“I Knew a Woman” (poem)

“I Knew a Woman”

I knew a woman, lovely as a tree.
Her skin was polished white like birch,
Her hair ablaze like autumn leaves.
The only thing green was in her eyes,
The last remnant of spring remembering.
Her hardened limbs upheld the sky,
A woman Atlas or Tree of Life.
Her head bent back, her back arched,
And shook when the wind
Went through her careless hair.
It was a shiver down her spine
That drove deep into her roots,
And still she stood her ground.

The sun was melting, saying goodbye.
It was only then, in the dark,
When I could not see her eyes
That she looked like a ghost in the graveyard
Standing over the bones
Of what used to be.

On Being a Writer Mom

Even as I sit down to begin this blog, my toddler toddles over with a high-pitched squeak to protest. Writing is difficult work no matter what medium you try to birth into the world on a good day when you have peace and quiet and you’re alone. It’s just you and your computer in the ultimate showdown. Cue the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly here and toss a few tumbleweeds down the lane. Yeah, even on a day when you set aside time to write, it seems like there’s a struggle to get the motivation or inspiration to write. There’s dishes and laundry staring at me accusingly, waiting to be done. Then add things like Facebook or Twitter notifications, the phone ringing or text messages going off, and a toddler to top it all off.

People have often asked me, “How do you do it?” I understand this one thing: life goes on.

I write around the distractions. Nap time becomes my favorite time of the day and I write then. I set my daughter down to play or watch her videos. She has a little bit of independence and I write until she wants my attention, for food, a changing or play. I download apps like Google Docs or EverNote on my phone and I am able to write on my phone if baby wants to snuggle or sleep in my lap. These apps sync up or are cloud-based so no worries there.

I also don’t mind writing in small bursts. Actually, I’ve found that I’ve made fewer mistakes writing this way. If I only have time to write one paragraph before it’s time to make dinner, hey, that’s one paragraph more than I had yesterday. Do I feel cheated? Not really. Looking back, there were times I’ve scored about four thousand words a day everyday for one to two weeks. And then nothing for months. So, OK, maybe I don’t write like I used to–that is to say, in bulk–but in a way, the old saying “slow and steady wins the race” applies here.

I switch between stories. A lot. Tired of writing horror, I’ll switch to writing erotic romance. Or if my creative side has flat-lined, I head over to edit my novel. This helps make the most of my time so I’m not stuck twiddling my thumbs hoping prune juice will help my writer’s blockage.

Lastly, I remember that it’s OK to actually live. I don’t make myself write when I don’t feel up to it. I know you have to step outside of writing to sometimes get perspective on what it is you’re trying to say. If the purpose of art is to imitate life, then it’s important to remember what living looks like. Guilt-tripping myself that I’m not writing is just going to give me performance anxiety. And then I end up with a bad case of exposition dysfunction and that’s always embarrassing. 😉

Two Poems Too Late For Mother’s Day

 

I realize I’m a day late to post these for Mother’s Day but I wanted to share them.

“Tomorrow, Mother”

You tuck me in bed and I am made safe,
A kiss to carry me to the land of dreams.
Hold tight to dear teddy.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mother.”

Days go by like every other.
Words of fire and ice and warm wind.
Do we stop to think that our footsteps are erasing behind us?
Would we love differently if we knew it then?

Sing a sweet lullaby, fill my head with memories
And I will place you with dreams you set me so safely before.
Touching you now, my ghost to yours
It’s a silver mirror we see through
Reflecting back our sensations but giving birth to none new.

I’ll tuck you in bed and pray you are safe.
A kiss to carry you to the land of dreams.
Hold tight to dear God.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mother.”

********************************************
“Happy Birthday, Mother”

Happy Birthday, Mother,
My one-time universe!
There was a galaxy in your womb, once
—Did you know that?—
Where I was a star:
Falling, bawling, crawling,
Crawling to where you are.

How you must have held that belly-ful world
And marveled that
Though you cannot see me, you know
That I am there.

Just as I, beholding heaven, marvel
That though I cannot see you, I know
You are there,
Holding me like a womb
Where I am a star,
Still falling, bawling, crawling,
Crawling to where you are.

