I Dropped the Ball, Waiting for the Splash

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I dropped the ball. I did. It’s true. Many of you may have noticed that posts by me have been virtually non-existant the past couple of months, including regularly scheduled book reviews, theme posts and author interviews, as well as my “Chatting with the Pros” monthly series. I’m sure you’ve all been in a spot at one time or another, when you’ve been completely overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations. That has been me for the past few months. Me, I’m a go-getter. I set a goal and bulldog my way to it, when need be. I have a habit of taking on many projects simultaneously, but I also follow through on what I start.

But, circumstances often change and unforeseen burdens may be laid upon our shoulders when we least expect it, and we find ourselves juggling more than we can handle. Or at least, I have. Between work, school, my writing and promotions, and personal responsibilities, it seemed more than I could accomplish and something had to give. Actually,  I pushed it to the limit until just about everything gave and I was spinning my wheels and getting a lot of nothing done.

I may have dropped the ball, but I’m anticipating the results when it splashes. Sometimes a big splash just makes a mess that needs cleaning up, but a placed splash can water and nourish the surrounding vegetation. Certainly, the regular schedule for Writing to be Read has been disrupted, and the monthly genre themes have gone out the window. I know I have authors I was scheduled to interview who are probably wondering what happened, whom I need to contact. There is some mess to clean up here. But you see, a big splash can be a good thing.  That’s why I’m developing a plan, postponing graduation, and re-inventing, or at least making alterations to the WordCrafter brand, including Writing to be Read.

That’s where you come in. I need your help. As I consider various changes, I need to know how my readers would likely respond to them. Please take them time to respond to any or all of the following questions in the comments.

  • What types of posts do you enjoy most on Writing to be Read? Author interviews, commentaries, book reviews?
  • If I made Writing to be Read a paid blog plan, would readers be willing to help pay for the site on a donation basis? Would you be willing to subscribe for a small fee?
  • Would there be interest if I made the “Chatting with the Pros” series into a podcast? Or do you prefer written interviews such as those currently featured here?
  • Would you like to see more author and poet interviews? More book or screen reviews? A blog series on screenwriting?
  • Which monthly blog series is your favorite: “Chattting with the Pros”, “Words to Live By”, “Growing Bookworms”, “Jeff’s Movie Reviews”, “Craft and Practice”, “Treasuing Poetry”, “Mind Fields”, or “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews”?

 

As you might guess from the above, there are changes coming for Writing to be Read and for WordCrafter. I’ve got a great team of bloggers, whom I can always count on, and their posts are all that has kept WtbR going these past few months. My thanks go out to Robbie Cheadle, Jeff Bowles and Art Rosch for providing great content and keeping things rolling during the absence of content from me. As always, you’ll be seeing the scheduled segments from the Writing to be Read team members, even if my posts may still be a little sketchy for a while. Stay tuned for updates and please, be patient. If I can make it all work together, I think it will be worth the wait.


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Words to Live By – BE HERE NOW (Sanity for the Modern Writer)

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The first Wednesday of every month, writer Jeff Bowles muses on life, creativity, and our collective destinies as makers of cool stuff. You’re a writer, but have you ever thought about how or why? Here are some words to live by.

BE HERE NOW (Sanity for the Modern Writer)

What does a successful writing career look like to you? Have you ever thought about it? Do you believe you need one in order to call yourself a real writer? It may seem like a foreign notion to you, but many burgeoning authors won’t even acknowledge their favorite creative pastime in a serious way until they’ve sold a few short stories, picked up that dream book contract, or collected enough poems to turn into a collection.

I was like that when I was just starting out. I never gave myself credit for doing the work. In general I have this problem, as I understand it. People are always mystified by my apparent inability to cut myself slack. I refused to call myself a real writer until I’d made my first professional-level short story sale. That took seven years, and the funny thing is, it didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would. Oh sure, I was ecstatic for about an afternoon. But then things went back to normal, and a feeling of unease crept over me, the subtle realization that although I’d finally arrived at my destination, I hadn’t moved an inch.

