“Skeleton Flower” a poem

“Diphylleia Grayi or Skeleton Flower” © 2018 Rebecca R. Pierce

If my smiles seem sunlit
I crowd my pale face in to fit
I am a wish that is in vain;
Invisible in the rain.

Here is a truth I have gleaned:
You must shine to be seen.
Do not believe the form I feign.
Invisible in the rain.

A transparent drop will erase
The painted mask of stoic grace.
I am but sorrow’s stain
Invisible in the rain.

Under the hush of my regret,
Comes the trickle, cold and wet.
I am but a song’s refrain;
Invisible in the rain.

Crystal cracked like winter lace,
My arms fade; a failed embrace.
I am a ghost on the wane;
Invisible in the rain.

The showers pour, the rivers run
Washing away lies of the sun
Can you see me, sense my pain,
Invisible in the rain?

 

*Author’s note: Hi! If you’d like to learn more about the skeleton flower, check out this YouTube video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Peppermint Carnations” a poem

“Peppermint Carnations” © 2018 by Rebecca R. Pierce

I chose the peppermint carnation for you, Daddy.
Clutched in my small fist, it reminded me
Of the bite of candy cane comfort during thunderstorms,
Of a red and white pinwheel I could blow a kiss on.
I liked it because it was half and half—like me.
Blood and bone swirled imperfectly
In a soft fraying circle.

Years later, looking back, I see
Its meaning conveyed refusal.
My mother let me lay rejections on your grave
While she stabbed gladiolas in orange-beaded green swords
Above your head and wept tears of regret
Not loss.

Well.

I can swallow that hard candy of truth,
Cold and biting sweet.
She was half-right even when she did us wrong:
Each bloom I left behind refused
To believe you’d gone.
I’d given you
A flower that looked like candy
A flower that looked like a wish
A flower like a blood and bone girl
Mixed half and half
And a comfort through thunderstorms.

It was red and white, striped like
Scarred imperfect love
Unfurling into the unconditional, infinite spiral
Of soft, frayed beauty.
Woman that I’ve become,
I can stare at the overgrown, lush grass and know
The deeply grooved earth doesn’t hold you, Father
—I do—
And I pad away a tigress
With her war stripes furrowed deep in her skin.

OK, I’m Hooked: a book review

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Gillian’s tale is definitely that of a fish out of water. Sent into our world to investigate rogue fae, she struggles to learn our culture as much as who’s behind a string of drowning deaths that wash up along the Jersey Shore. Rich with lush descriptions of Underhill and its fae inhabitants, we journey with Gillian as she comes into creation, meet her “parents” and then is quickly shoved out of her proverbial nest.

I enjoyed this book! It had a slight slow start for me, but I think it was because I was anxious to get to the murders. Don’t do that. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. The author ensures that even if you know nothing of the fae, you will not be lost on any of the lore. The scenery is at times vivid enough that I could smell the salt in the sea air or feel the coolness of the moss. Nicely done. The characters, too, pop to life. When she meets the Troll King, I genuinely laughed out loud and was both surprised and delighted by his character. (I hope he shows up later in the series.) Without giving too much away, I stressed over the fate of certain characters and alternated between setting the book down (because I didn’t dare find out) and picking it up and reading on (because I HAD to find out).

This is an excellent start to a series and the best review I can give it is I’m on my way to buying the sequel.

You can pick up your copy at Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

“Happily Ever After” a poem

Digging through my pile of old poems and came across this fun one. Previously published in Waves From My Oddest Sea back in 2004, but it’s since been discontinued. Hope you enjoy its message as much as I do.

“Happily Ever After”

The frog said
“Kiss me and I’ll
Be your Prince.”
But I
Licked him and
Nothing made sense.

Why must
I perverse
The dreams
We rehearse?
Why am I always
Slapping the fairy’s tale?
Maybe I just
Don’t want my life
To be stale.

I mean if
Wishes were horses
Then I’m
Catherine the Great
Because it’s my wishes
That I
Wish to satiate
(Even if it kills me…)

Maybe my reality check just bounced.
“Insufficient funds”
—What can you do?—
Yes, it always thrills me…

I just want a
Near-life experience.
Is that too much to ask for?
If so, then
I want more!

