I am so happy to share this heartfelt guest post from author and poet Louise Bélanger for her poetry book tour, Your Words Your World, available now. I hope you will enjoy this post and be sure to grab your copy of the book today.
Let me start by thanking you, Anthony Avina, for being part of Your WordsYour World ’s blog tour. And a big round of applause for Serena at Poetic Book Tours who organized such a brilliant one, a wonderful opportunity for me and my new poetry book.
Your WordsYour World is a beautiful inspiring collection of poems with nature photographs.
You will read poems about God, having a relationship with Him, various life subjects, and lovely stories.
What inspires me? What triggers the writing?
Each poem is an idea or a story I want to tell, a point I want to make, an emotion I want to pour on paper. It can come from something I just read or heard. Something from my past or something that just happened. Other times, it’s the result of the thought process where one thought makes room for another, and so on, till it lands on something clever. Lastly, it can be an image that only “lives” in my imagination that I want to describe.
Contrary to a novel, per example, where, I would think, the author decides beforehand the main lines of the story, for me, I search for each topic. No, that is the wrong word, I focus my mind to be aware, to find ideas. Ideas worth writing about. I never know in advance what my next poem’s topic will be.
Let’s visit a few.
I was always a bit reserve as a child as far as clowns where concern. Something false about them. They have a painted smile on their face but maybe they feel something else inside. This became part of a poem, simply call Clowns…it takes the reader…well, let’s not spoil it. I will let you discover the meaning when you have the pleasure of reading it.
My faith-based poetry is inspired by my relationship with God, my experience with Him, the books I read and teachings I listen to. On a particular Sunday, a Bible passage was brought to my attention. That became the base for More than just…as music shares the stage.
A storm was raging one Saturday morning, a fierce wind against my window and I surprised myself thinking, wow, sounds like the wind is banging on the window: “Let me in, I don’t want to be outside in this nasty weather.” Oh! That is so good. That afternoon, A war erupted made its appearance on the page.
And my photos? They are from places I visited or traveled to. I photograph the beauty I see, what catches my attention. It’s everywhere, from my neighborhood where I take walks, to cities across the country, even further, from previous travel destinations.
All my writing is done first, then, I look through my large collection of photographs to choose the ones that would complement the poetry. The selection is not random, there is always a connection between the poem and the photograph next to it, I hope you will see it.
Most of them were taken before I became a poet, an author with already two poetry books and a third one on the way. I never thought the photos I was taking would end up in beautiful books, books written by myself. That makes me smile, a huge smile.
So here you have it, my inspiration comes from many places. Each poem is unique, same for the photographs.
It’s December as I write this, a season when gift and gratitude are top of mind, yet also when loss and grief feel particularly acute. That continual interplay—darkness encroaching on the light; light suffusing shadows—provides the backdrop for the poems in my debut collection “Winter at a Summer House”.
A reader recently asked me if the summer house in the title poem was real. I said yes—and no. Both are true. There was a real house, but it grew, through time and memory, into something different—turreted, and towered—more haunted castle than summer cottage.
The real house belonged to my parents who retired to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts in the early 1990s after the last of their children left home. As kids, we’d often vacationed on Cape Cod, and for a few years, my parents had owned a small cottage there. But it was their rambling, retirement home—a house with enough room for all of us—that became the hub of my, and my adult siblings’, and our families’ summer lives.
It was a sunny, lively house presided over by my parents during a mostly healthy and contented period of their lives. Of course, we all went through a myriad of ups and downs during those years, as people do, but in retrospect, the sun shone and shone then, year after year, until the day our seemingly spry and vigorous mother died of a sudden heart attack. We were devasted. Mother’s death precipitated our father’s decline. Once hale, hearty, and brilliantly competent, he faded overnight.
When the world collapsed, my youngest child had just left for college, and I had recently started a new job. My sister was busy with family, art, and work. Despite these obstacles, she, and I, both of whom lived two hours away, each began to stay with our father a few days each week. Our brother who lived further away used his vacation time to relieve us. We continued this for several years. While challenging, it was bearable, and often pleasant in the spring, fall, and summer. The winter was different.
