Poetry Poll Update

Standard

Going on vacation is always fun, but so is coming home. As I get unpacked and adjusted to a three-hour time difference, I thought this would be a good time to do a quick update on the first three rounds of the Poetry Poll series.

Here are the current standings for all three polls:

Poll #1

Force of Nature – 10

Peaceful Respite – 4

The Guardians – 6

Moments of Light – 4

Poll #2

Gather Resilience – 3

Where Peace Resides – 12

Shattered – 4

Changing Hands -1

Poll #3

Lifewalk – 5

Secret Passage – 5

Kaleidoscope – 5

Where Dreams Wait – 2

– – –

It’s all about the numbers, so the poems with the most votes overall across all polls will make it to the final four.  At this point these are the top three:

Where Peace Resides – 12

Force of Nature – 10

The Guardians – 6

Guess what?  All polls are still open and remain so until Poll #5 is posted with the finalists.  One vote can change everything! Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to participate! As I’ve said many times before, my readers are amazing.

Poll #4 will posted on Friday with the last batch of poems up for voting. Before it goes up, you can catch up on the first three rounds by following these links:

Poetry Poll #1

Poetry Poll #2

Poetry Poll #3

– – –

c.b.w. 2012

Spreading Some Sunshine

Standard

One of these days someone is going to have to explain to me why I’ve been blessed with such wonderful readers. Seriously, you all blow me away with your kindness and encouragement.  While I’m still giddy from last week’s Versatile Blog Award and breaking all those rules, now I’m even giddier with another kind nomination from mywithershins.  To receive The Sunshine Award from such a talented and delightful blogger is really quite an honor.  Thank you for posting such beautiful words and inspiration every day.

Spread Some Sunshine!

I broke a few rules last week and I’m ready to break a few more seeing as I accepted the Sunshine Award a few weeks ago.  Once again, I’d like to give the spotlight to a few very deserving blogs, but it also seems like a good idea to spread some sunshine to every reader on every blog.  So how about trying something a little different?

If you’re feeing a little rebellious, take the spirit of the Sunshine Award to heart and post sunshine related quotes, images, and pieces of writing as a means of accepting the award.  Being the little rebel I am, I’m accepting my Sunshine Award under these guidelines!

My sunshine related quote comes right out of the first pages of my quote journal as Helen Keller’s words are among my favorite.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.

– Helen Keller

With Vincent Van Gogh still very much on my mind, his brilliant painting of the sun seems a perfect partner for Keller’s words of wisdom.

Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun by Vincent Van Gogh

– – –

May the light of the sun find you today and always.

– c.b.w.
– – –

Each of these bloggers lights up my day with fantastic posts and insights and I’m so excited to nominate them for The Sunshine Blog Award.  To claim it, you may go the traditional route of following the rules or try the alternative activity of posting a sunshine related quote or piece of writing on your blog. When passing the award to 10 more people, you may again go with tradition or be a rebel.  For the traditional rules and requirements, see Now You’re All Just Spoiling Me.

Wings of Wonder – Your paintings and fearless creativity make your blog an incredibly inspiring place to be.  Thank you for always having such a positive outlook and for using bright colors!

Rough Water John – My favorite pirate poet, you are either writing the most beautiful poetry imaginable or making me laugh with your brilliant sense of humor.  Thank you for always being so creative and unique.

The View Outside – Hee hee! I get to tag you back with an award.  I hope you’ll take the sunshine challenge and write something beautiful, (just as you always do).

Peach Farm Studios – What would I do without Wry the typewriter?  Or all the beautiful images and nuggets of inspiration? Peach Farm feeds my muse like no other!

Doodlemum – I wait each day for your wonderful sketches of kids doing kid things, dogs, cats, and so many wonderful other daily life scenes.  Thank you for making me laugh and giving the little things in life a moment in center stage.

1 Story A Week – I am always amazed by the depth and quality of the stories you post each week.  Your characters and plot lines are so original and always reach someplace deep.  Thank you for pasting amazing fiction.

A Trail of Breadcrumbs – I have loved your blog since my first visit.  Your travels, photos, and unparalleled creativity always inspired me, but what I enjoy most is your spirited personality.  Your zest for life comes through in all your posts.  Thank you for giving joy such a strong voice.

