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A Continuation of Women and Poetry

A few weeks ago, I was pleased to introduce Danette Cross, a fellow author in the recently released Voices from the Block. I am continuing my series on women writers who are also poets as a nod to Women’s History Month (March) and National Poetry Month (April). This time out I am super excited to feature Kisura Usiku.

Kisura Pic

Kisura writes poetry and fiction and freelances in her spare time. When she’s not writing, she’s making the world a better place through her role as Special Educator in her local school district. In Voices from the Block she has the most diverse offering–a poem, a fiction start (the first few scenes of a novel in progress) and a creative non fiction essay.

I asked Kisura a few questions so we could get to know her better and below are her responses. I hope you enjoy reading her comments and learning more about this dynamic young writer.

  1. What prompted you to pursue writing as a creative outlet?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever pursued it…writing sort of strolled up to my house one day, knocked, and when I opened the door, writing moved in. I guess that means we just clicked. Writing showed up and the connection felt like the most organic thing that’s happened to me.

  1. How do you get in the writing mood?

Reading, listening to great music or watching other creatives work…I also get into the mood to write via emotional pulls: if someone pisses me off or if I am overwhelmed with love, lust, bitterness, rage or snark…I write it out.

  1. How do you know when a poem, short story, novel, etc. is “finished?”

It’s different for different forms for me…with a short story, I enjoy writing endings that leave you wanting more…you know, that’s the end of that conflict, but there’s something lingering or something that makes a reader wish the story went on. A poem, I know it’s done when I’ve conveyed the message in a way that vibrates…like the message echoes in the head of the reader. It’s difficult to pull that off, at least it is to me, so sometimes I will leave a poem unfinished for awhile because I’ve lost the mood or I’ve gone through the emotion that has caused me to pen the poem in the first place. I usually come back to it when the emotion resurfaces.

  1. What or who has been your greatest writing influence?

Um..well there are quite a few and the list is still growing, but some of my favorite writers are Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, J.K. Rowling, Amy Tan, John Steinbeck, Gillian Flynn, Colleen Hoover, Paula Hawkins, Caroline Kepnes, Robert Dugoni, Robert Bryndza, and quite recently: Yaa Gyasi and Angie Thomas.

  1. Do you have a preferred writing form? Poetry, short story, scripts, essays, etc.?

No preference…just write what moves me.

  1. What are your future writing plans?

I plan to finish and self publish a labor of love: a book of poems about, for, and to my husband…as my first self published book. I have no intention of marketing or doing anything that falls within the traditional realms of publishing/self publishing with this book and will only publish one copy…it’s personal, just for him, but an accomplishment for me because it will be my first published book. It’s the most romantic gesture I can offer…and he deserves that and then some. From there I’m working on a mystery and a literary fiction novel…

  1. What do you say to people who tell you, “I want to write a book?”

Ha, me too, let’s stop talking and do it.

  1. What was your first thought when you held your first published work in your hands?

I still can’t believe it…I held it in my hands and just looked at it and thought, WOW! I’m in here (regarding Voices from the Block)? I half expected to open it and discover that I was the victim of some cruel joke and my writing was cut out of the anthology at the witching hour.

  1. What was the most challenging thing about the publishing process for you? What was the most rewarding?

What isn’t? But if I had to pick I’d say the most challenging thing to me is finding a great cover designer and editor. The most rewarding is avoiding clichés while writing.

  1. How/What do you feel about the future of publishing?

That’s a question that goes against me living in the now…LOL. How do I feel? I feel that I am the future in publishing…not in a self centered way, but in a visualize and manifest my dreams, law of attraction type of way…so I see published works in my future. As for the industry of publishing: it’s controversial…the big five have clout but there is a growing eclipse with self publishing and indie authors. It’s no longer looked down upon…and that’s a great thing for ALL writers in my opinion. You get total control over your art from start to finish…

To check out Kisura’s writings, click here! And I’ll be back in a few weeks with more women as poets.

One Month Wasn’t Enough

Last month we celebrated Women’s History Month and this month we celebrate poets and poetry during National Poetry Month. Because LIFE has been hectic since January, I wasn’t able to post my usual features on fabulous women authors and women groundbreakers. So without consulting the gods, I decided to carry over March and mix it up with April to feature some amazing women poets, some of whom (who vs. whom, anyone know?) I happen to share publishing pages with in Voices from the Block.

So without further delay, the first featured woman poet,

Danette Pic

Danette Cross

Danette is not only a soul-stirring poet, but also…

  1. a gifted vocalist
  2. an inspirational blogger
  3. an expert proofreader
  4. a newlywed
  5. and an all around good person. She’s one of those rare people you easily bond with because she has such an accepting, loving spirit.

