I am just about settled in which means that I will be getting back into the swing of things with reviews and promotions real soon. I still have a few things to do before I am back full time so I am still somewhat MIA this week, but I’d still like to get some interviews scheduled in time for November if possible.
If you are not familiar with my Introduce Yourself feature, here is a short breakdown. For more information, please do check out the first post HERE:
Introduce Yourself is a free promotional opportunity for new and established authors via an author interview on this blog. Unlike the same questions over and over again, authors have the opportunity to choose from 50 questions (SEE ORIGINAL POST) they would like to answer in the interview from writing and books to relationships, religion, and politics. But that’s not all.
To further set this feature apart, I do not just copy and paste your answers so be sure your answers are juicy and interesting! Once you have sent me your Q&A, I go over them to see if there is anything I want to add by way of commentary and you are given the chance to respond. We email back and forth until the interview sounds more authentic and real life (as if we are two friends sitting down for coffee) because that is at the core of what Introduce Yourself is all about. We want to get to know the real you. While your books and links will be promoted freely on this site, I ask that you use this opportunity to do less selling and more connecting with potential readers. This is what social media is all about.
If you are an author (Indie / Trad / Hybrid) and you’re looking for more exposure, CLICK THROUGH TO THE ORIGINAL POST HERE, choose your questions and email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will look over them, email you back so we can chit chat and then schedule your feature. All interviews are scheduled to go live the Monday of every week @ 12:00am Eastern Standard Time.
I am honored to introduce to you our Grand Prize Winner of my first poetry contest!
First, a special thank you to Colleen and Lisa for helping me to put this together. With my schedule, I could not have done it without you two! Family, please go ahead and follow their blogs. You WON’T be disappointed!
Next, I would like to thank everyone who entered as well as those of you who shared this contest. It is not easy to “stand” up here and do something like this so thank you for your support.
Congratulations to Merril D. Smith for her poem “Zora Neale Hurston.”
Not only did it touch on our theme, but it embodied so much of Zora that I felt like if I didn’t know who she was before, I did now. Here’s what Colleen had to say:
“The author captured the essence of Zora and her strength to fight for the rights of African American women as if she was able to channel her bright spirit through the written word. Splendid imagery and descriptions. When I close my eyes, I can see Zora in all her glory!”
My favorite lines are:
“…her soul crawls out
from its hiding place
time and distance cannot shrink
her words…” – Colleen Chesebro
Whoop! Merril, here’s what you’ve won!
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (hardcover)
From When I was a Black Girl by Yecheilyah Ysrayl (paperback)
And Still, I Rise by Maya Angelou (paperback)
Your Poem on this Blog
Social Media Support
Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
MDS: Thank you so much, Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Colleen Chesebro, and Lisa W. Tetting! I am honored to have been selected as the Grand Prize Winner for this poetry contest.
My name is Merril D. Smith. I live in National Park, NJ, which is a small borough right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. I’m an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in American history, but my blog is mostly a poetry blog. Poetry is my creative outlet, though it is something I’ve come to only within the past few years. Perhaps I needed some life experience and time to reflect, but now my muse says, “write poetry.”
Do you have any poetry collections out Merril?
MDS: I don’t have a poetry book out yet, but it’s coming! I’m currently finishing up two reference books on rape. My other books are available on Amazon and other sites.
Before we get to your poem, please tell us a little bit about it. What inspired this piece?
MDS: The theme of the poetry contest was the Harlem Renaissance. I chose to write about Zora Neale Hurston because I think she was a brilliant and fascinating woman. She lied about her age (saying she was younger than she was) so that she could finish high school. Then she went on to study anthropology with Franz Boas, and she chose to do fieldwork on Afro-American folklore. She was said to have made an entrance when she entered a party, and in the photos, I’ve seen of her, she’s often wearing a hat. She definitely had a way with words, so I used some of her lines within the poem. Though she won some acclaim in her life, she did not earn wealth, and she died in poverty. Alice Walker is credited with “rediscovering” Hurston and paid to have a grave stone placed on Hurston’s unmarked grave.
