Category Archives: poetry

Valentine’s Day Writing and Book Choices: For Love, For Readers, For Writers, For Healers, For Dreamers

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m about to present some poetry and prose surrounding dark love! But first, I must say I am looking forward to a special Valentine-themed dinner tonight with my family! I’ll be making homemade pink alfredo sauce to top tortellini, which both of my daughter’s adore, salad with strawberries cut into hearts, and a decadent dessert. Probably chocolate, of course. What are your plans?

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Valentine’s Day feels a bit different to me this year. It’s the first year in fifteen years I haven’t been helping at least one of my three children make individual, homemade Valentines for their classmates, valentine boxes, cookies for the party. It’s actually hit me somewhat hard – I always enjoyed this time with them.

I’m also missing my son very much who is away at his first year of college, but he will be able to pick-up a little box filled with love from home soon (hopefully the mail room at George Washington University will begin to actually give students their mail in a more timely fashion). After years spending time solely as a family, or my son sometimes cooking us dinner while the girls were our waitresses, Tim will be taking me out for our own date this weekend and I’m looking forward to that too.

My middle daughter, who is now fifteen, is having fun working on costumes and make-up with her high school’s production of West Side Story, which was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet of course (which she’s also reading in honors English 9), both tales of love so right and gone so wrong.

west side story

I am so happy to have a family like mine, as they understand love gone wrong, and how much healing I’ve had to do, but also they know love done right.

So now on to reading and writing….!

In February (as a whole) we talk about love, don’t we tend to? Even love gone awry? I suppose we can talk, read, and write about it any time, I know I do, so it’s always a good time in my book and today is no exception (and well, IN my own writing love is not always a good time). Whether you spent Valentine’s Day happy in love, alone and happy, or crying, it takes on many forms and is often fodder for writers like me to explore. I wrote a sad poem about someone in unrequited modern love this year, but it was rejected by the literary site I submitted it too. Rejection – happens in love and writing. I still love the poem and will find it a home. Until then, there are some other of my writings you might enjoy!

valentines-day-candy-hearts-4014974I did have a story accepted by The Horror Tree for their Trembling with Fear series, which is online but also will be made into a print anthology. This short story, “Sinking Hearts” was titled by my 11 year old, though don’t let that fool you, it packs a punch.

This is total love gone wrong and what revenge might unfold. It’s FREE to read in honor of Valentine’s Day on their Love is in the Air (or not) series, right HERE!

My poem “Chained by Love,” was featured in the February 2018 issue of Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. My gothic-themed poem showcased the love between moral Raymond and sea serpent/mermaid Melusine in medieval France folklore. You’ll see their happiness takes a different turn. You can read it for free in the magazine HERE. I’d like to again say thanks to them for choosing my piece to publish and for putting out such a gorgeous edition.

“A beautiful, tragic fairy tale.” – Author R.J. Crowder

“Very powerful, Erin. I loved it.” – Bram Stoker Nominated Author Jeremy Hepler

“Well done. Enjoyed it!” – Illustrator and Writer Michael Mitchell

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I had a story called “The Heart of the Orchard” featured in the anthology HARDENED HEARTS, which released from Unnerving in December 2017 (but perfect read for February). It was widely reviewed, shared on social media with positivity, and I’m pleased that my story has been doing quite well too. My story is like a crime/serial killer/revenge story wrapped up with a fairy tale vibe. It’s a little bit of something I’ll always do to have a bit of the feel of grim fairy tales in my work. I grew up with Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and other folklore inspiring me and it’s not unusual it transferred into my work. The darker the better, but for me, it’s a way of dealing with trauma and fears. It’s totally the dark side of relationships and what they can lead to…

In this anthology there are all types of stories from love that hurts, to love gone wrong, to weird love, to the love of something unusual, to the loss of a loved one, but always each will get you feeling. Here is the synopsis:

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row (and Bram Stoker Nominated Author) and more. Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

Praise for my story in Hardened Hearts, “The Heart of the Orchard” –

“The Heart of the Orchard by: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – Loved, loved, loved this one—the setting, the tone, the writing—all of it was great!” – Literary Dust

‘The Heart of the Orchard’ by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi is another of the strongest works in the anthology. A dark fairy tale focussing on a young woman with a scarred past who is offered help in her quest to succeed with her fruit orchard by a character known only as The Orchard Man. She gratefully accepts his assistance in the form of herbs for her sleeplessness and fertiliser for her peach trees.” – This is Horror

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.” – Char’s Horror Corner (in listing the tales that stood out for her)

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – This one deserved its own book also! A+” – Book Dragon Girl (in listing her favorite stories)

I was also thrilled that for some, my story resonated, or they found it worthy of special mention. I know that my story, besides having some fantastical components, can also be unsettling because it’s based on some trauma I experienced in my own life. I channeled this into my character. I think it is the ultimate in hardening a heart and it was what propelled me to write it to match the theme.

You can check it out HERE! 4.18 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.

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In my dark poetry and fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., being in relationships is explored because I wrote my emotions about living in a domestic violence situation for many years into some of my poems. If you like love gone wrong, stories about domestic relationships, whether to connect or get a bird’s eye view or for suspense, and you like books like Gone Girl, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, Big Little Lies, and other such, you may want to give some of the poems and stories in my collection a try. For the stories, I’d especially recommend my “Vahalla Lane” mini-series of fiction.

