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before/after the streetlights (a poemy thing)

When I was a kid, I was a bit obsessed with streetlights. Not just because I was allowed to stay out till just past the time when they came on, but for other reasons…harder to explain reasons. Imagery from the Book of Revelations via terrifying sermons, post-apocalyptic scenes courtesy of 80’s sci-fi shows and movies, and sci-fi odds and ends from books and school all mingled in my mind to give me thinky-thoughts. I would look up at the streetlights with their buzzing, orange light and wonder–what would it take to turn off all the lights in the world? If that thing happened, would they all go out at once, a sudden there-then-not kind of thing? As I grew and my understanding of the world (power grids, physics, post-apocalyptic narratives stemming from post Cold War tensions and the 80’s Star Wars propaganda) matured, I started to see that these things that preoccupied me as a kid were still pretty scary. These things come out even now in my poetry and fiction. Streetlights, powerlines stretching for miles over grassy fields, windmills with their blinking red pilot lights, the kinds of strange machinery and structures I’d see at the edges of the military bases and the Port Authority where I grew up all blend together with my young mind’s questions, creating this personalized, complex iconography of tech. To this day, I write about when the streetlights go out. To this day, I still get chills thinking about it. I hope you are all having a good week so far, and thanks for reading!

And now, a new poem:

streetlights

before/after the streetlights

 

Be in before the streetlights come on, mom calls out

and her voice slaps flat against the sides of houses

and the summerhot asphalt

and my scrambling footfalls echo back–

 

I run till the street ends in woods and it’s darker.

Before the streetlights, what was there?

Fireflies and distant blinking stars only go so far

in holding back the night–

 

Before the streetlights, one kind of darkness

and after? What happens when the white light

eats the sky, when the generators die–will the streetlights

and stoplights and house lights all go out at once?

 

Will I be able to see to run? Be in before the streetlights

come on, I tell my blue shadow and look up at the metal

and orange light and down at the crumbling street

and I hum and I try not to be afraid of the after

Creating Space

I don’t need to wax poetic about the fact that life is busy, and continues to be happen-y or busy or full as long as it extends. I won’t even go on about the fact that it’s sometimes vexingly difficult to find time for creative endeavors…particularly when we’re often convinced that there are Much More Important Things To Be Doing. Life hits hard sometimes, and we can so often be left examining the cracks in the pavement, stubbornly planting our creative gardens in the tiniest spaces. And that’s okay…even from those ittybitty spaces, big things can grow. Creating space is about seizing any opportunity we can to express ourselves–to think, dream, paint, write, sing, dance, move…to exist in that place where we are the makers. I’ll just leave this little image here in closing–my notes from a meeting where I was fully aware of the agenda content and discussions, but let myself also free-hand doodle through the facts, figures, and bullet points (I had SO much fun looking back over them). In the Venn diagram of life, there are many odd and wonderful places where the colors of “daily routine” and “creativity” intersect. Where do you create the space for imaginings? Where do you make the time to create? I’d love to hear in the comments. Be well all, and happy creating! <3

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Newsday Tuesday: An Announcement!

Hello, all…happy Tuesday to you lovelies! Since Tuesday rhymes with news-day, I’ve decided to announce today that my short story Nice will be appearing in next edition of The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *ahem* Nice will introduce an exciting new sci-fi world and set in motion the events that go down in my upcoming sci-fi romance novella T.D.A., coming in July of this year. I cannot tell you how excited I am, so I must include a moment for internal Carlton Dancing.

YdmGHYG

*Ahem* again. In preparation for this exciting new story, which is among my favorite things I have EVER written and maybe even my Patronus, I have opted to do teaser art of one of Nice‘s characters. Kind folks, meet Lukka:

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Lukka keeps company with shell casings, apparently.

I’ll announce more details, including a cover reveal for T.D.A. (it’s AMAZING and I am not even one tiny bit joking), and availability dates. Thank you as ever for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day! <3

#TastyTuesday Writing Prompt

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Nothing brings people together like food. We all need it–there’s no getting around that fact. Beyond simply existing as sustenance, food is such a wonderfully rich expression of our humanity–we share our cultures, our family traditions, our own joy in the creating and sharing of something that does far more than keep us alive.

