Wednesday, April 30, 2014

unexpected turbulence

I’m not sure
whether you’re
the heavy winds
or the eye
of my hurricane

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

swallowed up

doubts run through me
like little cracks

any minute
they could split wide

Monday, April 28, 2014


               You have your
own atmosphere. Dark
clouds swirl within it.
Lightning crackles too
close to your skin.

               Sometimes the
sparks burn me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

after dark

my body morphs with my bed
it is all I have left to hold on to
my mind falls

Saturday, April 26, 2014


within the medal
they gave him
were the ghosts
of a hundred men
who deserved it more

Friday, April 25, 2014


she looked out the car window
and watched the world pass by
beyond her reflection

Thursday, April 24, 2014

and... him vii.

on the mornings
when we met
at the coffee shop
I didn’t come
for the caffeine
only the company

What I Want After Publication

Everyone knows that a writer's main goal is publication. To reach author status. Some reach this dream through self-publishing. Others go more traditional routes. But what about after that? What does a writer, an author, want after publication?

They want people to read their work. Beyond that, they want people to like their work. Whether this enjoyment is expressed through five star reviews, fan mail, awards, or titles such as "New York Times' Bestseller," authors literally live off of it.

However, while I would absolutely love those things, I want something more. I want to inspire. I want to spark other people's creativity. I want fan art and fan fiction. I want people to write songs about my stories. I want people to cosplay as my characters. I want my art to be the stem from which other art will sprout.

And I don't want people to stop at creative expression. I want them to think. I want them to discuss the ins-and-outs of my books, to argue over them. I want Tumblr posts written about my themes and my character relationships. I want other authors to collaborate on books where they express their opinions about my writing.

In other words, I guess I want people to interact with my books, not just read them. Because, as my critique partner, Steph, put it, "Stories are organic. They grow, and age, and change. And it's cool to be cool with that."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


do you ever think
that maybe the roses
are taking time
out of their day
to let you smell them?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


a shiver crawls up my back,
whispering your coming
to each of my vertebrae.

they brace themselves
to keep me from melting.

Monday, April 21, 2014

and... her vi.

during that week
when you were sick
I told you that
I’d already had
the chicken pox
but afterward
I went straight
to the doctor

Sunday, April 20, 2014

striking back

the waves crashed against the rocks
the waves crashed against the rocks
the waves crashed against the rocks

          the rocks crashed against the waves
          and the waves flew to p i e c e s

Saturday, April 19, 2014

and... him vi.

on our first Easter
when I hid
and you found
the eggs that
spelled out
those eggs had been
ready in my fridge
for two weeks

Friday, April 18, 2014


he spent all his time wondering
if every breath he took
once carried the vibration of her voice
which molecules of oxygen
once graced her lungs, brushed across her lips
if the sweet taste in his mouth
contained particles of her last exhalation of hope

Thursday, April 17, 2014

fresh start

she hired a divorce lawyer
and kicked out that person
she didn’t want to be

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

From the time I began reading, I was a fiction girl. Period. End of the line. That was it. Learning was for school and, on top of that, non-fiction wasn't fun to read. You couldn't talk me out of it. I was set in my ways, firm in my views.

Then, in sixth grade, we were required to write a book report over a biography. When I heard, my heart sank, but I knew I had to do it. So I sucked it up and and checked out a biography of Anastasia from the school library. I don't remember the title or the author, yet I know that I enjoyed it. It made me think, made me view people a little bit differently. I also garnered a lifelong fascination with Anastasia, with her possible survival and continued lineage.

However, despite my momentary weakness, Anastasia, or perhaps her portrayal, was not enough to convert me to the dark side. It was the last non-fiction book I read for years.

Now, while I disliked reading non-fiction, writing it was almost torture. I seemed to forget how to write a fluid sentence. The prose came out awkward and fake-feeling, as if I was writing more gibberish than when I made things up for fiction. All attempts left me frustrated at my inadequacy. I could not write non-fiction.

Then two things happened simultaneously that have made me reconsider my overall stance on non-fiction.

First, my paternal grandmother asked me to write her mother's, my great-grandmother's, biography. I was horrified at the mere idea and my grandmother could not understand why. She thought that since I wrote fiction, writing a biography would be no big deal. Even after I've turned her down many times, she still continues trying to convince me. She doesn't see the distinct difference between the two genres and the styles in which they are written.

Second, over the summer, I was assigned a non-fiction book report for AP English Language and Composition. Again, I didn't like the project, but I knew it would have to be done. My non-fiction book had to be over 200 pages, school appropriate, AP worthy, and have been published in the last ten years. I browsed the NYT Bestseller's List and chose a book that I hoped would at least be interesting.

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS changed my viewpoint, both on life and non-fiction, forever.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

You can find my full assessment of this book here. In short, though, this one line wraps up how this book changed my perspective on non-fiction: "I found pleasure both in the story aspect of it and in learning the vast amount of information about HeLa cells provided." Through story, what I love in fiction, I learned and enjoyed learning.

Skloot's writing showed me that non-fiction can be just as full of life, just as intricate, just as fun to read as fiction. That real life, that the wonders of our world and its people, that what really happened is just as good as what we can imagine. It taught me that there are different ways to approach non-fiction writing just as there are different ways to approach fiction writing. Maybe, just maybe, I might attempt writing that biography.

Now when I think about non-fiction, I get excited. Not in the way that I become excited for fiction, but something new. With fiction, I long for the impossible. With non-fiction, I seek only the things of this physical world, this universe. I seek events I did not witness, but that someone else did. I seek a deeper connection between myself and my surroundings through knowledge and facts, things that no one made up, that no one had to. That initial spark I felt from reading about Anastasia has bloomed into a fire.

