Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author Miriam Hurdle

Today, I am delighted to host poet and author Miriam Hurdle for the July edition of Treasuring Poetry.

Welcome Miriam Hurdle

Hi Robbie,

I’m delighted to be your guest on Writing to be Read to talk about poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite

Among the published poems in Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, several poems are my favorites in equal measure for different reasons. One is in the section of Songs of Marriage, one in Songs of Tribute, and one in Songs of Inspiration.

The time I wrote this post, my heart turns to the poem “Healthy Grieving” in the section of Songs of Tribute.

Healthy Grieving

Randy and my husband were true friends.

No appointment needed for

a barbeque, a movie or a game, just

knocked on each other’s door.

The conversation could go anywhere,

no worry about apologies.

When one needed a helping hand,

the other one is always there.

Twelve years was a long time,

such true friendship rarely came by.

People say, “Big boys don’t cry.”

I don’t know why.

Boys have emotion, as we all do.

My husband had never cried,

not until after Randy died.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

There is a narrative precedes the poem. I wrote the poem to pay tribute to our neighbor, my husband’s best friend who died of a mountain bike accident. Here is the excerpt.

I remember on January 3, 2016. Randy joined us to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We had lunch and saw Star Wars at Irvine Spectrum. It was on Saturday.

The following Sunday, eight days later, his relative came over to tell us that Randy had a mountain bike accident. He and a gym buddy ventured on a long mountain bike ride. The bike hit a vast gap and made a somersault flip. He got thrown off the bike, fell forward and hit the ground, and smashed his head and face.

They rushed him to the close by emergency room but pronounced him dead as soon as the ambulance reached the hospital.

Randy was our neighbor who lived two doors down the street. He was my husband’s best friend for twelve years, ever since he came back to live with his parents. They worked out at the gym together. They enjoyed the Friday movie and pizza day for a while.

After my husband got a mountain bike, he also got one. They biked on the trails in the city. On special occasions, a barbecue dinner was in order. He came over to our house for game nights regularly. A year before he passed away, they switched to another restaurant to hang out in the bar, and I became their designated driver.

Randy was a lighthearted guy, a wonderful friend, a caring son. We missed him very much.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Whereas a “form” defines the way a poem arranges sounds, rhythms, or its appearance on the page, “genre” is something like the poem’s style. Many poetic genres have a long history, and new poems almost always seek to explore a new aspect of the traditional style and thus to redefine the genre.

Traditionally, there are nine genres of poetry. Three of them remain in the newer inclusion of poetry genres. They are narrative poetry which tells a story, lyric poetry which is musical in tone, and dramatic poetry which is a long dramatic monologue or persona poem.

I would say I enjoy writing narrative poetry genre. Regardless of the poetry forms, I like to write poems that tell the stories. The poem I included above is a good example in which I shared the story of the friendship between my husband and Randy.

As far as poetry form, I enjoy writing free verse which is free of rules and regulations. It doesn’t follow a consistent rhyme scheme, meter or musical structure. For the fun of learning, I also write blank verse which follows a stricter structure with precise meter. In addition to Haiku, Tanka, I have written a Shakespearean Sonnet, a Pantoum, several acrostic poems, two Villanelle, and one one-syllable poem (all the words used in the entire poem are single syllable words).

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading narrative and lyric poetry including poetic song lyric. One example of narrative poetry is a poem by the American Poet Linda Pastan in which she tells a story about her daughter.

To a daughter leaving home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving

goodbye.

This poem is about the poet teaching her daughter to ride a bicycle. The title suggests that her daughter is now old enough to leave home. Pastan cleverly extends the metaphor of the bike as part of life’s journey. When I read this poem, I identify with the poet the joy of parenthood, with the sentiment of missing my daughter when she grew up and has gone on to her own journey.

I can’t talk about poetry without talking about music. I’m a singer of classical, traditional, and some older pop music and memorized many song lyrics for solo performances. The poetic song lyrics influence the flow of my poetry writing.

Examples of poetic song lyrics are, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Memory” from the Musical Cats written by Trevor Nunn, and “Killing Me Softly” written by Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox.

What is your favourite poem?

My favorite poem is a popular one by Robert Frost. Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of the individual life and business alike. I like it because of its message applicable in my life.

I have come to crossroads many points in my journey. As reflected by Frost, I couldn’t take “both,” tried to look down both paths “as far as I could.” Many times, they both were “equally” “fair” but no guarantee. Ultimately, it was my decision that “made all the difference.” Knowing that I would never “come back,”, I willingly took the responsibility for the road I chose to travel with no regret.

The Road Not Taken 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I would like to include the trailer for Songs of Heartstring created by Diana W. Peach at https://mythsofthemirror.com

Songs of Heartstrings Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K1S47W9

About Miriam Hurdle

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Find Miriam Hurdle

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424

My review of Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude by [Miriam Hurdle]

Songs of Heartstrings is a collection of poems and essays featuring the vast array of life experiences by the author. Miriam Hurdle has encountered both the best and the worst of life through the death of her husband’s close friend, her own treatment for cancer, the birth of her daughter and the close relationship of her parents. Her wonderful joy in life and strong faith in her religion shine through in her poetry and give a lot of insight into her strong spirit and ability to stay positive despite the curve balls life has thrown her way.

This book also demonstrates Miriam’s love of nature and features poems about her garden, a hummingbird and even a spider. Her photographs and pictures are lovely and compliment the prose. 

My review of Tina Lost in a Crowd

Tina Lost in a Crowd by [Miriam Hurdle, Victoria Skakandi]

Tina Lost in a Crowd is a charming book for children about two young school friends who attend a busy concert with Tina’s parents and get lost on their way to the restroom.

I enjoyed the character of Tina, a lovely and friendly girl who demonstrated politeness and respect towards both her teacher and her parents as well as consideration towards her friend. She has sufficient presence of mind not to panic in the scary situation of being lost in a big crowd.

The depiction of Tina’s family life and her mother’s interest in her and eagerness to plan some fun family outings for the summer vacation are heart warming and lovely to see in a children’s book. I liked the fact that Tina’s mother made a picnic for her family and Tina’s friend, Erica, to enjoy at the concert with good, wholesome food.

