Barefoot in the snow

The Silent Eye

footprints-man-beach-morning

Have you ever walked along the water’s edge in wet sand, leaving behind a transient trail of footprints that will be washed away by the sea? The image is an evocative one, though a little trite perhaps. Many have seen it as an illustration of the fleeting and impermanent nature of our passage through the world.

Although there may be few things more wonderful than walking through warm shallows and laughing at the sun, that too brings an image of life to mind. The shallows are comfortable, they are safe and known, the point where land and water meet. We experience both without leaving our own natural element. We don’t even need to adjust much, simply take of the shoes and walk. At worst we risk stepping on a shard of shell. But we feel the caress of the waves on our skin and the shifting tides echoing in our…

View original post 715 more words

February: Marianne Eloise – Poet Interview

12767487_10153497694519065_101384867_n

Marianne Eloise

‘Cactus’

 

Cactus_cover-resized

Today we welcome Marianne Eloise to the Muse Shack. I found her debut poetry ‘Cactus’ enlightening, current, challenging and entertaining. It awoke in me, a fellow mover of places, some of the emotions and feelings of the author. I recommend this volume to all readers

Bio: Marianne Eloise is a UK-based writer, academic and journalist who works in the media. She loves pop culture, the coast, and 90s/00s trash aesthetics. Cactus is her debut poetry collection.

 

What inspires you to write poetry?

I don’t really get inspired as such, I’m just very motivated to write and work through my experiences. I also write in an attempt to preserve a place I’ve been or a particular time.

What is a measure of success as a poet?

I would consider myself successful if poetry was the only thing I needed to sustain my lifestyle, but I haven’t achieved that yet! I don’t think there are many poets who have achieved that, so for now I’d be happy just having people know who I am.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Honestly, I don’t read poetry. I like Plath enough, but I am primarily influenced by music and literature. Traditionally, poetry can be very inaccessible linguistically so I aspire to something more easy-going or lyrical. I probably borrow more from emo music like Bright Eyes or Brand New than I do poetry.

What about Cactus? What was special about it? What inspired you to write it?

I have been publishing poetry online for over three years and I wanted a collection that I and my readers could hold and that I could share. I looked at my work to establish a theme and found that I wrote about place a lot in an effort to understand my relation to certain locations, so I gathered several of them together and wrote new ones.

What makes a poem good?

As someone who doesn’t read much poetry, I’m not sure I’m the best to answer this, but I’ll try! When I was at University and reading other students’ poetry every day, it was so immediately clear which ones were false or trying to practice forms or ideas that didn’t come naturally. I think you need to have a really strong voice and an understanding of language to know how to manipulate it and have words work well together. Trying to sound old fashioned or evoke the same voice as writers 200 years ago is a really easy way to make a poem terrible. I just don’t think that a genuine voice is something that can be taught, only practiced.

How did you publish ‘Cactus’?

After researching and soliciting a great deal of advice on how to publish through a publishing house, I realised that it could take years and I wouldn’t have the control over my work that I want. So I turned to Blurb, a self-publishing site where I could have complete control over editing, design, etc. My partner (Owain Anderson) designed the cover, which I never would have had with a traditionally published collection.

What advice would you give aspiring poets, especially those who want to get into print?

Get a real job because poetry will never pay the bills. But if you’re good work hard at it, get your work out there, do readings, make friends. Read as much of anything as you can. Have other options and expertise, because it gives your work far more depth than if you’re just working in a vacuum of poetry. Google magazines and websites, especially ones in your area, and try to get some traction. Make yourself known in some way, even if it’s through your own website or self-published.

You can reach Marianne at her website, twitter @marianne_eloise, Instagram @mazisthebest, or by email Marianne.eloise@hotmail.com

CACTUS/LINKS

Cactus is Marianne’s debut poetry collection and contains three sections of poems about places: Leicester, Brighton, and California.. It has several poems you will never see on February Stationery.

 

You can find it in these places:

Kindle
Blurb
Amazon UKUSA (available on others if you search)
Bigcartel (directly from me, with a note)
and the Goodreads page (courtesy of Becca at Libfem) is right here

Those Were Our Days Volume 1

TWOD_Volume1

Before I announce the launch of those Were Our Days Volume 2, I want to draw your attention to the writers of Those Were Our Days volume 1. This group of writers came together under my leadership two years ago. Few had any experience of formal writing and were nervous about starting on a writing enterprise. By the end of year one, they had acquired enough confidence to turn-in some touching, funny and evocative stories. In spite of still needing to tighten grammar, we decided to publish.

