Understanding Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Our Write Side Ink has another call for poetry submissions that sent me scribbling away like mad lately. The theme? Flowers exploring femininity. Now, if you know me, I’m going to put a twist on that femininity because a. I’m female and b. I’m a feminist, but hey, life would be boring if we were all the same, right?  (Those of you interested in submitting can find the details here rather than Google for the link. You’re welcome.)

Anyway, I feel drawn to write about cherry blossoms in haiku form. Overdone, right? Yeah, I know, but I’ve never written one and even if it sucks, I’m determined to do this. So off I go on a researching binge to try to understand the Japanese love of the sakura.  In doing so, I’ve come across some cool tidbits I think your brain will eat up.

Cherry blossoms represent the fleeting beauty of life to the Japanese. In the Western world, we can look to Thomas Moore’s famous poem “The Last Rose of Summer” or “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by poet Robert Herrick for a similar theme. For us, it’s roses; for the Japanese, it’s cherry blossoms. Further research into their culture and I learn that according to Japanese superstition, it’s bad luck to sleep facing north. Corpses are laid out facing north and that direction has long been associated with death.

Now, why is this important? Because blossoming starts first in Okinawa, in the southernmost part of Japan, and migrates north, hence symbolizing the transition of life to death. Using direction as a means of symbolism is hardly new. Think of how the sun rising in the east and setting in the west represents life and death, or even why so many westerns end with the cowboy riding off “into the sunset”. But for the Japanese instead of east to west, it’s south to north. NEAT, huh?

Well, that’s a thing you know now. And, as an added bonus, I will share this nugget I stumbled upon. In Japan, the number 42 “sounds like shini (死に – to death)”. Anyone who’s read Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Ergo, I submit onto you that life equals death. There you go. Your afternoon philosopher right there. (Unless you read this at night or in the morning. Time is relative, after all.)

That’s it for now. Until next time, hugs and kisses, bye!

 

 

 

 

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OK, I Don’t Mean to Be Paranoid, but…

So, late last night, I couldn’t sleep. My brain kept talking to me and wouldn’t shut up and I decide the best way to deal with this is to go check my email. Because naturally when you’ve got a billion thoughts racing through your head with to-do lists, the first thing you want to do is see if any of the literary agents you queried wrote you back so you can torment yourself with rejection or make up reasons as to why they haven’t gotten back to you.

And what should I see but two emails in my inbox from a publishing company. We’ll call them Dingleberry Press, for the sake of  this narrative and to keep me from being sued. If here actually is a Dingleberry Press out there, my apologies and I will rename them Cocky-Dingle Dalliance Publishing. Anyway, this company is saying they recently saw that my Huntress of Rosefell Hall had been registered with the Library of Congress and they want to talk to me about publication? Now, they have one of these names that’s hugely popular and in my half-awake state, I’m thinking, “I’ve  heard of this company before. Could this be the answer to all my prayers?”

The answer is a resounding NO. So if, like me, you’re tired and not thinking straight or if, like me from many years ago, you’re new, let me enlighten you as to why.

First of all, THIS ISN’T HOW LEGIT PUBLISHING COMPANIES WORK. You query–with or without an agent, depending on their guidelines, and they either approve or reject. Imagine you’re a publishing company. Do you really have time to send out this message–twice–to someone who randomly finished a book just because they finished the book? You have no idea what the book is even about, but you want to read it? How many just finished books by new authors are out there? How many people are on your staff available to read it? Mhm. You see what I mean, don’t you?

And so, I get a red flag that this is a vanity press. I quick Google search confirms my suspicions. Vanity presses will publish just about anyone. They either make their money by charging you to publish your own book or they publish you on faith that your friends will want a copy. That’s how they work and if you’re okay with that, I won’t throw too many stones at you. I’ve been there myself. The lure of publication calls, everything sounds so good, and your knees buckle under the weight of your dreams. I get it. And not to bash on vanity presses, but they’re not for me and my broke ass. For those with the monetary means and little patience, maybe this is the route for them. To each their own.

BUT WHAT IS DISCONCERTING is that they have someone on their staff lurking outside the copyright office to see who published a manuscript recently and I am NOT okay with this. So secondly, they’ve invaded my privacy and managed to somehow get my email account and email me. This smacks of gangster racketeering. “That’s an awfully nice book you’ve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.” What. The. Hell.

Anyway, I want to get out this message: getting published is a lot like landing any other job. Doing things like PitMad or writing contests, you put yourself out there in a similar way to posting your resume online. Or maybe you’ll meet your literary agent or publisher at a writing convention much like at a job fair. Or you know a friend of a friend and came highly recommended. Bottom line is, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. People don’t come knocking on your door unless they want to sell you something; they don’t come to your home hoping to buy something you’ve not listed as for sale. Not unless they’re really creepy. And if they are, run. Run very far away.