The illustrations in this book are a real treat and every page is a visual delight. I would recommend this book to parents and caregivers who like books that encourage good family values and level headedness by children in difficult situations.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Welcome to the WordCrafter “In the Silence of Words” Book Blog Tour

In the Silence of Words Book Blog Tour

This week WordCrafter brings you a tour that is a little different, and I’m excirted to tell you about it. This tour is not for the usual novel or poetry collection, but for a play, In the Silence of Words, by Cendrine Marrouat. We are kicking things off today, right here on Writing to be Read, with an interview with the author which will tell us all a little more about this creative author and her latest release.

Kaye: What inspired you to create In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play?

Cendrine: The play is very loosely based on some major events in my life, including my mother’s suicide. I wanted to write something meaningful and inspirational to help or bring comfort to those who might be going through something similar.

Kaye: Why did you choose to write this tale in play format? How would it be different if you had tried to write it as a literary story instead?

Cendrine: Before the idea of the play was even born, I had tried writing short stories and a novel. I quickly realized that my style was at odds with those genres. I suck at descriptions, and much prefer focusing on short, “punchy” scenes that deliver emotions between the lines.

In the Silence of Words can only work as a play. Theatre encourages uncomfortable conversations while forcing introspection, lifting spirits, and bringing people together.

Kaye: What makes In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play different from stories following a similar concept?

Cendrine: The play is unique because of the number of challenging topics it deals with at the same time; and the way each unravels on its own and as a whole. Every reader will find at least one strongly relatable element that will give them an appreciation for life.

Kaye: In the Silence of Words was, in part, inspired by the haiku poetry form. Why do you think the haiku is such a powerful poetry form?

Cendrine: The haiku was not what inspired the idea for In the Silence of Words, but I used the same technique behind this wonderful poetry form to make the storyline more impactful.

The haiku is a very short poem of three lines that says very little but suggests a lot. It relies heavily on the unsaid to convey emotions and deep meanings. As such it is the epitome of the “Say less, show more” technique every serious writer uses to craft memorable stories.

Kaye: Most of your work focuses on the importance of embracing the world and situations around us. Why do you think it is important?

Cendrine: Because life only has meaning when we choose to accept the negative as well as the positive experiences we encounter. There are lessons to learn in everything. It’s up to us to decide, when we are ready, how fast or slowly we want to grow.

Kaye: What are your goals with In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play?

Cendrine: I want to invite people to view pain and loss differently. I want them to rethink their relationship with life, death, and everything in between. Losing loved ones is, of course, terrible, often leaving gaping wounds in our hearts. However, as main character, Cassandra Philip learns, there is a healthy, albeit liberating way to grieve and move on. It just (often) requires a series of distressing events to reach that kind of conclusion.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born Canadian photographer, poet, and the multi-genre author of
more than 30 books. In 2019, she founded the PoArtMo Collective and co-founded Auroras &
Blossoms with David Ellis. A year later, they launched PoArtMo (Positive Art Month and Positive
Art Moves) and created the Kindku and Pareiku, two forms of poetry. Cendrine is also the
creator of the Sixku, the Flashku, and the Reminigram.
Cendrine writes both in French and English and has worked in many different fields in her
17-year career, including translation, language instruction, journalism, art reviews, and social
media.

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We have a great tour lined up for this thought provoking play. Join us tomorrow for a guest post by the author on Robbie’s Inspiration for Day 2. Then Wednesday, you can catch my review right here on Writing to be Read for Day 3. Thursday’s stop is on Roberta Writes with a guest post by the author, and we’ll be wrapping things up on Friday with another guest post on Zigler’s News. I do hope you’ll join us as we learn more about In the Silence of Words.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Treasuring Poetry: Meet author and poet M J Mallon

My Treasuring Poetry guest today is talented author and poet M J Mallon. I am delighted to host Marje here and hope you enjoy her thoughts on poetry and her favourite poem.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This was such a difficult decision, I have at least three favourites! I narrowed it down to the robin. The robin and the dragonfly are my spirit animals and trees are also a huge inspiration. I’ve written about all of these and more in Mr. Sagittarius.

A beautiful picture of a robin by M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to, You.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I’d been studying mindfulness at the sixth form college where I work. Mindfulness is the act of observing and using the full array of our senses meditatively to become more at one with ourselves. I’ve discovered that this is a fantastic practice to adhere to. It benefits an author’s creativity by making you more aware of the nuances of your surroundings.  I’m fortunate in that I work near the botanical gardens in Cambridge, so I often visit and walk and observe the wonder of nature taking photographs of the trees, flowers, animal and insect visitors. Over time, I collected these photographs and wrote poems about them. These, along with various seasonal and short pieces of fiction feature in Mr. Sagittarius. It is a joyful celebration of siblings, magic, loves, nature, the seasons and the circle of our lives.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I love writing poetry about life in all its vibrant colours. I am often inspired by photography, (I am a keen amateur photographer – my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers,) or I use images I discover as prompts, often via Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/

Specifically, I enjoy writing poems about nature, trees, flowers, love and Halloween! Halloween poems also feature in Mr. Sagittarius. Halloween is an autumnal activity, (and often a childhood one,) so it links well with the seasonal/circle of life, aspect of my poetry writing.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading short form poetry. It is so expressive and brilliant. I love how short verses of poetry convey so much detail in so few words. I enjoy haiku, and tanka, as well as poems that form a pattern on the page. I also enjoy longer forms as you will see from my choice of favourite poem.

What is your favourite poem?

I have always loved Ode To Autumn by John Keats. I can almost taste the words. They are magnificent—that first line: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness —draws you in and makes you long to read more.

Ode To Autumn by John Keats


  1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
            Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
            With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
            And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
              To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
            With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
      Until they think warm days will never cease,
              For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    2.
      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
          Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
          Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
          Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
      And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
          Steady thy laden head across a brook;
          Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
              Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    3.
      Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
          Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
      While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
          And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
          Among the river sallows, borne aloft
              Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
      And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
          Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
          The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
              And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
https://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-Autumn

Mr Sagittarius by M J Mallon

About Mr Sagittarius

Twin brothers Harold and William love the magic of the natural world.

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request.

Will his brother William and his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the garden work its magic to ensure that they do.

A magical story expressed via an original compilation of poetry and prose with photographic images.

#Poetry #Prose #Photography #NaturalWorld #Trees #Magic #Spirit #Animals #CircleofLife #Humour #Halloween #Cats #Buddha

My review of Mr Sagittarius

Mr Sagittarius is a beautiful collection of poems and short stories, set in the lovely gardens of Cambridge and linked by the visits and experiences of a family of twin brothers and their younger sister.