In the last few years, I’ve experienced something of a paradigm shift when it comes to these things. You see, I finally had to admit to myself that no matter how many accolades I could garner, no matter how many times I saw my name in print, the writing itself often made me feel miserable, worn-out, and sometimes, just plain fed-up.

Do you have this same issue? Never give yourself credit for a job well done? Do you feel like a bit of a failure because you haven’t managed to reach your major writing goals yet? Trust me, you aren’t alone. You know the grass is always greener, don’t you? Imagine wandering into that other pasture, that creative promised land you cherish so dearly, only to find weeds and impassable thicket. Yes, you should make and maintain goals, because of course, you might not accomplish anything at all otherwise. And yes, each of us should dare to dream. I can’t stress that enough. Dreaming isn’t the problem. It takes a great beaten child of an adult to believe dreams are for fools.

But why dream if you’re only going to use it as a benchmark for your future happiness? Let’s say you’ve been writing off and on for twenty-five years, and you’ve yet to publish anything important. From the outside looking in, it may appear as though you wasted all that time. Your friends and family may not take your dreams seriously, or even worse, they may openly mock or criticize you for them. First off, if this is the case, you really owe it to yourself to find some new friends. Secondly, how do they know you didn’t enjoy every last second of those “wasted” twenty-five years? How do they know you didn’t have the time of your life, and in fact, wouldn’t trade a second of it for all the gold in Fort Knox?

The truth of the matter is if you can’t be happy with your work now, odds are you won’t be happy later. I mean that. Seeing your name in print will give you fleeting pleasure, but the more you see it, the less it’ll impress. You’ll have to trust me on this, and I’d like you to read this next part very closely, nothing you do in this life will make you happy if happiness eludes you here and now. Signing copies of your latest book or being able to share a cool story with the world via a very impressive and illustrious magazine or anthology, all of that is super cool. But after the proverbial new car smell wears off, you may feel a startling sense of anxiety and emptiness. Especially once you realize, aw hell, now I have to do it all over again.

Like I said, dreaming isn’t the problem. Expectations, however, will kill you every time. Because human beings often believe they cannot be happy until and unless something specific comes their way. I can’t be happy until I’ve found the love of my life. I can’t be happy until I buy my family a new house. I can’t be happy until I’m a bestseller. It’s always the destination that drives us. We so very rarely seem interested in the journey to get there.

Do me a favor the next time you sit down to write. Take your seat, open up your laptop (or grab your pen and paper, if you’re old school) and just sit there. Close your eyes if you’re so inclined. Be present in the moment, don’t think about the work ahead as a chore or a means to an end. Think of the work as the end itself. You are alive right now. Miracle enough for anyone with their priorities straight and their sanity intact. From the infinitesimal outer regions of statistically impossible microspace, you have arrived in all your glory. You’re breathing right now. Your butt is firmly planted in that chair, and you, my friend, are about to lay down some of the best writing of your life.

You can approach this moment as the incredible phenomenon it is. You can set your fingers to the keyboard and put one word after another, and you can experience an act of personal, almost spiritual fulfillment. Not because you expect this piece of writing to set the world on fire, but because for you, this passion, this instant, it’s all there is.

Be here now, as they say. The future will take care of itself, and as for the past, let’s just say ruminating on it too much is a recipe for disaster. No, now is all you have, and now is all you need. Dance like no one’s watching. Remember that many successful authors suffer from what we call impostor syndrome, which is a real shame if you ask me. What is a writing impostor? I mean really, what is one? A writer, set in terms even a chimpanzee could understand, is someone who writes. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it?

You’re not an impostor. You’re not anything more or less than the writer doing the thing, writing, and writing, and writing some more. And that truly is enough, no matter where you find yourself in terms of success or recognition or even money. Great pleasure and joy can be found in the simplest things, and though I’d never call writing a simple activity, profession, pastime, hobby, loving and fond nuisance, or obsession, the truth is—and you know this deep down in your heart of hearts—no outside thing, no future goal, no perfect outcome will give you the satisfaction you’re looking for.

If not now, when? If not now, when? If not now, when?