Primal Elements Release Party is Friday…

…and you are all cordially invited to attend. That’s right, grab your phones and computers and join us for the most spectacular, rowdy, festive debauchery you can have with words since AOL chat rooms. (Well,  okay, that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration since we try to keep things PG-13, but I sparked your interest a little, didn’t I? Please tell me I did. If I didn’t, you’re probably too young to remember AOL chat rooms and therefore the PG-13 rating is necessary!) Anyhoo, here’s your personal invite.

And I just found this out so, be sure to JOIN our Facebook group for this event so you can Like and Comment. (I don’t know why Facebook is like this; blame Facebook, not us. We just wanted to throw  a nice party but Facebook’s making sure we didn’t kidnap anyone for our event … or something. And we’re like, dammit, we’re poets, not kidnappers, but whatever.)

Anyway, I am going to be there and I am HOSTING for at least an hour (or as long as I can before admin grab’s the old shepherd’s hook and yanks me off-stage). I go on at 6pm EST but I should be trolling–I mean, commenting–on the other poet’s posts all day long. So come sit next to me and I’ll save you a Jack and Coke. Many kisses, hugs, etc.

Excerpts from Primal Elements

First of all, let me gush about how there’s a book trailer with MY NAME IN IT and I’m bouncing up and down, clapping in glee. If you’ve never seen your name in an advertisement before, it’s tremendous. I love the feeling of my writing career moving forward and this, my dear friends, feels like a huge milestone. But even if this wasn’t so personal for me, you should check out the video below because it’s absolutely amazing. I love everything from the images, to the melancholic yet reflective music, to the fantastic blurb of the trailer. (Video by the incredibly talented Amanda Mabry; blurb captured perfectly by the incomparable JK Allen.) Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Now, if you’ve followed my blog for a bit, you’re not unfamiliar with my poetic style. But maybe like me, you wonder what are the other poets like in this fine compilation? While I obviously can’t show you the entirety of the poems, I can tease you with a few fragmented lines. Oh, and as an added bonus, they come with pictures!

Ynes She Who Hears the Gods Quote smaller

Merrifield Beaufort 7smaller

Stacy Chinook Quote

Julia3smaller

Schoen Glowing smaller

And that’s just a small piece of the puzzle, my dears. Can you imagine experiencing these poems in their entirety? I can’t wait. This is going to be one phenomenal mind-trip and I hope you’ll join me for this exciting journey.

Come book your page-turning vacation here for only $2.99.  And don’t forget Primal Elements’s release party is this Friday, June 15th. Want a chance to chat with me? I’ll be there and here’s your invitation to join us. (Please join our Facebook group in order to Like and Comment at the party. ) See you then! XOXO

Free Short Stories to Celebrate the Release of Primal Elements

I’m so excited about Primal Elements, the new poetry anthology by Our Write Side Ink, that I’m giving away all nine of my short stories for FREE on Amazon June 11th to June 15th. That’s right–download to your heart’s content here and then be sure to pre-order a copy of PRIMAL ELEMENTS at its discounted rate of $2.99.

Do you like reading and/or writing poetry? Then, please, won’t you join us for our OWS Primal Elements Release Party June 15th? We’d love to meet and chat with you and I promise you’ll have a fun time. (We’ll even let you come in quietly and lurk, if that’s your thing.)

Why am I so excited? This anthology goes through the different elements of fire, earth, air, water, and spirit for a truly unique journey through the senses. Meet the minds and hearts behind the poems. Here’s a sneak peek–a fragment–of my poetry that you’ll find in Primal Elements.

Rebecca In The End Quote (1)Rebecca Slow Burn Quote (1)Rebecca The Moon and the Sea Quote (1)

If you have any questions regarding the free giveaway, the pre-order of Primal Elements, or the release party, please be sure to leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you quick as I can. Have an awesome day, everyone! XOXO

Primal Elements Poetry Anthology is available for pre-order

Hey, do you remember when I submitted four poems to an anthology and they were accepted? (Of course you do; I was doing verbal cartwheels. How could you forget?) Well, it’s available for pre-order now, so go grab a copy if you a) love me b) love poetry c) love the elements d) want to show support for indie authors e) all of the above

Honestly, there’s no wrong reason to order this book. When does it come out, you may ask with bated breath? June 15th. So it’s not a long wait at all. If you’re pawing at the screen in anticipation (and why wouldn’t you), here’s the link:

PRIMAL ELEMENTS: An OWS Ink Poetry Anthology (If that link doesn’t work, try this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3FDQD9?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660)

I Jumped the Gun

So, I thought the Huntress of Rosefell Hall was complete after five edits. Apparently, I thought wrong. If you’ve wondered at my absence, I’ve been editing my manuscript down. I started off with a 248K word count novel and am trying to get down to 150K. Now, in case you’re thinking, “Rebecca, this is an impossible task,” know that I thought that, too. And you know what I did? I started editing it down anyway because you never know what you’re capable of until you start. Now at the halfway point, I’ve killed 40K words and I surprised myself.

