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch


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

Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!

When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.

If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like. Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?

I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies.  Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.


“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch


  1. Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces? 

The first poem is playfulGrandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:

“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”

By Christopher Leo Couch

Crimp pie crust,

Not too hard, ‘cause,’

Dust to dust.

Enjoy the crimp,

With elf and imp.

Like will-o-the-wisp,

When fall is crisp.

We bake our wares,

To cool on stairs.

Steam sprite-rises,

No surprises.

Wafting dessert:

Magic food alert!


My second poem is more soberly reflective:

“Failing Night”

By Christopher Leo Couch

 Just after five,

I have not been asleep.

Pain shoots through,

My leg, a single line,

Of nerve.

As if a wire was pushed,

Through inside.

Then something threw,

A supernatural switch,

And a low current of too-

Warm electric sting,

Without cessation.

Courses through tired,

Muscle.

Having surrendered the,

Day’s labors into,

Aspiration’s night of,

Negligent awareness.

Barely keeping guard,

Letting go of awake,

To turn into dream.

In hope to re-knit and,

Repair stretched.

Measures in the body,

And the mind.

It’s a cycle that’s supposed,

To work.

Why then is pain,

Ruining what I’ve made?

Not fair.

I want to rest then rise,

With normal consciousness,

Beneath the skin.


More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.

Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.


Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

Poem: Shadorma – “Sleep When You’re Dead” 


Thanks to The Daily Post for the prompt word Saga.

——-

Norse Sagas (www.medevilists.net)

——–

A saga

Harrowing epic,

Adventure, 

Legends live, 

Norse stories of old reborn, 

Each night by firelight. 

——–

But times change, 

Now it’s a detailed —

Story with depth, 

Assortment, 

Words you wish a person kept;

Instead they went on.

———

A saga

I wish you would say, 

What you need —

To say in–

Fewer words.

Time is wasting away friend;

I love to listen —

———

But you’ve breadth, 

I need brevity.

I care what — 

You say to —

Me; but I space out when you, 

Can’t cut your tale —

———–

Down from the —

Length of an epic.

Hook me or —

Don’t; now my —

Mind wanders and I want to —

Be a good friend too.

——–

I haven’t —

Ages to sit by a fire;

As our kin–

Folk eons —

Ago; there is work to be —

Done; I’m responsible.

—–

Love your tales, 

Adventures lived large.

But I have–

My own fights. 

My own epic sagas to —

Live through and survive.

—–

So you’ll please, 

Excuse me when I drift, 

Full of thought.

For your tales, 

Remind me, all I must do;

One can never rest.

——

Was it the

Vikings who said, 

“You can sleep–

When you’re dead.” 

A realistic saying, 

I’ve found it too true.

——–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

3LineTales: Sailing In Love, Remembering His Dad, The Tuna Who Ate Willy.


Thanks to Sonya from 100 Words Or Less for hosting this prompt.

——

Charlie Harutaka

—-

1. I adore the colour oceanic blue, it’s almost turquoise with a hint of green in it; our sale boat has stripes of oceanic blue across it’s sails and I look up at them with appreciation as the sails flutter and dance in the strong winds of the ocean; In awe I stare at the finely muscled man guiding the sail boat and letting it go as he greets me with a hedonistic kiss, and I stare into his oceanic blue eyes as he loves me in our cabin below deck.

2. My name is Charlie and I am five-years-old; I don’t know my Dad but my Mom says he liked to sail and that this summer she is going to take me sailing like my Dad and her used to do; I can’t wait, every night I play with the toy ship my Dad gave me (although Mom says it’s not a toy but something to remember Dad by) and I pretend I am sailing the ocean with my Mom and my Dad; we sail everywhere, the three of us together.

3. His face had deep-set wrinkles as if they had been creased on his withered skin forever; he smoked a pipe and I recall the whirls of smoke curling up into the air as he sat inside the coffee shop/bate shop and considered his fishing boat; his name was Willy and Willy and his crew went out everyday in his fishing boat to where the most gigantic Tuna swam; they were huge fish, and some brought in near ten thousand dollars; the story goes, one day Willy set out to catch the biggest Tuna he had ever seen and instead of catching the Tuna on his fishing rod, the line snapped and Willy tumbled into the ocean and was swallowed by the enormous Tuna; Willy’s never been seen again.