I mean,
Didja ever notice that
Prince Charming’s not Prince Sincere?
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

So, why should I
Stay at home
In my ivory tower
Wasting away, waiting to be saved
When I
Want so much to roam—alone—
(And I’ve got the power.)

Why should I want to be enslaved,
Trading one monster for another?
A boy, for a mother?
Get out of my hair!
No Rapunzel am I
And no, I don’t care!

Besides, when it comes to love
Every man acts
Less like a Prince
And if you want facts,
More like the Gingerbread Man.
“Run, run, run as fast as you can.”
It’s less than inspiring.
So now I’m conspiring
To bite his head off.

So I
Want to be me
And I
Want to be free
And I’ll
Get that “Happily Ever After”
With or without you.

The Story Behind My Story, “If the Shoe Fits”

I wrote “If the Shoe Fits” because I felt like I had to. I grew up on a feast of fairy tales and, being poor, Cinderella ranked as one of my favorites. When Our Write Side posted a call to submissions for a retelling of the Cinderella tale, my initial reaction was that I wasn’t fit to write it. And then, days before the deadline, I was struck with a strong inspiration that said, yes, I did indeed have something to say and by golly, someone was going to listen to me.

Because my biggest problem with the fairy tale (and many fairy tales) is the theme of “you just need a man to fix your problems,” never mind the fact that it was a man who got Cinderella in trouble in the first place. Who am I talking about? Her father. Had it not been for his poor marital choice, she would’ve happily inherited his money as an only child and not end up a servant.

And then, there’s the issue of obvious abuse going on in Cinderella. Even if you ignore the gory Hans Christian Anderson version and just stick with the classic Disney movie, the rending of Cinderella’s original ball gown is nothing short of traumatic.

So, what if Cinderella just … snapped one day? Drawing inspiration from Norman Bates, I sought to answer that very question. If you’re curious, check out “If the Shoe Fits” in the short story anthology, Glass & Ashes published by Our Write Side, available for pre-order now, releases November 15th. In the meantime, how about a teaser?

 

 

Interview with JK Allen, author of Angelborn

Today, I am thrilled and honored to interview JK Allen, author of Angelborn, a YA Urban Fantasy novel whose recent review I wrote earlier in the week. Here’s the quoted summary, or blurb, found on the back of Angelborn:

High school is all about boy meets girl, girl gets demon mark, and girl finds out she’s half-angel. At least that’s how it is for Ginny Gracehurst.
Sixteen year olds have a lot going on in their lives, and Ginny is no exception. Grades, homework, pimples, oh and now the sudden appearance of a demon mark. And discovering her father, who she thought was dead, is actually the great angel Grace. Who is very much alive.

With unforeseen powers growing, she has to figure out who she really is. While also staying out of the reach of a powerful half demon who is hell-bent on bending her to his will. The Alliance, an organization that is supposed to help people like her, is threatened by her potential gifts. They are more invested in their own hierarchy than in upholding their divine mandate. It’s up to her and a new friend, Aiden, to protect not just herself, but the ones she loves.

Angelborn releases September 27th. You can get your copy at Amazon.

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Me: What’s the story behind Angelborn? How did the concept of your series come to you? Do you feel—if you’ll forgive me my cheesiness for asking—divinely inspired?

Allen: I was reading a certain depiction of an angel as cold and very hostile to a human and it just made me think about how angels would be compassionate and what would happen if an angel fell in love with humanity instead. Then I got the idea of Ginny and the story grew from there. I was definitely inspired to write Angelborn. It just flowed from me once I sat down to tell the story.

Me: Why write about angels and demons? How did you come to be so passionate about the themes of good vs evil?

Allen: A big theme in this series is doing what’s right. I don’t view it as simply good versus evil. But rather the strength found in ordinary people. That’s an important concept for me in my writing and comes up again and again.

Me: Tell me a little about yourself. I met you through some FB writing groups and know how awesome you are, but I’m curious to know the woman behind the book. What called you to be a writer and how old were you then?

Allen: I wrote my first story the day after I learned to write. I learned to write and thought to myself, “what now?” So I wrote a fairy tale. I have never stopped writing since. Stories, poems, song lyrics, anything and everything. I loved writing and reading so much. It was a very essential part of me. But I never considered wanting to be a writer until I got to college and discovered I could major in Creative Writing. Then and there I decided that I was going to become an author.