Slow down for a moment. Consider how lucky you are, how fortunate, how present and aware and full of life, and then go ahead and rock it out, lay down those beautiful words. I won’t keep you. You’ve got important and timely truths to express, new worlds to birth and share with us, and if you don’t do it, who will?

Until next month, everyone. I hope you can see the value of letting the present be, just be. You may never accomplish your goals, live your dreams, be anything more subjectively impressive than you are right now. But should it matter? Or should you simply learn to love yourself, your work, your creativity, now, now, now?

Peace! Joy! And don’t forget to proofread!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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Ant Man And The Wasp: A Critique Of Marvel Movies

When I watch a movie from the Marvel Comics empire I have to remind myself NOT to view this material with an adult mind. It’s better to watch with minds like those of my grandchildren, aged ten and thirteen.

            Last night we watched “Ant Man And The Wasp”. My grandkids loved it.  I endured it. Marvel movies are bloated with filler, that is, every “BOP! POW! And WHAM!” takes up screen time and makes for a longer film. Each mighty punch sends characters toppling end over end until they land with such force that their booties excavate the pavement or shatter all the windows in an office building. Such destruction! Miraculously, no one is crushed by the falling buses or lethal shards of sky scraper glass. unless that injury is an important plot device. Otherwise, the hordes of innocent bystanders are blessed with hair’s-width escapes from catastrophe.

            It seems to me that good writers are those who go the extra mile.  Lazy writers are those who go right up to the mile before the EXTRA MILE, then dust their hands together and stop.  That’s what’s frustrating about Marvel movies. The producers know that they can inject a liberal amount of fake fighting and harmless destruction into the script.  How much?  Fifteen minutes? Twenty?  Maybe half an hour of combat-without-consequences?.  IF (and we are) raising children with this stuff establishes a dangerous idea, that is, “THERE ARE NO REAL CONSEQUENCES”. There are just provisional outcomes that can always be changed by using a time machine or some deus ex machina, some easy way out.  Kids absorb this data hungrily and without critical thinking.  They love the bop!bam! stuff and don’t seem to be frustrated by the relative emptiness of the script.

            “Ant Man And The Wasp” deals with some heayy concepts, like the world of Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the minute sub-quark particles. The visuals are pretty amazing in their depictions of these mysterious areas.  “Someone” I thought (but did not speak aloud) has been smoking some DMT or ingesting psilocybin.”.  I took a few moments to explain Quantum Mechanics to my grandkids.  They’re super-bright little people who are inherently more evolved than I am. But  they’re still kids.  I have to tell myself to chill; watch the Marvel Universe with a clear mind and just have fun. The kids understood my explanation of quantum reality as “part of a continuum, from the mighty sizes of galaxies to the infinitesimal sizes of sub atomic particles. BUT..if you live in any of these places then it all looks normal-sized to you and your friends”.  Right?  Right.

            A few minutes ago my grand-daughter came into my office and asked “Whatcha doing, Poppa Art?” I said that I was writing a review of the movie we saw last night.  I explained my point of view and she seemed to grasp that a world in which no one REALLY dies is a bit fatuous.  I explained that Marvel’s tactics remove the real terror from their productions.  We all know that none of the heroes will die.  That there’s always some last-minute rescue, or the sequel will resuscitate the seemingly annihilated people.

            Haven’t our movies and TV shows always been like this? The soft-peddle American media archives are full of plots with happy endings. The hero always triumphs; the frustrated couple always get their passionate kiss.  Yeah, it’s always been like this but in 2020 we are seeing the maturation of world-shaking technology that is changing the tenor or our lives from the ground up..  There’s more technology, more ways to soften the blows of so-called REALITY.  As if to compensate, REALITY amps up the blows, grows more furious with each passing year.

            For my grandkids, I fear that reality has never been less real.

            The soundtrack of “Ant Man And The Wasp” brings a relentless rhythmic figure, a continuous percussive BAH BAH bu BUH BUMP BUMP that induces an excited state in the viewer. It is so pernicious that my sleep was disturbed last night until I got up at around three in the morning and quietly played some Joni Mitchell.  THAT was the last thing I heard before returning to bed and snoring away the next four hours. It’s important to understand this level of aural hygiene.  The last sounds you hear remain in your head until you hear something else.  If you want to sleep, you need to ditch the agitating sounds in favor of something soothing.  It works that way for me, anyway. 