The wind blows hard on Cape Cod in the winter. The shutters on Dad’s house banged. Windows and chimneys rattled. December and January days were gloomy, with darkness falling by mid-afternoon. Sometimes, I caught a glimpse of Mother coming around a corner then she’d vanish. I listened for her voice amidst the house’s rumblings. Having been an English major in college, I found the house, in winter, eerily reminiscent of Ramsay’s house in Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” particularly in the “Time Passes” section. Wind invaded. Moss, mold, and spiders set up camp. One could scrub, dust, and polish all day just to make way for a new crop of marauders. And though our summer house wasn’t on the ocean as the Ramsay’s was, I had walked and jumped off enough jetties to imagine one there, and thus its prime billing in “Winter at a Summer House.”
Early on, when people asked me what the book was about, I described it as a narrative, not focusing on the house, the water imagery, or associated metaphors. However, a recent Kirkus review highlighted the prominent place of the ocean, water, and the passage of time, and this caused me to consider it from a new angle. That review began: “Hines grew up in Massachusetts, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, and the poems in this debut collection are filled with richly detailed imagery evoking the sea—of characters swimming, bathing, diving as if time were an unpredictable element, and living, a process of navigating unexpected currents…”
I had not set out to write a narrative, nor a collection of water-themed poems. I wrote one poem at a time, and only later ordered them so that they could “talk” to each other and tell a story. And since I’m a lifelong, year-round swimmer, I evoked the water imagery naturally. Writing this post has prompted me to explore these thoughts more deeply, and to consider, alongside them, the role of the house in the book.
An author friend recently told me he believes that every book someone writes is a miracle. I understand more clearly, each day that goes by, what he meant, and I welcome opportunities to contemplate my small miracle from new vantage points, and to share my thoughts. So today, I thank author Anthony Avina for generously hosting me on this blog. It’s the first time I deliberately explored the role the summer house plays in this collection, and I hope readers enjoyed taking the journey with me. Happily, by the time others read this, we’ll be past the winter solstice and our short days will already be lengthening.
In closing, I want to thank Kelsay Books for publishing “Winter at a Summer House;” Poetic Book Tours for coordinating this tour; and all of you, Anthony Avina’s readers, who have taken a few minutes to commune with me here. I truly appreciate your time and attention, and if you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can find me at www.marybethhines.com.
About the Author
Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online at www.marybethhines.com.
Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th.
Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.
Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.
Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process.
I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints
How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?
Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time.
Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?
The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.
On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.
I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.
And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”
let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life
About the Author/Poet
Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.
In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.
Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.
A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.
Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.
Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.
Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.
What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.
The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.
Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.
About Lydia Selk
Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart
Has your day-to-day routine become daunting? Maybe you’re always in a hurry, or maybe you dread waking up for work every day. While many of us make small changes to try to make our daily routine better, we typically get no results and can’t seem to make those changes last. Unfortunately, we only get 24 hours a day, but some people are more productive than others. How do they do it?
The answer isn’t that they do not have other things going on. We all have tons of things we have to get done during a single day. These people just use their time better and have a daily routine that invigorates them instead of putting them down. A routine can simplify your home life and help you stay stress-free.
With your willpower, you can use our tips to make the most out of your routine and improve it so that you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start your day.
Most of us spend ⅓ of the day at work, which means we have at least 8 hours that we must dedicate to work. The best way that you can optimize your work is by changing things up a bit. Try breaking up your workday by switching tasks periodically. If you have a task that you know will take you a few hours and smaller tasks that have to be completed, break up the large task every hour or so by moving to the smaller tasks. This will help keep your brain awake since you will be doing different things throughout your day.
You can also begin your day with the task you want to do the least. If you have a project that you’re not excited about at all, start your day by working on it so that you can work on the tasks you enjoy the rest of the day and stay motivated even after lunch.
Set a Schedule
Most of us have at least morning routines that center around our jobs, which can help set up schedules around other tasks. To minimize time lost on transitioning from one thing to another, make sure that you know what you should be doing and for how long.
Humans thrive when they have habits, so if you start doing something at the same time every day, you’ll get used to it and be able to improve your routine. For example, if you clean the house or do the dishes at the same time every night, you’ll get used to it, and it will easily become a part of your routine whether you enjoy the activity or not.
Start Your Day Off Right
Your daily routine should start on the right foot every morning. You can start by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier to give yourself enough time to sip a cup of coffee on your porch, walk the dog around the block, or try out your new skin care routine. This will allow you time to wake up on a good note so that you can start your day feeling refreshed.
