Never out of Season (Throw Back Thursday)

Dissing or Discussing Poetry

First published Feb 1, 2018 JANNA HILL

We are still months away from NPM and poetry discussions are abuzz. I love it!

I’m not even upset that one “genre” is dissing the other – I am just happy poetry is being discussed.

I clicked on a link/interview that was shared with a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and then BOOM I was knee deep in reading, searching and lurking a dozen other sites.

I [honestly] never considered a genre when writing poetry and probably couldn’t categorize if my life depended on it. But [speaking of dissing] I’ll share Thoughts on Writing from Getting Me Back.

Except from Getting Me Back (The Voices Within)

Thoughts on Writing  (The Requirements of an Author)

Desire: A congenital need to tell the story.

Determination: It is not enough to walk a couple of blocks or run five miles on a treadmill, come prepared to hike the Himalayas and explore the abyss.

An exoskeleton: A thick skin will not suffice — no indeed. Colleagues and critics are apt in the sadistic art of shaving and burning the thickest of flesh; their tireless wheel of pumice leaving the toughest callouses raw and bleeding. They will thin your skin; get beneath it and prove your vulnerabilities. Like a flesh eating bacteria they will consume you — kill you if you let them.

A poker face: Never let them see you sweat.

Gratitude: Because no one owes you anything!

Grace: For the rise and the inevitable fall.

Pills and booze and smoke: Because it is a hard and hateful world and you are not a god-damned ant.

A Glimpse at Savannah Dawn (Friday’s free for All)

Every young girl has dreams. Some dream of being a supermodel or a nurse, a doctor or a fireman, a teacher, a writer or a rock star. Savannah Dawn has dreams too. But she mostly dreams of a life without nightmares.

A few Clips from Chapter 1

My name is Savannah Dawn and I was named for the place of my conception, whatever that means. I’ll be eleven years old come next March. I love to swim and I hate school. I guess that’s all I know to say about myself except sometimes I see things… like in a dream.

🎬

The dreams used to bother me but they don’t anymore. When I was younger I would wake up crying in the middle of the night – Mama would bring me a glass of milk and sit beside me in the dark. I’d tell her what I saw and she’d say, “they’re just nightmares honey; nothing but unconsecrated visions.”

As I got older I felt like Mama didn’t want to hear about the things that troubled my slumber. A few times it seemed to rile her so I learned to stay quiet and get my own milk.

🎬

Preacher Zeb calls them revelations and says I shouldn’t tell a soul about what I see except him. Zeb is an ex-Marine and a retired pastor. He was also my papa’s best friend. Last summer he baptized me in the Neches River with only God as our witness. We made a pinky swear to keep it secret. A pinky swear ain’t like a promise to God – it’s a promise not to tell Mama. She would have had a fit knowing I washed my sins in dirty water not to mention I nearly drowned while waiting on the Holy Spirit.

My sister got the spirit once at The First Assembly of God in downtown Trinity. She was sitting on the front pew making goo-goo eyes at Brother Tim when all of a sudden she went limp as a dish rag. The brother hollered “hallelujah” and flew down from the pulpit. He smacked her on the forehead then Jodi jumped up and started shaking all over and everybody went crazy.

It took me a minute to realize what was going on; it took Mama about a minute and a half. 

Jodi said she felt like a movie star when the whole congregation wanted to touch her. She done it so folks would think she was special, that’s what she said. I always thought she was special so I didn’t care one way or the other but it sure was funny watching her dance around with her hands in the air shouting, “alley baba – naba -naba daba- daba doo.” She was doing a different dance after we got home and Mama whipped her for blaspheming the Holy Ghost.

I don’t like referring to the Lord’s essence as a ghost. Mama says they’re the same thing but I know she’s never seen either one or she wouldn’t say that. I also know spirits don’t always live in a body; some of them live in drinks of alcohol….

🎬

This twisted little gem is only 99¢ at your favorite retailer.

The audio (amusingly narrated by Kelley Mack) is available at Audible, Amazon & iTunes.

