“A Beautiful Twist” Update and A Bite of Poetry

Hello writers, readers, and future submitters. I wanted to put out an update about this year’s anthology. First, to all of those who have submitted, thank you so for sharing your words and stories. I’ve gotten a few really interesting and engaging submissions but the truth is, I haven’t actually received enough entries to complete a book. So, I am extending the deadline to December 1st, 2022. This of course will push the publishing date back by about two months but I would rather put out a good quality book that we can all be proud of.

In the event I don’t get enough entries, I will give the entrants an opportunity to have their work published and promoted on my website, or have it returned to them so that they may option it out elsewhere. I hope the new dates will give people more time to find something fun and twisted to send in and give those that have already made the cut a chance to still get their work out there and even earn a small amount of money for it. If you need details on the submission guidelines, here they are:

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  • Dates: Submission will open until December 1, 2022
  • Winners will be notified December 2022
  • Publication Date: TBA Early 2023
  • Submission guidelines: The Beautiful Stuff will be accepting, short stories (2000-5000 words), Flash Fiction (200-1000 words), Poetry (up to 5 poems allowed per submission), novel excerpts (up to 3000 words), and Personal Essays (up to 2000 words) all centered around the theme. I’m pretty lenient as far as genre. I will accept non fiction, fiction, speculative fic, western, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, erotica, historical, hysterical, time jumping primates, talking frogs, brains in jars, and ANY combination thereof. Submissions translated to English are preferred. All humans are encouraged to send in their work, regardless of how they identify, what color wrapper they come in, or who they love. I may judge your font, but I’ll never judge you.
  • Contest is open to domestic and international writers but awards will be paid in US dollars. Please submit your work as an attachment to your email, which will be a lovely cover letter about you (name, email, job, what you write, what you love to do, your submission’s title, and the secret of life–haha, just kidding we all know its 42). Email subject line should read BEAUTIFUL TWIST SUBMISSION_name (not just ‘name’–use your name). The submission file (please use .doc, .docx, or another Word friendly format) should be the title of your submission and your last name i.e. “Merry Krampus-Reichert”
  • Top 3 submissions will earn prizes as follows: 1st–$30, 2nd–$20, 3rd–$10 paid via PayPal or Venmo (or check if need be). Runners up will be published in the anthology with a chance to compete in the Colorado Book Awards.
  • You may submit in multiple formats, multiple times (ie poems and flash, or novel excerpt and essay) but each submission must be in a separate email. You can copy and paste your cover letter…I’m not going to make you rewrite that thing, they’re a pain in the ass.
  • PLEASE DO NOT submit anything that has been previously published or that you no longer own the rights to. I can’t even begin to process the legalities, so just don’t. Don’t double dip. Simultaneous submissions are absolutely fine but LET ME KNOW if your work gets accepted elsewhere as soon as possible.
  • Prohibited subject matter includes: overtly violent or gruesome content that does not further the story, non consensual sexual acts, racist/homophobic/misogynistic/hate filled writing, violent or hurtful actions against children or animals, and anything that judges, stereotypes, or seeks to harm another human being based on their human being-ness. I’m cool with erotica done tastefully and along the lines of the theme. I’m also cool with expletives if they fit the character and scene and you’re not just using them like a 7th grade boy to look cool. Cool?

All right, now that you all have a little breathing room to get your stuff in (or procrastinate until November 30th) here’s a little poetry:

Showing Up

Every day is a stranger’s best guess

who’ll show up to fill my skin

not even I know what shape

my mind will take

or what chaotic beauty will emerge

from which butterfly’s wing flap

but I know she will be beautiful

she always is

broken or ballsy

tired gloom or bursting rainbows

contemplative or cursing

all shades of her grey matter

matter and shine and

she’ll do ten thousand amazing things

per second

without me directing

bring coffee to lips

walk steps

write poems

hug babies

manipulate words

toss around thought

buy the groceries

feed the soul

take the hit

give it back, times two

every day is fate’s best guess

who’ll show up to fill my skin

But she is always

broken and in-progress

uplifting and whole

whether in shades of gray

or color

I can always count

on me showing up

Poetry 7-21-22

Good morning! Today I’m just going to leave some poetry out here, and see if anyone wants it. Part thick blankets of scars, part unrelenting love, part battle weary hearts. But all truth.