Me: You are also a poet whose work appears in OWS Primal Elements. You even studied poetry in college. What was that like? I feel like your poetry affects your writing, giving your language vivid imagery. Do you have any other hobbies that you feel influence your work? (Like TV shows or music genres.)

Allen: I love poetry, it holds a very special place in my heart. And I really do recommend that writers of fiction and nonfiction practice writing poetry. It teaches you writing great and evocative descriptions and also a conciseness of language that prose often doesn’t. You have only so many words to make an impact on your reader and that is valuable in any form of writing. As far as hobbies that influence me, I do watch shows and movies and read books in other genres to see how to incorporate the strengths of those genres in my writing. The pacing of action or thrillers, the world building of fantasy and sci-fi, the character development of the classics. All of these different genres can teach you different aspects of craft.

Me: How are you like the main character Ginny Gracehurst and in what ways are you different?

Allen: Ginny gets aspects of her personality from me. That tendency to be more of an introvert and to feel awkward socially. She also has my hobbies. I dabble in art and find great enjoyment with it, but I don’t pursue it professionally, and she feels much the same about it as I do. Pat and her mom are the true artists, she just tags along and has fun. We are different though. A lot of that comes with time and experience, however. She’s young and still figuring out who she is and what she’s capable of. I try to remember what that’s like as I write.

Me: Is the character Aiden, Ginny’s love interest, a guy a teenage you might date? What blend of fictional (and/or real) people might have inspired the creation of Aiden?

Allen: I adore Aiden. He does what he believes is right and not what’s easy. And he’s compassionate. I don’t know that he’s based on anyone, but he does embody some traits and values I really look up to in people.

Me: What kind of books do you like to get snuggly with? Is there any subject matter or theme that puts you off or just isn’t for you?

Allen: I love so many different genres from Jane Austen to JK Rowling. Fantasy and the classics are always a favorite, depending on what kind of escape I’m looking for. One genre I really don’t read is westerns. It’s just not my style and the tropes don’t appeal to me. I also hate James Bond. But that’s for how women are portrayed and how they are treated in the books.

Me: Where do you see yourself going in the future as an author? Will you turn to other genres? Write more short stories?

Allen: I like to dabble in other genres. I find horror particularly fun to write. But I always seem to go back to YA and fantasy. Magic plays a big part in a lot of my stories. But I do like writing short stories. I’d love to publish some in a collection or as a novella or novelette.

Me: For my aspiring author friends, I have to ask, did you struggle in particular through any aspect of writing this novel? Obviously writing a book is hard business but was any of it harder than the rest? What was the easiest part, if any?

Allen: I would say the thing that surprised me about this novel is that I rewrote it entirely. The first version of the story I wrote was completely different than what it turned out to be as far as a lot of the plot and characters. But this was the first novel I really changed my writing process for. I plotted before I wrote the final version and really figured out my story before sitting down to write. It made all the difference as I finally finished a book. The hardest part of the process for me is editing. I love editing other people’s stories, but I have a much harder time with my own.

Me: Any favorite scenes or excerpts you’d like to tease us with today?

Allen: Here are some excerpts.

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JK Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She wrote her first story when she first learned how to write and hasn’t looked back since. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity, everyday magic, and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Several of her short stories and four poems are featured in anthologies, and Angelborn is her debut novel. She is currently working on the trilogy as well as several shorts, while researching for a new series in the works. Her reading tastes are as varied as the genres she enjoys writing, from Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling. When she’s not writing, you can find her painting, drawing, or lost in another world between the pages of a book. Or on Facebook.

JK Allen Headshot 1

You can Follow JK Allen on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, and her Amazon author’s page.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/hijinkswriter

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hijinkswriter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/hijinkswriter

Website: hijinksblog.wordpress.com

Amazon: amazon.com/author/jkallen

Angelborn is Definitely My Bag

Do you know those moments when you’re just sitting around, casually eating potato chips only to find yourself staring with dismay into an empty bag? That accurately describes how I feel upon finishing Angelborn by JK Allen. A tasty treat from start to finish, I am shaking the bag for loose crumbs and licking my fingers.

What do I love about it?