Once again Merril, thanks so much for participating in our contest and sharing your heart with us. Without further ado, everyone we give you:
The Truth She Knew is the story of a young woman who is manipulated by an abusive mother. Lynn uses religion for control purposes and has convinced her daughter that she is possessed by the demon of lust. Then, in comes, Walker Farren and Lacey feels what it’s like to be loved for the first time. Walker’s family—his mom and brother— exhibit a kindness that Lacey does not experience at home. Finally, she can experience normalcy. But not for long.
Lacey lives with her mother Lynn and her mother’s friend Patsy (though rumors swirl they are more than friends). Lynn sits in her favorite chair and utters prayers that she says keeps her in tune with God who reveals to her everything there is to know about what Lacey is doing and where she is. The number of times to which Lynn is right terrifies Lacey and she is convinced that her mother does, in fact, hear from God.
Lacey’s mom is all the way off the chain, using emotional, verbal, and physical abuse to control Lacey’s every move. The deeper Lacey falls for Walker, the more conniving her mother’s methods and my heart broke for her. I found my mouth hanging open in many instances that involved Lacey and her mother. The lengths to which she has gone to convince Lacey that she is possessed is astonishing. I enjoyed how the writer showcased Lacey’s naivete and youth. I also like that Lacey had friends who could help her so that the book was not all dark and gloomy. I was also happy to discover little plot twists toward the end because I was starting to think some things were too good to be true but I’ll leave it there. You’ll have to read the book to know what I am talking about.
The Truth She Knew is a well-written story of young love, abuse, and mental illness. I look forward to reading more into this series. (Though this is a book about Young Adults, it is recommended for ages 17+ Contains language, sex, and violence.)
Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5
Entertainment Factor: 5/5
Authenticity / Believable: 4/5
Thought Provoking: 5/5
The Truth She Knew is currently FREE 99cents on Amazon. Go get it.
Welcome to Day Three of The WATCH RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) WRITE Showcase Tour, a branch of The Rave Reviews Book Club.
By Laurie Finkelstein
The bulk, padding, and steel plates weigh me down. The protection of a bulletproof vest is necessary. No matter the weather, I wear the cloak. The weight is a burden, but I trek on because wrapped is the only way to navigate my journey. The jacket protects my heart from being blown to crimson shards of death.
A direct hit is avoided for days and nights, lulling me into calm and complacency. “All will work out fine,” I tell myself. The truth tells a story I want to change. All my will and might does not make an impact to stop the bombardment.
Experience and time separates me from tragedy. At any moment, the bullets strike. Inside or out. My house cannot provide security, nor can a million people surrounding me. With nowhere to hide, I am a target. Shelter and safety are nonexistent.
Discharges are held back while luck and grace harbor me. The slugs will come, however, in a piercing barrage without warning, and will pummel me.
Knocked to the ground, I am immobilized and rendered helpless. My breathing is halted. My movements are stopped, and I understand what assaulted me.
The shockwave subsides, and in small increments, I am able to take in air. Incapacitated, I continue to lie until I am rescued by the rational thinking buried under an avalanche of pain, doubt, and fear. My thoughts check my vitals to make sure I am in the here and now. “Stay in the moment,” I tell myself. “I can manage this. I will persevere.”
“Rise,” I command. The mass of the garb constricts my movement, but I stand, analyze what must be done, and begin to act. The warrior in me comes out. Battles will be fought. My impervious attire gets me through another crisis, and its weight comforts me. Without the guise, I am unable to prevail against the onslaughts, which pop out of the dark corners of another day.
Yes, my vest is cumbersome, but without my swathe I will not withstand the painful projectiles. Clips are filled, ready to punch and knock me down, disabling me should I forget for a moment to cloak myself within my protective armor.
My bullets are not made of lead, surrounded by a dense metal. The projectiles do not come from terrorists intent on decimating me. The ammo does not come from a police state or a dictator’s command. A barrel is not involved.
My bullets are made of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Composed of irrational thoughts, insipid ideations, and ignorant rationalizations, they are crushing invisible forces. The capacity to shatter my resolve and render me dysfunctional invades me.
My unsociable enemy is treatable, but never disappears. My therapists validate my experiences of being trapped, resentful, guilty, shameful, ill-equipped, grief-stricken, lost, uncertain, and disabled. My growth in therapy helps me accept the challenge with compassion and empathy in my heart.
Throughout my lifetime three stages will haunt me.
Stage one is the onslaught of rounds. The crisis mode. The shock and pain.
