Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

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?

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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

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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.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

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

Guest Post: The 7 Ways to Improve Your Day-to-Day Routine by Writer Samantha Rupp

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?

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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. 

  1. Optimize Work

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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Maintain Productivity

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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

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Samantha Rupp

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.

Guest Post: How To Teach Your Kids To Become Great Writers by Linda Mills

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.

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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.

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Listening Helps

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.

Guest Blog Post: Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World By H. R. Conklin (author of The Eternity Knot in the Celtic Magic series)

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.

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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. 

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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.

 Keep in Touch – Sign up for Conklin’s Newsletter

Find out more at: 

Website:  https://wildrosestories.com/welcome

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/wildrosestories/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wildrosestories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wildrosestoriesandcircles/

Purchase The Eternity Knot on AmazonWaldorf Books, and/or H.R. Conklin’s website: Wild Rose Stories. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Buy Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Knot-Celtic-Magic/dp/B096TTR9PK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=celtic+magic+h.+r.+conklin&qid=1625601403&s=books&sr=1-2

Waldorf Books Online: https://earthschooling.info/thebearthinstitute/product/celtic-magic-book-4-the-eternity-knot/

Wild Rose Stories: https://wildrosestories.com/shop

Blog Tour Calendar 

July 19th @ The Muffin

July 21st @ The Faerie Review 

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! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

July 29th @ The Knotty Needle 

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! 

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

August 1st @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen 

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. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com

August 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina 

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! 

http://www.astorybookworld.com

August 4th @ Author Anthony Avina 

 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”.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

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! 

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

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. 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 10th @ Bring on Lemons with Libby 

 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! 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 11th @ Lisa Haselton 

 Lisa Haselton interviews H.R. Conklin about the Celtic Magic series and her latest release The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to become better acquainted with this talented author! 

https://lisahaselton.com/blog

August 18th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog 

 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. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

August 19th @ Wildwood Reads with Megan 

 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/

Guest Blog Post: Preferences of Single vs Series Works

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.

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Book Summary:

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!

Purchase Public Display of Aggression on AmazonOrganic BooksPage One Books and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

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About the Author Hugh Fritz: 

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.

Find out more at:

website:  http://www.hughfritz.com 

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/Stories-by-Hugh-Fritz-397896477228957

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  — Blog Tour Calendar

June14th  @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of this incredible tale. Find out more about the author, Hugh Fritz, and enter to win a copy of Public Display of Aggression for yourself.  

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

June 15th @ A Storybook World with Deirdra Eden

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!

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

June 16th @ Create Write Now with Mari McCarthy

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!

https://www.createwritenow.com/

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!

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

June 18th @ Bibliophile with Diti Shah

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!

https://www.instagram.com/she_a_bibliophile/

June 21st @  A Storybook World with Deirdra Eden

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.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

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!

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

June 23rd @ One Writer’s Journey with Sue Bradford Edwards

Fellow author Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Readers won’t want to miss her thoughts!

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

June 24th @ Knotty Needle with Judy Hudgins

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!

http://www.knottyneedle.blogspot.com

June 30th @ Bookish Trischa

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!

http://bookishtrisha.com

July 1st @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

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!

http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

July 7th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

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!

sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com

July 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

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!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

July 10th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

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.

http://bookishtrisha.com

July 13th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

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!

sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com

July 14th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

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!

Guest Blog Post: The Story I Needed To Tell by Cheryl Wilder

The Story I Needed to Tell

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.

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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.

STRESS: AN EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING BOOK “THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY” BY AUTHOR BARRY SHORE

I am so proud to share with you all this amazing excerpt and article from author Barry Shore, from his upcoming book THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY. I will be reviewing this book tomorrow, but in anticipating for the May 11th release date I wanted to share this excerpt. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for anyone who knows me, you know that mental health awareness is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please take the time to read this book and share this post, and look for my review of Barry’s book tomorrow. Now, enjoy this exclusive excerpt. 


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An Excerpt From

“The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy”

By Barry Shore the “Ambassador of Joy”

______________________________________________________________________

The Problem: STRESS…Kills!

Not directly. More like death by a thousand sighs.

It’s insidious. Invidious, invasive, and, if continuous and not stopped, will ruin Your physical, mental, and spiritual being.

Stress is a common occurrence. While You can’t remove every stressor from Your life, it’s possible to manage and reduce stress and maintain your health. This is important because chronic stress can cause mental fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, obesity, skin ailments, heart issues, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.

Yes, that list of symptoms observed across the population tells You that You’re not alone in this battle.