Happy Birthday, Mother!

 

 

My Favorite Scenes From Horror Movies

In order for me to get into the mood of writing, I often refer to my favorite scenes from horror movies. On this lazy Sunday, I’m going to share with you a rather inconclusive list of what made my heart race in both the best and worst way. In no particular order, I present to you segments that hit high on my creepiness factor and made me run straight for Nopesville.

  1. Phantasm II (1988): Plot Holes. Cemetery after cemetery is emptied. We know from earlier that our “dearly departed” will return and not as we last remember them. Whether they are diminutive versions of themselves or not, they have one thing in common: they’re homicidal. And while one could argue that the Flying Orbs of Certain Death is rather gruesome, that didn’t bother me nearly as much as the empty graves. After all, it begs the question, “Where are the bodies?” This scene makes you look over your shoulder, wondering when you might see an army of the dead. (There’s a Sam Raimi reference in Phantasm II, so you may wonder even more.)
  2. In The Mouth of Madness (1994): “I’m Losing Me.” It where character Lydia Styles (played by Julie Carmen) grabs John Trent (Sam Neill) and tells him she has read the book and What Was Seen Could Not Be Unseen. Something from beyond space and time entered her, was changing her and there was nothing she–or anyone–could do about it. This, to me, more than anything else, exemplified what it was like to be in the mouth of madness.
  3. The Others (2001): Picture Perfect. When Nicole Kidman flips through this macabre photo album, all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The fact that Victorians actually did take snapshots of their deceased only makes it worse. I can’t do my usual routine of telling myself, “This isn’t real. This isn’t real. This isn’t real.”
  4. Poltergeist (1982): This one movie gets THREE scenes (because it’s that awesome).
    1. The Fucking Clown. This joker is no joke! I don’t have coulrophobia but this toy looks so sinister, you just know the parents must have been stoned out of their minds when they bought it. Short of Chucky, I don’t think there’s a scarier toy out there. What possessed mom and dad to think this was a good idea? The only thing that made sense was the toy came to be in their possession because it possessed someone into bringing it home with them. Either that or it was a gift from an aunt. One that hates children.
    2. Face Off. The grisly scene really starts with the maggots in the meat which grosses the man out enough that he runs to the bathroom to wash his face. And then he ends up tearing himself apart. Literally. I watched Poltergeist when I was seven years old but I couldn’t fully watch this scene until much, much later. Even though it was nothing more than a hallucination, the fact that this guy nit-picked his own face off down to the bone had me cringing and gagging long after I turned away. While the special effects look laughable by today’s standards, it was very effective in getting the point across and deliver the intended results.
    3. Tonight, She Swims With the Corpses. What the hell?! We’ve heard of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” but out of the haunted house and into a swimming pool of decomposed bodies?! And I know she’s drinking in all that water while she screams and splashes in place.  No, no, no thank you! (I may just be a germophobe.)
  5. The Fog (1980):  A Hello to Arms. Ghosts that resemble the lovechild between a mummy and a pirate seek the death of the descendants of those that wronged them. The way those arms smash through the glass to reach the occupants inside had me backing away from all windows for a week. This movie scared the fuck out of me as a child and yet again as an adult. I will say this: that’s no easy feat. I’m not easily scared by horror movies these days. Many of them are either full of jump-scares or with so much over-the-top gore that I’ve become desensitized. This movie has a slow build but the payoff at the end is huge. If I have to pick one movie as my top favorite horror of all time, this one is it.
  6. A Haunting in Connecticut (2009): Up Close and Personal. I don’t like people up in my personal space on a good day. I’m the kind of person that, if I’m shopping and someone stands too close to me, I will get up and go to an entirely different aisle. So imagine my terror when the protagonist is stuck in a circle of the lidless dead in the worst stare-down in the history of stare-downs. And since none of these other motherfuckers have eyelids, it’s safe to say we know who is going to blink first. I almost wanted to see an impromptu mosh pit ensue because the tension was so great. (Though I’m sure it would have ended poorly for Matt Campbell.)
  7. The Grudge (2004): That Fucking Kid. OK, the Grudge might not make it as one of my favorite horror movies but that kid is too memorable for me to leave off this list. He’s like Pet Semetary’s Gage but so much worse. While no less deadly, he seems happy to be murdering you, like he truly wants to play. Moreover, this boy is like American Express–in the sense that he’s everywhere you want to be. In particular, I was bothered by the scene where he is on every floor the elevator passes. While his mom is also freakish with her over-the-eye hairdo and unsettling walk, it’s the boy that disturbs me the most. Perhaps it gives me flashbacks to my teen years where children chased me around for an impromptu babysitting session. Whatever the case may be, his character hits high on my “oh, hell no” scale.
  8. The Changeling (1980):  Hell On Wheels. Only this movie could make something like an empty wheelchair frightening. While there are plenty of movies with ghosts occupying rocking chairs (i.e. The Woman in Black) or moving chairs in general (i.e. Poltergeist), as far as I know this is the only one that contains a wheel chair chasing a man around his own house. I have to remind myself that Joseph, though a ghost, is still a little boy. And kids are jerks when they don’t get their way.
  9. Psycho (1960): Just a Normal Talk With Norman. Perhaps the granddaddy of all horror movies, Psycho hits every little nerve with the precision of acupuncture. It’s subtle at first so you don’t notice. You just sort of nod here and there and maybe seconds later you feel the effect. For me, the most frightening thing isn’t the iconic shower scene and it isn’t the big reveal of Norman’s mother: it’s just a chat with Norman. It’s…off. Surrounded in a room of dead and stuffed animals and chatting about his love of taxidermy, you get the impression Norman has a hard time letting go. And he is getting a little attached. It was time to go sometime yesterday. Rain or no rain, you really ought to hop in your car and drive off. It would prove to be the less deadly of the two showers.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this list. If you have a favorite scene that I didn’t mention or you want to chat about one I did, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Blog Makeover Day!