Stage two is being slammed down, breath taken away. Sabotaged. Terms and feelings of the emergency are acknowledged.
Stage three is advocacy for myself. Stand. Breathe. Make decisions. Tools in hand to counteract the depression and anxiety and OCD. Utilize appropriate response and care.
Encouraged by others, I enroll in Toastmasters. Time for me to improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet. Professional and compelling ways of expressing my views is a talent I want to possess. Persuasive interactions are in reach. My computer with Google as my guide, I find the Toastmasters website. The rules and guidelines answer many of my questions. Ready to take on the challenge, I enter my credit card information and become a member. A direct thrust knocks me down.
At first, I don’t understand what attacks me. My heartbeat begins speeding up. My gasps for air speed up. My head spins with dizziness. The mighty effects of terror hammer me to the ground. Despair sinks me deeper into the attack.
Stage one. The thought of standing before people enunciating in a clear voice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” strikes with negative force. In a semi-frozen state of fear and regret, I struggle to make sense of my attacker. Groups of Toastmasters are warm, safe environments to learn public speaking and leadership skills. “Warm and safe,” I remind myself. Still my heart beats faster and my breath diminishes by the second. A ghost of recognition appears before me. Panic is familiar.
Stage two. My history tells me to take an extra Klonopin. Scared to death is not an option. Upon reaching my medicine cabinet with weak, wobble-producing legs, I discover my pill case empty. In my next move, I check the bottle. Empty. My heart beats faster and my limbs go numb. Sweat trickles down my forehead. My last attempt before I collapse in a heap of despair, I call my pharmacist. My trembling voice separated from my body explains my attack and lack of pills. “How fast can you fill the prescription?” my quivering voice speaks out. “Is ten minutes okay?” the pharmacy technician asks.
Stage three. My inner voice tells me to be brave. Think of a serene place. My happy place. Take deep soothing breaths. My toolbox is ransacked for more options until I come to grips with the present. The dispensary is too far to hike, so I must drive to pick up my pills. Cranked engine. Foot on pedal. Brake released. My self-talk takes me on a wild ride to the drug store. My trembling legs walk me to the back of the aisles. The friendly face of the tech reassures me. The credit card transaction is signed with a jellylike hand, completing the purchase.
Back in my car, I down the remedy with tepid water from an old bottle sitting in my trash. My panting is steadier, my heart pounding a little less. Within thirty minutes, I am relaxed, able to pursue my day. Ready to reassess my decision to become a Toastmaster. The choice is sound and important.
My bulletproof vest is worn as a badge of honor and survival. Without my garb, I would be a prisoner in my house, hiding in bed. Sick to my stomach. Useless.
The stigma of mental illness must be broken. My vest is worn with pride. I am a survivor. I am the voice of one in every five Americans experiencing the assailant. I am not alone.
Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA“WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:
The Stranger is a short read about a woman named Julie Williams, the owner of Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, the wife of a loving man and two grown children who are doing well for themselves. Julie’s life is stable and put together and everything seems fine except the feelings Julie has of her mother.
Margie Smith has just passed and there are only a few people at her funeral. As the minister gives his words, it becomes apparent that both Julie and her husband did not like Margie. She is remembered as a mean woman who cared about only herself. Not only does Julie and Mark feel this way, but even Stella Green, the nurse who worked for Margie, found the woman difficult. It seems Margie was just a mean woman and I enjoyed trying to figure out why as the author gave bits and pieces of her persona. Meanwhile, someone is watching as Julie leaves the cemetery and he seems to have just as much disdain for Margie as she does.
Since the book is short I’ll leave it here. It’s a fast paced read and I enjoyed trying to figure out who The Stranger was following Julie. I thought the feelings she had toward her mother started to get a tad repetitive and Julie was starting to get annoying with it. I just wanted her to let it go because it didn’t seem that deep. However, this too plays into the mysterious feel of the novel. Who was Margie Smith really?
I’m starting to really enjoy these psychological reads and was excited to have caught onto The Stranger’s identity ahead of time which I gave myself cool points for. (It was like a mental game lol) The Stranger is a tad predictable for me personally and I wanted more on Julie’s mother. However, an overall enjoyable read. You can’t go wrong with a book that’s short, well written and to the point.