I asked Danette to share a bit about herself as a creative person and here’s what she had to say from her soul to her pen to you…

  1. What prompted you to pursue writing as a creative outlet? I love creative expression and realized over time that writing repeatedly gave me the most comfort to the point that I, on occasion, crave the feeling of a pen in my hand.
  2. How do you get in the writing mood? I try to create a relaxing environment, sometimes with instrumental music. This allows my thoughts to flow uninterrupted.
  3. How do you know when a poem is “finished?” A poem is finished when the thought is resolved in some way. Typically, it stops “speaking” or “doing”.
  4. What or who has been your greatest writing influence? My love for reading and words as well as various poets and authors, like Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, Emily Pound, Victoria Christopher Murray, Francine Rivers, Frank Perretti, J. California Cooper, Donna Hill and Cornel West.
  5. Do you have a preferred writing form? Poetry, short story, scripts, essays, etc.? Poetry. It’s my way of getting my thoughts on paper without strict grammar rules.
  6. What are your future writing plans? More poetry and hopefully some storytelling.
  7. What do you say to people who tell you, “I want to write a book?” Go for it and take it seriously. Use other critical pairs of eyes to produce a good read.
  8. What was your first thought when you held your first published work in your hands? “Wow. I’m printed on a page.” I was blown away, humbled and exposed. My secret was out. 🙂
  9. What was the most challenging thing about the publishing process for you? What was the most rewarding? The most challenging was adhering to deadlines. The most rewarding was completing each step along the way.
  10. How/What do you feel about the future of publishing? 2 things. 1.) I am excited for those who self-publish. Why wait on some select group to approve your work when you can approve yourself? 2.) I hope physical books last forever versus electronic everything. I love hardcovers and am fond of paperbacks.

A big thanks to Danette for opening herself to the world both through this interview and through her lovely poetry. You can learn even more about Danette and read some of her beautiful thoughts by visiting her blog at frolicfinagle.tumblr.com.

Thanks for celebrating women, poetry and more with me. I encourage one and all to go out and discover a new poet this month…maybe it’s you!

2017 in Numbers

The American New Year started January 1, 2017. The Chinese New Year started January 28, 2017. The astrological new year began March 20, which also coincided with the first day of Spring. What all these dates and “new beginnings” tell me is this is the perfect time to share a forecast for 2017. Yeah, I know some of you are saying, “she’s late.” I say, “not.” Only recently have I started feeling like I was finally out of the clutches of 2016. Only recently have I started feeling like a change is happening. Like I have a new sense of confidence, of hope and joy. It feels good to finally shake the severity of 2016 and smile more, laugh more, be more. I attribute this newness to the new year–regardless of the date it actually started.

So on to the 2017 forecast, a year that I’m sure will be like no other. Let me start by saying, I am by no stretch a forecaster. But lucky for us, I know one who is:  Cindy L. Herb. Cindy is a numerologist. She has studied numerology for over 30 years and knows it better than the backs of her hands.

 Cindy Herb

Cindy L. Herb – Numerologist, Author, Friend

When I asked Cindy to write a short post for me about 2017 and what to expect, she so lovingly agreed even though she no longer consults or counsels with individuals or companies on numerology. She only asked one thing of me…be sure to add a disclaimer informing readers this is a forecast only, not a done deal. Freewill and one’s own attitude is as forceful as the universal energies. So remember, how this year plays out rests with you and your heart!

Year 2017 Numerology Energy Vibrations

by Cindy L. Herb

Every year has a specific ‘Universal Year’ number associated with it, giving everyone the dominant general trends for the coming calendar year. In addition, all numbers exert vibrations from both aspects of our world, light and dark. Therefore, in any Universal Year you can expect to see both the constructive and destructive meaning of numbers. Since we all have choice, it is up to you to bring forward those traits you wish—either the constructive side, the destructive components or a combination of both.

The 2017 calendar year is a 1 Universal Year in numerology. Whereas 2016 signified a time of death of the old, 2017 is new birth. This year marks the beginning of a new 9-year Epicycle in numerology. Therefore, you will have more determination and self-confidence. Use this energy, as the things you do this year will affect the next nine years. So be decisive. Now starts a time of new things and major changes. So, if you have wanted to change careers, improve your health, retire or change directions in any way, now is a good time to begin.

Set new goals and begin the process of working towards them. Plan, have a clear vision and direct yourself with strong drive in order to achieve those goals. Look at 2017 as a year of opportunities. Do not worry if it takes a few months to get things rolling (especially since we are still in the shadow of 2016). Therefore, you may be more emotional within the first 3 months. However, if you stay focused, keep a clear head and are organized, things will work in your favor.

You can expect the following monthly highlights for 2017:

January: Emotional month as the energy of 2016 is still around conflicting with the new energy of 2017.

February: Events inspire creativity and optimism, as well as need for adaptability.

March:  Focuses on hard work, progress and opportunity. A time to set the foundation for plans.