            I explained the thrust of this essay to my granddaughter: that none of the heroes REALLY die and that makes the movies way less scary.  I think she grasped my point but I don’t really know. The universes in which we live are so different. We’re family, we’re close but I can’t escape the sense that people live light years apart despite being in the same room.

            I’m less worried about the future when I see how these kids cope.  Quantum Mechanics? They don’t care; its just something people say that means invisibly tiny stuff, like stuff that makes bacteria look HUGE by comparison! 

            They get it. They know that bacteria are too small to see, so why not even smaller stuff that makes invisible germs look huge?

            If we take care not to squash the imaginations of these grandchildren, they will be better prepared for the turbulent future that is roaring towards them with all of its dangers.


“Mind Fields”: The Air In The Sky

Mind Fields

 

The Air In The Sky

May 23, 2020

 

All night the distant roar of the highway

augments the silence

wrapped around the house.

There is no wind, the Mimosa hang still.

crossing speed bumps.

trucks chatter half mile away.

Sound of a jet fading above low clouds.

My belly is full.

My feet sink into the carpet.

I wear only a torn t-shirt.

My bare legs are slightly bowed

but shapely.

I am old

and strong. My pains avoid me.

We have a treaty signed

by the doctor.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


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Meet poet Kevin Morris and a review of his latest book, Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am very excited to share poet, Kevin Morris’, thoughts about poetry and his favourite poem. I met Kevin a few years ago soon after I started my blog and I was immediately captivated by his interesting poetry which frequently presents new angles on current events and even some historical events. I have read and enjoyed a number of his lovely poetry books, including his latest book, Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems which I have reviewed later in this post.

Over to Kevin

Choosing a favourite poem is a difficult task, as my head is full of poems, many of which are favourites of mine. However, as I have to make a choice, my favourite poem is Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam, by Ernest Dowson, which runs thus:

“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,

Love and desire and hate:

I think they have no portion in us after

We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within a dream.” 

Dowson’s poem deals poignantly with the brevity of life. We are here for a short time. Our lives are full of “weeping”, “laughter”, “love”, “desire” and “hate”. But all of these are but a passing show for, when we “pass the gate” (the gate signifying the entrance to the land of the dead), all are loves, joys and sorrows are at an end, and we are no more.

Whilst the poem invokes in me a feeling of sadness (it is, after all about the shortness of existence), my primary response to Dowson’s lines is one of admiration. I say admiration for he sums up admirably, in 2 short verses the brevity of life. Other writers expend pots of ink on the subject of our mortality, but Dowson gets to the heart of the matter in a mere 8 lines of poetry.

I never deliberately copy any of the well-known poets. Although, doubtless their work impacts on my writing.

Whilst Dowson’s poem has a Latin title (a language unfamiliar to many people, including me), the message and style of his poem is simple, and it’s the poem’s very simplicity which I so admire.

Thank you, Kevin, for sharing your favourite poem and your reasons for loving it. Your choice greatly interested me as the brevity of life and the inevitability of death is common topic in your own poetry.

My review of Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems

What Amazon says

Life is full of light and shade. For to be human is to experience joy, beauty, love, pain and laughter. This collection reflects all facets of human experience. hence the title Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems.

My review

Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems is another delightful collection of poems by talented poet, Kevin Morris.

Section 1 – Love, nature and time includes poems written mainly in freestyle, that tell of these aspects of human life. Each poem has a streak of melancholy running through it which is extremely effective – a bit like biting on tinfoil – in the way it highlights the underlying certainty of death even in the midst of life. There are a few poems that hint at the trauma of the coronavirus and the related lockdown.

One particular extract that demonstrates this is from a poem called “Oh Creature of Night”:
‘Twas a strange thing
To hear.
Yet I
Felt no fear
But pondered on your incongruous cry,
And a virus, invisible to the eye.”

