Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Importance of Retreat

Dear readers, I am thrilled to share with you this guest post by poet Jen Payne. She has just released a new collection of poetry, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. In the guest article below, she discusses the vital role occasional stints of solitude play in our lives-- she speaks of how important it is for writers and creative types, but I think it's something everyone can benefit from. And for a bonus, she even threw in a poem from her new work! Read on:

The Importance of Retreat
by Jen Payne

Photo by Jen Payne, 2017

BUG OUT! That’s what they called it on the TV show M*A*S*H. The enemy is getting closer, someone yells “Bug Out!” and everyone, everywhere packs up everything and bolts!

I use the same word, often, when it’s time to get away for a while. BUG OUT! You know that feeling, right? You’ve been working really hard, your To Do list hasn’t gotten any shorter, you can’t seem to get enough sleep, and coffee just isn’t working its usual magic.

It’s time to Retreat! Regroup! Withdraw! Escape!

I don’t think the battlefront vocabulary is all that off-base. We live in a world of battles—time, technology, schedules, workloads, deadlines. If you’re a creative type, somewhere in all of that you must also make room for the Muse who feeds your soul. And if your Muse is anything like mine, she lets you know when she’s hungry for more attention!

In the Scientific American article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” writer Ferris Jabr details study after study that confirm the importance of taking time off. He concludes that “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”

But we can’t all be like author Elizabeth Gilbert—a little overwhelmed, take a year off and travel the world to Eat Pray Love our way back to our creative selves. Not everyone has that luxury.

But here’s what I’ve learned about downtime…

IF…I give myself just a half hour to meditate or take a nap or walk in the woods? My Muse breathes.

IF…I give myself a day off, like a Sunday-Sabbath-resting day off? Then my Muse dances.

And IF…I am so lucky as to be able to take a true retreat—a suitcase, off-the-grid, away-from-things retreat—my Muse will pack up her stuff and come along with me. We’ll see things with fresh eyes, we’ll come up with new ideas, and we’ll start speaking to each other again.

Resistance is Futile 
from Evidence of Flossing

How easily I
write of changing seasons,
life grown from death.
Circle of Life,
I pontificate

with heels dug firm.

But at Sunday service
in wooded cathedral
as summer genuflects,
and jewel weed with wild grapes
stand at the crossing…

Everything is flowing,
god whispers.

How foolish am I to resist?

About the Book

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind is a collection of poetry and photographs that ask the reader to consider: What will we leave behind? What is our legacy in this vast and wondrous Universe?

Part social commentary, part lament, the poems in Evidence of Flossing are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Their investigation of the human condition and its folly — what makes us need that downtime— is juxtaposed to a series of poems about our natural world and the possibility of divine connection. Its pages are illustrated by a random, absurd, and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that inspired the title of the book.

Available from Three Chairs Publishing:
$21.99 (plus tax + shipping)

Or click here to purchase your copy today.

About Jen Payne
Jen Payne is inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. Her writing serves as witness to these in the form of poetry, creative non-fiction, flash fiction and essay. When she is not exploring our connections with one another, she enjoys writing about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.

Very often, her writing is accompanied by her own photography and artwork. As both a graphic designer and writer, Jen believes that partnering visuals and words layers the intentions of her work, and makes the communication more palpable.

In 2014, she published LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, a collection of essays, poems and original photography. Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind is her second book.

Jen is the owner of Three Chairs Publishing and Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, based in Branford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Branford Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, the Guilford Poets Guild, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Installations of her poetry were featured in Inauguration Nation an exhibition at Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven (2017), and Shuffle & Shake at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven (2016). Her writing has been published by The Aurorean, Six Sentences, the Story Circle Network, WOW! Women on Writing, and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health.

You can read more of her writing on her blog Random Acts of Writing: 

Connect with Jennifer:

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out other guest authors featured on this blog.

Monday, November 20, 2017

November News

Hi, all! Two of my poems, "Cemetery with Whale Bones" and "The Submersed" appeared in Aji Magazine. Read it free here.

"Cemetery with Whale Bones" was inspired by a photo I saw of a cemetery in Point Hope, Alaska:

I've never seen it in person, but now it's on my travel bucket list.

"The Submersed" was about a prison inmate I talked to who used to be an underwater welder. It sounds like a fascinating and terrifying occupation.

Later this month, my poem, "Mama" will appear on Poetry Breakfast. I'll also be featuring guest poet Jennifer A. Payne, who has just released a new poetry collection, Evidence of Flossing. 

Don't forget, all of my titles are now available on Kindle Unlimited. In December, in honor of the season, I'm making The Ice Dragon and The Winter Prince available as free downloads. The Ice Dragon will be free on Dec. 6, and The Winter Prince will be free on Dec. 13.

Thank you, as always, for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

All titles now on Kindle Unlimited

Hey, folks. I just wanted to share with everyone that all of my titles are now available on Kindle Unlimited:

The Order of the Four Sons
Where Flap the Tatters of the King 
The Sacred Heart

Our Miss Engel
The Ice Dragon
The Winter Prince
West Side Girl & Other Poems 

What better way to celebrate than to offer some free download days? This month, The Order of the Four Sons, Book I will be free on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20.

The world of O4S is very near and dear to my heart. I hope you grab a copy and start exploring!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Larry Kilham: Thoughts on First-Person Narration

On First-Person Narration
Writing coaches love to hold forth on what narrative should be used in fiction. The current consensus is for the new writer to use the third person. The story is told from the point of view of a character in the story other than the author and usually the character’s thoughts are shared with the reader. The narration character may be changed from time to time as necessary to best advance the story. The third person narrative is simple, intuitive, and most current fiction books can be used as models.

I prefer the first person (that’s me, the author) narration of the story because for me, at least, it results in a more engaging, “happening,” narrative. I don’t have to digest and interpret what someone else thought and did; the narrative comes straight from my emotional self. Also, several writers I particularly like use the first person effectively, including H.G. Wells, Ernest Hemingway, and Joseph Conrad. The narration can switch to the third person occasionally as required to tell the story, but this shouldn’t be done too frequently because it can be confusing for the reader.

In my current book, Free Will Odyssey, the story is tightly focused on a young man who invents a free will enhancing machine. His adventures include finding himself in a jail, a courtroom, and the White House. Since I was an inventor and experienced many aspects of the story, the first person was the natural narration to use.

Peter Tesla, a prodigious young inventor, develops an electronic device to enhance the user’s free will. A major application is drug detoxification. Peter’s star client is the U.S. president. Along the way, Peter is tried for the mysterious death of a girlfriend and struggles with the machinations of a secretive industrialist.

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

Larry Kilham has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and three novels with an AI theme.

Connect with Larry
Twitter: @larrykilham 

Like this post? Check out previous guest authors here