The Man was Made of Scars

Weren’t you ten feet tall
a bulletproof liaison to the world
sent to make it so much a better place

until bombs exploded
shrapnel hit and bullets sang 
crushed the air between barrel 
and your unwilling skin

until you shed blood, 
with hands that once combed 
through sun bleached hair
from a world made of cotton candy
and Ferris wheels
to one painted red 
in the sands
of another country

Weren’t you found
and lured away from those neon streets,
and beach-lived boardwalks 
by promises of adventure
and the sunlit coast
became 
generator lit and
full of shadows in
gaped-hole buildings

Weren’t you soft in creation 
borne of love and hope
until the world sent armies of mercenaries
disguised as honest work
and missions accomplished
all adding layers
to the thick wall of scars
armoring your body
and chaining over
the door of your heart

Weren’t you ten feet tall
 once,
and always . . . for the rest of your life

until these damn wounds
 


Would That I (On the Matter of Anorexia)

would that I could save you
wrap my arms around and
whisper 
you are enough
the final word on the matter, 
a benediction 
no rebuttal

would that I could save you
bring your tears to halt
calm the incessant raging of doubt and hurt
that runs blades around your brain 
and makes you forget
you are not these
unforgiving storms

would that I could save you
carry you up and over
these days of engulfing uncertainty
help you come home 
to a place of just being 
of looking into a mirror
and knowing 
you were born perfect
and nothing has changed since then

would that I could save you
slay this dragon and hang 
its bloodied head on the mantle
reminding all destructive beasts
they’ll meet destructive ends
at the hands of my love.

But I cannot kill this dragon for you.

I can stand beside you
I can give you the sword, 
point out its weak spots 
and steady your hands on the hilt
I can give you rest from battle 
so you can outlast the nights
until we come out, victorious.


The Seamstress

I’ve made a full-time job
out of trying to save your heart
but the hours are long
and the pay is low
the benefits are murky
and there’s no time off
no one else
can cover my shift

I reattach pieces as they come undone
hold your hand 
and stitch with the other
but the flesh is over sewn
and each seam gets weaker
and every time I knot the end
of one line 

another begins to fray
and fall away

and I press my hand to it 
and steel my nerve
and tell you it will be alright
even as you thrash against the pain
and fight my efforts
to keep it from killing you

wishing I’d just

stop.

wishing I’d just leave
your battered,
bloody,
aching, 
flesh alone

can’t hurt if it’s not beating
you tell me

but it’s my full-time job,
and I wouldn’t know what to do
if I couldn’t save your heart.

Catching Up and A Whole Lotta Links

Just a quick blog this week to let you know I’ve finally gotten Westbury Falls set up on Kindle Vella, and the first episode will be available Sunday, July 10th. I’ll send a link out via all the socials on it’s release date. There will be additional goodies written into the chapters, so even if you’ve been keeping up so far, you’ll get new insights to Lillian and Matthew’s adventures.

For those of you waiting for the next books (The Sweet Valley Series) I’m afraid you will have a little while longer to wait. I’m exploring some different opportunities but I guarantee that when I hear news you’ll hear it too. My goal is to have them out sooner rather than later.

Also worth mentioning. My science fiction adventure novella is now a completed audiocast! Here are the links in various formats to listen to it.

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/ff4ba549-f715-4fa8-b6f0-a6bc3b9727af/saturn-rising?refMarker=null&

https://www.audible.com/pd/Saturn-Rising-Podcast/B09SNLTJ6B

https://podbay.fm/p/saturn-rising

I’m so proud of this project, and love hearing the story brought to life. A thousand times a billion thanks to Ngano Press Studios and their amazing work. I hope I can collaborate with them in the future on other projects.

Submissions for The Beautiful Stuff Anthology 2023 are still open! Contact me here for more details or visit the submissions page to get a list of the rules. The theme is “A Beautiful Twist” and I’m accepting multiple formats (poetry, short story, flash fiction) of writing.

I attended the Fan Expo in Denver last weekend and was blown away by the amount of talented, generous, and wonderful writers in attendance. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing up some reviews on their books and services they offer.

In the panels I was able to attend, I met a lot of beautiful humans, both readers and writers, and was able to engage in some great discussions about where the genre of Romance is headed, why it’s important to utilize it in other genres, and how to expand your audience and reach. All in all, it was a successful, fun, and engaging time and I wanted to thank everyone who stopped by.

I’m always heartened by how many people are out there, aspiring to write, working hard on finishing their works in progress, and struggling as we all do. Keep up the good fight. Keep writing. Don’t let life, distractions, or self-doubt kill that desire. Write. Write. Write.

That’s my quick catch-up and I hope in the next weeks to get you some book reviews, write ups on Point of View, how romance has changed and evolved, and what we can look forward to in the future with genre trends. Also, links to more of my work and some exciting things coming out.

