Tag Archives: poetry book tour

Book Spotlight & Author Q&A: Flowers Grow on Broken Walls by Farena Bajwa

Hello everyone! Welcome to a special post today, where I am lucky enough to share with you the upcoming book from author Farena Bajwa, Flowers Grow on Broken Walls, a beautiful collection of poetry about healing and finding out who we are in the world. I hope you’ll enjoy this special spotlight, including a fantastic Q&A with the author. 

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Synopsis:

Flowers Grow on Broken Walls is a unique collection of poems and prose that talks about healing and finding yourself in a world that constantly tells you that’s who you shouldn’t be.

The poems, which tell a story, go over our everyday human emotions; from being heartbroken and questioning our self-worth in a world of judgment and scrutinizing social media, to finding ourselves and appreciating those really important in our lives – especially our inner, true selves. 

The collection displays a raw and honest portrayal of an artist who cannot help but create something beautiful in the midst of the ugliness she has been put through, and who continues to hope against all odds, as she lets go of what she has been told is important and finds herself in one truly is.

The story that starts with heartache ends with healing, it starts with rejection from someone but ends with self-acceptance, which is the only way for true healing.

Author Bio:

Farena Bajwa is a talented poet, storyteller, actor, filmmaker, and voice-over artist. Even though she studied Marketing Management, her creativity comes from her heart. Whether it’s filmmaking, voice-over, or acting, she owes it to her life philosophy: ‘’learning by doing’’. ‘’Flowers Grow on Broken Walls’’ is Farena’s first written collection of poetry that speaks about the journey to self-healing after experiencing the loss of someone, but mostly, the loss of yourself. She wants to inspire her readers using her power of words to make them feel less alone and to let them know that no matter what they go through, healing is just around the corner, already cheering for you.

Website: https://farenabajwa.com

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

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Author Q&A

On writing:

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I am primarily inspired by my own experiences, but I love to hear and to learn about other people’s experiences too. I am also inspired by situations going on in the world.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been journaling my whole life. But I only started writing poems when I started writing Flowers Grow on Broken Walls. The interesting thing is, I’ve always had thoughts running through my head formed in a poetic way. When I didn’t understand, when something happened, I would think those thoughts in small poems. I thought art would be able to lift off the weight from unpleasant situations I was dealing with right away. And oftentimes, it turned out to be true. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Yes, constantly. But I don’t get intimidated by it. Whenever I have a writer’s block I just feel like: “Oh, I am probably not meant to be writing right now. So let’s see what I can do to take are of myself/have fun/get some other work done etc. And eventually the block ends and I am inspired again. The key? Letting go.

What is your next project?

All I know is that I am currently writing poems. One poem after another. I don’t have a specific theme, I guess I’ll find out when the time comes.

What genre do you write and why?

I write poetry because poems are able to give my feelings a voice. They help me understand what I am feeling and also how I can deal with these emotions.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

The invisible life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. A magnificent piece of work dancing between different timelines, magic, and blood cold reality that we often think boring. But truthfully, it is our reality that is more enchanting than magic if you stop taking friendly gestures of strangers, or new shortcuts you discovered etc. for granted.  

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

A reviewer wrote:

I loved reading Shakespeare and feel that this author could certainly be a modern day version of him. The disappointments, loss, love, and other happenstances of life are well within these poems.”

Just reading the name Shakespeare connected to my book gave me all the right chills- and I am so grateful for it😊

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

The biggest challenge was having to go back to these intense negative feelings that I was experiencing. I had to recall every emotion and I was scared I would be pulled back into the dark. The biggest reward was knowing that I had overcome these feelings. While I was writing the pages for the first few chapters that cover those lower feelings, I realized how much I had changed and how it didn’t affect me as I thought it would.

On rituals:

Where do you write?

Primarily in Cafés. The smell of coffee, the cozy ambience and the gentle, faint talking of people inspires and energizes me. 

Do you write every day?

No, only when I am inspired. I can’t write if I don’t feel the words I am writing. If a word only feels like a word to me and not like an emotion, I can’t write because it doesn’t seem truthful to me. Afterall, poetry is all about a feeling wanting to take shape, so it can be released.

What is your writing schedule?

I don’t set specific timeframes to write, nor do I schedule specific days. I write when I feel like I have something to say, when something is bothering me, when I need to put my feelings into written words. I can write for a whole week and create 3 poems a day or I won’t write for weeks. I can write and pretend but I can’t lie about how I feel. Also, readers are not stupid, they know instantly if someone is being authentic in their words or not.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I almost only write my poems on paper. Flowers Grow on Broken Walls was entirely handwritten. I bought a notebook with colorful flowers on the cover when I started writing my book. I saw that notebook and it just called out to me. I didn’t know then, “Flowers” would become the main message in my book😊 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?

Cake. In any shape or form. I love cake. I would die for cake.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders. My two favorite series I’ve already watched a thousand times. Both series are brilliant. Amazing writing, amazing acting, fast paced, dramatic with moments of fun and ease in between and – I just love these kinds of series!