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Other Suggested Titles

You might also check out my friend Sara Tantlinger’s poetry collection Love for Slaughter, which is not for my faint of heart readers (it has lots of bloody verse). It’s gritty, dark, undigestible but unputdownable too. It’s intelligent but gory in the details, messy as in love and life. It’s very hard to look away.

This debut collection of poetry from Tantlinger takes a dark look at all the horrors of love, the pleasures of flesh, and the lust for blood. For discerning fans of romance and the macabre, look no further than Love for Slaughter.

Find it on GoodReads HERE.

Love for Slaughter

If you’re healing from love gone wrong, you might try DragonHearts, which is a new release from three of today’s best-selling poets: Nikita Gill, Amanda Lovelace, and Trista Mateer. They weave an empowering tale in their collaborative poetry collection through the combination of prose and poetry, use fairy tales and myths to create something that is both timeless and extremely relevant to present-day issues, such as the #MeToo movement, reclaiming your voice, feminism, and the shared power of self-love and solidarity. This book is a reminder that romantic love does not need to be the main plot of your story, sometimes friendship is.

Another set of poetry and words that tears out your heart, puts band-aids on it, makes you feel and weep, and makes you feel alive and real.

Check it out HERE!

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For my other followers, friends, and fans who don’t read as much poetry and prefer novels, but still want some gothic and historical reads, pre-order HERE for yourself or your Valentine The Lost History of Dreams by my friend Kris Waldherr, coming in April from Atria! Kris is a fabulous artist and writer, who puts words on the page like she inks color on a canvas.

Check out this pre-blurb: Wuthering Heights meets ‘Penny Dreadful’ in Kris Waldherr’s The Lost History of Dreams, a dark Victorian epic of obsessive love, thwarted genius, and ghostly visitations. Eerily atmospheric and gorgeously written, The Lost History of Dreams is a Gothic fairy-tale to savor.” – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of THE ALICE NETWORK and THE HUNTRESS

The Lost History of Dreams

Or if you can’t catch West Side Story yourself somewhere, and don’t want to delve into the language of Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet, you can read the tragic love story of Abelard and Heloise through The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones! Find it HERE!

Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

You can see my past review of it HERE.

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Or if you just like your romance on the dark thriller side, read YOU by Caroline Kepnes. This totally an example of love done wrong, gone wrong, but gives you all the suspense you need to eat an entire box of chocolates. It’s a favorite of mine from Atria/Emily Bestler Books.

From the cover copy:

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

You can find it HERE.

YOU book

If you don’t have time to read the book, check out the series of same name on Netflix, which is stellar. It’s was of the my favorite shows I’ve watched in some time. It’s great for a weekend binge and those chocolates… maybe wine… with or without someone to share it with!

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Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, however or with whomever you celebrate! At the least, buy yourself a box a chocolates, and better yet, A BOOK! LOVE is the universal language. 

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Filed under Book Announcements, Breathe Breathe, Feature Articles, My Writing, poetry, women in history, women in horror

Review: Hibernate With Me is a Darling Children’s Picture Book!

Today, I’m starting off the week talking about a beautiful children’s book. For anyone who enjoys picture books or has small children to buy for or read with, HIBERNATE WITH ME is pure joy. It can do nothing but put joy on your face and warmth in your heart with its delightful art and lyrical prose. It releases tomorrow, February 12, 2019 from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Hibernate with Me Cover

Hibernate With Me, by Benjamin Scheuer and illustrated by Jemima Williams, is the perfect bedtime or naptime story for anyone with small children or grandchildren, but it’s lovely for libraries, school, or daytime centers as well to help children feel safe and secure in their environments. The lovely use of bears allows for any child and caregiver to enjoy the books – plus the bears are darling!

Though my children are a bit older than the age range of 4-8 (my girls are 15 and 11), we still enjoy looking at picture books together. They’ve even taken up my obsession of wanting to collect them. So yes, if you are an adult who likes picture books like me, the art and poetic words of this story make it one you’ll want to keep on your shelf.

As a published poet myself, I can see very much how the words to the story are a poem. The author Benjamin Scheuer writes in a rhyming way of course, because he’s a song writer – so this is also something that can be (and has been) turned into a beautiful lullaby. I definitely hope they might release a CD of bedtime songs for children. He captures the themes of caring for a young child, such as giving them enough space to roam while keeping a watchful eye and understanding moods and uncertainties small children go through while navigating life. He does all this with limited words that he’s chosen carefully to rhyme and flow with each other – almost like hug for the reader themselves.

Illustrator Jemima Williams’ art is a treasure. Working formerly on the animated show Peppa Pig, I think you can see her experience in this work as her art has action and movement just perfect enough that these bears could be made into a show of their own. Honestly, her artwork is some of the more adorable animal and nature art for children I’ve seen in some time and I’m now a big fan and will be following her work because I love her style. My daughters and I loved particularly her use of the monarch butterfly, which tells a story itself of transformation and consistency, and her dandelions, which say no matter how one changes, or if you seem a weed or flower, one can be there for you. Williams’ art is so warm and inviting.

Overall, we had a so many smiles reading this story together! My daughters were exclaiming quite often, “Oh that’s so cute! That’s so sweet!” And yes, we hugged afterwards. Who says pre-teens and teens can’t love their parents? haha!