—–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Story Continuation Prompt: Fiction – ” Uncle Jerry’s Photograph” 


Thanks to Wandering Soul who hosts this challenge. You are supposed to write one or two more sentences to make a three line story with the prompt sentence. I tend to get inspired and end up with an entire story, jammed into two too long sentences. So I’m linking to her blog with my story inspired by the sentence: ” The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it.”

——-

http://www.denofgeeks.com

——-

The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it. I knew the photo was of my Grandpa’s brother Jerry, who had shot himself in the foot to get out of WWII. He had only been in France a week and spent most of his active duty attempting to make himself throw-up daily, so he didn’t have to fight but could remain in the infirmary. But Jerry’s Captain realized what Jerry was up to and put him back with his company to kill German soldiers.

Sadly, it wasn’t beyond Jerry’s cowardice to hide behind other soldiers in his squadron,  or use them as shields. I doubt Jerry’s company minded when he showed them  a German soldier had shot him in the foot; even though his squadron knew Jerry had shot himself to get out of fighting in the War. It wasn’t as if many soldiers hadn’t thought of shooting their own foot to escape War’s reality, but most of them knew their country needed them and took their duty as a soldier with pride.

Jerry’s fellow soldiers were glad to see ‘useless’  Jerry gone. He hadn’t made any friends and most men knew being Jerry’s friend meant he would desert you when you needed help; infact, life expectancy for members in Jerry’s old company went up when Jerry was sent home with a permanent limp.

Jerry told absurd and utterly fake stories about being a War hero when he returned to his family’s house in London. Jerry had even stolen a poor dead man’s medals to make it appear as if he had been recognized by England, Primeminister Churchill, and the Queen, for defending his country. 

But Jerry’s family didn’t believe his stories and doubted he had sacrificed himself to earn such high honours. Jerry’s family knew his personality, the cowardliness and cunning that always lurked behind Jerry’s every action. 

War was awful and terrifying, but Jerry’s father who had fought in WWI and Jerry’s permanently wounded brother Clancy, who fought in WWII, believed Jerry should be doing his duty back in France. Soldiers were being shipped to the beaches of Normandy and neither Jerry’s father or Clancy thought the slight limp that Jerry most likely gave himself, should stop a soldier from doing his duty.

 Jerry eventually left home during the War, wandering the roads in different towns, lost and afraid that death would catch up with him because he had avoided it in France. In the shadow of a pale moon, a bomb flew from the sky one night, and Jerry met his end in England, near his family’s home. 

Both Jerry’s father and brother Clancy, at last we’re proud of him. The bomb from a German airplane had hit Jerry and not another person or a building full of civilians. Jerry hadn’t intended on being the bombs target, but his family felt they could remember the cowardly man with a bit of pride now.

 Jerry’s photo, Grandpa Clancy said, should remind us Grandchildren to be brave and not use others because we are afraid, as Uncle Jerry had done in his life. Grandpa Clancy’s Grandchildren knew what true sacrifice was when their Grandfather showed them the stump that was once his left leg. 

Clancy had never bothered with a prosthetic limb. His leg stump spoke volumes to a generation who did not realize what a sacrifice so many men had made so their children and Grandchildren could be free from men such as Hitler and his Nazis.

Clancy had loved his brother. The part of Jerry who was a scheming coward, Clancy had never been able to understand. Scared or not, a man has to do what a man had to do, especially during a War. Clancy was cheered that in death, his brother Jerry may have been brave.

——-

©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.

Poem: Wrapped Refrain – “Words on the Stairway ” 


 

http://www.alexmulder.eu
 
——

Back to my favourite rhymes I go,

Keep the rhythm quick as we flow,

Appeares that writing voice is back,

No need now for all your life hacks,

The refrain encapsulates vision, souring high.

The grandest place to thrive, creativity cries.

—–

Incased in suits, all bullet proof.

Meaning of powersuit, not aloof.

Fluttering new wings of glory,

Touching heaven, sparks gold stories.

Raining down vocabulary, feeling prose.

Writing anyways in poems, how this writer’s mind grows.

Round in circles, form graceful dances ever-glowing.

——

Phoenix rising, as he spins.

Diving down, prey on fish with fins.

Consuming all the rhymes precision.

No one can claim indecision,

Choose the words, that force you far into a whirlpool.

Round you’ve spun, twirling; time granted swirling jewels.

——

Another verse rises, ascending,

Riding stairways, crescendoing.

Flying the stairway to heaven,

Lyrics, mana, and nectar; times seven.

Wings of angels, spirits, enchant; singing —

Back to my favourite anthem of life, song ringing.

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.