It’s fast paced, for starters. The book starts with a punch and ends with a boss fight that is equal parts brawns and brains. It’s about a lonely sixteen year old girl, Ginny, who not only discovers she’s half angel (hence the title of the book, Angelborn) but that the father she long thought was dead is actually alive. Marked by a delicious villain named Jacob who wants to recruit her—willing or no—to his evil plans, she often gets into these fight or flight scenarios.

I really feel like I can relate with Ginny. She comes across as a believable teenager, complete with a dash of angst. Though insecure and slightly withdrawn, she’s reliable, loyal, and, in a pinch, will throw down both metaphorically and literally for those she cares about.

There are some anxiety-induced, stomach-churning suspense going on in this debut novel, too. Don’t let its young adult category fool you. I sped through its pages because I had to make sure the characters made it out okay and only breathed when I discovered the answer. I’ve also laughed, cheered, and even cussed a few times.

Overall, this story left me with a very triumphant and satisfactory feeling. If you yearn for a good, fun romp of adventure, then check out Angelborn. It’s—dare I say it?—heavenly. Let me close by saying it’s all that and a bag of chips.

Angelborn releases September 27th. You can get your copy here.

 

On Reacquainting Yourself With Old Characters

I’m struggling today. I finally made it to book three of my series and ughhh I am dragging ass like you wouldn’t believe. Part of the problem lies in the fact that I’m revisiting old characters from book one, The Huntress of Rosefell Hall, and my main character has had an adventure away from them, doing her own thing, growing as a person, etc. So now that I reunite her with old friends and one antagonist, I fear I’ve lost the voices of these old characters.

Has this happened to you? Here’s what I do.

I reread bits of their dialogue and mannerisms from book one and take note of any verbal tics they might have, pauses in their speech, facial expressions, and bodily poses. Does a character walk with a swagger or has a crooked smile? Time to remember to include those words again to trigger both my memory and that of my audience.

I listen to my old playlists. For one character in particular, I listen to Leonard Cohen to capture that deeply brooding, sexual tone. Or I associate certain songs with how they relate to scenes from book one. Some of them express exactly how the main character felt about this old acquaintance.

Lastly, I try not to stress about it. Characters, even when you don’t write about them, evolve behind the scenes as they do their own thing away from the main character. Suffice to say, if they’ve changed, good. It shows the passage of time and how they progress in it.

The key thing for me to remember is to get something down in the first draft. I can always polish it up later–but only if I have something written. Well, I’ve procrastinated enough as is with this little detour. Time for me to go back and “do the thing.” Hopefully, by getting this off my chest, I can return to writing my novel with a little more confidence. And, if by sharing my woes, I help others gain confidence, too, all the better.

I Know They Say Not to Do This, But I’m Doing it Anyway

I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t write out your whole series before publishing your first book. This advice came from a well-respected literary agent. I see her point of view. She’s speaking from a marketing angle and that makes sense. You don’t know how well that first book will sell and it may just be a better idea to spend your time and energy elsewhere. If you can’t sell your first book, the others are dead too. Everything relies on that first novel sale.

HOWEVER, speaking as one who is an avid “pantser,” meaning I seldom outline and if I do, they’re random thoughts that I have in the back of my head that may or may not become utterly changed by the time I set to typing it out, I choose to do the exact opposite.

Why?

Because from a creative standpoint, I need to know what happens. I learn more about my characters and the world I’ve invented as I go along. I can clear up any discrepancies of plot and smooth over actions or reactions that seem out of character from my characters. So much is cause and effect, even when you write seemingly “standalone” novels. If you have characters that span the course of several novels, they, too, have a story arc in how they evolve or devolve, REVOLVING around your main character. It makes sense for me to write out the series as a whole before I begin to market book one.

Perhaps “pantsing” it all out is just my way of writing an extremely detailed outline. This is how I outline: by jotting it all out and going back and adding in extra scenes where needed, or revising. I polish it in, giving the narrative another layer of depth with each editing pass. We all have our ways of telling our stories, don’t we? Well, this is mine. Either I truly suck at outlining or that by being a pantser, I’ve accidentally created the outline of outlines simply by writing it all out.

I try not to worry too much about what other people are doing or even what is fashionable. I think the most important thing is to find out what works best for you and to do that. Above all, one should always be writing and not get too caught up in what you should or should not do. Unless we’re talking grammar. Do follow those rules or else, your editor is going to scowl at you and not just a little.