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

There are actually two songs:

Love wave by The 1-800

Ebb tide by The Platters

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Coffee. Always and forever coffee. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Ash Ketchum of Pokémon…I mean come on. How can you not find that drive and that determination that boy had attractive? He wanted to become the Pokémon master and he was GOING for it. Damn.

One thing no one would expect from you.

I have a deep love for dinosaurs. I am fascinated by the thought that there’ve been huge reptiles walking on our earth once. I used to collect dinosaur figures, read books and watch documentaries (and of course Jurassic Park). I wanted to become a paleontologist when I was a child because I always hoped to find a living dinosaur one day. It is my dream to see a real-life sized skeleton of a dinosaur someday. I never had the opportunity to see one.

Really? What is your favorite dinosaur?

A Brachiosaurus. You’ve got to love this teeny tiny head on this big fat body. The fact that it weighed more than 28 tons but only eat plants, it belonged to one of the tallest dinosaurs and could easily crush another dinosaur with a slight step – but still was one of the friendliest and more peaceful reptiles is just ridiculous- and so cute. 

Interview with Judy Croome 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was born in Zimbabwe and now live in South Africa. I could never find my working niche, but the one constant in my life was my love of reading. From when I was a teenager, I’d always wanted to write but lacked confidence and discipline. In my late-30s I decided to finally write! My first novel took ten arduous years, but once I wrote The End, I knew I was doing what I wanted to do.

What inspired you to write your book?

The fear and panic that swept the world when the covid pandemic began made me consider that the modern generation has such mental, emotional and spiritual pressure in a world that is so uncertain and dangerous. I wanted to explore how the pandemic deepened these challenges.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

To inspire the belief that, no matter how bleak or dark life seems, the human spirit can face —and overcome — anything if we hold onto hope.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Poetry became my primary genre by accident. Like most authors, with ever-increasing daily demands on my time, I constantly struggled to find long periods of unfractured time to write. Wanting to write every day to keep my creative juices flowing, I discovered that I could write a poem a day until I had enough for a whole volume. 

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Leaving book reviews on Goodreads. Keeping active on Facebook and Twitter.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write every day –once you’ve started a new writing project, never miss a day of writing even if you only write 100 words a day. 

Be authentic. Try to avoid writing what you think will sell, what people say you must write. Whether you’re writing an entertaining genre novel or a literary masterpiece, leave your soul on the page.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Currently working on a collection of short stories, predominantly magical realism, although some of the stories have no magical realism element. Barring any unforeseen delays (like writer’s block!) that book should hit the shelves in the South African summer 2022. After that I’m toying with the idea of another volume of poetry before tackling a long-held dream of mine – a trilogy of novels starting with the Anglo-Boer War, then the South African Border War and the final book will be set in post-1994 democratic South Africa.

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About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome

the dust of hope: rune poems by Judy Croome Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author and poet Judy Croome takes readers on an emotional and calming journey through the modern-day anxieties we all face through a return to the meanings and power behind ancient Nordic runes and poetry in her collection, “the dust of hope: rune poems”.

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The Synopsis

Judy Croome’s latest collection of poetry returns to the ancient ways of the Nordic runes, to shine a light of hope and healing as we navigate through the wilderness of anxiety permeating these early years of the twenty-first century.

The simple verses console the reader with a calm acceptance that, even during a global pandemic, everyday life ebbs and flows with the natural rhythms of the timeless oceans.

Here are poems that invite us to stop, to breathe, and to see the world around us from a new perspective birthed within the centre of our souls.

The Review

This was such an intriguing and captivating book of poetry. As someone who has been fascinated with mythology, ancient history and cultures, and the study of ancient belief systems, this book really spoke to me. The idea that each of the author’s poems represented an individual rune was so unique and was amazing to see connect with the author’s message and themes. The way the author was able to captured personal experiences and emotions they had been going through and tie them into the overall narrative of this collection was a brilliant sign of the author’s ability to invoke imagery and tone within her poems.

The balance the author struck between the representation of the ancient runes with the modern-day struggles both internally and externally we all face was perfectly captured. The eloquent yet powerful way the author captured the isolation and pain that the quarantine and COVID-19 Pandemic has caused over the last couple of years was not only relevant but emotionally hard-hitting and gave voice to an emotion we all have felt at one time or another over the last couple of years.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, beautifully written, and thoughtful in its approach, author Judy Croome’s “the dust of hope: rune poems” is a must-read book of poetry. The woven way the author brings together the personal experiences and emotions they hold with the magic and healing nature of the runes and their history made this such a calming and intuitive experience, and a wonderful read overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome

Your Words, Your World by Louise Belanger Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A beautiful collection of poetry with an equally stunning pairing of photographs brings poet and author Louise Belanger’s poems of faith, love, and trust to life in the collection, “Your Words, Your World”.

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The Synopsis

Poetry For Your Soul – Stunning Photographs

Zoom to Heaven

The most beautiful love poem

Where God is not there

Promises…

A handful of cloud

Clowns…

During the night

These are some of the titles of the poetry you will read in this beautiful, inspiring collection complemented by captivating nature photographs.