As you may have noticed, I changed themes for my blog because the old one was…well, it was boring. No pictures to speak of, the layout was dull. It’s not that I didn’t want to present something nice to my readers and would-be readers, it’s just that I am a little technologically challenged. And I have a near-phobia when it comes to trying new things. Lucky for me, my vanity won out over my fear and I did what anyone in my shoes would do: I searched for a tutorial on Youtube.

Now, if you’ve been thinking about starting a blog of your own and was overwhelmed by how to get started in making it look pretty, here’s a nice video for you to check out that may help: WordPress Tutorial For Beginners 2017 Step By Step Build Your Website by WebsiteWizard.tv (If the link does work, copy/paste this into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiaT4bR3xGA&t=47s)

Anyway, I hope no one was reading any of my posts while I was updating its look. No doubt it was jarring and chaotic. If so, my apologies. I probably appeared rather indecisive and even at moments insane as I pondered background colors of migraine-inducing red and holy-god-I’m-blind yellow. Thankfully, I leave making bad decisions to my protagonists in my stories.

Do you like the new look? Let me know in the comments!

 

“My Better Half” a flash fiction

I took a vacation from social media for two months and missed posting the link to my flash fiction horror story for Women in Horror Month. But here is the link to “My Better Half” as featured on Nina N’arcangela’s blog. (Link not working? Try opening this in your browser https://ninadarc.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/wihm2017-write-her-story-horror-author-rebecca-r-pierce-rebeccarpierce-sotet_angyal-wihm8-wihmonth/)

If you don’t know Nina, you should because she is cool! Also, check out the many stories by the various talented authors who also contributed to her blog. That’s it for now! Good night and I’ll post again soon!

Not Tonight Honey, I’ve Got a Headache

Tags

 

There’s a trend I’ve seen on many blogs stating that writing is a job and whether or not you feel up to it is irrelevant: “Suck it up, buttercup–do or die–it is time to write!” I can kind of get behind this battle cry most days and I usually enjoy a routine of daily word-crafting.

But not lately. Lately, I question the validity of this “rule.”