Again, feel free to contact me with questions about submitting to the anthology!

Until then. Write. Write. Write.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Projects In The Works

Morning, readers. I didn’t get a chance to write a blog last week, but some things are coming up you might want to know about.

First–Saturn Rising: Episode #2 should be running Monday the 28th, and you can find the link to the first episode here:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/ff4ba549-f715-4fa8-b6f0-a6bc3b9727af/saturn-rising

Second– The Beautiful Stuff 2022 Anthology “A Beautiful Twist” is still open for submissions. I have a long submission period and you can find the details about the submission here:

So far I’ve gotten some amazing poetry, a few great flash fic pieces, and one short story. There will be plenty of room so if you’re hesitating, don’t.

FInally–I am writing my little heart out on a new project with co-author Kerrie Flanagan, that will be due out this summer and will include (hopefully) some book signings at some totally awesome 80’s venues. The romantic comedy is due out in June but I will keep you updated!

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com

Well, there’s a catch up. I hope you’re able to enjoy the podcast and are looking forward to the new novel as much as I am looking forward to getting it out into the world. Take care and don’t forget to send me your submissions for this year’s anthology!

Poetry 2-24-22

Good morning. I had planned a vibrant book review. But some weeks the flow of energy is a low and staggered and we have to return to center ourselves. This week, it’s all about finding my solid ground again, being my own safe space, and casting away the self doubt that has saturated my soul.

How often are we paralyzed by the expectations we put on ourselves? By what we want to be for others, or because of others. How often are we overcome with despair when we fail to meet those expectations, to garner that acceptance, to find that love?

Here is what I know to be true–

Yours is the only heart you will have for your whole life time. From its very first beat. Until its last.

Lovers, spouses, friends, parents, even children will come and go in your life, in the natural waxing and waning of time and experience. But your heart, your soul, your presence is the only one you get to spend the entire journey with. So take care of your vessel…from the engine, to the machinery, the fuel and the fire. Take care of you. Love you. Believe in you.

And now, this.

Photo by Abdullah Ghatasheh on Pexels.com
Becoming

Was there ever such a silence as this?
sun warmed skin and the echo of
small chirping voices
amongst the barking magpie and
reverberation of holy time
etched into the sides of mountains
silent, pine needle prayer

I’ve been a complacent wanderer
following the strongest flow
eyes on wayward trails
branching
never forward, exactly
but they tempt places I yearn
to wander

and it feels
like losing my ground
or finding it.

It’s in the din of life
the marked and constant boxes
that we lose our true course
give away our feet on earth
and forget 
silent places to find
ourselves.

I miss these mountains
and cultivating space between
what I dreamed of becoming and
what I’ve become.

What have I become?

Guest Poetry: Elliana Byrne

Good morning. Today’s poetry comes to us from a former and continuing contributor to The Beautiful Stuff’s Poetry Anthology. Ms. Byrne has a knack for gripping the guts with her poetry and, as an almost graduated student at the University of Boulder, she is finding her way with a powerful voice in the world.

Elliana spends her days reading (sometimes for fun…most times for class), daydreaming, and writing. She studies English Lit and dabbles in short stories and poetry when possible. She enjoys life best curled up with a good book and her cat, Gil. You can read her work in last year’s anthology “No Small Things” (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1692331558/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And now this:

Photo by Sourav Mishra on Pexels.com
Clean Slate

I want to wipe away 
the grievances 
of your skin
and its heated strokes against mine
and darken the unforgiving universes 
of your eyes
that know and
do not know me.

But the treasonous mind
casts wayward glances,
over shoulders turned cold
and the love and ache of wounds
that should be healed over
resound in weakening heart beats.

The disloyal heart
casts out lines and currents that have 
battled the boards of my ship
and sunk it deep, now lies 
desolate and quiet a tomb
on the ocean floor
waiting, in vain,
for a tug of interest.

My dissonant soul vibrates in time
to the sound of yours
even when the harmonic waves
shake my teeth and
dislodge my brain
and seize my nerve endings
and tell me
to clean you off
close my eyes,
turn my back to
and cut the lines
cover ears and
regain
what once was
me.


Guest Blog: Nina Naylor

Good morning! Today’s guest blog comes to us from the incomparable Nina (pronounced 9-uh) Naylor. She will be featured in the “Wilderness of Soul” anthology and I’m excited to share her work here with you. Nina has a beautiful approach to the world, writing, and how we all feel as wordsmiths with regards to calling ourselves ‘real writers’.