I highly recommend this book for almost anyone who loves art and a good rhyming poem or song for children. In this day and age, love like this soothes the heart.

And the accompanying song video is absolutely adorable, filled with drawings from the book and artfully sung, I think you’ll want to watch it over and over again!

Hibernate with Me Cover

About Hibernate with Me

Hibernate with Me is a gentle reminder that no matter how sad, small, or scared you feel, you are always worthy of love, and that brighter days are always ahead.

Sometimes you feel small. Sometimes you feel shy.
Sometimes you feel worried, and you might not know why.

Sometimes you want nobody to see.
Darling, you can hibernate with me.

If you feel scared or lost, or even just a little shy, love means there will always be a place to hibernate together.

A place that’s cozy, warm, and safe.

Author and Illustrator Biographies
Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Williams –

Author and Illustrator Photo

Benjamin Scheuer is a Drama Desk Award–winning singer-songwriter and playwright. He toured his solo show The Lion around the United States and Europe, giving more than five hundred performances. His album Songs from The Lion was released in 2016 (Warner/ADA) along with four animated music videos, which have been shown at film festivals around the world. With photographer Riya Lerner, Scheuer created the book Between Two Spaces, the proceeds of which raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Scheuer lives in New York City with his wife, illustrator Jemima Williams, and their dog, Porthos.  Visit him online at BenjaminScheuer.com.

Jemima Williams is a British illustrator and writer who worked for nearly a decade on the BAFTA Award–winning animated show Peppa Pig. She illustrated Andy Nyman’s The Golden Rules of Acting and has been a frequent contributor of illustrations and writing to the online women’s magazine Standard Issue. Jemima lives in New York City with her husband, Benjamin Scheuer, and their dog, Porthos. Visit her online at JemimaWilliams.com.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for allowing me to kick off their tour of this title around the online world! If you want to see more about the book, follow along for the next few weeks at the sites below.

Online Tour Schedule

Monday, February 11 – Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, February 12 – Carol’s Notebook

Wednesday, February 13 – Pretty Deadly Reviews

Thursday, February 14 – Katie Reviews Books

Friday, February 15 – MaiStoryBook

Monday, February 18 – Mundie Kids

Tuesday, February 19 – Good Books & Good Wine

Wednesday, February 20 – Bookworm for Kids

Thursday, February 21 – Dr. Bookworm

Happy reading!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Children and Family, poetry

10 Pieces of My Writing from 2018! And 8 That You Can Read for FREE!

Hi Friends!

Coming off the heels of the end of 2017 bringing about my debut poetry and fiction collection Breathe. Breathe., and contributor stories in the anthologies of Hardened Hearts and Project Entertainment’s My Favorite Story, I found myself writing even more in 2018! So what did 2018 bring in terms of my creative writing….

Not only did I finish, with paper and pencil of course, my next poetry-only collection (which will be in the typing and editing stages for early 2019), but I wrote many stand alone poems and stories for various magazines and projects, some which are already published and others which I’m working on submitting this year (I’ve already submitted two – fingers crossed!).

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Me trying to WRITE at the library with the crazy person pacing back and forth while rapping out loud to the music in his headphones! haha!

I wanted to share some of my writings from this year that are available for free at links below. A good portion are from a women in horror writing monthly challenge, which helped keep my juices flowing, so I have so much thanks for Nina D’Arcangela and her team for running this project and giving us a platform for our work.

I was also featured in several anthologies as a contributing author as well as a co-curating editor, and you’ll find more information on them at the links below too!

I want to remind people that some of these are horror or trend toward darker fiction, but some of them are fairytale, or fantasy, or just writings that anyone can read!

It was a strange year full of more personal and professional strife, changes, and issues – and most of all, some semblance of transformation. I don’t even know how I got done half of what I did! I appreciate so very much those who’ve continued to support me both personally and professionally, those that keep Breathe. Breathe. continuously alive online with reviews and praise, and to friends who’ve stood by me through it all. We live and learn who our friends are in this business, and what I’ve learned the hard way just might be fodder for a future dark fiction collection.

Read my Poetry and Short Stories FREE online at these links – 

Poetry:

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Chained by Love” – Enchanted Conversation: A Fairytale Magazine, Feb. 2018 Issue. (Note: As far as I can tell this poem is also eligible for Rhysling nomination in the over 50 words category and I’d be honored for any SFPA members to take a look at it.)

A Land of Autumns” – SpillWords Press, Nov. 2018. 

Life’s Shadow” – Spreading the Writer’s Word, Ladies of Horror Flash Project, June 2018 (Note: Should be eligible for Rhysling)

Sacrificial Invitation” – Spreading the Writer’s Word, Ladies of Horror Flash Project, Nov 2018 (Note: Should be eligible for Rhysling)

Mummy Poetry – You can read two of my mummy poems right here on my own site! They were two of my favorite to write all year!