If you’re someone who sleeps in and wakes up only to get dressed for work and leave the house, you may find that waking up early so that you can begin a stress-free, rush-free routine can help you improve how you function throughout your entire day.
Start Exercising Daily
Yes, there are only 24 hours in a day, and all of yours are jam-packed with activities. However, once you begin optimizing your tasks by making schedules, you’ll be able to fit in 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t need to go to the gym for an hour every night after work. Instead, use the time you’d be doing other things and replace them with exercise.
For example, if you have a lunch break at work, instead of sitting in your car or going out for fast food, you can nibble your lunch throughout the day and use your break to go on a walk around the building or outside.
Exercise is good for you and will help you stay energized after lunch when most of us tend to slow down.
In a busy world, everyone needs to be productive to get anything done. This is especially important if you work in a distracting environment like your home. To maintain your productivity, set aside a workspace that’s just for work. That means that if you work in a cubicle, try not to eat lunch or play games on your phone while you’re there. Instead, save those activities for outside the cubicle so that you can get yourself in the right mindset.
Additionally, make sure that your workspace is a healthy place for you to sit for 8 hours a day. You should have tons of light to help you feel awake throughout the day and a chair that’s comfortable and ergonomic.
A healthy work environment is necessary for productivity, but it’s also important to maintain that productivity. You can do this with the help of a schedule so that you know what you’re working on and when, with an online tool that can help you keep track of tasks.
Break the Day Up
Everyone has to do something that they don’t necessarily want to do, especially when it comes to working. If you have a project or a chore at home that you simply don’t want to do, break it up into smaller chunks to make the task seem easier. Let’s say, for example, that you have to clean your entire home for a small gathering you’re having. Instead of seeing the chore as one big activity, break it up into smaller chunks. You can begin in one room and work your way through the entire house, and take breaks to do other tasks in between so that you feel motivated.
Break Up Your Week
Just like your day, you can break up your week into different themes or duties. For example, you can start Monday off with a theme of “Catch-Up” that allows you to catch up on all the emails and chores you didn’t get to over the weekend or the previous week. Tuesday, could be all about a certain project that you have to finish, Wednesday can be Management that includes all of the tasks you do, where you manage a project or team, and so on. These themes will vary from person to person, so find what works best for you and stick to it.
Find What Works for You
Improving your routine is a personal experience, which means no two routines will be the same. Some people enjoy waking up early to sip a fresh cup of coffee and watch the news before work, while others prefer to sleep in and grab a coffee on the way to work. There’s no right way to improve your daily routine. The best thing you can do is find what works for you and will yourself into continuing the best parts of your routine until you no longer have to think about doing them.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.
Writing permeates every aspect of modern life and is an essential skill regardless of profession and interest. Even businesses cannot survive without good writing at their core and it is a vital part of effective online and print marketing and promotions. Teaching writing to children whether it is a report or technical writing or creative writing has a number of key benefits for their healthy development and prosperous future. Among other things, excellent writing skills mean they will learn to express themselves, consume more reading material and perform better in most academic parameters.
Atmosphere Dictates All
Writing is considered a challenging prospect by children especially if they are younger than middle grade because it seems complex and they might have trouble retaining good vocabulary or expressing themselves. As a parent, you need to identify issues (also ruling out the chance of dyslexia or other learning disorders) and solve them in imaginative and interesting ways. Create a safe space for the child to practice their writing like a desk or a spare room and incorporate inspiring décor ideas like scrabble tiles or framed quotes.
Next, buy them books on subjects they like such as sports or stories. As you build up their reading skills, ask them to jot down new words they have learned in a separate notebook. You can also test them on the meaning and uses of these words using colorful flashcards. Never underestimate the value of consistent practice as it often counts more than simply talent in a particular area.
Switch The Tables
One of the key aspects of being a great writer is the shifting of perspectives. Skilled writers can write for a variety of audiences to suit each and every purpose. Teaching tone and style is therefore very important. Encourage your child to imagine various scenarios and how writing would differ in all of them and help them to find examples online or in print as well. For example; writing a news report is different from someone writing a story and that is different from someone trying to sell you an item.