Here’s a little bit about her:

Nina Naylor is a writer, poet, and essayist.  She wrote her first poem at age 8.  She is a member of Northern Colorado Writers and the Academy of American Poets.  She has had poems, essays and articles published in organizational publications.  


Nina was able to take early retirement and has been focusing on her writing dream.  She is currently working on a poetry book, a book of prayers, and a memoir.  

The subject of her first poem?  A dancing pig!

I spent the last few days fretting about driving down to Denver alone to visit my
granddaughter. The address existed in an area my mind at once equated being outside my
comfort zone. The various degrees of fear rampantly invaded my rational thinking, and my
inner critic flooded my brain with negative outcomes and reasons why I should not go. But this
cannot be the individual I confidently relate to when I envision that person inside me in its
truest form! That woman who embraces all things new and enterprising…who still wants to
experience the exhilaration of adventure – the kind that excites and awakens my soul, that
allows me to explore new cultural diversities in an unbiased demeanor…who wants to see the Divine Light that shines throughout!

This same consternation relates to my internal dance of viewing myself as a writer and
not. To move past the wishing stage and be vulnerable enough in sharing myself with the
world. My writing engulfs me – it lives in my soul and to lay myself open to ridicule, critiques
and rejection seemed incredulous.

Nevertheless, my adventurous soul still burns – aches to be released and my lifelong
dream to write and be published flourishes! Friends and family encouraged my writing
throughout the years, but not until I found the fortitude to believe in myself along with the
willingness of mind, body and spirit did my journey come to fruition. Last year at Christmastime
a dear friend rewarded me with the ultimate gift of support: a poetry book by another woman
who recently found the courage to share her soul along with my friend’s accompanying
sentiment “I’ve been fortunate to hear some of your poems and stories. Now, I want others to
experience the joy of reading them.”

Each year I choose a word to live by and this year my word comes from Debbie Z.
Almstedt’s book Zibu: The Power of Angelic Symbology . My word Rakumi means “clarity of
purpose
” and the accompanying affirmation is “I continue to gain clarity as I listen within
knowing the answers unfold with ease.
” To fully embrace the adventure and accept myself as a
writer opens opportunities each day by being willing to believe and surround myself with
positive motivations. This entails positive friendships, writers’ groups, reading the genre l like to​
write, and sending my work for consideration. I encourage you to seek out what truly fulfills
your soul.

Just so you know, I still can have doubts, but they don’t last. The night before I found
out two of my poems would in the anthology, I had thought to myself, “who am I to think I can
write?!” Believe in yourself…put yourself out there…be willing.

I like to write acrostic poetry and I will leave you with one using my word for this year.

R eceiving
A nswers and
K nowledge.
U nfolding
M yself
I ntentionally.

By the way – the outing with my granddaughter and her boyfriend in Denver? Joyous!!

Guest Blog: Liyona Cicone

Hello writers and readers! Today’s blog comes to us from a winning contributor of The Beautiful Stuff’s 2021 Poetry Anthology “Wilderness of Soul”.

Liyona considers herself an “average joe” kind of writer who likes to think about ordinary things and then write them down. Ever since she can remember, she has been rhyming words and creating lyric poems. During her college years, she took a more serious bent toward writing and started to post on her blog, The Life and Times of a Quirky Character (https://liyonadancer100.wordpress.com/category/writing-2/). Currently, she resides on the East Coast of the United States just north of the country’s capital. Liyona’s prose have been published in Visual Verse, Flora Fiction and Spillwords. You can also find her commenting and collaborating as a Barista at the Go Dog Go Cafe.

As you read through this journey of one writer’s process, I urge you to think about your own methods, style, obstacles, and ‘safe’ spaces for writing.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Hello everyone, my name is Liyona. I am so excited to be sharing a bit about myself and my writing journey.

I have always enjoyed writing and creating stories. From a young age, I scribbled down notes and stories about fantasy worlds and characters. As I grew older, I found writing to be a cathartic way to transmit my thoughts and feelings and continued to write but through poems and short prose pieces.

My favorite and ‘safe’ space is found in free form poetry where there is no rhyme or meter. In this form, I love to create rhythms and beats that are evident if you read the poem out loud.

Over the past year, I have been challenging myself to submit to online magazines and weekly prompts. This has been an amazing challenge that has pushed my writing to the next level. I find that by working to time frames and prompts I am required to be intentional about word choice and decisive in editing. Usually, I take time mull over a prompt and let it sit in my subconscious for a while. Then, I take only a few minutes to respond to a prompt or to create a new poem. This allows me to release every idea onto the page. From there, I will re-read/edit my work by reading the poem out loud.