HaPpY FriDaY Y’all.

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Another Thursday, another November and another Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Which means the earth has not quite spun off her axis; some of her inhabitants may have but we are here today so let’s make the most of it.

I have shared the following bit of prose in one form or another for … I don’t know… decades maybe?

Occasionally I vary the wording but the sentiment is always the same, so without further ado, here we go… 

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Once upon a time – a long, long time ago (before Black Friday) Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest and a time to give thanks. Hence the name thanksgiving.

I don’t think the early pilgrims had a Super Walmart, a Sears or a Best Buy. They had never heard of an indie distributor called Smashwords (yikes, imagine how scary that might have sounded)

I’m sure they didn’t have the www to answer all of you questions or a beastly giant named Amazon— yet somehow they managed.

Can you imagine having to grow your own food and prepare it without the help of of a search engine like google?

When did they have time? Where did they get their Stove Top stuffing and who canned the yams and plucked the turkeys? How did those crazy pilgrims do it?

John Wayne

I didn’t really know any of those pilgrims but I did see a John Wayne movie once. John knew a pilgrim when he saw one. He seemed to know a lot of pilgrims but that was a long time ago too.

I propose we are all pilgrims, each one of us on a journey of sorts. Our own personal pilgrimage…

Aren’t we are all looking for something? Be it a quest for self-confirmation, truth, a cure, enrichment, comfort, a friend, a lover, a job, a meal or a place to lay our weary head at the end of another day.

I believe life is a journey, or at least it should be. It would be terrible to think we were just flailing through this experience; killing time on this giant floating gumball while waiting for the next Black Friday specials.

I believe we all have one destination though we travel different roads and I trust that we have choices.

Pilgrims (2)

Hopefully we will choose well. On the occasion we do take a wrong turn [and we will from time to time] I pray we have enough sense and humility to stop and seek direction… to reassess our route and to be considerate in our voyage.

So here’s wishing all of you pilgrims a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving from the Hill house and may we all, whatever road we’re on, take time to look ahead, pause and bow our head in thanks.

My personal prayer:

I pray our good seeds of hope, humility, toil and courage produce abundantly; that love and kindness grow wild like the weeds of early spring – fruitful and undeterred.  And may our harvest be rich with wisdom and discernment.

Thank you Father, The Creator of all things, for this day and all it holds. Thank you for the days past, and Father forgive me for my wrong turns. Thank you for the day to come and guide me to make better choices. Thank you for all the pilgrims in my life – for those who’ve gone ahead and the ones that come behind and for those who read this prayer. And Thank You Father for the beacon that lights my way.

In Jesus name, Amen.

BTW Thanksgiving & John Wayne (A Pilgrim’s Prayer) is also in Getting Me Back (The Voices Within)

Happy Halloweenie Ghouls & Boils

Hold out your eyes and I’ll give you a little insight into Smoke Free.

Smoke Free is a weird little story conceived in the smoke of a brush pile. The photos below show the cover; the first photograph and the finished cover.

Smoke Free is probably the only book cover we have not changed at least a dozen times. The truth is I have never wanted to change it. I love this cover and the image of that little pumpkin smoking a cigar never fails to amuse me. (I have the husband to thank for that.)

Smoke Free

I had never heard of Irwin Smutter before that day and he (like the cigar smoking pumpkin) still amuses me with his absolute weirdness; him and the bizarre world he resides in.

And a bite sized sample of the lunch break tale

Irwin marched down the stark white hallway with the impudence of a man on a mission. At the end of corridor, a glass door awaited with the words FREE YOUR SELF painted in large gold letters. He raised a curled fist to knock but decided against it. Easing the door open he called out, “Yoo-hoo. Is anyone home?” when no one responded he grudgingly entered the room and scanned its contents.