To Each His Own
Each child has their own favorite type of writing to read and therefore write. Is your child interested in keeping a journal or scrapbooking? Do they prefer to write travel logs? Do they like tales of fantastical lands and beasts? Encourage them to practice the kind of writing that makes their heart sing. When they are able to get a starting point this way, they’ll be more conducive to doing school work for types of writing they perhaps don’t enjoy as much such as reports or work assignments.
Equip Your Child
Make sure you have purchased all the equipment your child needs to become a formidable writer in their own right. Pencils, books, practice books, a desk, etc all matter and impart a sense of purpose. Furthermore, if you’ve consistently observed your child struggles with words and sentence formation and will benefit from English tuition, then that is a worthwhile investment. Not to mention good tutors can also be hired online with ease! You can also take them to libraries and bookshops and build up the reading habit which is in fact the greatest teacher when it comes to becoming a better writer.
Listening to audiobooks or documentaries and even podcasts is a great way to better your writing. Listening translates into better sentence structure and formation when you sit down to write. Encourage your child to listen to educational and interesting material when they are playing outside, going for a walk, simply want to lie down, or are doing anything generally unproductive. This will add to their passive learning and impact their writing in the long run.
Templates And Tests
Writing is a skill like any other and part of developing it in children is periodic testing. Look up tests online you can either use as they are, or tailor to your requirements and have your children take those tests on weekends and so on. Make sure they are short and creative so they don’t add to the school workload each child has to undertake. You can come up with story prompts or even templates and give them to your children to work from. Seeing available examples and starting points always helps with writer’s block.
To make your child keen to practice their writing more, you can even consider starting a blog or something similar from where you and he/she can track how well you are progressing. Not to mention it is brilliant motivation to keep writing and improving.
In stories as varied as legends about local animals to tales of fairy creatures, there is tremendous cross-over in the symbolism used by cultures around the world. By studying these stories, we are reminded of the universal truths about life. The salmon, a transformational fish known for being of both salt and freshwater, has stories which teach new generations to show respect for the food that nourishes them. Tales of mermaids tell of the hardship of living between two worlds, no matter the original culture. Fairy tales about a girl growing up in painful conditions teaches how a person can earn a chance at a new life through being kind and honest. What we eat, the trials we go through, and how we act are all taught through the symbolism in these ancient stories from around the world.
People who live close to the land, who have lived in the same places for centuries of generations, have a connection with nature to be envied. It’s through such a connection that the salmon came to be touted as the bestowers of knowledge upon anyone who eats them. Such wisdom was passed down generation to generation until finally verified by modern science. Salmon, after all, contains Omega 3, a brain food. Certainly, such a creature deserves to be revered. The legends of salmon coming from countries in the Atlantic or the Pacific always hold the salmon in the highest esteem. The Ainu of Japan say salmon is a gift from Paradise. The Haida of the Pacific Northwest, like so many Native American tribes in that region, teach that salmon must be respected in their story of Salmon Boy. The Celtic people of Ireland tell the story of Finn MacCool, a man who gains unlimited intelligence by tasting the Salmon of Knowledge. Revisiting the legends of the creatures living where we live can teach us a lot for how to respect nature.
Mermaids, being both human and fish, live between worlds and symbolize transformation and longing. They are ocean creatures, but they long for the land of their human half. This is not unique to Ariel, the Disney version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. When the cast for the live action The Little Mermaid was announced, and Halle Bailey was cast as the key role, there was backlash about how mermaids are supposed to be white. This was repeated over and over in heated debates, and the comeback was that there are black mermaids, too. There are the stories of Mami Wata, a mermaid tale that originates in Africa and was passed along through the people captured into slavery, and still circulates today throughout the USA, Haiti and other former slave destinations. Unlike most African deities, Mami Wata is not an Orisha. Her name originates in Egypt. Like Ariel, there is longing for the seemingly unattainable land. Yet Mami Wata is no simpering child. She is powerful, almost more like the character of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Someone to be feared. In Celtic stories of mermaids who drag their suitors to the bottom of the ocean floor, so do the African mermaids who serve Mami Wata. A creature to be feared, in symbolizing living between worlds the mermaid serves to teach us to learn to do the same.