Short Stories:

Purple Hex Society” – Spreading the Writer’s Word, Ladies of Horror Flash Project, May 2018

The Witch’s Cottage” – Spreading the Writer’s Word, Ladies of Horror Flash Project, Oct. 2018

The Insistent Reporter” – Spreading the Writer’s Word, Ladies of Horror Flash Project, Dec. 2018

Anthologies:

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Cover by Luke Spooner

Wrapped in Battle” – Poetry, Dark Voices Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, July 2018. I dedicate this poem in memory and honor of all my female family and friends who’ve fought cancer, as the proceeds of the anthology go to breast cancer research organizations. This is an all-female anthology and I am so thrilled to be a part of it with so many other fabulous women dark fiction authors. My poem finishes up the collection. It’s currently available in print only, but should be available in e-book later this year.

Purchase – Amazon

Add to GoodReads

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Haunted Are These Houses” – co-editor, Gothic Poetry and Short Fiction Anthology, Unnerving, Sept. 2018. I read almost 600 poetry and short story submissions as co-editor of this anthology, had the great honor of bringing in and editing Catherine Cavendish’s short story to it (she’s one of my favorite women authors in horror), and was in final, the poetry editor, curating the poetry selections from some of the finest poets in the dark fiction and horror communities such as Bruce Boston, Stephanie Wytovich, Sara Tantlinger, Christina Sng, and more.

Purchase – Amazon

Add to GoodReads

If you enjoy my work, I love hearing comments and thoughts! Thank you so much for supporting me in my work in 2018. I am looking forward to an even more productive 2019 with my writing – stay tuned for a post on that soon.

Warm wishes,

Erin

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Read My Poem, “A Land of Autumns”

My poem “A Land of Autumns” was accepted by SpillWords Press for their site a month ago. I find it funny actually, as it’s an October poem they decided to publish on November 17…okay, I told myself…autumn in November will still be lovely out here in the country where I am. I’m just glad it’s published for all to read even if it mentions October. It will be fine.

But then, of course, we had only three days of Fall, all the leaves are off the trees, and it’s ice and snow everywhere. So, my friends, let my poem take you back in time….or cry…either. As my 11 year old said, “I refuse to celebrate anything but Octobers and Novembers and Fall until after Thanksgiving.” I’m with her, so far.

If you enjoy my poem, please let me know what you think. It boosts a writer’s motivation, you know. *wink*

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Here is the poem: http://spillwords.com/for-a-land-of-autumns/

Have a wonderful weekend!

Erin

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Halloween Poetry Gifts for My Readers: Two Poems Featuring Mummies!

I love giving treats, so what better treat could I think to give everyone for Halloween than a couple of my original, unpublished poems! As a gift to readers, I’ve posted two of my MUMMY poems below. I’ve always had an obsession with mummies myself (mostly the Egyptian variety), and especially reading about mummies in horror! I’m a fanatic about historical research and excavations of mummies, but also fantastical fiction of curses and revenge.

Let me know what you think in the comments! I will offer a brief message about each poem under it. Just beware of opening any wrong doors as you enter to read…..

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Cleveland Museum of Art Egyptian Exhibit

 

Dancing with Mummies

Eva doesn’t want to put on her costume,
of witch, cat, or pink Power Ranger,
she wants to wrap up in the gauze of time,
in a mummy’s trappings,
and run through sand-drenched streets.

She wants to hop on the trolley near Wade,
and blend in, quietly assessing the onlookers,
who seek a haunted tour near Lakeview,
but she has plans to see dead of another sort.

She wants to jump off the rail as they do in the movies,
glide inside the Museum of Art as if in ballet shoes,
and move to the rhythm of passion and history.

Eva winds her way to the marble catacombs
of sarcophagus and statue,
lightly carrying herself on the chill breeze from
the hauntings of the ancients, risen before her.

She puts her arms out left and right, smiling,
as the mummies slowly step toward her in
the dark and empty room, taking her in
their arms

                          …and they dance.

Swaying, waltzing to the music of magic and fortune,
of sacrifice and power, their decaying faces alight again
with rebirth and hope, mobilizing her spirit.

Water of the Nile, green reeds of salvation,
scarabs rustling and blue funerary
carvings whirl by her entranced mind,
as if she’s time-slipped to Cairo.

She has no need for trick-or-treat, or bobbing for apples,
she’d rather laugh and drink and sing
with the priests and goddesses from thrones centuries ago,
eat olives and grapes instead of Smarties and Tootsie Rolls.

Eva closes her eyes and she twirls, her hair flying backwards,
spinning like a windmill, feeling her own energy, laughing
with the ghosts and monsters before her as they take turns
in a ballroom dance for her soul.

– Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, ©10/29/18

I love going to the Cleveland Museum of Art near Wade Circle in Cleveland, where people meander in the beautiful park, and there are trolley tours, with many tourists visiting the famous Lakeview Cemetery. Their motto of the museum “for all people” is very true as they are able to offer the whole of the museum (except very special seasonal exhibits) for FREE. We have learned so much about history and art both there. In fact, it was just designated as the second best in the United States. One of my favorite rooms there is the Egyptian exhibit and it was the inspiration for this poem.

 

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Howard Carter and his team, including Lord Carnavon, found King Tut’s tomb in 1922

 

King Tut’s Revenge

From the glass, from tomb,
                                           …he rises.

With layers of cloth loose-hanging,
dripping in gold, woken and ambivalent.
Hand over where his amulet protects,
he stumbles on ancient legs,
his bones dismantling.