But even when You know the physical and mental effects of stress, You may be unaware of the different stages of stress, known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). When You understand the different stages of stress and how the body responds in these stages, it’s easier to identify signs of chronic stress in Yourself.

I’m writing this in the year 2020. The world is beset with panic, disease, and economic and societal ruin.

Right now, the most searched word in the world after Covid (and its related causes/cures) is STRESS. It’s affecting everyone.

STRESS is an acronym that I use to describe how to deal with the effects of untoward circumstances. Essentially there are three factors that cause STRESS.

These are and have always been:

• Money

• Work

• Home

Yes, these are universal and constant. Even in the best of times.

There are however two divergent ways to deal with STRESS, both revealed in my insights.

STRESS can stand for: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Sabotage.

There is little need to go into depth regarding each of the three stressors above. It is self-evident that money issues can and do cause tremendous pressures. The same for work. And, certainly, for home/family. Often in times of recession and disaster, these factors are intertwined and exacerbate one another. They truly cause a stomach-turning reality.

STRESS can also mean: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Success.

Same exact situation/s dealt with in a different way/s. Your response to the stomach-turning reality makes all the difference. Struggling is the continual and real test of life. And it’s something we all face every single day.

How You deal with the reality of these issues determines how Your physical and mental wellbeing will be affected. Certainly, You can’t be cavalier. Yet You can utilize practices, tips, and tools to enable You to direct Your mind and guide Your body to avoid falling prey to a pity party which can lead to the use/abuse of medications, alcohol, or to other aberrant behavior.

Mind is the master. Once You grasp this fundamental fact and leverage this powerful tool, You can and will achieve success under all circumstances and vicissitudes.

How do You maintain inner strength during stressful periods?

Consider a submarine. As the ship goes down, the pressure (strength) inside needs to increase to counterbalance the pressure outside. Likewise, when we are in stressful situations, we must make sure our internal strength is adequate to offset the external forces pushing against us.

Anger also produces stress. Have You ever known people whose lives seemed to have a thin veneer of civility and calm, yet once the surface was scratched, anger bubbled up like a volcano? Stress and anger go hand-in-glove.

We also know that there are two types of stress: vertical and horizontal. The vertical is healthy because it pulls You up. Think of a flower on a stem. Without turgor pressure, the stem droops. Without the fluids pushing through the cells, the flower dies. We can grow limp as well. A useful example of the sort of pressure that pulls us up is the sense of awe or reverence of God.

Horizontal stresses pull us apart and create damage. Designing our lives to meet others’ demands and standards is horizontal. All the current talk about self-image leads to horizontal stress. I do not mean that we should have no concept of self-worth. But we want to have a clear definition of self-worth that comes from knowing we were brought into this world for a purpose. That knowledge is a settled knowledge and doesn’t change just because of what others think or say.

In our competitive society there is another prevailing stress—the fear of losing. The specter of losing by our choosing stresses us. When we make one decision, we give up other options. These are the “Y” points. Marriage and career are two of the biggest examples. One of the pitfalls of our current day is buyer’s remorse. “If I choose the left fork and it grows dull, I opt out and choose another road.” This is a mistake. The stress of always looking around for the better option steals the joy of commitment.

The true test of life is never in what happens to us.

It is always in how we choose to respond to situations.

As we’ll learn later in the 11 Strategies, the six most important words You can learn and internalize are:

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

Repeat this. Often. Think about it. Internalize and utilize.

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

“The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” by Barry Shore is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

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About the Book

“The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is your passport to being healthier, wealthier, and happier in a time of unease and misgiving. 

Part journal, part memoir, part activity book, it’s a timely guide to slay stress, beat burnout, and cope with life, post-pandemic. Author Barry Shore reveals 11 strategies that you can use to slay stress and be happy….no matter the circumstance. Imagine standing up in the morning fully healthy and in the hospital, that evening completely paralyzed; and not from a car accident or a spinal injury, but from a rare disease. You’ll join the journey as Barry moves from paralysis to now swimming 2 miles per day, 6 days a week. All with a SMILE.

  • RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2021
  • GENRE: Healthy Living, Emotions and Mental Health, Journal/Workbook, Memoir, Motivational Self-Help, Nonfiction, Self-Improvement.
  • PUBLISHER: Joy of Living Institute Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-930376-15-1 
  • PURCHASING INFO: Available for Pre-order on Amazon or on Apple Books or by visiting https://www.barryshore.com/book 

About the Author

Known as the “Ambassador of JOY,” Barry Shore is a mental health activist, philanthropist, multi-patent holding entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, and former quadriplegic. After a rare disease paralyzed Shore from the neck down, he created the JOY of LIVING Institute™ (a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation), Keep Smiling (a movement that has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of “Keep Smiling” cards worldwide), and Changebowl (a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah Magazine.) Barry’s podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has over two million downloads. 