Not only has the world of Disney shown just one version of the mermaids from around the world, so too has there been but one view of most popular fairy tales been told. Cinderella has many versions of the same story in a multitude of countries worldwide. Original versions of Cinderella (under different names) are found in the east as far back as 618 AD during the T’ang dynasty of China and even in some Native American tribal stories out west. The stories are always similar; a young girl is mistreated by her family and through telling the truth she is united with a powerful man. Truth may be symbolized by a clothing item such as a golden sandal or an anklet as in the versions of the Eastern countries, or it may be represented by the Cinderella character being able to see the truth where no one else can as in Native American stories. Either way, truth overcomes poverty and pain, giving the girl a “happy ever after” story she has earned through her kindness and honesty. Recognizing that this story is not only a European construct but belongs to all the people of our planet helps teach us that we are all capable of being good citizens worthy of a happy life.
It is because of these varied stories offering connecting symbolism throughout a multitude of cultures and countries that I was inspired to write my final book, The Eternity Knot, the way I did. We are more alike than we realize. Our stories, centuries old, have shown us this over and over again. If we study these ancient stories, we can also learn the simplicity of taking care of our world. Knowledge and respect of nature, learning to live between worlds (e.g. technology and nature), being kind and honest; these are some of the traits we would do better to exhibit and they are taught to us through the symbology within the stories of our world.
About the Author
H. R. Conklin grew up in the rural mountains of Northern California where her mother gardened and her father played the bagpipes, as well as spending long hours in the theater where her parents were a dancer and an actor. This undoubtedly led to her overactive imagination and love for nature. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two adult children, and three dogs. She used to teach kindergarten at a public Waldorf charter school in which she told many fairy tales to the children, and made up stories in her spare time. Now she is a Story Circle Leader and guides parents in homeschooling at a private Waldorf school.
Join Lily at the Faerie Review as she shares her review of H.R. Conklin’s latest book The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic Series. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a modern take on myths and fairytales!
Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review with readers after reading H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot – part of the Celtic Magic Series. Don’t miss Judy’s insightful review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/
July 31st @ Author C.K. Sorens
Fellow Author C.K. Sorens shares her review of The Eternity Knot – the latest release by H.R. Conklin and part of the Celtic Magic series. Don’t miss today’s peer review!
Wisconsin entrepreneur and educator, Cathy Hansen reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Cathy has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons.
Fellow author Anthony Avina shares his review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. This book is part of the Celtic Magic Series – readers of all ages will delight in this special story! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/
August 3rd @ A Storybook World
Readers at A Storybook World will hear from guest blogger H.R. Conklin on the topic of Symbolism in Fairytales. Conklin just release The Eternity Knot – another 5 star book in the Celtic Magic series, but she’s taking time to share her author expertise with readers today! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to learn from Conklin!
Earlier this week, readers at Author Anthony Avina’s blog read Anthony’s review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. Today readers will hear from Conklin herself as she shares a guest blog post titled: “Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World” . Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic series! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/
August 5th @ The Knotty Needle
Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review of The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This is book 3 in the Celtic Magic series and it is guaranteed to delight readers of all ages! Don’t miss Judy’s review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/
August 6th @ Beverley A. Baird
Today’s guest post for readers at Beverley A. Baird is written by H.R. Conklin. Conklin is the award winning author of the Celtic Magic Series and she recently released her latest title: The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to read today’s guest post titled: “Parenting Wisdom Shared Through Storytelling”.
August 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Nicole just finished reading The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin and can’t wait to tell readers at World of My Imagination all about it. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole to find out more about this title as well as the others in the Celtic Magic Series!
August 8th @ Word Magic; All About Books with Author Fiona Ingram
H.R Conklin pens today’s guest post about fairies and mythology as she visits fellow author Fiona Ingram at Word Magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Conklin and find out more about her latest release: The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic series! http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/
August 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
WOW! Blog Tour Manager, Crystal Otto reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Crystal has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her 5 star review with readers at Bring on Lemons.
Libby is a young artist who enjoys many genres of books – she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons today – her deep thoughts about The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This book is part of the Celtic Magic series and Libby is excited to read all the books. Readers will delight in her youthful perspective and her energy!
Today, readers at Jill Sheet’s Blog will hear from H.R. Conklin on the topic of “How Symbolism in Fairy Tales of Old Help Us Today”. Stop by to learn more about The Eternity Knot (part of the Celtic Magic Series) and learn from this talented author.