Looking for Lord Carnavon’s ghost,
mouth falls wide with silent screams,
hands outstretched, reading walls
with no eyes, King Tut examines
his life defined.

His skeletal fingers scratch across
the surface of his golden casket,
where he once laid, identifiable
by artistic paint, regal in death.

But bound by revenge, seething
in pain for archaeologists’ desecration,
legs and arms and head chopped in two,
body parts scraped as is mud on a shoe.

Bat wings flutter as he lurches
in the tunnels, moving forward,
on broken limbs he seeks those alive
who disturb his peace, then flee like flies.

His jewels, his possessions, stolen
and sold, even his penis vanished
in dismemberment, with no clues.

His sinister mission is not for murderer,
whether accident, family, or rhino,
but for lost immortality,
                                           …for afterlife.

Banging into walls, bones shredding,
powder mixing with dust, groaning.
He raises his hands to the sky,
he’s lost his reincarnation hope
through Osiris.

He throws dirt from the cavernous
wall, and blows on it in mid-air,
creating a black soot to kill all.

He winds up the particles by hand,
curses in ancient Egyptian as a storm begins.
Creating a tornado of dark matter,
he shuffles with limp toward the entrance,
the living (undead) image of Aten.

– Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, ©10/30/18

I have always been entranced by the story of the Pharaohs, especially with the boy king, King Tutankhamun, born Prince Tutankhamen, and the many various rumors and stories of his life and the drama surrounding his tomb. Though I believe in historical research and preservation, certainly the desecration, horrible handling, and theft should have been avoided. What must King Tut have thought? I think he had every reason to curse those greedy fools…and maybe still has revenge to get still to this day.

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A word of gratitude to my son Nassem, who while in college in D.C., was up late into the night with me discussing these poems – he’s always been one of my best and most candid first readers – and photos that might go with them.

And if you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading my poetry.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! mummy-smiley.png

Erin

P.S. Also, if you missed it, you can read my new short fiction story, “The Witch’s Cottage” over at the Ladies of Horror Flash Fiction Project for free.

P.S.S. If you want to support the artist, you can find more of my poetry in my dark poetry and short story collection, Breathe. Breathe., here on Amazon.

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Made by Women Giveaway – Happy October!

I know I have followers of all tastes on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! This promotion (and post) is for fans of horror, or honestly, more appropriately and importantly, fans of kick-butt women. Claire Holland published a book of poetry shortly after mine called I Am Not Your Final Girl, in which she wrote poems about final girls from slasher movies. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s the women in movies that make it to the end after an horrific ordeal and often earn retribution and find empowerment, much like the women fighting for so much today!! I really loved this collection!

Now, Claire is hosting a giveaway featuring my own dark poetry and short story collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., which also features strong women, Sara Tantlinger’s LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER, which takes a look at the horrors of love, and her own, I AM NOT YOUR FINAL GIRL.

You can read about the giveaway and see all that’s included, as in addition to our collections there are three movies as well (pictured below), by clicking over to the link to her blog, Razor Apple. As well, you can ENTER TO WIN on that post!

Click here—>

RAZOR APPLE BLOG – GIVEAWAY

Happy October 1. Let the games begin!

Erin

Made by Women Giveaway

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#NationalPoetryMonth: A Poem by Nada Adel Sobhi – Poet, Writer, and Journalist

We’ve almost finished up National Poetry Month with the end of April in our sights, and also, my series this week for it. However, I’ve committed myself to including poetry highlights here at least one to two (or more) times a month ongoing as time permits. It’s been such a pleasure to host something I love here so much, poetry and poets!

Today, Nada Adel Sobhi is here with a poem that I just love. She wrote this over a year ago, and yet, if you know my own work and thoughts, it might seem almost as if she’s channeling my thoughts with her utilization of breathing, water, and women’s empowerment. This is what the universe does, which is fascinating. I’ve read this over several times, thinking about it – it’s so powerful!

Nada is from Egypt and manages the Nadaness in Motion blog as well as monthly writing prompt called “Takhayyal/Imagine,” which is how I first met her on Twitter when she read my own collection. Since then, we’ve become friends and are able to talk and share in the poetry and writing world together and I’m enjoying getting to know her. She’s an amazing strong individual with such talent.

Enjoy!

woman in water.jpg

Reawakening
by Nada Adel Sobhi

Feet on the scorching sand

I edge forward

Crystal clear blue water beckons me

I obey

Numbing-cold

But the glittering blue takes that away

My eyes open, but unseeing

My mind jumping between a million thoughts

The cold banishes them,

Send them to the back of my mind

They can linger there

Till they’re needed – if needed

The cold water calls me to the present

While the sun burns my head

I know what I must do

Instead,

I hesitate

My lower body acclimates to the water

Urging me forward

 

But,

I hesitate.

 

I close my eyes

Breathe in

And let go

 

I dive!

 

Cold drenches my sensitive, warm scalp

But I ignore it

Pushing forward

Till my lungs beg for breath,

For air

 

I rise,

Releasing my pent up air

 

And breathe

 

It’s different

I’m different

 

I feel it

 

I’m alive

 

Taking another breath

I go in again

 

Fish greet me as one of their own

 

How do they know?

 

The cold water caresses me

Driving away all the negativity,

Anxiety, worry, anger,

Frustration, pressure.

It draws them out

And drives them into the darkening depths,

Filling me with life, strength.