Section 2 – Humour
The second part of the book comprises of amusing takes on life. I personally prefer the poems with the underlying dark undertones, but these are a lovely and light relief. A large number of these poems comprise of limericks, a form of poetry that the author excels at. One of the verses that entertained me from this section of the book, also relates to Covid-19, and goes as follows:

“Sunscreen on skin
Is no sin.
The birds sing
For it is spring.
One may go outside
But woe betide
The man who offers resistance
To the concept of social distance.”

From At a Time of Social Distancing.

I highly recommend this book of poetry to all poetry lovers who enjoy unpacking meaning and delighting in subtle messages of humour and darkness.

Purchase Light and Shade; serious (and not so serious) poems

Kevin’s recently released poetry collection, Light and Shade: Serious (and Not so Serious) Poems is available from Amazon as follows:

For amazon.com customers please click here https://www.amazon.com/Light-Shade-serious-not-poems-ebook/dp/B08B4X3GVX/ (for the Kindle edition), and here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08B37VVKV/ (for the paperback).

For amazon.co.uk customers please follow this link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Shade-serious-not-poems-ebook/dp/B08B4X3GVX/ (for the Kindle edition), or click here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08B37VVKV/ (for the paperback).

About Kevin Morris

Kevin Morris was born in the city of Liverpool, United Kingdom, on 6 January 1969.

Having graduated from University College Swansea with a BA in history and politics and a MA in political theory, Kevin moved to London where he has lived and worked since 1994.

Being visually impaired, Kevin uses software called Job Access with Speech (JAWS), which converts text into speech and braille enabling him to use a Windows computer or laptop.

Contact Kevin Morris

Links:

Blog: https://kmorrispoet.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewdog2060_

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: 

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morrishttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morrishttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morris


Shadow Blade: Audio book brings characters to life

Shadow Blade Audio

Audiobooks. They are the latest digital form of literature, quickly rising in popularity with readers on the go. And why not? What a great way to multitask. Instead of having to find a quiet time to sit and read the printed word, you can listen to the story while getting multiple things accomplished. I listened to Shadowblade, by Chris Barili, narrated by Marc Swezczyk while ironing, while cleaning the bathroom, while driving, and while sitting at the campfire. It was kind of cool to do chores when I’d rather be reading, and actually be able to do both.

As my first experience with audio books, I found it to be a convenient form of literature. I received my copy via my Kindle Fire, through Amazon. Like digital books through Amazon, it downloaded to my Fire automatically. It was time saving, in that I could listen to it at times that normally would be uproductive to my writing. It reminded me of the old radio serials, but you can start and stop whenever it is convenient, and don’t have to wait a week to find out what happens next. I think I could have gotten through the book a lot quicker in overall time spent reading, had I read it myself, just because I read faster than the pace of narration, but by allowing me to listen at times when I normally wouldn’t be able to read, it was helpful with my very busy schedule.

Marc Swezczyk was a good choice for a narrator on this story, in that his dialects and difficult name pronunciations sounded quite natural. His voice changed slightly for each character switch, making dialog easy to follow, as well. However, outside of the dialog, his narration falters with an unvaried pace and lack of inflection. This causes the some of the pain stakingly crafted action scenes to fall flat and the narrative seems to drone on in places. Having previously reviewed Shadowblade, I honestly didn’t feel as though Swezcyyk made this story shine as brightly as it could have.

Shadowblade is a great fantasy story, and Marc Swezczyk’s narration brings the interesting and diverse characters to life in the audio version, however he was unable to draw me into the scenes, which does not do this superbly written story justice. I give Shadowblade audio four quills.

Four Quills

I see the audio book being the future of literature, so I wonder how it is from the author’s side of things. If you are an author who has tested the waters in the audio realm, please comment to share your experiences with audio books. Is it easy to publish audio? Was it difficult to find a narrator? Is it expensive? We here at Writing to be Read want to know.


Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Craft and Practice with Jeff Bowles – Writing for Catharsis

Craft and Practice

The third Wednesday of each month, writer Jeff Bowles offers practical tips for improving, sharpening, and selling your writing. Welcome to your monthly discussion on Craft and Practice.