The room appeared empty other than an oversized sofa. Irwin reposed himself against the frigid vinyl, crossed his feet and sighed. A lively timbered scene covered the wall opposite the door, designed in such a way it almost looked like a window. Beyond the dull sheen of the pretend window was a forest where rays of sunshine cut through a smoky haze. The remaining walls were un-textured, pale and bare. The room smelled of sandalwood and acetone, a bizarre sweetness that sickened and comforted him at the same time. Irwin shifted nervously on the stiff upholstery in search of a warm spot. There was none.

The faux leather, the lifeless walls, the fake window – it was all too unsettling. Nothing is real, he thought, stretching his arms until his hands met above his head. Fads! The world has been reduced to kooks, phonies, and fads. Reassured by his own summation, Irwin interlaced his fingers and stretched further. When the joints in his entwined hands refused to pop, he rested them at the base of his neck.

Smoking cessation. Yeah, right. It was not Irwin’s idea. Irwin enjoyed smoking. The pungent smell of a fresh-lit cigarette made bitter coffee sweet. Smoking was one of the few things he looked forward to each day. A good smoke, a little booze, a lot of caffeine and Evie.

Happy Halloween!

Available wherever e-books are sold.

Smoke Free narrated by Troy McElfresh and is available at

Amazon

Apple

Audible

So yesterday was Thursday. #SMDH

I can’t believe it. I. Can. Not. Believe. It.

#LMBO

Yesterday’s post , Freaky Friday was not “unintentionally released early”, although that is sometimes the case when you are preplanning.

Nah. Nope. I don’t prepare or plan ahead much anymore.

The truth is I’m just losing my damn mind.

I really thought yesterday was Friday. And you know what? No one called me out on it. Not even my (few but fabulous) fans and friends over at Facebook. Not even my family– not even the daughter that threatens me with APS at times.

I can’t help but recall some years back, when I embarked on my Indie adventures and started growing my social platforms – an error like that would have brought the hecklers and the haters out. My inbox would have been full of opinions and “constructive criticism” — which rarely helped me construct anything positive.

And I recall another me that would have been embarrassed and deleted the improperly titled post immediately. But not the me of now.

Nope. I’m going to leave that boo-boo right there because the readers that come across it in the future will probably not realize it was released on a Thursday. And because I’m okay with being human; with making mistakes and even laughing at those mistakes.

In closing let me say thank you all for being so kind as to not point out my blunder and apologize to those who set their calendar by my error.

And lastly to those that never realized I was off… welcome to the outer limits friends. 🤪

The Chest of Hope (Friday’s free for All)

IT’S JUST A SMALL BROWN wicker basket, not built to hold much –

and a bit tattered from over handling.
It’s beautiful warm browns have dulled and faded with age on the outside –

but inside the natural luster still shines.

It’s top is held in place by make-do leather ties because the first woody hasps were worn in two –

and now dangle loosely, without purpose.


What hands made the airy coffer? I wonder as I stroke the thin smooth fibers.
Was it one as handsome as the tight weaves frayed by time?


Though dust has long since claimed his finger prints – I know that he was a weaver; I imagine that he was a dream weaver…
Diligently intertwining each cane thread with my hopes in mind…


A place to store my breathing dreams so that they could be kept safe and close at hand, amassed in a beautiful fibrous reminder.
A quaint little chest of hope I will one day hand down to a child, a grandchild or perhaps even a great grandchild –
when I have used up its contents.


When I have taken the dusty lid off one last time and felt deep into the corners to make certain I haven’t left any ideas untouched…
I imagine when I offer it up to him (or her) they will look at me like I’m crazy (and I may well be) then they’ll tear the lid off, expecting to find a treasure of sorts before saying with disappointment,

“It’s just an empty old basket.”


It is then I will share with them the wishes and ideas that were stored and later born of that basket.

How they were kept safe till I could see them come to fruition.
And one more time I will imagine the handsome dark skinned man who meticulously weaved the wonderful piece…
a place to store my dreams because dreams need room to breathe.


Then I will show them how to place their own aspirations into the old auburn chest with caution to keep them safe, to nurture their hopes and give them time to mature. And if my last wish were to come true I will see them realize the birth of their visions.


*I adore woven baskets and this bit of prose was inspired by one of my favorites.