The story starts with William visiting the weeping willow tree in the garden, a place that was special to his twin brother, Harold, who has recently passed away. William sees Harold’s spirit in a dragonfly that he chats to and finds solace in their one-sided communication.

This is a few lines from a poem about the dragonfly:
“Ancient, sweet fellow
Sacred magic bestower,
Change tumbling on fragile wings.”

When William returns home, he has an altercation with his sister, Annette. During their spat Annette reveals that she has always felt left out and overlooked by her twin brothers. This revelation leads to William and Annette becoming closer and visiting the garden together. Not long after, William passes on and Annette is left alone. She visits the garden and communicates with the spirits of both her brothers over the course of the rest of her long life.

The visits of the siblings to the garden are captured in lovely verse. This is an example I really enjoyed:
“I dream in colour
But now everything is dark
Where has the light gone?
Oh, cruel leafy canopy,
No green meadow, just blue thoughts.”

My favourite of the short stories was The Old Man of Snow and The Snow Snake. This is a story about making good choices in life and rejecting greed. I enjoyed the tale and the descriptive writing.

Mr Sagittarius is a gorgeous book full of delightfully depictive poems and short stories and decorated with striking photographs. This is a book that lovers of poetry, mystery, and wonder will love.

Purchase Mr Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Amazon US

M J Mallon Amazon Author Page

About M J Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author, Ritu Bhathal, and read about her thoughts on poetry

Today, I am delighted to feature Ritu Bhathal, talented poet and author, as my Treasuring Poetry guest. Ritu has a lovely poetry book, Poetic RITUals, a romance, Marriage Unarranged, and is a contributor to This is Lockdown, compiled and edited by MJ Mallen.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

There are a lot of poems I have written, which resonate, but one of my favourites will always be this one:

From Twinkle To Reality

Let me take you down that road,

Much travelled through eternity

The journey to become a mum,

From twinkle to reality.

The plans you make at a young age,

Full of gurgles and laughter,

The horror as you realise,

What really does come after!

The fun of trying,

The monthly wait.

The disappointment,

That feeling, you hate…

The years of trying,

Full of hospitals and checks,

The medication taking you over,

You feel like total wrecks…

Then finally, the day comes

That positive is clear

The goal that you were aiming for,

Has suddenly come near.

The months of fascination,

Your changing body grows

The feeling of satisfaction

That only you can know.

Those pain-filled days, or hours

To reach the prize you sought

The feeling of satisfaction

That this little bundle brought.

I gaze at you in wonder

Are you really here?

I’m overwhelmed with happiness

And a tiny bit of fear.

Will I be able to give to you

All you want and need?

As you look at me, wide eyed

Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God

My heart is filled with joy

I will do all I can for you,

My darling baby boy.

And so the cycle continues

The waits and checks again

We’re gifted with a gorgeous girl

After a little more pain.

My life is here with me right now

Some twinkles from my eyes.

But I’ll never forget those twinkles

That now, do grace the skies… 

A lovely poem, Ritu, that all parents can relate to. I can see why it is your favourite.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

This poem is dedicated to my wonderful children, recognising the struggles to have them, and remembering my 2 angels lighting the sky at night. The words just came to me, one day, as I was running a bath. The poem formed within ten minutes, and garnered a great interest on my blog when I published it, and on my anthology, Poetic RITUals.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I have learned a lot about poetry, since I began blogging. I do love simple rhyming couplets and four-line rhyming verses, but I also love the succinct haiku, senryu and tanka forms. It’s amazing how much you can convey in such few syllables.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I don’t have a favourite genre of poetry to read. I find that, depending on the subject, all forms can appeal. Sometimes freeform poetry speaks to me, sometimes it is the simple abab rhymes. And who doesn’t love a limerick?

What is your favourite poem?

I have to say I don’t have a strict favourite poem, but I am a huge fan of Pam Ayres.

Here is a great one!

YES I’LL MARRY YOU MY DEAR

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.
And here’s the reason why.
So I can push you out of bed,
When the baby starts to cry.
And if we hear a knocking,
And it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch, you see,
And you investigate.

Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it.
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
You’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That little sexy dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I just do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!!!

It’s you who has to work the drill
And put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT, it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so, before you see the light,
I DO, I DO, I DO!!

Haha, Ritu, you had better hope Hubby Dearest does not read this.

Poetic RITUals

What Amazon says

Delve into a book of verse exploring different topics and different genres, all with a RITUal twist.
A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer, ranging from matters of the heart, love for the family, situations in life and some verses written with a humorous twist.

My review

This is a delightful book of poetry with a lot of variety in the tone and content of the poems. They are all written from a very human perspective and cover the day-to-day life of a Mother of two, wife and employee with a lovely twist of humour. As all of these things myself, I found the verses to be very relatable. The book is divided into four sections which each deal with different aspects of life, namely, Family RITUals, Life rituals, Rituals of the heart and Rituals to make you smile.

Who could not enjoy such words as the following:

“Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God

My heart is filled with joy”

This took me right back to those first days as a Mother and the closeness of cuddling your new-born and breastfeeding.

“A cough or sniffle, fever, rash

You wish you could

make them well

but other than love, and Calpol

It’s a parent’s

Form of Hell”

As a Mother of a child with a chronic illness, this verse had me nodding my head in agreement and feeling Ritu’s anguish.

I would recommend this book which is a keeper. A book to delve into for a smile when life gets heavy going.

Purchase Poetic RITUals

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Other books

You can read my review of Marriage Unarranged here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1UMFET10EPA4M

This Is Lockdown: COVID19 Diaries Flash Fiction Poetry

You can read my review of This is Lockdown here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R10H47WGGWTVWT

About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet fantasy author and poet, Diana Peach and read my review of Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

Welcome to the first Treasury Poetry post of 2021.

Today, I am delighted to welcome fantasy author and poet, Diana Peach, who is sharing one of her own poems and discussing poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Thanks so much for the invitation to participate in your Treasuring Poetry series, Robbie. I’m honored. I think of myself as a writer of prose and a dabbler otherwise, but I love poetry and believe no creative effort is ever wasted.