Writing for Catharsis

Writing is a hard enough gig without the existence of one persistent, unceasing fact: things change, nothing lasts, and all things pass away. You could make a decent mantra out of that, couldn’t you? I mean it’s true enough I don’t even really have to repeat it. I will though. Several times, in fact, because I’d like to impress upon you the urgency of a world in desperate need of good, personal, dare I say it, emotional storytellers.

This month’s Craft and Practice will be a little different. We’re going to talk about our feelings. Wait! Don’t click off! You can’t run from them any more than I can. Things change, nothing lasts, all things pass away. And if you and your incredible writing superpowers are needed anywhere in the world, it’s quite possible they’re needed at home most of all.

You see, people can recognize the transience of life without too much effort, but they’re either too locked into their own experiential tangents to do anything about it, or they simply keep their stories to themselves. Writers don’t have that luxury, and nor should we be afforded it. It’s our job to comment, profile, report, extol, condemn, codify, decode. If not for everyone living today and for a hundred generations beyond, then at least for ourselves, right here and now. What does this all boil down to? We can write about all the crazy stuff that happens to us and call it catharsis. Neat, huh?

I recently released a novel called Love/Madness/Demon. It deals, in part, with a psychotic episode I experienced four or five years ago. Now at that time I didn’t know or understand what was happening to me. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, I urge you seek qualified help, because once I was able to do so, once a true diagnosis came my way, things slowly began to turn around for me. But I knew as I started recovering that what I’d gone through—what I’d put my loved ones through—it constituted serious traumatic territory, and I also knew that it might make me feel better to write about it someday.

It did. That’s the long and short of it. Moreover, spending sufficient time with my story as a finished manuscript tended to help even more. I had to tread, retread, and re-retread the same ground again and again. The worst moments of the ordeal tended to lose their hold on me. Now writing as catharsis implies you’ve repressed or buried something. Some people haven’t done anything of the sort, though I’d wager that to one degree or another, the vast majority of us have. This is life, after all, the greatest bare-knuckled, knock-down cage match of them all. If you’ve taken a few lumps in recent years, you aren’t alone.

I think it’s best to approach cathartic writing from a place of complete honesty. What are you doing it for otherwise? And realistically, you’ve got endless literary modes available to you. I chose fiction because it’s what I’m most comfortable with, but maybe you prefer poetry or nonfiction.

Nonfiction may be the best way to approach the craft for the sake of healing because you can just write the truth as it seemed to you. Now, you may have to wrestle with legalities, ditto with fiction, but I tend to believe most of the advice given to writers about these things are of the overblown, cover-one’s-own-ass variety. Can you write about things that really happened to you? Of course you can. Who says you can’t? What you can’t do is drag someone’s name through the mud in the process, but I’ve got a good feeling about you. You’re not interested in hurting others with your writing. You’re a paragon of humility and moral excellence. I mean, I can just tell by looking at you. What a punim.

I hurt after my psychotic break. A lot of people around me did. Because I was delusional, because I didn’t understand what was happening to me, I lashed out frequently and did things it’s taken me a lot of time to try and get over.

But your experience with cathartic writing will be wholly different. I hope and pray you haven’t got any major traumas in your direct experience. But if you have, and if you’re lucky enough to have been given an aptitude for the written word, I highly suggest putting your emotional self on the line and trying to do a little self-evaluation and self-nurturing. Even if you intend on never letting another soul read it, the initial intimacy and privacy of the act are paramount. I’d never suggest a person try to write their pain away rather than seek the help of a licensed professional, but I’ve found that a good therapy program lines up very well with cathartic writing. In fact, there were times in my recovery I didn’t have the ability to engage in counseling, so the writing of Love/Madness/Demon was even more crucial to me.

I feel better now. I don’t feel perfect. In fact, I still have a lot of bad days. But it was worth it to me to at least try to alleviate some of the pressures of everything I’d gone through. Maybe you can do the same for yourself. I hope you can. Things change, nothing lasts, all things pass away. It’s sort of a very painful time for many people out there. Writing about what ails us? There are worse ways to cope.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Hamilton on Disney+

Jeff's Movie Reviews

I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot

by Jeff Bowles

For a Broadway musical that’s only been around five years, Hamilton casts a long shadow. It’s won countless Tonys, has earned millions of fans all over the world, and it’s just received a major home release on the Disney+ streaming platform, the date of which happened to coincide with the 244th birthday of the United States.