The Chest of Hope was taken from Getting me Back

A Little More Time

Hi y’all 🙋🏼‍♀️

My apologies for not blogging more but I have seriously been busy. I’m talking BiZZy!

We are just getting the house back to normal after February’s winter storm, Uri. I’m not sure why it’s (unofficially) referred to as Uri? 🧐

I did a web search and unless I overlooked a reasonable definition-I found nothing that applied to the ice storm. Feel free to educate me.

Anywho we are getting back to normal. Haller-lu-ya!!

[doing the happy dance]

So before I get busy this morning getting the yard and pond back in shape I will leave you with a #TBT.

A Little More Time was written in 1980 something, originally published in Pose Prose & Poems in 1998 and republished in the 2017 poetic memoir called Getting Me Back

A Little More Time

There’s an eagle out there soaring And my best friend is out whoring

Turning tricks of any kind

Doing anything to make a dime God forgive her for the crime

All she needs is a little more time.

On the roof three stories high

A junky cries and begs to die

Ain’t had a fix in several days Swears he can’t go on this way

Across the street a church bell chimes

Grant us please a little more time.

An old man sick and dying

Alone with no one crying

He grieves for all the pain he’s caused

For all the people that he’s lost

Outside the window painted mimes All rushing for a little more time

A woman labors down the hall

Her anguish echoes through the wall

But soon a laughter takes its place When she looks upon the baby’s face

For a moment all is sublime

As we are given a little more time

How I met Maggie & Almost Killed Clara #TBT

I was wading in the surf on Matagorda beach one warm, sunny day exchanging dialogue with Clara.

I had known Clara for about ten years and I have to admit, conversing with her was like pulling teeth. I don’t want to say she was dull, but she was too quiet and a tad introverted.

Don’t get me wrong, Clara is a lovely girl. She is smart and pretty and sweet and kind, but she was just too darn nice for the most part. Too calm, too reasonable, too… dull! There, I said it!

Anyway, as I was wading in the surf, dragging my feet (literally to scatter the sting rays) I was thinking how I might kill her. I know that must sound horrible, we had been comrades for so long, but she wearied me. Her unspoiled, hoity-toity, prim and proper, everything by the book personality made me want to send her sailing face down with the outgoing tide. I think she knew it (she has that sixth sense thing, you know).

I didn’t expect Clara to fight me; it wasn’t in her nature. She had been so silent and distant, I thought she had given up on life and maybe she wanted to die?

I had mulled it over and over in my mind and finally come to terms with my decision. Clara no longer served a purpose and she must be done away with.

Suddenly the voice of a perky little blonde caught my attention; she was running down the beach waving and shouting,

“Hey y’all wait for me.”

Oh my lord, I thought, while trying to ignore the thin, tanned Mississippian’s approach.

splash back.JPGGet it over with. I quickly shoved Clara toward the incoming wave but she didn’t budge; her feet were planted too firmly.

“Don’t make this difficult, just relax and go with the sea.” I filled my lungs with sweet, salty air and and shoved, harder this time. Again, she did not move and to my surprise she pushed back!

“Hey! Hey!” The Mississippian yelled, “What are you doing? Leave her alone dammit!”

I’m not sure why I obliged this person whom I had never met, but I stepped back.

I studied Clara, standing there quiet and unshaken. Her eyes fixed on mine and oddly, I no longer saw her as timid, dull and passive. I recognized the quiet strength she had held all along. “Do you know her?” I asked, referring to the woman approaching us.

Clara shook her head slowly and smiled, “No but you do. You met her on a trip to Biloxi once.”

I was speechless.

“Hey, I’m Maggie,” the lady smiled as she looked past me and held out her hand, “you must be Clara.”

I suppose it’s true that opposites attract. I watched Maggie come alive and in doing so she saved Clara.

*This is a story about a story. Clara and Maggie are safe and sound (for the most part) inside a fictional series.

Read about their meeting in Book 1

Thankfully there is no law against writers killing their characters and no penalty for attempted murder. 😉