The Gratitude Garden – Your posts on gratitude highlight the very best life has to offer.  Each list inspires me to make one of my own each day.  Thank you for shedding light on the beauty of being grateful for what we have.

Crow River Writer – I recently started following your blog and it is such a joy to read.  Your sense of humor gets me laughing and your kindness is knows no bounds.  Thank you for writing with so much enthusiasm and reminding me why I love YA fiction so much.

Melissa Maygrove – Your blog always gets me thinking with engaging topics of discussion.  Its easy to to see your passion for writing and determination to make your dreams come true.  I find that very inspiring and motivating – Thank you for giving a such a strong voice to aspiring authors.

– – –

– – –

c.b. 2012

Thinking of Wallace

Standard

The truth will set you free.  But not until it is finished with you.

– David Foster Wallace

As I sat with my cup of coffee this morning, this quote popped into my mind and hasn’t left since.  I suppose there is a reason for it, (my muse is behind it most likely), but for the moment I’m just going to enjoy the wisdom of Wallace’s words.

And then I’m going to laugh . . .

I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.”

– David Foster Wallace

Perhaps Wallace is lingering in my mind because of a prompt in my writer’s group this week.  If you could meet someone who was dead, who it would be and why?  I immediately thought of Wallace, as I always wish he was still around dispensing his humor and wisdom.  I’d love to shake his hand and ask him about the ending of The Pale King. 

Who would you want to meet?

– – –

c.b. 2012

22 Writers Worth Reading (Part 1)

Standard

Every avid reader has a list of writers they’d recommend to anyone who will listen.  These are the writers readers look for every time they visit a book store or keep permanently on bookshelves and night stands.  Every list is different and personal, but also inspiring as nothing piques a reader’s interest more than the possibility of a new favorite author.

In keeping with the idea of 22 Things (see 22 Moments of Gratitude), I combed through my book collection and selected 22 writers that consistently have me turning pages into all hours of the night. They range from literary legends to phenomenal YA storytellers, but they all share the distinction of being great writers who know how to keep a reader engaged with great characters and plot lines. Over the course of two posts, each writer will get a moment in the spotlight along with my favorite pieces of work.

Writers 1 – 11 in no particular order:

1. David Foster Wallace
I’ve written of Wallace on a number of occasions, so its no wonder I thought of him first.  His writing is wholly original in terms of style, humor, and language.  Wallace tackles the truth with a point of view that is brutally honest, but also warm-hearted and humorous.  He’s not afraid to take readers on a journey into less glamorous parts of life, like grocery store lines or the cubicle of an IRS employee.  For that I applaud him and embrace every word.

Favorite Book(s): This is Water and Oblivion

2. Jane Austen
When I visited the British Library for the first time, I left a print of my forehead on the glass that shields Jane Austen’s journal.  No matter how many times I see her delicate handwriting, I am always in awe. Words were her gift and she never gave up on writing for a living – I love that about her.  Austen’s stories and characters are so beautifully crafted, they feel real every time I open her books.  No one can write the heart of a woman quite like Austen.

Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice

3. Charlotte Brontë
Right next to the forehead print I left for Jane Austen, I left another one for Charlotte Brontë. There’s nothing quite as incredible as seeing the last chapter of Jane Eyre written in Brontë’s script. I almost cried as Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time (so far).  Brontë’s stories are dark at times, but her heroines embody the kind of strength I admire greatly and strive to possess.

Favorite Book: Jane Eyre

4. Ivan Klíma
I discovered Ivan Klíma when I went to Prague a few years ago.  Klíma caught my attention because he knows the power of an idea and the necessity of voicing that idea. For years, his words were banned in an attempt to silence his view of the world. Communist Czechoslovakia had no tolerance for any truth beyond their own making.  Yet, Klíma kept writing. Word after word, he protested the injustice of suppression. 
The passion, love, and creativity in every human being is not something to be wasted or forgotten.

Favorite Book(s): No Saints or Angels and My Golden Trades

5. Dennis Potter
Potter is best known for his screenplays, but I’m a huge fan of his short novels.  He is a gritty writer, who dares to challenge our view of reality and human behavior.  His main characters are usually twisted and amoral, but his focus on emotion makes them relatable regardless of their faults.  Potter is a magician with original description and storytelling, which makes his work an experience unlike any other.  For example, in my favorite book he tells the story of a character who knows he is a character in a writer’s  novel.