April: Brings changes and the unexpected (such as career or residence), requiring more flexibility.

May: Concerns relationships and all affairs of the heart. Responsibility and home are featured.

June: Inward soul searching leaves you more serious and less social.

July: You will begin to see fruits of your hard work. This begins the best couple of months of the year to increase finances and career.

August: A time to let go of things no longer necessary in your life, making room for the new. It could mark the end of a certain era of your life.

September: Could be an emotional month, especially if you have waited to take advantage of the energy this year provides, NOW is another big opportunity to begin new projects. This month highlights heightened confidence, independence and individuality.

October: A time to work in the background, using an indirect approach.

November:  You may start to see your plans taking a more concrete form.

December: Finishing the year with a final push towards the goals set at the beginning of the year.

Copyright Statement: This article was written by Cindy L. Herb and may NOT be reproduced on any related website without express permission of Cindy L. Herb. Copyright 2017 Cindy L. Herb. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Didn’t I tell you she was great? I love her dearly and appreciate her more than words can express. I hope you were encouraged by Cindy’s knowledge and wisdom. Write to me throughout the year and let me know how things are going for you. And I promise to do the same via this channel. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about Cindy and her amazing journey to becoming a numerologist, check out her book “Awakening the Spirit:  The Open Wide Like a Floozy Chronicles” by clicking here.

cindys-book

 

Make it a GREAT 2017!

 

Halloween Reading

In about three weeks, one of my favorite holidays occurs–Halloween. Naturally, it’s a favorite because I am a paranormal/supernatural writer. Naturally, it’s a favorite because I am a paranormal/supernatural reader. So considering all this, I thought it appropriate, not to mention fun, to feature a paranormal book this week. I choose…

maledicus-final

Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

by Charles F. French

The paranormal/supernatural genre chose me through weird circumstances so I am always curious how other authors fell into this particular genre. I posed this question to Charles and his response is below. I hope you find it as revealing and interesting as I did.

Why I Write Horror, Paranormal, and Speculative Fictioncharles-french-maledicustee

“I am Charles F. French, a writer of speculative fiction, including horror, paranormal, and young adult fiction. I have had an interest in the genres of Gothic, horror, and science-fiction since I was a youngster. As a young teen, I read Dracula by Bram Stoker and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, and these books immediately appealed to my youthful imagination.

I continued reading works in these genres throughout my life, including in my academic studies, as well as for pleasure. Now I teach some of these books in various courses as an adjunct professor at Muhlenberg College and Lehigh University.

One of the great strengths of books in these genres is that their authors are able to make social critiques about their real worlds but offer them as metaphor in the fictional environment. The plots capture the readers’ attention but then often go deeper into discussions of life and societal concerns. Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein, deals with such issues as limits of scientific research, abandonment of children, the position of women in the 19th Century, and justice/injustice.

While I am not placing my writing on the level of Mary Shelley, I hope that I both create a compelling story and also include important themes. It is in the writing of speculative fiction that I can work simultaneously on both creating interesting plot and characters but also speak to matters that I find important about the world. But always, story comes first. If the piece is not interesting, if I lose the reader, then nothing else will succeed.

I believe that in Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, I have created a novel that will capture the readers’ interest and imagination and also aid them in considering important thematic issues.”

I am in total agreement with Charles’ thoughts on writing and reading paranormal/supernatural fiction, and am pleased to feature his book. If it’s been a while since you’ve indulged in a paranormal read I can think of no better time than now, what with Charles’ new book and Halloween. Click here to purchase your copy. Go on, I dare you!

It Chose Me

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” That phrase applies to me and paranormal writing. I grew up reading romance novels—the old school romances with covers that depicted revealing bodices for heroines and exposed chests for heroes. Fast forward to adulthood and my love for reading romance novels continued. So it was quite natural that when I decided to become a novelist, I turned to the romance genre. I wrote three romances and then something unexpected happened…my next love story went dark. Yikes! What happened? I’m trucking along writing about love and eternal bliss and then a stalker, death and violence inserts itself into one of my stories. That story introduced a change.

Oh, I still believed in love, happiness, and all that sugar and spice stuff, but those dark elements forced me to acknowledge the influence that murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and science fiction had had on me as well. I had read just as many Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books as I had romance novels, and that horror/thriller/mystery genre had risen up, demanding to be represented.

So in 1999, I shelved the romance stories I had been developing and turned to paranormal writing. Well not completely. I decided I would write a paranormal then write a romance; write a paranormal, then write a romance. A rotation, you see, but my intuitive creative self said, “no, no, no,” and to prove it meant what it said I started having personal encounters (yes, plural) with spirits. I had my first run-in in 2000 with a spirit. Then in 2011, I had my second spiritual visit and since then I have seen an angel and have been visited by a deceased relative. Needless to say, many of my writings are now devoted to the paranormal genre. Such as my most recent book titled, Lyrical Darkness. I am honored to be one of ten paranormal writers featured in this collection of short stories that are based on dark song lyrics.