Non-fiction finally struck me. I am awed.

How do you feel about reading and writing non-fiction? How do you think it differs from fiction? Which is your preference? Would you write someone's biography? Do you have any other good non-fiction books to recommend?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


her blood burned through her veins
hidden beneath her skin and her smile
pressure building as her heart screamed
her bones bowing under the weight...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

almost I love you

          Those words I keep meaning to say
          are tattooed on the inside of my lip.
          Every time I talk, they almost tip over
          the edge into the open air, just hanging on
          by the skin of my teeth. I tuck them back
          with the tip of my tongue and a swallow.
          Their heavy ridges scrape against my gums.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sympathies of a Dandelion

She sits on the front steps,
staring at the dandelion
in the yard, wondering
what it’s seen,
how much it knows.

The         wind      blows
     away             its           p e t a l s.

Are these tears for her?

"I" Doesn't Have to Mean "Me"

Dear Non-Writers,

I know you try hard to understand, to be supportive. And I appreciate it beyond belief. A writer can't survive without someone cheering her on from the sidelines. But we need to talk about a little matter that needs clearing up.

You see, there's this thing called first person. It's when a writer uses words like "I," "mine," and "me." "I hate cats" is a first person sentence. Yet, while I wrote that sentence using the word "I," I didn't mean me. I actually love cats.

Fiction writers do this all the time. They use "I," but they're not talking about themselves. The "I" refers to their point-of-view character and what that character thinks and says and does.

I used to think everyone knew this, writers and non-writers alike. And some of you probably do. Experience has taught me, however, that some people take "I" literally.

For instance, when I went to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in 2012, my class performed a poetry reading. Afterward, my mom brought up one of my classmate's poems. The narrator in the girl's first person poem spoke rather harshly about her mother. My mom said she was glad my classmate wasn't her daughter. That the poem would have made her cry. When I tried to tell her my classmate wasn't talking about her own mother, my mom said it didn't matter. It sounded like she was.

This particular misconception is one of my biggest pet peeves. It's ignorant and stems from degrading views of fiction writers. We aren't just writing "better-sounding" versions of our lives. We're writing about the human experience in all its forms.

So, in conclusion, my lovely, wonderful non-writers, remember when you're reading your friend or your family member's work that "I" doesn't mean "them." It'll help you avoid hurt feelings and arguments.

With warm regard,
A First Person Fiction Writer

Sunday, April 13, 2014

fall by grace

she lay down in the sky,
spread her limbs to
make star angels

they flew away,
leaving her
to fall

Saturday, April 12, 2014

teenage now

sitting around a table
with five spoons
and two tubs of gelato,
laughing at fellatio puns                       [that’s what she said]
and other jokes
we won’t remember tomorrow,          [or even an hour from now]
          solids in an already-liquid

Friday, April 11, 2014

and... her v.

at junior homecoming
when we danced
for the first time
I wouldn’t
meet your eyes
because I knew if I did
I wouldn’t be able
to resist
pressing my lips
to yours

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

the limit

count every oxygen molecule
that’s ever been formed
              count all the nitrogen too
keep counting as stars explode
and implode and eat each other
              as the universe grows and
              everything decomposes
count every breath a plant’s ever taken
and subtract every fire ever set
              count every diatomic particle

                            i love you this much

Writing Is Loving

John Green once said, "Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff-like, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can't-control-yourself love it." It's a great quote. And it's not just true for nerds. The same can be said of writers.

Writers have to love stuff. You wouldn't spend hours, days, weeks on something you didn't love. You wouldn't give up precious family time or turn down social invitations to sit alone at a desk if your heart wasn't in the work. You couldn't. You couldn't deal with the frustration, the setbacks, the rejections if you didn't absolutely love your story, your concept, your characters.

Personally, the act of writing makes me happy. It's like someone takes a pitcher full of joy and pours the whole thing into my chest. I feel light with excitement. While everyone is different, I'm sure other writers experience similar emotions.

However, while I love what I do, what I create, sometimes I forget all of that. I go long periods without writing. I drift. And I know I'm not the only one. I know someone else is probably drifting right now.

So, here's a reminder, fellow writer. You love writing. I know you do. It's in your title. Writing is loving. And love affairs require two participants. There's a story out there, waiting for you. Go to it. Get reacquainted.

Have fun.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Monday, April 07, 2014

mile marker fifty

he couldn’t stand
losing a game
no one else played
and he told her
sliding on slick roads
was an adventure

but   someone
    has to lose    and
             every adventure
comes to an                 end

Sunday, April 06, 2014

delicious shivers

trail your fingers
along my body

               like it’s an
               uncut wedding cake

                              with your favorite
                              kind of icing

Saturday, April 05, 2014

and... him v.

some nights
I stay up
to watch you
wanting to know
who you are
when you sleep

Friday, April 04, 2014

note to self

i tie endless strings
around my ribs
  reminders to my heart
  of separation’s mortality

Thursday, April 03, 2014

guide to smashing cages

ration out your bones
to flapping lips with no stomachs

fashion a key that doesn’t fit
out of “morals” you’ll never have

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

heart beat

one:     Numbers pound
two:     against the in-seams
three:   of my skin,
four:    rushing through my veins
five:     like miniscule boats
six:       on one-way trips,
seven:  etching their histories
eight:   into my anatomy.
nine:    Every second-by-second
ten:      timeline stops
eleven:when I see

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

slow burn

barest brush of warmth
against the backside of your ribs

warning: extremely flammable
expose heart with caution

leave fingerprints on the lighter
whose smiles you swallowed

candles glow behind your pupils
leading someone home

you name your greatest fear
calling it “freezing to death”

the television advertises wildfires
(side effects include eventual burn out)