This is a super hard question! I have poems that I think are well-crafted, poems that evoke personal feelings or memories, and poems that reflect a particular time in my life. Since “I don’t know” isn’t an acceptable answer, I’ll go with this one:

Flight of faith

When I was a child, I could fly

you and I hopped in dirt-road afternoons

faithful

and the dust-wind flung us over seas of wheat

scuffed shoes skimming the feathered awns

we whipped around the corners of the barn

in a home-sewn world of farm-hewn hands

our secret futures soared

***

In the veins of my hands

the blue brooks of time stream by

Somewhere on the way, I unlearned how to fly

and trod worn paths through autumn’s lea

snapped night’s brittle ice

shards of fractured faith

glinting in my wake

***

Today’s morning purls in plumrose

cast on a withering season’s stark debris

spangled with winter’s gilded rime

a new path of violet ice wends to the horizon

fragile, fissured, a wish yet unbroken

my secret future soars

faithful

and I wonder if I might

fly one last time

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

In my twenties, I used to have flying dreams rather frequently. They were the most vivid dreams of my life. I was truly flying. I could feel the wind on my face as if I was awake and standing outside on a breezy day. The sensory experience was exhilarating.

This poem is based on one of those dreams. In the dream, I was about 10 years old, an unremarkable child of the dusty American plains. Every day, the school bus would drop my friend and me off at the side of the dirt road, and as soon as the bus drove away, we would hop a few steps, then pick up our feet and soar over the fields, our brown shoes skimming the wheat. Despite our ordinary lives and pervasive poverty, we were extraordinary. Life was full of magic and promise, and nothing could hold us down.

Then I stopped having flying dreams and haven’t had one in nearly 35 years. This poem is about that amazing childhood belief that anything is possible, about its loss, and about the yearning to fly again.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I enjoy Colleen Chesebro’s weekly syllabic poetry challenges. The poetic forms provide structure, and for me, they’re like puzzles as I search for the words that conform to the syllable count, structure, prompts, and personal meaning. But my favorites among the poems I’ve written are all free form. They’re harder

for me to craft, but they feel more organic, untouched by stylistic constraints. They’re pure gut, emotion, and inspiration.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

Probably free form poetry, though any kind of poetry has the potential to make me gasp at its beauty. I love vivid imagery and poignant emotion, poems that illuminate the human condition in a way that pierces my heart. I like poems that stir something personal, or that draw me in and grab hold so that when I finish reading, I feel like I’ve stepped outside myself into someone else’s experience.

Do you think your poetry compliments your other writing or do you see it as an undertaking that stands alone?

Complements, definitely!

I love poetic prose, and when I’m reading fiction, I’m prone to highlighting passages in books where the word choice, imagery, metaphors, or phrases make me swoon. Poetry emphasizes beautifully crafted language, including its sounds and rhythms. It requires a writer to capture and convey the core essence of a story. I think poetry fosters an underlying sensitivity to those aspects of writing in general, and prose benefits from the same attention.

Thanks again, Robbie, for the invite and for allowing me to share my thoughts and muse over this lovely artform. Happy Writing to all the poets out there.

Thank you, Diana, for being my Treasuring Poetry guest. I really enjoyed your poem and insights into your poetry writing.

Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

What Amazon says

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden discovers his family slaughtered, his farm in ruin.

Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a timekeeper, an old woman of the northern forests, one who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion promising to return him to the pivotal choices that swayed his life’s journey. Her only condition—he must wear the bronze charm until the end.

Now his story remakes itself, casting him backward in time to moments of decision and death. His old life gone, he no longer remembers the purpose of the medallion burning his chest. As he uncovers the sunwield’s power, new choices lead him on an epic adventure through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

My review

I do not read a lot of fantasy books, but I make an exception for D. Wallace Peach as her books are extraordinary and unique.

Gryff Worden is an ordinary man who just wants to help his uncle and aunt raise horses on their farm while raising his own family. Gryff adores his wife and two children, but there is bad blood between Gryff and the son of the Earl who rules his area. The hostility is emanates from Brant Loden’s side only, but it changes the course of Gryff’s life.

Gryff’s country is attacked by an aggressive nation who want to enslave his people and he is eventually morally wounded and his family murdered by enemy soldiers. At the time of his death he is visited by an elderly prophet who offers him another chance at life if he accepts the sunwielder, a bronze medallion which allows him to go back in time and revise decisions he made thereby changing his life’s path. I thought this concept was clever and unique. I have read other books where the hero can go back in time, but this particular method and the limited number of life choices offered by the sunwielder was something quite different and fascinating.

Gryff is a wonderful character, he is a good man and tries to do the right thing in all situations but he is human and, therefore, susceptible to various human failings like anger and resentment. It was most interesting to experience his going back in time and having to try an alternative approach when his previous choice failed. As Gryff moved further along his path, his choices improved and his self control and discipline increased allowing him to make better choices earlier and without constant intervention.

There is a love story thread that runs through the book and this is intriguing as the reader doesn’t know how his relationships with his wife and with his lover are going to turn out – his destiny in this regard is unclear for most of the book.

There are a number of characters in this book and it provides great insight into the frailties of men and how arrogance, greed, and hunger for power can destroy individuals and the people around them. Good leadership is a strong theme in this book and the importance of strategy and leadership in war and battles is highlighted.

The author writes the most beautiful and powerful prose and even without the incredible story, this book would have been worth reading just to experience the skillful writing. I highly recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and those who enjoy excellent writing.

Purchase Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure by [D. Wallace Peach]

Amazon US

About Diana Peach

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Contact and purchase links

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: @dwallacepeach

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Meet author and poet Geoff Le Pard and a review

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome author and poet, Geoff Le Pard to Writing to be Read as my “Treasuring Poetry” guest for October.

Geoff is sharing some interesting information about his favourite poem and poetry and I am sharing my review of Geoff’s inaugural poetry book, The Sincerest Form of Poetry.

Welcome Geoff

My favourite poem

Of course, everyone will say this is impossible, there are too many and that is true. But put on the spot I will plump for High Flight by John Gillespie Magee. You may not have heard of Magee and that’s probably because he was killed in WW2 in 1941 aged 21. I suppose I am drawn to the poignant and the powerful, having enjoyed the WW1 poets, if that’s the right word – Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon et al – from when I was introduced to them. There’s something raw about the emotions they carve out of a few lines, often the passion or despair that, because it is coming from someone so young, who is probably experiencing such exhilaration for the first time it is clean and honest and timeless.

High flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

This is a paean to the excitement of flight, of the sense of rapture and wonder that being alone in the cloud-smudged skies gives him. His freedom. Battle of Britain pilots had a very short life expectancy which he would have known. He would have sat waiting for the call, to scramble. He would have taken to the air full of fear and adrenaline, seen his friends and colleagues blasted out of the sky and felt relieved and guilty that he was glad it wasn’t him and desperate that it was them. I can imagine the intensity of the Mess, the quiet voices, the unspoken terrors, the shared desperation that being on the ground forced him to confront. And even though taking to the air meant an almost inevitable appointment with death, it also took him away from the mundane realities of life as a pilot. He could give rein to the child he still was, tumbling, living, on the edge, but to the full. Every sense heightened, every nerve and sinew stretched to the max. Those images would be burned, seared into his imagination. And once again he’d return, be a man, debrief the day, go through the appalling motions of paying his respects and yet, for the sake of his own sanity not really engaging in the awfulness of the loss, of what his friends’ families and loved ones would be going through and knowing that these moments could be his soon enough. So he losses himself in a sonnet that captures those few moments of true freedom when death, like the ME109 behind him is breathing down his neck. I admit I have no faith, a happy committed and convinced atheist, but even I can understand his last sentiment, in those moments, in that bounteous, beautiful firmament when he can feel he is so near his Maker, so enraptured by His creation that he can touch it.

I have never experienced war but my parents did and I can put my poetry-loving father in that plane and imagine him finding the same extraordinary inspiration that Magee found. And it’s a sonnet, too, the perfect format for this love poem, a love of life, a love of the person to whom he is writing, a love of what it is just to be, to be in the moment and breath and take in something of the wonder of being alive and aware.

I have goosebumps every time I read this as I’m there in that plane, not sure if I’m about to be ripped apart by some egregious unnecessary act of slaughter, yet, just then I’m like him, delirious with the gift I’ve been given to be alive.

My favourite poet

Again it is an almost impossible question. There are those, like Magee who wrote the one poem and while that is delightful, I think we must consider a poet with a proper oeuvre and decide across several examples. So who I am drawn to and who uniformly triggers in me the delight response? Some poets have been so prolific that they almost count themselves out by failing to maintain a uniform appeal – I can’t fault their quality. I’d include Wordsworth, Kipling, Thomas and Duffey in that list.

So, I’m going to default to the poet whose poetry collections I’ve amassed more than any other: Roger McGough. I was first aware of McGough in 1975 when I went to University and a friend took me to my first poetry slam, of Liverpool poets. McGough read from his book ‘Sporting Relations’ and I laughed and was hooked. Since then I’ve read so many and been struck by the combination of off-beat humour, much like my own, his quirky punning, again which I do a lot and his oblique view of the human condition. If Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, whose novels I absorb like nectar wrote poetry, then McGough might be their inspiration.

This one, from Sporting Relations is a case in point. Read out loud there’s some simple humour but it is when you see it, realise it’s also playing on the absurdities of English spelling that the poet’s visualization becomes clear. And you still have the last line of punning word play with ‘grass’. Simple, effective, accessible and fun. That’s the sort of poetry I aspire to write.

Cousin Angelina owned a yacht
And smoked pacht a lacht.
So when things got haght,
Away sailed Angelina (so regal)
To where the grass was greener (and legal)

Thank you, Geoff, for visiting here today and sharing these thoughts and poems.

Review of The Sincerest Form of Poetry

My review

I know Geoff Le Pard as an author of hilarious books that frequently poke fun, in the tongue-in-cheek way of the British, at many of the situations and achievements we humans hold the most dear during the course of our short lives. I am a big fan of this type of humour and have enjoyed several Geoff’s short stories and pieces of flash fiction. Geoff’s writing has another side to it, a more serious and family orientated side which also comes through in some of his books and writing.

The unusual book of poetry by Geoff Le Pard is his inaugural poetry book and is a mix of these two sides of his writing. The poems forming the first part of this books are a hilariously slapstick take-off of the works of many famous English poets. The poet has reproduced the exact tempo and rhythm of the original poem, replacing the original wording with his own amusing poetic descriptions of topical events and circumstances.

My favourite of these poems was the very first one in the book, which is based on one of my favourite poems, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. The Listeners tells the story of an unnamed traveler who approaches an abandoned house which seems to be occupied by ghosts. In Le Pard’s version, the public toilet is held up for discussion and probing commentary. Here is an extract from The Relief of Waterloo:

Is there anybody there, said the traveller

To open up this loo?

It’s surely wrong that one must pay,

For our numbers one and two.

***

It’s not a function of the state

To limit where I go.

My body ain’t so politic

But it has some rights, you know.

The second part of the book is devoted to sonnets which generally have a more sophisticated and serious flavour. One of my favourite poems in this second part is The Hand That Guides. Here are a few lines to give you a sense of the poet’s sonnets:

I continually try to do it my way,

To give into weakness of flesh and of soul

But you hold my love tight, I cannot stray

And we remain linked, two parts of one whole.

If you enjoy poetry, in all its varying shapes and forms, you should not miss out on this collection.

Purchase The Sincerest Form of Poetry

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sincerest-Form-Poetry-Geoff-Pard-ebook/dp/B08HJRJHWC

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sincerest-Form-Poetry-Geoff-Pard/dp/B08KH3QWWB

About Geoff Le Pard

Image preview

Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing. And what did he learn? That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live. He blogs at https://geofflepard.com/ on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in Amazon horror anthology, Spellbound, compiled by Dan Alatorre;
  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling horror anthology, Dark Visions, and three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling horror anthology, Nightmareland, both edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Meet poet and author D. Avery plus review

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome poet and author D. Avery. Ms Avery is the creator of the fun and well-known characters Kid and Pal who frequent Carrot Ranch Literary Community She also has her own blog where she shares her flash fiction, poetry and other literary endeavours. You can find her blog here: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/.

At first I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Treasuring Poetry with Writing to be Read and Robbie Cheadle. Then I read the questions! Too hard! Actually, I misread the questions and was flustered enough to consider who my favorite poet might be, let alone poem.

Robbie’s questions led me down many a rabbit hole, but perhaps not so many as I might have if I were under the same roof as my collection of poetry books. I’m not, so I let my mind travel and recall those shelves and what I have read lately. Often times my favorite poet or poem is simply the one in front of me, so recently I have enjoyed Conrad Aiken and Mary Oliver. But a favorite poet?  