Movie theaters throughout the country are still closed, but that doesn’t mean new film experiences (or even old experiences freshly released) aren’t still coming down the Hollywood pipeline. Lots of films are seeing the light of day as home releases, and all the streaming platforms have really kicked their exclusives games into high gear.

I’ve got a confession to make. Before watching Hamilton on Disney+ this past week, I’d never seen it before. Scratch that, I’d never even heard a song. Not because I’m not a fan of a good musical or because I object to the combination of classic American history with modern American urban swagger, which so many people have seemed to do. Nope, my reasons for never having experienced a single moment of Hamilton are very simple. I am landlocked in the heart of the Colorado foothills, and to me, Broadway might as well be on the other side of the galaxy.

Still, if you don’t mind the impressions of a Hamilton virgin, I don’t mind offering them. The first thing that stood out to me was the simplicity of the stage and the complexity of the staging. Much like Rent, which I do believe Hamilton has borrowed at least a little inspiration from, the entire production happens on a single vague and rather brown-looking stage setup that is wider than it is vertical. Action may occur on the upper deck of the wood-frame stage construction, but its more likely to happen on a kind of front-and-center lazy Suzan that allows for an impressive amount of movement without much needed in the way of set dressing or overly articulated scenery.

All of this enables the raw performances to shine through in some fairly impressive ways. This is a play about Alexander Hamilton, after all, one of America’s more colorful founding fathers. Pistol dueling is kind of a thing in the guy’s story, and every one presented in this play looks, feels, and sounds different from the one that came before.

See the source image

The leading men of Hamilton

Some people have a problem with all the hip hop and R&B, especially as it’s applied to a historical setting and cast of characters that in reality were wealthy, white, and often owned slaves. Is the setup and mixture jarring? Not to me, but then, I like hip hop, and there is a certain joy to be found, isn’t there? Especially this year? In a positive modern depiction of American History from the context of race and ethnicity? The Battle of Yorktown, for instance, explodes sonically, and it’s all because the rhymes are strong and the vocals are powerful. Other unexpected musical treats include any and every King George III segment and the singular visionary performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton himself. He’s kind of soft spoken, especially in moments of reflection, and though he sometimes runs the risk of getting blown off the stage by more powerful performances, it’s never in doubt to whom this show belongs.

The cast disseminate a lot of information through song lyrics, so you have to stay sharp to follow the story for the first time, especially if you’re not much of a history student. This is perhaps my biggest gripe overall with Hamilton. In the science fiction and fantasy racket we’ve got a thing called info dumping, which implies in a sloppy way exactly what it sounds like. Well get ready, because Hamilton does an awful lot of info dumping, the kind you used to hate in grade school. Dates and names. Ewww. Actually, I’m not sure how else a three hour musical is meant to relate bare bones historical facts, but perhaps in the long run the history of one man is maybe a poor bedfellow for musical theater.

And what about the history itself? Does it check out in terms of accuracy? A lot of hay has been made about the show and its tendency to gloss over or just plain leave out certain key events and elements of Alexander Hamilton’s life and story. I honestly have to wonder as a storyteller myself, is that really such a crime? Or have quote, unquote “historical” plays, movies, TV shows, and even musicals been leaving out the dry stuff for hundreds of years? I mean for cripes sake, even Shakespeare fudged the facts in his famous histories. And that guy didn’t have to rap to sell records (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The performance shown in Disney’s Hamilton was recorded way, way, way back in the ancient year 2016, when people could go out without wearing masks and theater was actually something an individual could participate in. It’s almost like opening a time capsule, but that’s a welcome feeling after the year 2020 has been. Hamilton was a nice diversion for me over my Fourth of July holiday. I’d even say it was needed, especially at a time like this, when I like so many others have been forced to do some deep thinking about my world, my society, my culpability. Even if it’s not a perfect show, even if I get the sense I’ll have to watch it a few more times to really catch every nuance, I quite enjoyed the sense of completeness and strength given to me by Hamilton.