OK, Let’s, for example, equate writing not to a job but to SEX. While I certainly can do it when I’m not in the mood, I’m not convinced I should. Certainly my lack of passion would show through. What I do, I do primarily because I think it’s fun. I would never call it “a job.” I love it too much! And yes, I am aware some people do have sex as an occupation just as I am aware that writing is, indeed, a job. I’m not saying journalists or other professional writers are a bunch of prostitutes–and even if I WERE, let me say that I wouldn’t mean it in any derogatory sense. After all, when people seek quality work, one typically seeks the services of a professional. I would never fancy that I would be better than a professional in either–ahem–activity. So yes, they may be prostitutes but I’m pretty sure they know what the hell they’re doing. They have the luxury of experience on their side. As the old adage goes, “practice makes perfect,” and they certainly practice, practice, practice.

But on a personal level, that is to say, speaking for me and my skill alone, quantity does not necessarily mean quality. In fact, I find that the mass production of goods tends to make the product…well, not so good. Ever got caught in repetitious action? Say, you’re going through your email’s inbox on a deleting spree. Ever delete an email you didn’t intend to? Yeah…that’s your brain going numb. Don’t like that example? OK, how about this one? Another “rule” (and I swear by this and so should you) is when you’re done writing a short story or novel, let it sit before you edit it. If it’s a short story, I’ll ignore it for a month. If it’s a novel, maybe I’ll look at it again in six months before I start rewrites or editing. Why? Because it helps you focus. You NEED time away in order to gain perspective of whatever it is you’re writing. In the same way, I can’t just keep writing with no end in sight. Can’t. Do. It. Won’t. 

For you procrastinators out there, stop cheering. No, this is NOT permission to “wait until inspiration strikes,” or to validate your inaction as right all along. This is a call to reevaluate what you’ve been told and to strike a balance between being a machine and being a human being. Pushing yourself forward to write as much as you can results in your brain burning out until you come up empty. You might have all the words right but something is missing, and that something is passion. Looking over the scenes I forced myself to write, I sound like a movie director: “OK, let’s try this again and this time with feeling.” But what if the feeling isn’t there? Do you fake it? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, what do you do? Keep trying? I’ve heard the definition of insanity described as “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” Maybe it’s time to step away from the work to gain perspective. 

So no, I don’t believe in writing every day, trudging through it. Sometimes you need to live life in order to remember what it looks like outside of your novel, maybe give it a layer of depth it didn’t have before. I don’t know about you, but what works best for me, is just a little break. That way, when I come back to writing, it feels like slipping back into the arms of a lover that I’ve truly missed…instead of groaning, “Oh. It’s you again.”

Excerpt From “The Outer Banks” (working title)

I’ve got a short story involving shark-like mermaids in the works. Lydia, the main character, suspects she is pregnant. Let’s take a closer look, shall we…?

*****

The ultrasound technician applies jelly to my stomach region. The paddle comes down cold. I’m staring at the screen and to my shock, I see not one, not two but five. Five little heads, identifiable pairs of arms and hands. They’re white figures in a canvas of black.

They’re rolling, twisting in there. I feel another sharp stab of pain that hitches my breath. I double over, but my eyes are glued to the screen. Four are slamming into one. It looks like the one is screaming. A chunk of its arm goes missing. A mist of white flowers out.

The screen goes black and I hear a click. I grunt and cry out as the twisting, rolling cramps increase

“OK…. I’ll be right back.” The technician tells me. Her cheerful voice is in stark contrast to her face, now drained of color. “Nothing to worry about, just lay back and be comfortable. I’m getting a doctor.”

She leaves the room and I’m panting in sweat.

They’re eating each other. Oh god. I have to get out of here.

Donning my clothes as fast as I can, I grab my purse and keys and head out of the clinic with my head ducked. One of the receptionists calls after me, “ma’am?” But I don’t stop. I can’t stop.

There’s only one place for me to go.

*****

 

“Carved in Stone”-a poem

“Carved in Stone”

How young you were when you
Towered over me, as you
Overpowered me,
A mountain kicking a pebble
Down into the dirt
Where I played not with dolls
But my own hurt.
And I tried to heal
From under your heel,
To learn to feel
But everything about me was crushed small
And alone.