Still mistakenly contemplating a poet as opposed to a poem, and still unable to name just one, I at least realize I tend to most admire traditional Japanese poetry as well as the work of Rumi and of Hafiz. I like a short poem that makes me say, “Ah!” or even “Awe…” then “Ha!”  If I could peruse my shelves I’d give my favorite examples, probably from a book called Japanese Death Poems; either that or I’d be lost in re-reading that treasure. As it is, this assignment got me re-reading Hafiz’s The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, and from that I came to see that many of Mary Oliver’s poems are in that Sufi vein, poems that, like Hafiz, are conversational yet intimate, not just with the reader, but with the subject, God. Now there’s a rabbit hole. But closer to home and in some ways more comfortable for their hominess are the poems of Robert Frost.  He too writes with the wit and wisdom, often with a quiet humor, that I admire in the Sufis. Here are two lines from the New England bard:

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the secret sits in the middle and knows.

Robert Frost poems are accessible yet have subtleties and layers that can provide that  ‘Ah ha’ that gives a poem staying power. As well as displaying an understanding of the spiritual aspects of his world Frost’s poems also reveal a keen observer’s eye for nature.  There are many examples, and I never tire of reading Frost, but a favorite poem? I will not choose a favorite. But here are forty-eight syllables in eight lines, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Some will say this poem is about impermanence and the fleeting nature of time. Leaves certainly change their hues in Frost’s New England, and he shows that he has observed this deeply, daily, for the emerging and unfolding leaves of spring and early summer cannot simply be called green, they are in fact shades of yellow and gold, and those might be preceded by cream and yellow flowers. Ah, he’s so observant. And dawn begins golden; “dawn goes down” makes one think of sunset, but it is just day, a day less sparkly than the golden dawn that begat it perhaps. Yes, time flies, but there is much implication in this poem of falling. So Eden sank to grief/ So dawn goes down to day/ Nothing gold can stay. There is nothing extraneous in this short poem; Eden sinking to grief is intentional, making this poem about humanity’s separation from nature, our fall from our golden potential when we were green and new in the world. This poem, without explicitly using seasonal words, has spring and fall entwined, so while that does show the fleeting nature of time, it is also a reminder of the seasons of our lives, and the hues we hold, the hues we live and die by. Just now in Frost’s old stomping grounds the leaves are turning back from summer greens to fall golds, and those colorful autumn leaves will fall, (for nothing gold can stay), but I wonder if that last line offers a bit of hope, the potential of knowing bright hues once more before the onset of winter.

I hope that addresses well enough the first three questions. As far as writing like any well-known poet, I choose— me! But I am not a well-known poet…

I admire many poets and many styles. I think any poet whom we admire is worth examining and, to an extent, imitating. That is what many of the poetry writing prompts do, they encourage us to try out different forms and styles of poetry, to pay attention to syllables and rhyme schemes and such. I sometimes see a form or style that is new to me and try it as a challenge and to learn something new. It’s all good, as long as you are building your own poeming muscles and not trying to write someone else’s poem. We tend to follow the recipe the first time we make a new dish. But then we get flexible and make the dish our own. In poeming too, we are aware that ours isn’t the only way to express the ingredients we find to hand, and we should want to find our own voice. In many ways free verse is the most challenging and difficult poetic form for me. How do you know when it’s done, if it’s done right, if there are no “rules”? That having been said, I am not against bending or even breaking the rules, but they have to be there in the first place for that to work.

Since I was nine years old I have occasionally been blessed by the magical balm of someone saying, “I liked your poem”. It’s a huge thing. I am not a singer or dancer or a visual artist. But sometimes I make pictures with words, and sometimes those words have a rhythm and a cadence or a tone that works, that strikes a chord. It is good to feel like a poem has performed well. And I have come to truly appreciate all the other lesser-known (not yet household names) poets that put their work out on their blogs. From you all I have learned so much and have been shown the great potential and creativity of poeming, and the assurance that poetry is alive and well. 

D. Avery

My review of For the Girls by D Avery

This is the first book of poetry by D. Avery I have read and it was a wonderful experience. For the Girls really spoke to me as it is about the path of breast cancer many women walk. By reading these poems, I was able to follow this traumatic journey from diagnosis, through treatment and to remission for many, and death for a few.

The poems in For the Girls capture the concerns aroused by potential discover, the shock of a malignant diagnosis, the support offered by some of the staff at the treatment clinics and the comfort of firm friendships. The also disclose the pain of emotional upheaval being ignored and staff treating a patient with kind impatience.

Some of the verses/poems that struck me the most in this books are as follows:

“Unless.
Some of us have to get them off our chests.
And learn living without them.

Except.
Some, dear friends, couldn’t live.
With or without them.”
from The Girls

“There’s another intruder who lacks
Even the decency of mice or rats
that at least show themselves at night
To show they’ve been in the house all along,
only sometimes out of sight.

Why would you suspect your own house?
Relax, there’s nothing, or maybe only a mouse.
Why would you suspect there’s something there
Quiet as anxiety, maybe under the stairs
or up in the attic, just biding its time
A squatter in the house you blithely call “mine”?
from Intrusion

This collection of poems is freestyle and very bitter sweet. The insightfulness of the poet brought tears to my eyes and brought back memories of ladies I’ve known who’ve walked this same frightening path.

Purchase For the Girls by D Avery

About D Avery

D. Avery (196?-20??) has long been a compulsive poet. Despite a very important day job educating public school children, she is often distracted by this compulsion, as well as by life’s great questions, such as “Kayak, or bike?”. Though she has come to realize that nothing difficult is ever easy, she believes that it’s all good.

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Poet and blogger, Christy Birmingham-Reyes, shares her thoughts about poetry and a review

thumbnail_Treasuring Poetry

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am featuring Christy Birmingham-Reyes as my Treasuring Poetry guest. No only is Christy a wonderful and heartfelt poet, but she has a superb blog where she shares insightful and useful posts about life, parenting, working, caring for elderly relatives and many other amazing topics. You can follow Christy’s blog here: https://whenwomeninspire.com/

Over to Christy

Hi Robbie, thank you for offering me a spot in this great series on poetry! It’s a pleasure to be here. I enjoyed the time spent thinking about my answers to the five questions on this rainy, windy day on Canada’s west coast. Here we go:

My favourite poem is Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. It was written by Frost in 1923 and published that same year.