Which brings me to the matter at hand: your oh so yummy, #TastyTuesday writing prompt! Getting to know our characters can be as simple as knowing their favorite foods. Food is also a way to ground difficult or abstract narratives or complex worlds…showing what keeps your characters sustained and living contributes to world-building in the most relateable, practical ways. Think about the following questions for your main characters:

  • What is your character’s go-to comfort food when stressed?
  • What meal do they absolutely dread but know they can expect (and that they must partake of for fear of alienating others, hurting feelings, etc.) during family, civic, or social events?
  • What types of meals do your characters associate with major life events such as deaths in the family, civil unions, or celebrations of birthdays or career achievements?
  • What would be considered a super-rare delicacy in your character’s world? Is it a chocolate bar in the trembling hands of a world-weary dystopian society rebel? A rare, cave-dwelling fish or a moonflower that can only be harvested on the night of a lunar eclipse? Would your character have ever tasted such a thing, even?
  • What food would be your character’s biggest “guilty” pleasure–as in, something they are embarrassed to admit to liking as violently as they do because it’s considered icky, weird, gauche, or any other number of reasons?

Have some fun thinking about these little things a bit and maybe even write a drabble, paint or draw an image of or create a collage for what mealtime looks like in your world. I know it’s helped me make my worlds more real and alive than they would be if my characters didn’t take a moment to sit and smell the legume protein mash or delicate star-blooms or fried green tomatoes. Happy creating, and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to raid the cabinets. <3

Robin McKinley Said It So Well-A #FridayReads Quick-Post.

So often, I feel like what I am, what I do, how I exist is not enough in wake of the Big Bad in this world. Then I remember a quote from Sunshine by Robin McKinley, one of my favorite reads of all time and something I’m planning to treat myself to re-reading for #FridayReads after some editing. We must use what we are given, and we must use it the best we can. I hope this Friday finds us all using what we have and being who we are as best we can to make the world brighter, kinder, and more full of win. Happy Friday!

sunshinequote

A Reason <3

pexels1Writers do what they do for eleventybillion reasons and then some. I know–I’ve counted. And at least half of those are the same reasons that drive me to keep working towards publishing what I write even when it’s not an easy road to tricycle or bigwheel or otherwise travel. And so it goes, me doing what I do because Reasons. But sometimes, someone gives me a reason or at least provides context for me to articulate one of my reasons for doing what I do. This happened to me last week. I’m neck-deep in edits for a SUPER exciting piece, planning and outlining several more rad projects of win, hammering away at Day Job duties while life happens in its lifey way around me when suddenly, bam—a message from an old friend.

We back-and-forthed for a bit but she utterly floored me when she told me that she had two of my characters in her head, just hanging out with her while she folded laundry, that she had deliberately carved out time to not just read my work, but leave a super!awesome review on Goodreads. Best of all, she told me that she wanted to read more. This friend is a busy woman. She is immersed, as all of us are, in the thousands of big and little things that drive us through these minutes into hours into days of our lives but at some point, she allotted some of that time to my words and then took more time still to tell me that those minutes with my words made her day better.

What grander of a compliment can a writer receive? More of your work, please…more that I will have to make time for (totally not her words, but that is the reality of sitting down and getting a thing done)…

I write to explore, yes. To build worlds. To be who am I not, and doubly who I am. However, in the end, I write to communicate and if what I’ve done takes someone on a journey, provides respite or just a bit of fun then holy wow, I’ve done something right.

So to my friend, and any other readers who have enjoyed my work or to all the other writers and readers out there creating and seeking narratives to enrich their lives in some way—thank you. You are the everything, to quote R.E.M. You are the BEST. Read on, write on, and now that I’ve taken minutes to say these words, back to edits! <3

Strangers–Quote of the Day

Writing sci-fi romance, speculative fiction and sci-fi poetry reminds me time and time again of how I am reaching for light-trails, dreaming through life and living the questions, as Rilke would have it–how I am exploring my realities through narratives. Here’s wishing you all a week full of big, beautiful dreams and luminous realities!

strangers