Now, I stand staring
At your uncaring dust,
Touching the stone that bears your name:
It’s all of the mountain that remains.
My triumph over you ends in a sigh:
I couldn’t make you love me before you died.

 

*Author’s Note: Yesterday was my forty-third birthday. As some of you may know, I lost my mother to cancer when she was forty-three years old. I have now outlived her by a day. My feelings for her have often been very mixed-up, as she was quick to both temper and violence. I loved her, I hated her, and I pitied her. I believe she was a creature of her own fear and I have,  as best as I’m able, forgiven her. But always, I regret what could have been between us.

I didn’t write this poem for her so much as for me. These words needed to come out. It may not be the best of my work but it is perhaps the most honest. If the structure seems fragmented, broken, and disorderly…well, it matches my heart and mind at the moment.

Thanks for reading and your time.

**Further note: I had the song “In the Woods Somewhere” by Hozier stuck in my head while writing this. If you want to hear it, you can find it here.

 

“Dirt”

Adam tried to roll me over. If he could, I knew he’d shove me back into the dirt from whence we came.

“Obey me.” He grunted, his muscles straining against mine.

“No.” I laughed at his futile attempt.

His manhood shrank and he pushed me off. Standing, he wiped his arm across his wet and angry eyes. He stomped off, crushing the grass underneath his feet, presumably to tattle on me again.

Always, he wanted to be on top but I wouldn’t let him. We were created in the same moment–equals–yet he wanted to dominate me. He did not court me; he meant to take what he thought was his due. I stood, wiping a hand between my wet and disappointed thighs. I decided to take my complaints elsewhere, too.

When I returned, Adam was still complaining about me to our Creator.

“…the woman you created is no good…” he said.

I held my breath, waiting for the Almighty to slay him where he stood. But despite his tantrum, Adam did not die. He wanted God to intervene on his behalf, to make me obey.
I listened long enough to know that angels would be sent for a reconciliation but it had to be of my own free will.

When they came, I refused. “That weak and cowardly creature is ill-fit for anyone’s mate. He wants to dominate the world and all that is in it. He will destroy all. It would be to everyone’s benefit if he had no mate with which to sow his seed, lest there be others like him.”

The angels did not disagree. They warned, “You will be blamed for everything Man does, for all his misfortunes.”

“He already does,” I said bitterly. “He will blame any mate given him; he will blame the world, and even God, but never himself. I know Adam.”

I was there when our Creator made Adam’s second wife. Hidden behind trees, I watched in fascination as particles of the earth were pulled loose and met droplets from the sky or wisps of breath. Colors flew in different directions and fused with one another to form the hardened white bones of her structure, then her webbed ligaments and tendons. Muscles came into full bloom as beautiful as roses, skin cocooned around her and hair spilled from her scalp like a river. She opened her eyes and looked at him.

Likewise, our Creator smiled, and turned to Adam to see what he thought of his new mate and gift.

One glance at Adam and I knew he was horrified. At his disapproval, God returned this nameless woman back to the earth before I could beg to keep her, before she could even speak for herself.

I would have liked a new friend but I did not complain so God did not make me one. Adam caught me staring at him. I turned away in disgust.

Our Creator made Adam his third and final wife. Adam bragged that this one was made from one of his own ribs and bound to be more obedient.

I laughed when I heard it. He was not awake, so he wouldn’t have known. But I was there and saw it all. God must have told him that to placate him, so Adam might actually love the poor woman a little if he believed there was a part of himself in her.

Years later, Adam blamed Eve for all of his mistakes, just as I knew he would. I was mostly forgotten. Adam retold our story because he could not bear the shame of the truth, that a woman disobeyed him and was strong enough to leave. Thus Eve was his first wife and I never existed. If the name Lilith was ever mentioned, it was whispered that I slew and ate his babies, I was a demon to be warded off.

They claimed Cain’s slaying of Abel as the first death in this world but I still think about that nameless woman, returned to the dirt because she did not meet Adam’s approval. Quietly she came and quietly she left. Surely she was the most obedient of all Adam’s wives.