Favorite Book: Hide and Seek

6. John Irving
Irving is an elegant writer that dazzles me with emotional honesty and wordplay.  His stories and characters are quirky, but they always hit upon a greater truth. Irving delves into difficult concepts such as challenging moral standards, societal expectations, and the human condition with engaging prose and sharp metaphors.  The last line of every book always leaves me pondering and questioning the world around me.

Favorite Book(s): The Fourth Hand and Cider House Rules

7. J.K. Rowling
I was very late the Harry Potter party, but once I read the first book I was hooked.  Rowling is the only writer who has ever convinced me to follow a main character who is a child.  Throughout the entire series, I was awed by Rowling’s imagination as she conjured an entirely new world filled with dynamic characters. Hermione felt like my twin and Ron an older brother I wish I had.  And Harry, of course, unexpectedly captured my heart.  Who knew a children’s series could work such amazing magic?

Favorite Book(s):  Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

8. Stephanie Meyer
My love for Stephanie’s Meyer’s work started with the Twilight series, but it only grows as I read more of her work.  Meyer likes to play with convention and create stories that break all the rules. This is a writer who truly knows the meaning of fiction because she traverses all boundaries as if they don’t exist.  In Twilight, she decided vampires could sparkle when everyone else said “No, they can’t.”  I find that very inspiring and empowering!

Favorite Book(s): Twilight

9. Guy de Maupassant
One of Maupassant’s strengths is his ability to transform a rather simple story into something beautiful with well-crafted imagery and flowing prose. Rather than explore these realms the old-fashioned way through the mind of the character, he creates magnificent and sometimes haunting images of emotion with landscapes, water, and overall atmosphere.

Favorite Book: Bel-Ami

10. Vladimir Nabokov
Whenever I finish reading a Nabokov book, everything somehow looks a little different.  Nabokov likes to explore the darker corners of the human mind and he often dredges up parts of the psyche most people would prefer to ignore.  Many of his characters are extreme personifications of human behavior, but Nabokov paints them so realistically they could be the next door neighbor everyone knows, but would never invite for tea.

Favorite Book: Invitation to a Beheading

11. Peter David
Geek alert! Back in my Trekkie days, (Oh, let’s face it, they never ended), I always looked forward to any Star Trek book written by Peter David.  He portrays the main characters better than most Trek writers and he has a great sense of the overall scope of Gene Rodenberry’s creation.  Every one of his books had me at the edge of my seat with suspense, laughing from well-placed humor, and dreaming of The Final Frontier.

Favorite Book(s): Imzadi and Q-Squared

– – –

Stay tuned for 12 -22!

c.b. 2012

Nabokov’s Dark Masterpiece

Standard

In Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov explores dark and forbidden aspects of human behavior.

Nabokov’s main character, Humbert falls cataclysmically in love with Dolores Haze, a twelve-year-old girl. His infatuation is perverse, (which he knows) but he simply cannot help himself. It becomes so overwhelming he constantly looks for ways to justify his emotions and goes as far as citing historical and literary examples of adults who have relationships with children. He knows it’s wrong, but instead of blaming himself he blames the taboos set forth by modern society and nymphets (little girls who purposely tempt him).

When Humbert acts on his obsessions and begins a sordid affair with Dolores, his guilt and subsequent justifications fly wildly out of control. His mind begins to ramble and he can barely string together a coherent train of thought. At one point, the narrative becomes so jumbled and erratic its almost unreadable.

The insane tone of the last quarter of the book casts suspicion on whether Humbert is telling any sort of truth. He even admits to spending time in a mental ward, where he enjoyed duping the psychiatrists. Furthermore, his view of reality is so skewed, there’s no way to confirm his relationship with Dolores really happened.  This is a man that often confuses the fantasies in his mind with the real world. And I wouldn’t put it past him to lie to readers.

Ultimately, Nabokov’s narrative posits the idea that perversity is omnipresent — no matter how much it is cloaked. It’s forbidden by morality, hidden under the trappings of modern culture and society, caused and perpetuated by lunacy, and punished by the law. Yet, perversity is and always will be part of humanity (hence Nabokov’s historical references). The question of what truly defines perversity becomes blurred when put under scrutiny as the definition changes over time and cultures, even though the core concept remains the same. In essence, Nabokov is pointing out a paradox that plagues civilization.

c.b. 2011