Here is a book that will transport you back in time to a world that is vastly different from ours. Those Were Our Days aims to give the present-day reader an insight into the past and to preserve experiences and ways of life that might otherwise disappear with the passing of time. On these pages you will experience people, places and events that stretch back almost to the turn of the 20th century. Written by a group from York U3A, these stories are full of delight, evocation, humour and resourcefulness. This first book will leave you waiting for the next volume.

Enjoy reading.

Rose of Skibbereen – Book Review

Rose of Skibbereen

In Rose of Skibbereen, John McDonnell has brought us a book that captivates from start to finish.

Rose Sullivan meets and has to leave Sean McCarthy but has to say goodbye to him and her beloved rural Skibbereen for a new and better life in America.

From here, John McDonnell weaves a series of events that leads us through the life of these two people. Powerfully and sentively written, Rose of Skibereen draws us into the opposing pull of rural Ireland and a dynamic emerging America where life takes a series of twists and turns that will change Rose’s life and future plans.

The Characters in this story a vivid and real and create a strong sense of empathy and emotion in the reader. The narrative tension is subtly woven through the book, and will keep you turning the page again and again

If you like a love story full of romance, tension, twists and turns then this book is for you.

The end of Book One presents the reader with a cliff hanger that will make you want to order book two right away.

A brilliantly crafted novel that carries the reader to another place and time.

Elation

the_muse-233x300It was a wonderful experience to finally have copies of my new book in my hands. The writing task can seem long and unrewarding, that is, until the finished work is finally tangible. The Muse is pleased, but she refuses to let me stop…”Next project please” she intoned.

Published at Last

BookCover_NorthEastinEden_v2I realise I have been quiet in the Muse Shack for a long time now. Oh, I’ve been around, but over in the corner working on my book. The Muse has not been pleased, but she has been reminded that I have to make her other inspirations known.

So, at last ‘North East In Eden’ is published. A book of poetry exploring life as a place of joy, pleasure, sadness and pain. Rather than me try to explain it here, I am including this link where you can go for free and see two poems that contrast with each other:

I look forward to renewed contact here in the Muse Shack and invite you to share your writing ideas with all the others who drop in for inspiration and refreshment.

Successful Blogging

I was wondering what made for a successful blog and came upon this. Thanks to the author whom I have tried to contact without success:

How to get more page views for your blog
by Pete

This is a guest post by Kristina Chang, Evan Moore, Tony Xu, and Omer Rabin; students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“What makes a blog popular? What drives page views?” These are the questions that we’ve been trying to answer over the last few weeks. We were on a mission to dig into the data and analyze the strongest parameters that influence the flow of visitors to WordPress.com blogs.

Out of the 30+ million blogs on WordPress.com, we randomly selected a sample of almost 100,000 blogs to perform a regression analysis. Here are our findings, together with a few recommendations. We hope that this provides some new information, and kudos to you in case you’ve already incorporated these tips into your blog – the data suggests that you’re on the right track. Keep it up!

Make your blog easy to follow – It almost sounds obvious, but the simplest way to build more awareness is to make it easier to do so. Make sure that you have the follow widget as visible as possible. If your readers receive a notification every time you post, or see your post in their reader, there is a much higher chance that they will revisit your blog.

Comments, Comments, Comments – The most successful blogs, we found, created and encouraged a dialogue with their readers. The best way to make people more engaged with your writing is for you to engage back and start a conversation. In your posts, encourage people to comment. Also, make sure that you reply to people’s comments and continue the dialogue. This back and forth conversation is a significant driver of page views; holding all else equal, every additional comment can potentially drive up to 18 incremental page views! You can start by simply asking follow-up questions at the end of each post: ”have you ever done X?”; “do you think Y is acceptable?”. You can read some more thoughts on building a relationship with your audience in this post.

Post Frequently and Regularly – Your readers want to know that you are there for them and that you are “on it”. If you post frequently and regularly and have enabled the follow feature as we mentioned above, checking your blog could become a daily routine for your readers. Even if it’s a short post, write something new as frequently as possible, and at regular intervals. (The Daily Post can help with ideas for this.)

While these three tips were shown to be the most important drivers of page views in our analysis, you might consider other parameters, which we found as having a partially significant effect: syndicating your post to Twitter and Facebook (using Publicize), for example, could lead to additional page views.

Happy blogging!

Self-publishing has taken Christian literature to a more honest place: A guest post by Brian Holers

Today I am re-posting this Guest Post from Emlyn Chand and Brian Holers. I hope it will inspire all you Christian writers to begin to expand your story lines. Oh…buy a copy of Doxology too…!