Readers at Wildwood Reads will hear from Megan as she reviews The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic Series and this latest release! https://wildwoodreads.com/
From the beginning of the Mystic Rampage project, I knew I wanted it to be at least a two-part series. It seemed like the best way to combine the fantasy and science fiction elements. In the first novel the Genie’s powers have some principles in biochemistry or physics, but they are mostly considered magic. In the second book I introduced a deeper scientific explanation for their abilities. I was unsure about writing a third installment. I killed off a few characters at the end of book 2 and wasn’t sure I had enough material for another full-length novel. I’ve been working on it almost a year now and I’m still not sure I have enough.
Part of the reason I decided to attempt a third novel was due to Soleil’s uncertain fate at the end of Public Display of Aggression, although it’s probably unnecessary. There’s nothing wrong with leaving readers with a mystery; it’s why fan theorists exist. The main reason I’m working on another is that three books just feels natural. I’m aware that duologies exist but I can’t recall any off the top of my head. For some reason when authors decide to make a series they are expected to write at least three. I don’t know when it became the norm, but now that I’m conforming to it I find three novels gets boring. It’s too long for me to follow the same characters. Flarence was always my favorite character in this series to write, but even he’s become dull. I’m getting sick of finding reasons for him to get into fights. I’m also running out of clever ways for the Genies to use their magic. I have a lot of respect for authors who produce series that consist of five books, or ten, or even more. I have even greater respect for people involved in comic books. Some superheroes have been around for more than 70 years, and they still fly off shelves. I can’t imagine keeping a story going that long. Mystic Rampage is going to be my last series, at least for a while. From now on, it’s one-and-done for me.
Soleil and Flarence are immortal Genies who can bend the fundamental forces of the universe through willpower alone. For centuries, they have considered themselves the most formidable beings in the world, but some newcomers just might give them a run for their money.
Magic has always been limited to living things. Throughout his life, Soleil has never come across an object with supernatural capabilities. Now, a human has somehow constructed guns with the ability to fire spells. Genies are normally resistant to offensive magic, but Soleil knows from experience that the enchanted revolvers harm all creatures equally.
Resurrection is one of the few limitations to a Genie’s abilities. Not even magic should be able to bring a person back from death. Recently, though, Flarence saw a corpse not only rise but also fight. Endowed with incredible speed and strength, the revived man seeks revenge on his murderers.
To make matters worse, Darren (the third member of the Genie “family”) is still missing. He’s been lying low, biding his time, but hasn’t forgotten about Officer Tymbir, and has every intention of settling their score.
Darren, the revived corpse, and the man with the magic guns have a list of people to kill, and are eager to spill blood. With the help of Mohinaux and Claire, Soleil and Flarence rush to locate them, uncover the sources of their powers, and find a way to stop them.
This book is perfect for adults who want to get in touch with their inner child!
Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves beings with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild.
Deirdra Eden shares the spotlight today – and in today’s spotlight it is none other than Hugh Fritz with Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series: Public Display of Aggression! Readers won’t want to miss an opportunity to dig into the magic of this incredible story!
There’s a guest author at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Using Bacteria and Fungus in Food”. Join readers at Create Write Now to learn more!
June 17th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Nicole Pyles shares her thoughts as she reviews Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Readers at World of My Imagination will put their imagination into overdrive with this fast-paced story involving plenty of magic. This is Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series but reads just as well as a stand-alone. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole!
Diti Shah shares her book review with her Insta followers – find out what she thinks of Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz! This is Book #2 of the Mystic Rampage Series that has delighted readers and left them wanting more!
There’s a guest author at A Storybook World and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Illustrations in Fantasy Novels”. This will be great for writers and readers alike.
June 22nd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Hugh Fritz about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2 Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this insider opportunity to hear from the author himself – the man behind all the imagination and fun!
Judy Hudgins keeps readers on the edge of their seat at the knotty needle blog as she reviews Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series . Readers will want to grab their own copy of Hugh Fritz’s Public Display of Aggression so they won’t miss a beat of this imaginative story!
The spotlight is bright at Bookish Trischa and today it shines on Hugh Fritz and his latest creation Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the book everyone is talking about!
Crystal Otto reads a lot and she loves a fast-paced imaginative story. Public Display of Aggression is 5 Stars and she can’t wait to tell readers more about it at Book Santa Fe today! This is the 2nd book in the Mystic Rampage series, but she says it reads great as a standalone. Read Crystal’s full review today!