Read poems about God and having a relationship with Him. Poems about trust, missing a loved one, childhood memories, Christmas, Heaven, Easter…

Other poems are lovely stories, the length of a page.

The poetry is easy to understand. It is for everyone whether poetry is your genre or not, you will enjoy it. 

The Review

This was a heartfelt and emotional blend of poetry and photography, bringing the warmth and heart of nature into the creative landscape the author created with each and every poem. The balance of storytelling with artistic imagery each poem evoked within the reader was great to read and stirred within us all the emotions that really resonated so strongly.

Now while I personally am not religious, I thought the author found a way of blending the underlying theme of faith in the poems with the more open-ended interpretations that others could gather from these poems, and made the narrative of these poems really shine brightly. Of course, those who are religious will absolutely love the call to faith and God that she brings to life, and the artistry with which her words flow is just brilliant to read. 

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, and thoughtful, author and poet Louise Belanger’s “Your Words, Your World” is a must-read book of poetry. The imagery and narrative-style poems will inspire and allow reflection for those who read them, and those who turn to faith will feel such a strong connection to this read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I am a Canadian poet and the author of Your Words and my new release: Your Words Your World.

Both books are beautiful and inspiring poems complemented by nature photographs.

I started writing poetry in the spring of 2020. Pouring my emotions on paper, describing beautiful scenery and stories that came to life in my head was quite new to me. With the encouragement and help from many friends, my dream became a reality.

I invite you to visit my website at https://www.louisebelangerauthor.com/

Guest Blog Post with Author and Poet Louise Bélanger

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 Words Your 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 Words Your 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.

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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. 

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Thank you for your time, thank you for reading my poetry. I invite you to visit my author’s website: Louise Bélanger – Author (louisebelangerauthor.com) . I hope you will enjoy Your Words Your World and will find a favorite poem or two or more. 

Louise Bélanger 

January 12, 2021

Winter at a Summer House by Mary Beth Hines Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Mary Beth Hines takes readers on an emotional journey through the highs and lows in everyone’s lives in the collection, “Winter at a Summer House”.

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The Synopsis

In Winter at a Summer House, Mary Beth Hines’s poems speak to the sublime and risks in every middle-class home, small city neighborhood, seaside retreat, or suburban backyard. Vivid, tactile imagery suffuses the collection, which follows the arc of a life from birth/first words to death/last words. Together, these poems create a sometimes heartbreaking, but often humorous and joyous, narrative that speaks to all readers.

The Review

Such a brilliant and beautiful collection of poetry! The author did such an incredible job of pulling in all of the raw emotions and subtle feelings that life can bring on any given day, and somehow creating a thoughtful poem that paints an image in the reader’s minds that reflects those moments in all of our lives. From a child’s first words to days spent at home during a winter storm and the loss of a loved one, the author captured all of these moments with the same vigor and artistry that the world around us naturally brings to our lives during these moments. 

What played so well here was the vast amount of imagery the author utilized with their writing. The poetry was not only emotional but so moving that it became almost cinematic in its delivery, creating the perfect balance between narrative-style poetry and the more in-depth emotional connection not only between the author and the words, but the poetry and the readers as well. 

The Verdict

A meaningful, engaging, and breathtakingly beautiful collection, author Mary Beth Hines’s “Winter at a Summer House” is a must-read poetry book! The journey of life itself and the hauntingly beautiful yet truly relatable way the author was able to connect their own experiences to the overall themes explored within this collection will keep fans of poetry hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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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.

Guest Blog Post: When a House is More Than a House by Mary Beth Hines

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.

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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.

https://www.facebook.com/marybethhineswriter

The Moon Won’t Be Dared by Anne Leigh Parrish Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Anne Leigh Parrish explores nature, love, and the uphill battle many women face in a male-dominated society in her book, “The Moon Won’t Be Dared”. 

The Synopsis

The poems in the moon won’t be dared by award-winning author anne leigh parrish ponder nature, love, ageing, and the impossible plight of women in a male-dominated society. Love and reverence for beauty blend with harsher truths of betrayal and brutality. Throughout, there is an overriding sense that life is full of magic, and that to wonder is a lovely gift.

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The Review

Such an incredibly beautiful and emotionally-driven collection of poetry! The author has expertly crafted a collection that touches the soul and navigates the human experience with vivid imagery and succinct writing. What struck me immediately was the author’s use of no capitalization in her writing, allowing the words to flow smoothly and with tremendous insight into the struggles of everyday life and the world as a whole.

The balance the author found between narrative-style poetry and more personal and relatable storytelling with a healthy dose of heartfelt themes that inspire us all to stop and really examine the world around us. From the fires raging on the US West Coast and the rise of global warming to abuse and the loss of a loved one, the author conveys each topic and poem with such conviction and depth, and when accompanied by the engaging artwork makes for a memorable reading experience.

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and thoughtful collection of poetry, author Anne Leigh Parrish’s “The Moon Won’t Be Dared” is a must-read poetry collection of 2021! With a mesmerizing blend of awe-inspiring imagery and thought-provoking words that stirred up the emotions within us all, readers will be hard-pressed to keep away from this fantastic collection. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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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 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