Hold on, there is a point to this — Help!

This is the fourth consecutive year I have been honored to be a judge in the FAC annual teen scholastic/literary/poetry event. This year was even more exciting because I am still alive and it was the first reason I have had to shuck my pajamas since last year. Just kidding! But seriously, FAC added a short story contest. Yay!the-pose-533x800.jpg

FAC logoA little aside: Forney Arts Council hosts the annual event but an invitation to participate is extended to several surrounding cities. Just FYI Forney is a booming little town about a stone’s throw east of Dallas Texas.

Just look at the beautiful poets and writers of our future.

Some of them receiving their first check for following their passion.

winners FAC compition

The winners

I am so proud of every single one of them. I know their parents and teachers are too; and the fabulous lady (Tiffany) with a passion for art that keeps this thing going.

Hold on, there is a point to this post —

What was it? ….

Oh yes, Help!

I need your help. It won’t cost you a dime and only a minute of your time.

What? Why? How? You ask?

Well, you see I am scheduled to give a talk/presentation next month on the art of the short story. Actually it is The Art of the Short Story & Micro/Flash Fiction.

The problem (other than the typical butterflies) is I know why I read and write short stories/flash fiction but I would love some input as to why others do.

Is it attention span? Time constraints? Challenge? Amusement? Something else?

If this thing works right I have inserted two polls, one for writers and another for readers. If not…  the comments section is always open.

Thanks Y’all.

Why do you read short stories?
(polls)

Why do you write short stories?

(polls)

Sometimes Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago I worked as a nurse. Nurses Janna & Jess.jpg

My daughter (on the left) is a nurse and many of my friends and family are still working in the field of nursing.

I could write forever about the combined experiences of a nursing career. As a matter of fact a few of those experiences fueled scenes in the fictional Clan Destiny series where the main characters (Clara, Linda and Maggie) are nurses. Mary Latrull (another fictional character) likes to pretend she is a nurse and would probably be a good one except –

Oops. I veered off track.

I mention the series now because this is National Nurses Week.

Happy Nurses week comrades, family and friends!

Oh poo, let me ramble off road for a minute and we’ll make this one of Tuesday’s Tell All.

Thinking on the series: when the books stood alone, before they were renamed the Clan Destiny series and before the reviews disappeared from Amazon I had a few comments that the stories were too “far-fetched” and unbelievable.  Yeah, nurses with paranormal abilities. Ha! I’m not sorry, that is why I called it fic-shun.

A handful of people (mostly “nurses”) suggested the medical terminology and/or procedures were incorrect. I know it was wrong but I had to call those to attention. Why? Because I kept “procedural” scenes to a minimum for lay reasons and if practice or terminology has changed that much in the last few years I honestly wanted to know. But nope…

The real thing ‘said nurses’ took issue with was the (occasional) disrespect and unprofessional behavior that I portrayed.  The strange thing is those scenes were all too real. Allow me to share.

Examples:

In book one Maggie curses a bit, insults a doctor and she and Clara have a confrontation, nearly coming to blows while on duty. One ‘said nurse’ says, “#1 no nurse would talk to a doctor like that and #2 Cursing and fighting on duty like hoodlums would never happen.” Truth? It happens. Been there, done that. Nursing is a stressful profession and nurses are human, sometimes we act stupid.

In book two Mary (as a patient) leaves the hospital against medical advice without signing the proper forms.  Another ‘said nurse’ says, “A patient would not be allowed to leave without signing the necessary documents.” I laughed myself silly. Truth? I have chased more than my share of irate, deranged and determined absconders while pleading with them “just sign this and you can go.” Hospitals, clinics and care centers are not prisons; you cannot hold someone against their will and you cannot make them sign a form to c.y.[own]a. (cover your [own] a**)

In book three Maggie, Linda and Clara laugh (in private) and refer to a patient, Mr. Stenchman, as Mean-as Stinky man or Mean-ass Stinky pants. An offended ‘said nurse’ says, “You should not depict nurses in such an unprofessional and unflattering way.” Truth? Sometimes we are unprofessional and ugly and sometimes the patient is a mean-ass stinky man.

I could rattle on about sordid affairs, fist fights, missing bodies/body parts, resurrections, insurance/benefit/patient abuse, medicare fraud and more but I won’t. Not today.

Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

I may write a true tell-all one day but until then I’ll keep changing the names to protect the guilty, add a little ‘what if’  and focus on the fictitious person – not the true profession.

For all of you nurses [with or without imperfections] keep being the best that you can be. Thanks for shoving your own sh*t aside for 8 to 16 hours a day and caring even when it seems like you don’t.

 Happy Nurses Week!

nightingale pledge (1024x752).jpg

 

 

So Here’s What I’m Gonna Do (A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me)

I have received like 13 emails suggesting I should offer Getting Me Back FREE during National Poetry Month. I could do that – and do you know how many downloads it would get? Probably about… hmm… I would guess thirteen.