 

Rising from the water

My morning plans change.

I know what I want and need to do

Something I have long deserted,

Threw in the back of my mind

When it should have been at the forefront

 

Tonight

With nothing but the moon and stars to guide me

I’ll reawaken the magic,

The witch within.

______________

Nada Adel Sobhi, Biography –

 

Nada

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Nada Adel Sobhi is a poet, writer, book blogger, translator, journalist, and most importantly a lover of chocolate and all things paranormal.

Nada earned her BA in English Language and Literature from Cairo University in 2009. She was the editor of her department’s student poetry and creative writing magazine “The Muse” from 2006 till 2015, and the Editor-in-Chief of HR-focused HR Revolution Middle East e-zine.

Nada currently blogs about her writing, including poetry, book reviews, author interviews, and a monthly writing prompt called “Takhayyal/Imagine” on her Nadaness In Motion blog.

Nada’s poetry has been published in Scripting Change’s projects, “Beyond the Words” (2014) and “Breaking Free” (2016), the proceeds of which go to charity. Her poem “Remember” was published in Paragram’s poetry anthology under the same name in 2015.

Nada is also an editor and translator with over 6 years of experience with the language pairs English – Arabic – English. She is currently the managing editor of Mubasher.info’s English portal providing economic, financial, and stock market-related news for the Middle East.

Get in touch with Nada and stay up to date with the latest news on books, authors, and Takhayyal via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Twitter

Nadaness in Motion Facebook

Instagram

Nada on LinkedIn

And check out her wonderful Nadaness in Motion website!

Thank you, Nada!!

 

 

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#NationalPoetryMonth: A Poem by Author/Screenwriter Dustin LaValley

I’ve been celebrating National Poetry Month (April) all week long, trying to fit a splash in for poetry before the month ended. I’ve featured three amazing women of poetry so far, but today I have a poem for you by Dustin La Valley. Dustin writes books, stories, comics, and for the screen. His psychological thriller novella, The Deceived, has been optioned for film and his screen credits include award-winning short films and work for major networks.

He doesn’t really consider himself into writing poetry necessarily, though he likes to read it, but he’s a very good friend of mine, not to mention UBER talented, and as I read his work, or he offers me to read snippets of micro-fiction, sometimes micro-poetry, I can obviously see his ability to be a lyricist, a poet, and one of those writers, who like me, love word play, being unique, and throwing emotion into their work. The amazing person he is though, of course, he gave me a poem to feature! It really shines a light on the relationship between father and son, fond childhood memories, and in a good way, which is something we don’t showcase enough sometimes. Read it over several times and let it sink in for you.

Enjoy!

____________

And, Baseball with Dad

by Dustin LaValley

with the shop’s neon light
sizzling, flickering, fading,
he walks to his car

where he sits in the darkness
of the night and listens not to the radio,
not to the follies of drunken passersby,
but to memories of his father,
telling him to choke up on the bat
as he threw baseballs
over home plate

______________

Dustin LaValley, Biography –

Dusty

Dustin LaValley is an author, screenwriter, and comic book creator. His psychological thriller novella The Deceived, has been optioned for film, while several of his short stories have been adapted to short films by TYO Productions and Twisted Drive Pictures. July 2018 will see the release of his three novella collection, 12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper, from Sinister Grin Press. His limited edition hardcover comic book with illustrator Daniele Serra, BEETLES!, is now available from SST Publications.

LaValley and his work have been featured in/on PBS, NPR, Yahoo News, Decibel Magazine, Rue Morgue, and 3AM among others. He was unable to attend the black-tie gala to receive the 2009 SUNY Parnassus Award for Creative Writing, as he had a fight in New Hampshire the same night, where he brought home gold. His Professor was not impressed. His professional record is 3-0-0. He lives in the Adirondacks of New York, where he’s a practicing Sensei of Seito Shito Ryu karate, Okinawan jujutsu, and Judo.

12G_Front_001.jpg

12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper, Synopsis –

12 Gauge: Songs from A Street Sweeper includes three white-knuckled novellas.

Spinner

A prison escapee leads law enforcement on a chase through the Adirondack Mountains, where they encounter a reclusive elderly man with a dark secret.

H/armed

An ultra-violent satirical commentary on societal norms, cliques, and obedience.

The Deceived

A criminal pair invade the home of the wrong man on the wrong day.

Praise

“Spinner is a thriller, a horror story, and an adventure narrative. It’s also a lot of fast, bloody, violent fun.” – Gabino Iglesias, HorrorTalk

“LaValley creates a non-stop, adrenaline ride of violence and mayhem, in a setting Americans know all so well. H/armed is a bloody, relentless and visceral assault on the senses. Wickedly entertaining.” – Paul Hough, writer/director of The Human Race

The Deceived is equal parts thrilling, creepy, and downright brutal. A wonderful tale.” – Ronald Malfi, author of Bone White

Available July 1, 2018 from  Sinister Grin Press

Amazon

Also….he’s a comic book writer!

Beetles

BEETLES! is an homage to the classic horror and sci-fi “big-bug” films of the 1940s and 1950s, written by Dustin LaValley, illustrated by Daniele Serra, and released as a signed and numbered, limited edition hardcover from SST Publications. There are only 100 available, so act fast.

