Flash Fiction Friday: “Without You”

without you

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fit into the curve of a man’s neck the way I fit into yours…they’ve been too short and too tall. Their cheeks too rough or too soft. Their shoulder’s too broad or too narrow. My arms can’t erase the way they melded into yours. My hands read their backs like braille and the story never goes the way it’s supposed to. The rhythm of their heart does not cross diagonally to mine and beat out the same cadence. I close my eyes and the world is still there. Time still marches on and I am fully aware that they are not you and I am still me without you.

 

Do you consider flash fiction a valid genre? Are you a fan of it? Chime in below!

 

Photo credit: +Moi+ / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Poet’s Corner Cafe: J. Mahogany

I’ve decided to feature poets here on Faith Simone. I want it feel like we’re all sitting back on comfortable overstuffed couches and chairs, sipping cappuccinos and snapping our fingers as poetic artists speak truths we can relate to. So welcome to the first installment of Poet’s Corner Cafe.

J. MahoganyThis week features my friend J. Mahogany who says poetry is how she expresses her passion and feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

What My Heart Is After

I realize that for everything
There is a time and season.
I, however, am enamored with whatever season brings you my way.
I wish I were a lucky girl in love
Wish I had someone to call my own…
I wish it could be you –
And me together.
But for everything
There is a time and season.

The foundation I am looking to build
Is not on sand and sticks.
It’s not in between my thighs
Or in between the sheets.
It’s found in the strength of our friendship
In the echo of your laughter
The curve of your smile
The twinkle in your eyes when you look at me.
The wishes I’ve made for you all my life
Upon stars in the sky…
It’s between our lips,
In our hello’s and good-byes.
I look to build a strong future with someone like you if it cannot be you….

But surely you know I exist!
You know these feelings I harbor are not surreal.
They are very much tangible
And I beckon your curiosity to seek forever with me.
If this truly is where you want to be.

I’ll wait for you.
I’ll cherish the very best of me
To give to you so freely
If it be my heart you’re after.
I’ll wait patiently
For you.

Snapping my fingers and nodding my head! What about you? Did these words speak to you? Let us know in the comments below!

A Rock & A Hard Place

publishing issues

I’m torturing myself. I feel like I’m standing outside of myself with all sorts of tools of torture at my own disposal. It’s like I’m forcing myself to listen to techno music day and night in a freezing cold room while watching someone brush their teeth over and over again. I hate techno music. I cry when I’m cold. I abhor seeing someone brush their teeth. All of these things make me physically sick. But I feel as though I’m doing it to myself.

No, I have not gone certifiably insane. I’m simply trying to decide whether to self publish or pursue traditional publishing. I’m torn! Generally, I’m not an indecisive person. I’m the type of person who makes up their mind, then goes about getting things done already. This is so unlike me. Let me tell you why I’m struggling.

Traditional publishing seems safer. The author has a whole team of people whose entire professional existence centers around publishing. They’ve done it hundreds of times before. They know what works and doesn’t work. They know what sells. And most importantly, they assume a great part of the risk. Then there’s the potential for contracts that tie up the author’s future work. Which is great, since the author is guaranteed publication, but not so great if the author is not exactly over joyed with the way the publishing house handled their original project. Also, there is the prospect of a LOT of revisions and the author not having as much say in the final product as they would like. Plus, these days the author assumes a lot of responsibility when it comes to marketing and promoting their product. Like, a LOT.

Self-publishing is risky, BUT if the author has an outstanding product the pay off can be out of this world. The author has full control and full responsibility for every step of the process. The author is responsible for either becoming an expert on everything pertaining to publishing, or contracting out for people who are already experts. The author essentially becomes a small business owner and has to invest a LOT of time and money in order to be successful. This could potentially cut into the time needed to actually WRITE.  But, the finished product is exactly as the author orininally intended and they have full exectutive control.

Here’s the thing: I’m an independent person by nature. The people closest to me all say that I prefer to have things done my way. And that’s when they’re being nice about it. So naturally, self-publishing feels right. However, when I start to be a little introspective I wonder if fear of rejection is what’s keeping me from pursuing traditional publishing. Then I think, “Well, if fear of rejection is my problem, why aren’t I afraid to self-publish? People could just as easily reject my independent project by NOT buying it.”

So, this post resolved nothing. I felt like rambling and getting this off my chest, so I did. The. Struggle. Is. So. Real. Somebody pray for me.

How do you feel about independent vs traditional publishing? If you’ve been blessed to do both what was your take-a-way from each? Help a sista’ out!

3 Tips for Accepting Criticism With Grace

Criticism

Nobody actually enjoys criticism. Especially writers. It’s not like we sit around daydreaming about the day our carefully crafted work of art will be torn to shreds by the proverbial red pen. No, we daydream about seeing our name at the top of bestseller lists, and negotiating contracts for movie rights. We fantasize about legendary book signings complete with the need for armed security to keep the hoards of frenzied fans in check. But before any of that can happen, we have to sit in the hot seat and take our fair share of criticism.

The question is how do we take constructive criticism without using our extensive imaginations to come up with several humiliating scenarios for the person giving the critique? Including one replete with said person begging for forgiveness as we step over their cardboard house to go accept our Pulitzer.  In other words how do we, as writers, receive criticism with grace?