A dozen others said I should be posting my own poetry and a handful of gun-ho NaPoWriMo writers invited me to participate in churning out a poem every day.

My inbox looks like a suggestion box right now but you know what? I love that people are so involved and enthused.

So here’s what I’m gonna do.

For the next four days Getting Me Back (The Voices Within) will be FREE. During these four days I will also post a poem I have written and heck, we’ll do A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me but forgive me guys I cannot handle the pressure of NaPoWriMo, not at this moment in time. I’ll just have to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Getting Me Back

(the poem)SMILING PHOTO OF ME.jpg

Tissue thin transparent bits and pieces

by the millions I gave to you…

To be received, to be tended or

to be rendered useless as you deemed fit

old inhabitants of terra firma.

Slivers of my soul….

What did you do with these pieces of me?

Where are the misplaced microscopic stars of

my spirit, where are they laid?

Did they dissolve beneath a soft autumn rain?

Or burn in the heat of a cruel summer day?

Were they consumed by the dust mites of fate?

Giving me away was easy….

Getting me back seems nearly impossible.

I saw a fleck of glitter this morning,

caught in an abandoned web of time.

I retrieved it ever so carefully, pulling away

the tiny choking strands; polishing it in the palm of my

hand till it shone bright like a

minuscule star… exploding… and

I recognized it as the twinkle I once saw

in a smiling photo of me.

Bat-Shit Crazy & Indie Update

Can you believe it has been 4 years since I posted The First Year as an Indie (Lessons Learned)?

So much has changed… yet stayed the same.

I have created new works and destroyed old ones.

I have watched literary markets as well as loved ones come and go.

I pretty much left the ‘pertinent’ social media scenes. Why? For a few reasons, just pick one or make one up – that’s always fun.

New authors have asked, “Did decreasing media presence hurt book sales?”

My answer: “Laws yes! But you know what? I still do not give a flying rat’s fanny.”

I am sorry if that’s not the ‘right’ answer but it is my answer… my truth.  That is the beauty of being an independent author.

Another truth is I was in “an unhealthy state of dealing with stress” – that is a sophisticated way of saying I was “bat-shit crazy in the midst of a nervous breakdown.”

Social media [as well as life] was becoming a struggle to keep up with; it was also getting in the way of Getting Me Back.

Getting Me Back (The Voices Within) is scheduled to release March 31st, it is available for pre-order now. Go ahead and order it so you will have it in time for NPM (National Poetry Month)

If you have never had a nervous breakdown, I would not recommend embarking on that journey.

If you want a peek at what my journey was/is like, I’d recommend reading Getting Me Back.

If you are currently bat-shit crazy in the midst of a nervous breakdown definitely get some help and read Getting Me Back. Hey, we can journey together.

 

P.S. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

saint patricks day card (1024x727)

A Poem & A Picture (Madre’s Mexican Blackbird)

Madre’s Mexican Blackbird

by Janna Hill

Mexican Blackbird

She reins me in

Her strong swollen hands tangled inside an unruly mane

Uno  ! Dos! Isilencio!  Tres!

Three dull thumps convince me to hush

and settle between beefy thighs

 

Gnarled fingers of assurance tug at my scalp

She plaits my hair with promises

Wisdom weaved among coarse strands of unnumbered mañanas

My head is left tender and spinning

with knitted rows of old wives tales.

 

**For the final week of NPM I will be posting my own poetry, a mix of published and unpublished. Is that selfish? Yes. Yes, it is. It is also easier — and right now I need easy.

I am grateful to everyone who submitted or suggested a poem. Hopefully we will do it again next year.

A Poem & A Picture (A Limerick to Lighten Your Mood)

I don’t know about you guys, but I was in dire need of some humor to get me through NPM. I scrolled & scrolled through my inbox and found nothing to make me grin. 😦 But then I remembered a fella named Regis…

Molly

by Regis Auffray

 

Collie (photo provided by Regis Auffray)

Poem & Picture provided by Regis Auffray

I once met a lass named Molly,

Who made me vulnerable to folly;

I fell for her charms,

Took her in my arms,

Molly was a sweet Irish collie.

A Poem & A Picture (Incognito)

Incognito (Your Eyes Disguised)

by Cagy Sly

Eyes disguised

Why do you care who I am?

What is it that makes you hide

the color of your eyes

in sky blue hydro-gel?

Combing smooth your tussled hair

striking up an odd conversation on the pet isle at Wal Mart

inquiring about the breed I am feeding.

Each look, each question — a motive

I comply, casually converse

knowing full well it has nothing to do with dogs

unless you plan to get past my pet?

No.

You are frantic… governed by paranoia

I empathize

my own demons guarded , withering in chains

Why not introduce yourself

ask me outright

what you have spent so much effort to learn

I have no secrets

other than the fact that I know who you are

Fear not – I have a dungeon

full of mysteries

Tit for tat –

What do you see of me behind those tinted blue eyes?

Can you rest now?