Posted by  on Mar 7, 2012 in BlogBlog Tour StopsGuest Posts | 3 comments

Self-publishing has taken Christian literature to a more honest place:  A guest post by Brian Holers
Please enjoy this guest post by Brian Holers, author of the literary novel,Doxology. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

Not just for Christians

One of the beauties of self-publishing is that the gatekeeper has been fired. In this new world of books made possible by the Internet, no one is left to guard the door. To tell the reader what is what. This state of affairs may introduce an element of confusion for dogmatic readers, but the good news is, new breeds of literature are being created.

Self-publishing allows literature to cross over in new ways. Traditional Christian fiction publishers, for instance, disallow most references to sex, and even the most juvenile profanity. Self-publishing changes this. Not to suggest a writer should ever debase a genre—as writers we are obliged to choose our words carefully. But the old Christian books kept many readers away. “I’m not going to read that. That’s Christian. It’s boring.” Still, nearly every Christian I know periodically swears, fights, and even becomes amorous from time to time. Christians like good stories too, with depth of character, excitement, whimsy, action. The success of a book like The Shackshows the need for stories of real people dealing with real problems, in a faith-based context. It doesn’t even have to be good literature.

As humans, we all look for answers. Stories are stories. Conflict builds to crisis, which leads to a form of resolution. Sure, some people never doubt their faiths, even in the face of horrible tragedy. Others do. Some never ascribed to a faith in the first place, and instead spend their days casting about for a context to this condition we call humanness. The problem with much traditional Christian literature is this; when a character is pushed to a crisis, and the only change we read is “he fell on his knees, then and there, and accepted Jesus into his heart,” that incident may describe a beautiful sentiment, and may have value to a real person in real life, but as a reader, it doesn’t tell me anything. A reader wants details. He wants to see the sweat break out. She wants to hear the thoughts and words that accompany the character’s condition. Literature is literature. We want to see development. We want to get inside the characters. We want to get to know them. That’s why we care. Regardless of the genre label put on the book.

Doxology is a story in between. The book has a religious message; given its primary setting in rural north Louisiana, that message is Christian. But the characters are just people. They experience the same emotions all people do—love, joy, loss. Their conflicts grow and grow until they must be resolved. Like real people, they go astray, take paths of separation from God, or just from what is good for them. They experience desires that can never be fulfilled, want things that can never be had or even understood. They discover the traits in their lives that aren’t working, and set out to find new habits that will work. Many Christian values are universal—a belief, despite evidence to the contrary, that our lives are worthwhile. An understanding that letting go, and learning how little we are in charge, makes life more manageable. A certainty that the kindness and compassion we offer to others is returned to us a hundredfold.

Some say God. Some say the universe. But we all–when we’re honest, and when we pay attention, have a sense of something looking out for us, giving us what we need. Putting people we need into our lives. We give credit for these gifts as we see fit. Good literature promotes a point of view by showing the reader how a character’s modes of operation and beliefs work for her (or don’t). Good literature, whatever its genre, lets the reader inside. Lets the reader do part of the work. Doxology, in this vein, is a story at the crossroad of God and man. It presents God as the characters experience God, and as real people experience God, looking out for them, giving them what they need. Coming to understand how God has been there all along.

Doxology is a love story. Faith plays a role, as it helps the characters find answers and resolution, improves their lives. Like Jody and Vernon and the others, we all look for redemption from brokenness of the past. They and we find it, as people both real and imaginary alike do, in family, friends, productive work, a sense of place, a faith in something greater. Doxology is a story, first and foremost. Its characters face problems. Their conflicts grow. They look for resolutions and ultimately find them, imperfect as they are. We the readers get to know them, and we care. We sympathize. They matter.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the DoxologyeBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About the book: Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazonor Barnes & Noble.

About the author: An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

Angry Muse

The Muse is angry with me. When I showed up at the Muse Shack, she had all my creative stuff sat outside on the grass. She shouted at me from the window and told me to go write somewhere else.

That was the problem, I had been somewhere else. Ireland for my daughter’s wedding…Scotland for new opportunities…meetings for setting up groups. Writing just seemed to get set aside, and though it was important, other things seemed to scream against it. I longed for the Muse and the Muse longed for me.

Writing is a demanding, creative and spontaneous craft. It takes time that is dedicated to the creation of meaningful words. Time is not always our friend, and giving hours a day to writing may seem unrealistic and frustrating.

Take heart. A former Archbishop of Canterbury who was a prolific writer, told how he wrote his books in ten minutes a day. Do the sums. Ten minutes a day…every day…there is a piece in a week, an article or short story in a fortnight, a novelette in eight months, a book in two years (or two).

So, business kept me from the Muse and she was waiting. But, I am back and she is forgiving. After taking all my stuff back into the Muse Shack, I found a corner and started to write…she is pleased and my editors are even more pleased.