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I’m curious about you though. What has chosen you? Have you been chosen to take your writing more seriously and work toward publication? Have you received the call to join a book club? Have you felt the urge to sculpt, draw, paint? Maybe thoughts about pursuing a voiceover, design or music career? If so, have you answered the call or turned your back to it? If it chose you and you’re being stubborn, let me reiterate that there’s no escape. Make it easy on yourself and go with it. And always remember, it chose you; hence, all the support you’ll ever need is yours just by asking.

Honor the choosing!

It’s Official…Lyrical Darkness

I am so excited!!!

Today, Lyrical Darkness, an anthology of short stories based on songs which have dark lyrics, is available for pre-order. I’ve had other book releases (2014 – Voices from the Block & 2013 – Fuller’s Curse) so why am I even more excited about this book? Because Lyrical Darkness is my first attempt to create a story from a song.

When Donnie Light, the publisher of Lyrical Darkness contacted me about participating in this anthology, I of course said yes, yes, yes, but I was very nervous. I had never created a story from a song before. My previous stories were all culled from life experiences, inspiration and imagination; they were never so intentional.

To make it easier for us, Donnie allowed us to select our own song and he put a 10,000 word limit on the stories. The ten  contributing authors, all paranormal writers, scurried to find the right dark song that would generate 10,000 words, a plot and characters. And our work continued at a feverish pace through the holidays to meet the February 2015 deadline.

Below is the cover for Lyrical Darkness. Beyond this inviting cover are eleven dark short stories based on disturbing song lyrics; samples of which include “Angie Baby,” “Hotel California,” “Smooth Criminal,” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (this is the song I chose, click here to listen). I am proud to be a part of this collection and I hope you will read our take on these songs. May I suggest a visit to YouTube before or after reading so you can compare the story to the song?

You can order the ebook today and the print/paperback version will be available June 15th.lryical_SMALL

Thanks for being part of this journey with me and oh, by the way, happy Black Music Month (June)!

Hear Carol Roar!

I am continuing the Women’s History Month celebration by sharing an article written by Carol Balawyder.

Carol Balawyder

Carol is a fiction and non-fiction author who writes about things that matter to her such as justice, mid-life dating, grief and writing workshops. She also publishes several blog series: How I Got Published, Femme Fatale, Nobel Prize Laureates, Writers’ Desks and Ten Great First Dates. Her recent book-length works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures are receiving starred and high-praise reviews from readers. I know this reader (me!) personally enjoyed both books and can’t read more from this talented lady.

When I asked Carol which woman or female writer had the greatest influence on her literary career, she, like so many others, had a list yea-long. But after much thought, she settled on one person. Read on to learn about her greatest influencer…

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Honoring a History Maker

by Carol Balawyder

There are so many women writers who have inspired me and from whom I’ve taken something and applied to my own collage of writing. They range from Jacqueline Susann to Nobel Prize Laureates. But no writer, whether male or female, has had such an impact on my choice to write crime fiction than Sara Paretsky.

In 2011 Paretsky was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization which supports and promotes women in the mystery field.

Traditionally in noir fiction, women were either helpless sex symbols tempting the man (usually a detective) into illicit behavior or they were portrayed as cold and selfish. However, through her V.I Warshawski private investigator, Paretsky transformed the role and image of women in noir fiction.

V.I. Warshawski is no helpless femme fatale. Nor does she fit into the Chandleresque female role of vixen, vamp or victim. Warshawski is a woman who isn’t defined by sexuality and needs no rescuing.

She is physically tough but no bully. Courageous and yet self-doubting. She is introspective and has a strong moral conscience. Warshawski is smart and well-educated, having attended university on an athletic scholarship to earn a law degree and worked in the Public Defender’s office before becoming a private investigator.

Sara Paretsky created the first credible female investigator in American crime fiction –  a feminist detective with high ideals. One who is concerned about the effects of racism, classism and sexism. She is out to right social wrongs most often found in the crook and crannies of white-collar crime. Paretsky, through her sixteen bestselling V.I. novels (and still writing), has made it her mission to speak for those in society’s margins who are underheard.

For that, I believe, she merits honor in Women’s History Month.

References: (http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/3/)

(http://www.saraparetsky.com/)

(http://www.sistersincrime.org/)

Thank you Carol for sharing your thoughts on women history makers, and specifically Sara Paretsky. I had no idea Paretsky challenged the noir crime fiction status and thereby changed the genre for all times. Good for her; good for us, women; and good for the world.

If you want to learn more about Sara Paretsky, visit her website by clicking here. To learn more about Carol, visit her website here.