My interpretation of this poem is that nothing stays in bloom forever. The moment is fleeting when the flowers blossom and trees are abundant with leaves. As the season ends, the flowers and leaves fall, just as humans too have a period where they are “in their prime” and grow frailer over the years.

While the interpretation above could be one that you might say is depressing, I disagree and find hope in the words of Robert Frost. To me, the poem is a reminder to enjoy today and to fill ourselves full of the golden moments we experience in life.

Cherishing the moments of happiness and taking in nature’s beauty is something we must not forget to do amidst the business of daily life. Now, more than ever, I feel grateful for the “small” things that are so big in their importance.

For example, today, I went for a walk between the rainstorms. The smell of the air was amazing to me, and I breathed it in deeply. That moment was golden, and it renewed my energy.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

I would not want to write like any other poet, although I do certainly admire Maya Angelou’s writing style. To be a copy of someone else is not possible, and I would not succeed in doing so. Instead, I choose to put my efforts into trying to be my best self, in my writing, as a wife, as a daughter, and in other areas of life.

Maya Angelou’s poetry is candid. It is full of moments that take my breath away with their authenticity. She was true to herself on each page she wrote, and I can tell she wrote from her soul.

Thank you for having me over for a visit today! It has been a pleasure to chat about poetry and the emotions it draws out of us as readers. Stay safe xx

About Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham is a freelance writer in Victoria, BC, who has a BA in Psychology and has taken professional writing courses at the University of Victoria. She is the author of Pathways to Illumination (Redmund Productions, 2013), her first poetry book. Her work also appears in the Poetry Institute of Canada’s From the Cerulean Sea: An Anthology of Verse (2013) and the literary journals The Claremont Review and Tipton Poetry Journal.

Versions of the Self

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration.

Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

My review of Versions of the Self

Versions of the self is quite an extraordinary book of poetry. The poet, Christy Birmingham, has a very unique style of writing which I found very intriguing. I also thought this style worked exceptionally well for the content of this book which is all about different versions of self. It imitates the flow of thought but in an easy to read and fascinating way.

I felt I would like to get to know the poet as I read her poems. While she does write about a mixture of various emotions, there is a thread of sadness or melancholy that runs through many of them and I felt that the writer had suffered pain in her past relationships. The poems become lighter and happier as you move through the book and I found myself hoping that this is a reflection of Christy’s life.

These are a few of the verses I found the most compelling in this beautiful book:

“You direct me forward but

I want to go back,

Back to when we were wrapped in

Clean sheets, before the

Lies melted on your tongue.”

From Lack of Direction

***

“You were once a masterpiece

Now, your colors run down the fabric of

My past,

Shades of yellow and orange that have

Grown thick in consistency,

As the price of fine art rises with inflation.”

From You, Colors, and Realization

***

“You came to see me at a pillow rich with creativity,

Where I had hope beyond reason for tugging at my heartstrings.

You know exactly which strings to play on your

keys to keep me smiling.

From You, Unique.

Purchase Versions of the Self

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


“Chatting with the Pros”: Interview with award winning fantasy author L. Deni Colter

Chatting with the Pros

My “Chatting with the Pros” guest today is an award winning epic and dark fantasy author. She may not be as prolific as some writers, but everything she writes seems to shine in the fantasy realms. She is a two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and a Writers of the Future winner. That is three books and three awards. She must be doing something right. Please help me welcome fantasy author L. D. Colter.


L.D. Colter

Kaye: Would you briefly share the story of your own publishing journey?

Liz: I seem to have done a bit of everything along the way. My short stories have been traditionally published in magazines and anthologies. My first novel, A Borrowed Hell, was published by a small press that closed only a few months later, but fortunately the book was picked up again almost immediately by another small press. My epic fantasy novel, The Halfblood War, was acquired by a mid-sized publisher, and I chose to self-publish my latest novel, While Gods Sleep.

Kaye: Your books written under L.D. Colter are contemporary and dark fantasy, while your epic fantasy, The Halfblood War, is written under the name L. Deni Colter. What was the reasoning for the change of pen name?

Liz: I didn’t actually change my pen name, just added a second one. I started with L. D. Colter for my contemporary fantasy. When my epic fantasy novel was published, I decided to add the pseudonym L. Deni Colter to make it easier for readers to differentiate my writing by genre. While plenty of readers, like me, enjoy multiple sub-genres of speculative fiction, not everyone does, and I feel I write the two styles quite differently. I don’t separate my work in any other way, though. My website and author sites include my actual name, Liz, both of my pseudonyms, and all my books.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Liz: I didn’t consciously decide to write with a view to publishing until well into adulthood, but I’ve been a daydreamer all my life—I nearly flunked out of 5th grade due to it—so I was hard-wired from the start to create fiction. I started toying with the idea of writing during high school but stayed too busy through college and for a long time after as I pursued of different interests, more school, and many different careers. Finally, I found myself with a seasonal job, a rainy winter off, and my first computer. I started a novel that winter and wrote 10,000 words in the first week. I’ve never looked back.

Kaye: Your first book, A Borrowed Hell,won the 2018 Colorado Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy. Were you surprised? Can you tell me a little about that book?

Borrowed Hell.ColterLiz: Yes, I was very surprised and honored to win. When I wrote A Borrowed Hell, I set out to write a contemporary fantasy with literary themes about a man forced to face his difficult past in order to move forward in life. To receive an award for this book, and especially one from Colorado Humanities—an organization dedicated to the humanities and the ways in which the human experience is documented—was very rewarding.

The story follows my protagonist’s challenges, which take place in both the real world and an alternate world. I think this last bit of the back-cover copy sums up the plot pretty well. “July is willing to do anything to end his world-hopping, right up until he learns the price: reliving a past he’s tried his whole life to forget. He’s not sure his sanity can take it. Not even to get back to his own world, a woman he’s falling in love with, and a life he finally cares about.”

Kaye: While Gods Sleep won the 2019 Colorado Book Award for science fiction/fantasy. Where did you get the idea for this story?