Now, this might not work for everyone. I wrote Huntress with a Victorian era tone which meant I could switch to contractions and that helped. Also, to say I’m an over-writer would be an understatement. My backstories have backstories. Now, that’s an accurate thing to say. So, I’m tightening my novel up like cinching a corset.

And I’m racing against time to get Huntress ready for PitMad in June. So, wish me luck. Apologies that I haven’t been as regular of a blogger as I’d like. I’ll make it up to you in June.

They Say Jealousy is an Ugly Emotion…

…And I couldn’t agree more. But I’m not sure if I’m jealous and that’s why I’m being so petty and bitter right now.

I read a successful poet’s work and just… cringed. I couldn’t even finish it, it was so bad in my uneducated opinion. And maybe that’s just it. Maybe if I’d taken a course on poetry in college I could appreciate its beauty, uniqueness… or whatever they’re selling. But that’s just it. I feel like I can’t relate to it. There are references made that are too obscure for the likes of me and I can’t help but wonder if this is a situation like The Emperor’s New Clothes. Maybe no one wants to admit they don’t “get” it, either and so they smile and applaud with all the other people who have no idea why they’re smiling and applauding, but they don’t want to stop in case someone finds out they’re ignorant, too.

I know that everyone’s tastes are different and I own that I’m way behind when it comes to the latest trends in either writing or fashion, but I know what I like and what I like isn’t that. What I read tonight (and the poem and poet will both remain anonymous) made zero sense to me and didn’t even have a lyrical quality to its nonsense. It was as if  someone used a pair of scissors, cut up words or phrases from a newspaper, tossed them up like so much confetti on the glue-slick floor to see what would stick. It was as if someone used predictive text on their mobile phone to write their next great masterpiece. It was as if their words were in a saloon brawl and they smashed through the window to punch each other out of existence because that’s what words do to each other when they’re drunk and someone called them out. I don’t understand it and I don’t know why I would want to. Again, I find myself ranting about how much I hate modern poetry about as much as I hate modern art and for the same reason: it’s all splats of nonsense to me and not the fun kind.

To be clear, this is not a “I hate free verse” bitch-fest. Maybe once upon a time that might have been true of me, but I’ve since read plenty of free verse that made me fall in love, cry, or think. This poem, though, didn’t do any of those things. The only thing it made me feel was bitter resentment that that is what it takes to become successful as a poet. The only thing  it made me think was someone sold their soul to the devil to have that piece heralded as art from a master. This poet must’ve been a Jedi master to pull such a mind trick over everyone of literary importance.

Seriously. What the fucking hell happened to poetry? It’s like the high school hottie aged like milk, underwent plastic surgery and the hack job made it even worse. I’m not saying love me instead or anything, but holy flying squirrel nuts, I finally understand why Cain slew Abel. I slave away for hours, digging in the dirt of my psyche, planting meanings here and there, nurture the words with tears, sweat, and agony and along comes some yahoo who turns in his crumpled, half-finished homework and calls his offering good.

Yeah, okay, I may just be petty and jealous. And I know I’ll get over it. Perhaps, one day, if I’m really lucky, I’ll get to infuriate someone else this much with my own crap writing.  Or maybe one day, I’ll get what all this fuss is about. But for the time being, I’m just going to cry into my carton of ice cream and wonder why not me in a “what’s that poet got that I ain’t got” way.

And for the record, I’m sure this poet is a nice person and I wish them much happiness. The bastard.

“Mixed”

“Mixed” © 2018 Rebecca R. Pierce

I knew my blood was mixed
But the way they’d fixed
Their eyes on my face
Showed me I had no place
Among them.

Mixed meant I was less, not more.
The watered-down daughter
Of a traitorous whore,
A genetic eye-sore
That stung them.

They say I’m half like I’m broken
A dirty word unspoken
Better swept aside
Like something to hide
And forget.

Of two worlds yet none
I’m always on the run
Trying to lose this race,
Trying to find a place
For me yet.

*Author’s Note: I finally finished this piece. Took me long enough,, geez. I think I started this about four months ago and then either my toddler distracted me and I lost my mojo or some stumbling block like “what do I rhyme with this” or “how do I want to end this” kicked me in the brain.

That happens a lot. I get on a good gripe and I’m like, do I really want to bitch the entire time or is there light at the end of the tunnel? Well, as far as real life goes, who knows? But contrary to my angst-filled poetry, I do have hope that maybe one day we can stop trying to fit in based on appearances.

And not that it matters, but in case anyone is wondering, I’m half Chinese on my mother’s side and a blend of German, Irish, English, and Cherokee Indian. I usually get a lot of “wows” when I tell people that. I suppose my ancestors enjoyed travel a great deal and imagine my forefathers said something like, “Nice country you have here. Say, is that your daughter?” Ta-da! Clearly, I am the product of generations of fun.

Well, it’s late and I’m going to get off this sore subject before I get any more awkward. So, that said, have a good night and I hope you enjoyed the poem. If you can relate to being outcast for being of “mixed blood” (whatever the fuck that means), then by all means, leave me a comment. I’ll catch you later.