The rhythm is very important to me; during this stage I will make changes based on beats and measure, almost like a song. I tend to release a poem and post it soon after it is written. This allows me to keep creating, keep moving forward and continue stretching my writing so that I am able to create new and more interesting pieces. I am very happy to be part of this poetry anthology. It is such a wonderful opportunity to share my work and meet fellow writers!

Guest Poet: John Lipp

Hello poetry lovers. I realize I’ve given you three consecutive weeks of poems to read and dwell on, but in this increasingly busy season of end-of-school activities, and my own personal work schedule, I’m pleased to be able to offer something diverse, impactful and economical (aka isn’t monopolizing anyone’s limited time). So, with that, it is a great honor to introduce this next poet to you. I didn’t realize I’d put them so closely together, so if you recognize the name from a few weeks back, you are not wrong in assuming John is one half of a dynamic duo of poets.

Photo by anna-m. w. on Pexels.com

Ya’ll, I can’t be more excited to introduce his work here. He has a brevity and flow that feels like it needs a backbeat and could be something I’d belt out in my car when it comes on the radio. Take a minute with it, roll it round your brain. See if you feel the rhythm to his words and phrasing. It’s magical. I’m only offering one of his poems here but there are two more to be included in this Fall’s upcoming anthology.

Here’s a little bit about John:

John Lipp is firstly, a new father and lucky husband. He did what every 13 year old with a guitar would do, and played in blink-182 cover bands through adolescence, so most of his writing has been devoted to mediocre punk rock. He devoted last November to strengthening his skills in poetry, abstaining from his usual time-wasters. He is currently co-writing a book on the effects of the death of a father (funnier than it sounds), and writing a tandem novella/ concept album about a time traveling boy band from 1999. He’s sure it will work out.

Photo by Mariana Montrazi on Pexels.com

Eraser

Be it the end of a stick, the keys that you click, or a bottle of white slick liquid that sticks and affixes itself to fix what is inadequate; you have a purpose, to change.

Nature grows a branch that won’t stand a chance, but the pruner’s cut offers a contrary stance. Where torrential storm was once in control, the loss of one limb has strengthened the whole. 

But have you not changed what is to come? Do these mistakes constitute becoming undone? You change the words, you change what’s to pan. Once the name of the tool, now the name of the man.

Poetry Guest Blog: Lauren Newman Lipp

Good morning, all. Today’s beautiful contribution comes to us from a tremendously talented, kind-hearted, and all-around stellar human being. I’ve known Lauren for over five years now and every single time I get to talk with her, she just makes me feel like the world is a better place to be in.

The poem below, as well as two other, equally moving pieces, will be featured in “Wilderness of Soul” later this year!

Here’s a little about her:

Lauren Newman Lipp is a typical millennial that loves Harry Potter, early 2000’s emo music, and writing passionate pieces that reflect everyday life and struggles. She’s been expressing herself through the written word since her favorite teacher, Ms. Cowdry, taught her how to write in Kindergarten. Since then, she’s explored many forms of writing and loves the mighty power a pen can hold (although she sometimes ditches the pen for a keyboard). She earned a Bachelor’s degree from CSU Fort Collins in English, and her claim to fame is writing an A paper only hours before it was due in class. She has read “Othello” more times than she can count and loves to discuss the many complexities of Iago’s character. She spent some time teaching Language Arts and trying to pass along her love for reading and writing to 6th graders. These days, Lauren spends her time trying to make her husband laugh, playing with and chasing her toddler, and working on a novel about werewolves.

And now, Ladies and Gents; the incomparable Ms. Lauren:

Glug-Glug Lullaby

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Staring into my pre-portioned glass of red wine,

5 ounces exactly,

I beg for a revelation to fall over top of me.

To crumble over my shoulders and open my eyes wider.

A light to burn out the dark.

But instead, 

I just feel my edges fuzz, and my insides warm

And I do realize something.

Only one thing:

That I could

Dump the rest of the bottle into my glass,

Indulging in the “glug-glug”

That plays while pouring

Too fast with no control, no remorse…

And then just sip away

Till my eyes grow heavier and my edges blur.

But the idea that I could, scares me

And brings me closer 

To the mother I don’t want.

I am also brought closer 

To  feeling empathy for her

Understanding, and now knowing 

How soothing

That “glug-glug” could sound

Inside my ringing ears.