BEETLES! is available online from the publisher at https://sstpublications.co.uk/Beetles.html.

Thanks, Dustin!

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#NationalPoetryMonth: Poems by Linda D. Addison, Bram Stoker Award Winner

I’m continuing on today in my series for National Poetry Month (April) with some three wonderful poems, two of them never before published, from the amazing poet Linda D. Addison! Linda D. Addison is the award-winning author of four collections, the first African-American to receive the Horror Writers Association (HWA) Bram Stoker Award®, and recipient of the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m quite honored that she agreed to be part of this series and thrilled she’s offered two unpublished poems for release here at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Not only talented, she’s always a bright light with an enormous smile and a kind word for all.

Enjoy!

The first poem was nominated for a 2018 Rhysling Award and was published as the Afterword in the HWA Bram Stoker finalist Sycorax’s Daughters anthology of horror fiction/poetry by African-American women.

Linda Addison cover Sycoraxs Daughters

Sycorax’s Daughters Unveiled

by Linda D. Addison

Descendants of the unseen,

born from uterus: bruised, abused, loved, rejected.

Alive, in spite of the promise of death,

giving birth even while silently weeping blood.

 

We paint red memories of our lives

before prison, on walls made from

our sweat, our anger, and the blood of

our children: unborn, reborn in mourning.

 

Descending from human to property,

turning to Nyavirezi, lion goddess, for hope,

for a way to survive each bitter breath,

to use the growing Shadows for transformation.

 

Finding truth in rivers, rain, tree roots,

flowers, herbs. Earth delivers healing &

a way for revenge, for freedom, even if

just surrendering to a cliff’s edge.

 

Ascending back to Self, the dream was

never deferred, but a tiny seed, carried

deep in tortured wombs, fed by near madness,

rising from ashes, rebuilt from courage.

 

As daughters of daughters,

we speak Our fables

from mouths full of lightning:

of mermaids, magic, demons, vampires,

journeys to hell and back, shape shifters,

ravished bodies & strengthened souls,

alternate futures, babies wanted & rejected,

firestarters, ghosts, and transhumans.

 

Revoking banishment,

read Our words & know:

We Are Here.

_________

This next one is a funky poem about writing.
It’s published here for the first time!

Notorious-BIG

How to be Notorious

By Linda D. Addison

Be like

Biggie Smalls

The Notorious B.I.G.

write loose and easy

flow dark and semi-autobiographical.

 

Tell your story

like junior M.A.F.I.A.

feud with the best

spend nine months in jail

just because you got

Business Instead of Game.

 

Start a band

with fiddles and banjos

play everything from jazz and blues

to rap and waltzes

keep your audience

guessing and confused.

 

You could be quoted

by shamans everywhere

because your imitation

of Notorious B.I.G.

is so dead on they suspect

reincarnation is involved.

 

Or you could

be yourself

unique and imperfect

kiss discretion good bye,

sing when others cry,

dance when they pray,

treat status quo

like the poison

it can be.

_________

This third poem was inspired by the movie “Life of Pi” and Linda changing everything in her life by moving from NYC to Tucson AZ. We are very lucky to publish it first here.

life-of-pi-1

My Life with the Tiger

By Linda D. Addison

My old life shipwrecked.

I am stranded in between.

The Tiger: imagined fear of the unknown future,

looking into the eyes of that wild animal:

“I am your vessel,” I say.

“Above all, don’t lose hope.”

 

I feed the creature,

we are connected,

finding an uneasy balance.

I look it in the eye,

my determination for life

stronger than fear.

 

And yet fear keeps me alive.

I plead with danger

“Come out and see God.”

In a relentless storm

“Why are you scaring me, God.

I have given Everything to You.”

We are tossed by Your storm.

 

Almost drowned I approach the Tiger,

my life, to revive it.

I lean the beast’s head on my lap.

When we finally land, barely alive,

on safe ground, my danger, my Tiger

walks into the jungle, its home,

without looking back.

 

And now more about Linda and her latest project….

Sycorax’s Daughters

Linda Addison cover Sycoraxs Daughters

edited with Kinitra Brooks, PhD & Susana Morris, PhD

ISBN-10: 1941958443; ISBN-13: 978-1941958445

Cedar Grove Publishing (March 2017)

33 authors; 28 stories, 14 poems

Cover by Jim Callahan HWA Bram Stoker award® 2017 finalist

Thought-provoking, powerful, and revealing, this anthology is composed of 28 dark stories and 14 poems written by African-American women writers. The tales of what scares, threatens, and shocks them will enlighten and entertain readers. The works delve into demons and shape-shifters from “How to Speak to the Bogeyman” and “Tree of the Forest Seven Bells Turns the World Round Midnight” to far future offerings such as “The Malady of Need”. These pieces cover vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, as well as the unexpected price paid by women struggling for freedom and validation in the past.

Linda D. Addison, Biography –

2017 LindaAddison closeup selfieLinda D. Addison is the award-winning author of four collections, the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker Award®, and recipient of the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has published over 300 poems, stories and articles and is a member of CITH, HWA, SFWA and SFPA.

Addison is one of the editors of Sycorax’s Daughters (Cedar Grove Publishing), a Bram Stoker finalist anthology of horror by African-American women. Catch her latest work in anthologies Cosmic Underground (Cedar Grove Publishing), Scary Out There (Simon Schuster) and Into Painfreak (Necro Publications).