While Gods Sleep.ColterLiz: As to the origin of this, I’ve loved mythology ever since discovering a fascination with ancient religions and cultural myths in high school. Greek mythology was my first passion, and it seemed the natural place to start when I decided to write a set of fantasy novels based on different mythologies. It was great fun to finally write a book rooted in the Greek myths I love, but better still was getting to play with them in completely unique and original ways that were entirely my own creation. It was a goal of mine from the start to avoid the more common tropes and to take this in unexpected directions, beginning with setting it in an alternative 1958 Athens ruled by conjoined queens. From there, I threw a mortal man into the eerie underworld of Erebus where he becomes entwined with sleeping gods, the factions that seek to control them, and an enemy powerful enough to destroy them all.

Kaye: Your latest release from Wordfire Press is The Halfblood War. What can you tell us about that book and the inspiration for it?

The Halfblood War.ColterLiz: These days I read widely across speculative fiction genres, but I grew up reading epic fantasy almost exclusively. Those books shaped my love of reading and were a huge part of my life. I enjoy the current directions epic fantasy is taking, but it was very fulfilling for me to get to write my own traditional epic fantasy and mold it into something unique and, hopefully, compelling. This novel took me longer to complete, by far, than my others. It was a true labor of love and I’m grateful to Wordfire Press for acquiring and publishing it. The premise revolves around Tirren, heir to the ruler of Thiery, who is raising his half-Elven bastard son in a land that hates and fears the Elves. It’s a stand-alone novel, written with an adult audience in mind, and weaves themes of prejudice and acceptance with love and betrayal, capricious and dangerous elves, and epic battles.

Kaye: What do you consider to be your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Liz: I have to laugh, because my answer is always the same: my latest project, whatever that may be. Right now, that would be an unpublished novelette and my work-in-progress novel.

Kaye: In my review of the Undercurrents anthology, I refer to your story, “Songs to Sing and Stories to Tell”, saying that it explores saying good-bye. Can you tell me about this story from the author’s point of view? Did I get it right?

Liz: Yes, absolutely, I see that story as being about letting go, or as you put it, saying goodbye. Not my protagonist letting go of her past or her memories or her love, but trusting her instincts to let go of fear of change and false security and to embrace the unknown. That said, though, once a writer publishes their work, it belongs more to the reader than the author so different readers might see different themes.

Kaye: Which type of writing do you prefer, short fiction or novels? Why?

Liz: I enjoy both. There’s a lot of reward in completing and polishing short stories more quickly (faster for me, anyway) and getting them out in the world. If writing is going to be a career, though, conventional wisdom says it’s going to be based on producing novels. I’m not a fast writer—if I manage one book a year I’m doing well—so it’s a huge commitment for me to start a new book, but there’s also the fulfilment of really delving into story and character and the pleasure of wrapping up multiple storylines in a satisfying way.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Liz: That might be my short story that won the Writers of the Future contest, “The Clouds in Her Eyes.” I had no notion what I was going to write when I began and went to my odds and ends file, where I toss all my passing and partial story ideas. I was trying to choose between three different prompts: a title idea (The Clouds in Her Eyes), an image of an old windmill on a dry and barren farm, and an image of a ship’s wooden figurehead. When I challenged myself to combine all three, the story was born.

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Liz: I have to side with the pantsers on this. That said, though, I don’t really see pantsing and plotting as black and white options, but as a continuum. People who outline in the thousands of words still have to let go of the outline at some point and wing it. Likewise, most pantsers have some level of plotting going on, even if it’s at a scene-by-scene level as they get there. For me, I usually start with atmosphere (dark, humorous, gothic, whatever), an idea of the main character, sometimes a theme, and then an opening scene. While all that’s coalescing in my head, I usually get a sense of the ending, which gives me a rudimentary arc. At that point I start writing and figure the rest out as I go.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Liz: Wow, that’s a tough one. Tomorrow I might have a different answer, but today I’m going to say detail. Not excessive detail, but those sharp, specific details that bring stories to life. The level of detail in a story enhances so many other elements: character, setting, emotion, pretty much everything except plot. And a good plot, poorly told doesn’t make for a good story. Evocative writing is what engages me as a reader.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Liz: A local author was kind enough to read an early draft of the first novel I wrote (the epic fantasy). She gave encouragement but advised me to seek out workshop opportunities to get detailed feedback for the many things I now realize were very novice mistakes. It was hands down due to her advice that I started on the right road to becoming a professional author. I followed her advice and joined a 10-week online workshop led by a well-published author. I’ve been a part of critique groups in one form or another almost constantly since that time, as well as attending conferences and workshops when possible, especially during my early years of writing.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Liz: Don’t write in a vacuum. Along the same lines as the advice I was given when starting out, I feel it’s hard to be objective about what you’re writing without some external input and feedback. Find fellow writers who are genuinely invested in helping to improve your work and, hopefully, at least some who are further along the career path than yourself. We know how we intend our work to read, but without a sounding board, it can be difficult to know if we’re succeeding.

Kaye: As a fantasy writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Liz: As a reader, I’m a huge stickler for logistics so it’s very important to me in my writing that I get details right in my own books. Not just big things, like avoiding plot holes, but small details, too. You never know what expertise your readers might have and, as a reader, I hate having my suspension of disbelief suddenly ruined in the middle of a story by a detail that’s blatantly wrong. So, yes, I get lost down research rabbit holes all the time. I research online mostly, but I’ve been known to read multiple textbooks for a novel as well as reaching out in person to experts or sensitivity readers.

Kaye: What can your readers look forward to in the near future? What are you working on now?

Liz: My current work in progress from L. D. Colter is the next in my mythology-based novels, this one centered around Slavic paganism. It’s a contemporary fantasy (working title: When the Winds Sing) set in far Northern California, near where I lived for 12 years. There are many wonderful settings and inspirations in that area, and I’m looking forward to playing with them all. The book is about 1/3 written and I hope to have the first draft completed before too long.

I hope, in time, to get back to an epic fantasy set I started and set aside some time ago. I had other projects needing attention, but it’s well started and has a concept and characters I still love.


Liz has followed her heart through a wide variety of careers including draft-horse farmer, field paramedic, Outward Bound instructor, athletic trainer, and roller-skating waitress, among other curious choices. She is a two-time Colorado Book Award winner in Science Fiction/Fantasy, a Writers of the Future winner, and her short stories have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. She writes contemporary and dark fantasy as L. D. Colter and epic fantasy as L. Deni Colter.


I want to thank Liz Colter for joining me here today and sharing so much about writing in the fantasy genre. You can learn more about Liz and her books on her website or her Amazon Author page. Join me next month, as we celebrate Superheroes and Supervillains, and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be fantasy and science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.