Readers of Varsha’s blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today in a post about “Fan Fiction” as he takes a break from promoting his latest book Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and the man behind all the excitement!
Carmen is an avid reader and soon to be high schooler – she loved Book #1 in the Mystic Rampage series and she joins us today to share her 5 Star Review of Book #2 – Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Don’t miss her youthful insight!
Readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today as he pens a guest post titled “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. This post will delight authors and readers alike – so don’t miss it! This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2, Public Display of Aggression.
July 12th @ Bookish Trischa
Today is the day – Trischa reviews Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about and hear from Trischa herself as she shares her insight into the writings of Hugh Fritz.
Today it’s Varsha’s opportunity to share her review of Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about the fast-paced writing of Hugh Fritz and Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage series!
A few days ago, readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog heard from Hugh Fritz in a guest post: “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. Now it’s review time – hear what Anthony has to say in his review of Public Display of Aggression, Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series by Hugh Fritz!
I’m not sure who said it, but there’s an adage that goes something like: A first book is the one the author needed to write. This statement is true for me, though not for all the themes found in my first book, Anything That Happens. Hm. That may not be accurate. Let me begin again.
I came to writing through a side door. At the end of my senior year in high school, my English teacher pulled me aside, a stack of my creative assignments in his hand, and urged me to keep writing. “If you enjoy doing this, keep doing it,” Mr. Langford said, making me look up and into his eyes so I could see his serious face. He knew I was an adrift teenager about to be released into the world. I imagine him crossing his fingers as he gave me the “life raft” that is poetry.
My poetry has always been personal, tied to the exploration of emotion. I believe it’s a response to the practical, non-communicative environment where I grew up. The stack of papers Mr. Langford held were poems about friendship and trust, my mom making a new home with her husband-to-be, my father’s absence, and me coming to terms with … my future?
Since I had little direction, and I enjoyed writing, I took Mr. Langford’s advice. But, I didn’t know how to live like a writer. And I believed “experience” would make me a writer. (Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention in class when we talked about Emily Dickenson’s life.)
So, when I moved from California to North Carolina at nineteen years old, I was embarking on “life.” I uprooted, hoping for new, enlightening experiences. Nine months later, the event—a car crash—I would eventually need to write happened.
The irony is that after the crash, I couldn’t write. Then, I wouldn’t write, not seriously. Not for years. I believed it was wrong to make a good thing from my bad act. And since I wanted to become a poet, I kept myself from it, accepting my due punishment.
The thing about needs is they don’t disappear. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, I was a poet, and a poet needs to write poetry. There’s no escaping it. (Oh, thank goodness.)
I first gave myself permission to write about the crash in a fiction class. I had returned to college at twenty-seven years old and majored in creative writing. Fiction provided me the distance I needed to write the details of the night, from my friend’s phone call to being handcuffed and put into a police car. In the “story,” the crash was happening to someone else.
That first step was monumental: I was in the writer’s chair.
Two years later, during my last poetry workshop before graduation, I wrote my first poem about the crash, the original version of the “Slipped” series that’s in the book. It was the story I wrote in fiction, but this time, I was once again in the driver’s seat. Placing myself there gave me a better vantage point to tell the story, and not only the drinking too much and car wrapped around a pole story. The pieces of the story only I knew: the emotional and psychological impact.
The crash was the story I needed to tell. “Emotional and psychological impact” is the inherent slice of all the stories I tell, like when I tried to understand my father’s choices compared to my mother’s back in high school.
The main narrative of Anything That Happens is the car crash and its aftermath. But there is also the death of my mother, the birth of my first son, struggles of parenthood, and underneath it all, ever-present shame. There’s no doubt the car crash heightened my interest in how one action can affect someone else. When I wrote about the relationship with my parents and how I felt about becoming a mother, I did so through the lens of cause and effect—the impact of choosing what not to do weighing as heavily as choosing what to do.
The impact of writing the story I needed to write is just coming to fruition. The book is only two months old. My desire to write hasn’t lessened. Now, I get to work on what I want to write. I don’t know what that looks like yet. Sure, I have ideas and dreams. Okay, I even have projects I kept putting to the side while I finished the needed-to-be-told story. But that’s the “work” of being a writer, and I’ll get to it. For now, I’m still living the piece I’m most interested in, the emotional and psychological impact of having told the story I needed to tell.