Links –

Website

Amazon page

Twitter

Thank you, Linda

 

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#NationalPoetryMonth: Five Ways Poetry Can Strengthen Your Prose by Sara Tantlinger

In celebration of National Poetry Month this April, I’m doing a small series featuring poets/poetry. Yesterday, Christina Sng stopped by and shared three of her fabulous poems! Today, Sara Tantlinger is here to discuss how poetry can help strengthen your prose writing.

I really appreciate her offering this piece, because I can’t believe how often I tell other writers that poetry, if not read for enjoyment, at the least, can be a great asset in blossoming lengthier writing. It brings me great pleasure to know that other poets out there feel the same and that she, as well, plays with words and poetry to assist with things such as character development. I’ve only met Sara online this year, but she’s a wonderful and talented human being and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. I am super excited for her next release later this year, which is a collection of poems inspired by H.H. Holmes (you all KNOW I love me some serial killer anything).

And now, take the advice of this informative, mentoring post! Will you try poetry today?

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5 Ways Poetry Can Strengthen Your Prose

by Sara Tantlinger, author of Love for Slaughter

1) Let’s talk about purple prose vs. poetic prose. Purple prose is a term most often used to describe exposition that is “too much” in some way. Perhaps it is dripping with adverbs or excessive adjectives, or maybe the language superfluously describes a tree for two pages. Writing is such a stylistic and subjective field that what is “purple” can be difficult to pinpoint.

For example, the following would most likely be considered purple prose:

“The summer day was bright and warm; the sun beat down with scorching rays, heating the river up to a sizzling temperature. Occasionally, a gust of wind would blow violently through the trees, shaking the sun-soaked leaves onto the rippling water’s surface below.”

Okay, we get it. The day is warm, the sun is bright, the wind is blowing. Let’s boil this down into something more concise but keep the language strong. After all, poetry itself is all about how to say a lot with a little, how to wield language as a powerful tool. It only makes sense that this should translate well into prose.

“The sun beat down with scorching rays, heating the river despite the occasional gust of wind. Speckled leaves from the surrounding woods broke free and cascaded onto the rippling water.”

The description of the sun is enough to let our readers assume it is summer without being told. The descriptions of the heat and wind have been significantly reduced to something more concise, but the meaning is just as clear. The language paints a strong image but does not use superfluous or repetitive descriptions to achieve that objective. The more you write, read, or study poetry, the more natural and easier it becomes to spot these repetitions or “purple” bits in your exposition, thus allowing you to tighten up your prose while keeping it poetic in description.

2) Poetry is meant to be read aloud. Hearing the words better allows you to listen to the rhythm and cadence, to feel the way each word forms in your mouth. Poetry is something to be savored and tasted, and prose should be the same.

As with the above example, concision and strong imagery are the building blocks for poetry. Practicing this in prose can significantly empower the exposition. Adding cadence into the mix can strengthen those descriptions too, but I do caution not to overuse this in prose since it could potentially exhaust the reader if you’re writing like the lovechild of Nathaniel Hawthorne and James Joyce (though I love them both). So, read your prose aloud. Hear it, find the rhythm in the words that make each sentence something wicked or gorgeous or both.

3) Poetry can help immensely with sentence length, sentence variety, and the use of punctuation. With poetry, every punctuation mark, every line break or stanza shift is significant and purposeful. E.E. Cumming’s “Buffalo Bill’s” piece is one of my favorite examples of how to play with spacing. Obviously, most prose isn’t going to do quite that unless you’re getting very experimental, but writing poetry can strengthen your sense of how powerful punctuation, pauses, paragraph breaks, and other structural elements are.

4) One of my favorite exercises is to write a poem from the point of view of different characters when I’m writing prose and feeling stuck with a character. Would your protagonist and antagonist write the same poem if they were forced to write poetry? Probably not, but maybe they would. Maybe they’re more similar than you thought. Maybe they enjoy writing poetry!

Playing around with things like this is a great way to get to know your characters better. It can also help to write a poem about a particular scene or setting to help get the language flowing and translate it into prose later.

5) And finally, poetry is one of our oldest associations to human emotion and is strongly connected with traditions of oral history. Being a verbal art, it was sung and recited, made into chants and hymns to help pass on important stories and information. From Greek epics to contemporary slam poetry, the evolution of words has continued to impact us deeply. Whether the poem is beautiful, haunting, romantic, frightening or something else, poetry has a way of reminding us how much we may have in common with a stranger, of how art itself can break down barriers.

The lessons poetry teaches us about the range of human emotion and the amazing power of words is something we can all continuously learn from, for both our writing and for our mission to live fulfilling lives.

Sara Tantlinger, Biography –

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of the dark poetry collection Love For Slaughter, and her next collection, The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry inspired by H.H. Holmes will be out later in 2018.

She is a contributing editor for The Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s MFA program, a member of the SFPA, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at her website.

Love for Slaughter, Synopsis –

LFS

This debut collection of poetry from Sara Tantlinger takes a dark look at all the horrors of love, the pleasures of flesh, and the lust for blood. For discerning fans of romance and the macabre, look no further than Love For Slaughter.

Amazon Link

LFS back

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