And hey, I’ve got time. Calculated and somewhat neutered American history paired with modern American swagger? Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Hamilton on Disney+ a 9 out of 10.

How hot do you think all that wool clothing was under those stage lights? Yeesh. It’s enough to make a guy want to pistol duel someone, am I right?


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Pep Talk segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress


Introducing non-fiction to children

In our modern world, sources of information assail us from every direction. An internet search turns up dozens, and sometimes even hundreds, of links to information on every conceivable topic. Television provides documentaries on historical events, scientific topics and numerous programmes that cover every aspect of nature. A visit to a grocery store exposes children to newspapers and magazines which share articles on a wide variety of political, social and other topics, not to mention the headlines of newspapers that glare at us from street light and other poles as we travel from home to school and other places during our day.

High school learners are provided with numerous texts and sources of additional information on each and every topic they cover in nearly all of their subjects.

The quantities of information available are huge and not all of it is factually accurate. There is a lot of inaccurate and even total fake information out there.

It is, therefore, vital for children to learn to filter text and identify the important facts and information, in other words, to summarise it. It is also important for children to know they should check information to more than one source in order to ensure it is factually accurate.

Providing children with non-fiction books is an excellent way of ensuring they get accurate and reliable information and, if you select good non-fiction books, they are also appealing and exciting for children.

Here are four tips for choosing non-fiction books:

  1. Books with large clear photographs are attractive to children and help them contextualize the content of the book;
  2. Look for books that present the facts succinctly and without becoming bogged down in to much unnecessary detail. After reading the content to or with your child, summarise the main message/s about that topic or on a particular page;
  3. For very young children, ensure that the content is simple and fairly repetitive with only a few new vocabulary items so as not to overwhelm them; and
  4. Look for books that provide additional information for adults at the back. This is helpful for expanding on a given topic with your child and answering any questions.

A few great ways of encouraging an interest in non-fiction reading by children are as follows:

  1. When you are doing something that provokes questions like why is the sky blue or why do bees sting, take the time to look up the answer to this question with your child and show them how to use internet sources and books to find the answers to their questions;
  2. Integrate non-fiction with play. I did this with my children by showing them how to read recipes when we were baking, using ideas from books when building and constructing with lego or blocks and even with marshmallows and reading to them about mountains, hills, lakes and rivers when we were playing in a sandpit or on the beach. We used sand for lots of fun activities like building forts and a pirate island. I used these opportunities to follow up with a non-fiction story about pirates and soldiers. I did the same thing when we visited any places that lent themselves to learning more about a specific topic like mining or farming; and
  3. Make your own non-fiction materials and demonstrate various learning points. I build a mountain out of paper mache and showed my children how water carries seeds down into the valleys, Michael and I made a sword and a roman helmet out of paper mache and learned about the Roman Empire and we made a sheep out of cardboard and cotton wool and learned how animals help to distribute seeds.
An airplane Greg and I built in the sand at the beach
Gregory learning about prehistoric mining at Grime’s Graves in Norfolk, England

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  1. Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  2. Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  3. Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  4. Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books



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Announcing the Winner of the WordCrafter 2020 Short Fiction Contest

WordCrafter Press

It’s taken twice as long as it should have, but I am now proud to announce the winner of the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. This year’s theme genre was western paranormal, requiring story submissions to contain both western and paranormal elements.  WordCrafter left the guidelines open to loose interpretation, resulting a wide variety of story submissions, in which the required elements were used in some very creative ways. It was a difficult choice, but I’m happy to congradulate Enid Holden on her wonderful story, “High Desert Rose”.

Spirits of the West cover image

As the winning submission author, Enid will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and her story will be published in the WordCrafter western paranomal anthology, Spirits of the West. We’re aiming for a release date sometime in October, so be sure and watch for it. The anthology will also include “Gunsmoke”, as a tribute to the author, the late Tom Johnson, as well as stories by several of authors from last years antholgy, Whispers of the Past.


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