About the Author
Cheryl Wilder is the author of Anything That Happens, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection (Press 53, 2021), a collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Her chapbook, What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press, 2017), explores the frailty and necessity of human connection.
A founder and editor of Waterwheel Review, Cheryl earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I am proud to share this amazing guest blog post from author and poet Kathy Davis for her upcoming blog tour for her book, “Passiflora”, which I will be reviewing on May 10th. Please enjoy this wonderful post the poet shared with us all.
Inspiration and the Cabinet of Curiosities
Imagine a stash of foreign objects that people inhaled or swallowed—by accident or on purpose—and had to have surgically removed from their throat, esophagus or lungs. Buttons, hatpins, bones, nuts, nails, screws, a doll’s eye, dentures, a Christmas ornament, keys, opera glasses, a crucifix and more. You can spend hours exploring a collection of 2,374 of them in the Chevalier Jackson Collection at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, many neatly displayed in drawers whose contents you are welcome to examine.
Jackson was an otolaryngologist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who developed methods for removing obstructions from airways and food passages. He saved and cataloged everything he removed (and the stories behind them)—a quirky obsession (his middle name after all was Quixote). But don’t writers do something similar? I have an equally weird collection of oddities stored in my journals—unusual objects, places or stories I was drawn to record, some of which emerge in my writing, including a few of the poems in Passiflora.
My father inherited a shoebox of photographs taken at a family graveside funeral during the Roaring Twenties, picture after picture of people lined up behind a casket mounded with flowers. But someone had snipped off the top half of each one so that the family and friends gathered were only shown from the waist down and couldn’t be identified. Who was it that the scissor-wielder was trying to hide? Years later, I described the photos in a piece for a fiction-writing class. “That’s so creative!” the instructor said. “Who would take pictures at a funeral?!” I was too embarrassed to say that, well, actually my family did, and tucked the idea away out of shame until a variation of it emerged in the poem “Starlings”: Her own mother careful/to cut faces from the photographs.
“Ruins, Trophies, Palms” was inspired by a warning a friend received from her neighbor that a wolf had been seen just off their country road. “Don’t go outside,” the neighbor said. “It’s too dangerous!” A practical, yet intrepid, person, my friend was skeptical. We don’t have wolves in Virginia. Venturing out, she did find a wolf, but one that a hunter had preserved through taxidermy and was using for target practice. It was full of bullet holes—an image just itching to find its way into a poem.
Not looking where I was going, I collided with a stranger one evening in the French Quarter in New Orleans. When I turned to apologize, I was startled to see a woman who had painted her hair and body white and was naked except for two white ceramic fig leaves glued over her breasts and a white drape from the waist down. She frowned and quickly moved on while I gaped. Later, I saw her posing as a Greek statue in Jackson Square, dollar bills collecting in her cardboard box. Her image emerged in “At the Boundary of Desire.”
The Gospel Chicken House in “Revelations” operated for over 35 years in the county where I live. The owners equipped the long low structure of an old poultry barn with the sound equipment, seating and concession stands needed to hold a Saturday night music ministry for several hundred attendees, most of whom considered it their church. I visited once before it closed to listen to that night’s band and enjoy a hotdog and some pie. Much of the evening’s experience made it into the poem: Welcome to Saturday night live/at the chicken house. Yep, that’s how they opened the show.
There are other little oddities from my “collection” scattered about in Passiflora. The number on the ambulance I followed in “Battle City” was, as described, the unlucky 13. (Who thought that was a good idea?) And Sarah Cannon in “Mrs. Cannon Passes the Parthenon on Her Way Home from Work” truly was a hillbilly comedian on stage and an elegant pillar of Nashville society in real life, a duality that still fascinates me. I don’t have my curiosities stored tidily in drawers like Jackson—they’re jotted down haphazardly in a mismatched assortment of notebooks—but I value them no less. And they help make writing fun.
Kathy Davis is a poet and nonfiction writer who received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry manuscript, Passiflora, won the 2019 Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in February 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier(Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Diode, The Hudson Review, Nashville Review, Oxford American, The Southern Review, story South and other journals. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for Best of the Net and the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction. After raising their two boys, she and her husband moved to an old farmhouse outside of Richmond, Va., where she tends a wildflower meadow when not writing.