Barry’s latest book, “The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

Guest Blog Post: Inspiration and the Cabinet of Curiosities by Poet Kathy Davis

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.


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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. 

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Author Bio


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.

https://kathydaviswrites.com/

Guest Post by Roje Augustin

I first learned about Sarah Breedlove — or Madam C.J. Walker as she would come to be known — in my early 20s. I remember it clearly because when I read her story in A’Lelia Perry Bundles’ wonderful book Madam C.J Walker Entrepreneur, my jaw literally dropped. Prior to reading her book, it never occurred to me that a woman like Walker could even exist. African American history, such as it was taught in my early school years, was biased and flimsy at best. That her life story was not a standard part of the curriculum was offensive to me.


I was taught about Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Joan of Arc… But where my people were concerned, all I learned was that we were slaves and one day a slave named Harriet Tubman chose to devote her life to freeing her follow slaves from bondage. An important and inspiring story no doubt, but as a black girl, it would have been so edifying to have learned about Madam C.J. Walker, too.

After discovering her, I devoured everything I could find about Madam Walker, which included a second biography, On Her Own Ground The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, also written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Perry Bundles. There were also a handful of other biographies and two novelised accounts of her life.

Fast forward to 2018. When I started to write Out of No Way, I returned to these biographies as well as material I found on online, namely old Walker advertisements for her hair care products. On Her Own Ground proved invaluable for providing timelines, dates, locations, events, and names, which became the foundation for my poems: the who, what, when, where, and to some degree, the why. But the thing that became clear to me in re-reading the books a second time around was how starved I felt for personal details, for a more intimate voice, particularly with regard to Madam Walker’s relationship to her daughter, A’Lelia, as a working mother. Because of my deep desire for more intimate knowledge of their relationship, the mother/daughter dynamic became the overarching theme of Out of No Way, the lens through which all the poems were written.


Like any successful entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker was driven. How else as a black woman could she have become America’s first self-made female millionaire during one of the most racially violent periods in American history? As a mother myself, I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful working moms. Knowing that great achievement requires great sacrifice I wondered, what were Madam Walker’s sacrifices?


I started with this question, and it led to many more: What did money mean to Sarah? How did her daughter feel about their journey from rags to riches? What, if any, were the drawbacks of their wealth? Did Sarah’s ambitions have an impact on Lelia’s sense of self? Could the death of her own mother when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s more nurturing instincts? And how did they really feel about their hair?

I took all these questions and attempted to answer them through verse. While I enjoy a lot of contemporary poetry, I felt her story would be best served by turning to the kind of poetry that relied on meter, rhyme, and structure. So I re-read a lot of my favourite ‘old school’ poets (Hughes, Cullins, Poe, Angelou, Yeats, to name a few) as part of my research as well.


I then organised the research into themes, or issues, that were relevant to their lives. Then, in thinking about my overarching theme of the mother/daughter relationship, a flash of inspiration hit me. The words Mother and Daughter gave way to a kind of acrostic structure that allowed me to divide the themes into chapters so that the entire book itself became an acrostic poem.


Money

Orphan

Travel

Hair

Envy

Resilience

Death

Art

U…

Generations

Hatred

Transcendence

Education

Regrets

Once I landed on this structure, I had another flash of inspiration — to write each chapter in a different form of poetry. This made the task infinitely more enjoyable. I love working within a defined structure. I am most creative when I have boundaries, and working within the boundaries of say a haiku or a sonnet meant that I had to focus my research into a fine point for each poem, which in turn helped me to stay on theme. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation and respect for poetry and for great poets, from Shakespeare to the rapper Stormzy.


It is my hope that Out of No Way will introduce readers to Madam C.J. Walker’s incredible legacy while also serving as a kind of instructional guide to different poetic forms. At the very least I hope it will introduce young readers to the joys of structure, rhyme, and meter.

About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction. She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. Rojé continues to work as a television producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with her Aussie husband and two daughters.

Add to GoodReads:

Out of No Way

Available on Amazon.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

Enter the Giveaway:

2 copies available (digital for international entrants; print for U.S./Canada entrants) Giveaway ends Oct. 31, 2020.