  • Show Respect–You must have some modicum of respect for the person giving the critique. My guess is that if you are showing them your work during the revising stage it is because you value their opinion. Otherwise, why bother? So since you value their opinion, you need to remain respectful when getting it. Even if you don’t agree with what they have to say. Also, respect goes both ways. No one who criticizes your work should do it in a disrespectful manner. If that happens, feel free to tell them to kiss you where the sun don’t shine. Did I just say that? I think I did.
  • Take It In–Listen to what they have to say. Really soak it up before you respond, IF you respond. One of the things I love most about my writer’s group is that the person being critiqued cannot say a word while their work is being reviewed. They have to simply take in what everyone has to say. No explanations or defenses. Most of the time, I find that if I need to explain or justify something in my writing, it was poorly written in the first place. Because the final reader is not going to be able to call me up and get the 411.  Really, that’s what getting a critique is all about: presenting the most polished final product possible.
  • Know Your Power–Ultimately YOU have the final say in how YOU present your work. Especially if you’re an independent author. There’s no need to get all bent out of shape behind criticism you don’t agree with. It’s your world. It’s your name on the book and your butt on the line.  But, keep in mind that if you’re hearing the same criticisms from more than one person, there’s more than likely some truth to it. To be successful, you need to take that into consideration.

Personally, I’m grateful for constructive criticism delivered in a respectful manner. In the end it makes me a better writer.

How do you respond to criticism?

Photo credit: verbeeldingskr8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Book Review: “Boaz Brown” by Michelle Stimpson

Boaz Brown

Boaz Brown by Michelle Stimpson

Book Description (via Amazon):

#1 Amazon Bestseller African-American Christian Fiction!

LaShondra has done the work on herself first. She’s gotten her education and, more importantly, developed a strong relationship with Christ. Now, she’s ready for a man–but not just any man. She wants a Boaz, a godly man…who’s gainfully employed…and it wouldn’t hurt if he looked good, too. God answers with three out of three, but there’s a twist: her perfect man, Stelson Brown, isn’t African-American.

While LaShondra’s parents are happy about her professional success, they’re chomping at the bit for her to get married. Her father (who wouldn’t even let her bring her white friends home from school) and her mother (who gets word about the white man through the church folk grapevine) will have more than a few words for her when they find out–if LaShondra ever gets around
to telling her family and friends about Stelson.

The racial climate at LaShondra’s job isn’t helping the situation. LaShondra suspects that the principal is buffering grades for certain students. Can she keep her integrity while keeping her job as vice principal?

Boaz Brown is the first novel of bestselling novelist Michelle Stimpson. In essence, it launched her career as a writer and is still one of her best-loved works.

My Review:

It’s no wonder that Boaz Brown got stellar reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and is STILL a best seller almost a decade after its original publication date. Inspirational fiction is a tricky niche to navigate, but Michelle Stimpson does it with style. Racial tensions abound, but I never felt as though this was a heavy read.  Subtle humor is generously sprinkled throughout the novel, allowing a needed break from the exploration of some very deep issues. You will see yourself and people you know in each of the characters featured in Boaz Brown. Any fan of Christian themed literature will enjoy this modern-day take on one of the most romantic stories in the old testament of the Bible. I laughed, I contemplated, I prayed and contemplated some more. I love reading books that leave me with a contented sigh upon reading the last sentence. Boaz Brown did just that.

Preview Boaz Brown via Amazon here.

Also, Michelle Stimpson is offering Book 2 of the novella Mama B: A Time to Dance for free via Amazon Kindle. It ends today, so click here now for your copy!

This book was not sent to me by a publishing house or other entity. 

Weekend Re-Cap: My Birthday!

Birthday

 

I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend and took time to remember Dr. King. I have to admit that I did not attend any formal celebrations, but as I had already paid my respects to Dr. King not too long ago, I don’t feel too bad. Sunday was my birthday and I spent it all drugged up on allergy meds. The wind here in Memphis was atrocious on Saturday, and I suffered for it big time. No worries though, I’d already celebrated with some family the day before. We had lunch and then did a little shopping. Simple and sweet, just the way I like it. For some reason, on this birthday more than others, I had a heart full of gratitude. Maybe it’s because I’m maturing. I feel amazingly grateful to see another year with good health and a sound mind. Nothing is promised, and my mindfulness commitment is teaching me to live as much as possible in each moment and to be more appreciative. That’s all folks!

 

Got To Find Her

beautiful-warning_l

I took an old familiar route one day

And I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while

She looked so familiar

Yet there was something so different about her

I stared at her and figured she just had a new style

 

I went on about my business

But she lingered on my mind

Who was this girl that I knew from somewhere?

Some long ago day or time?

Anything lost can be found

So I made it my mission to make sure that

Her regular meeting places became a part of my rounds

 

I went by her boyfriend’s spot

He said she was long gone

Told me she mentioned something about finding herself and going back home

He handed me some things she’d

Left behind

I was surprised to discover that everything fit

Almost like they had once been mine

 

I went to the church and did not find her there

But it brought back a few amazing memories

She and I once shared

 

I racked my brain to think of places she used to go

For some reason it angered and frustrated me, that I did not know

Fearing that the battle might already be lost

I reluctantly headed home, vowing to find her at any cost

 

Sleep overtook me and I closed my eyes

Then I heard a still small voice say

‘She is still here; she only temporarily bought into the lies’

She traveled through my dreams that night

Holding hands with the Father of Light

Gently He restored my sight

Letting me see a path that is true and right

 

The morning sunlight shone upon my face

I jumped out of bed ready to continue

My search at a frantic pace

 

When I looked in the mirror

To my surprise

She was staring back at me…

I finally had my eye on the prize

 

Photo credit: ViaMoi / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Like this poem? It, along with many more, will be featured in Voice’s from the Block: A Legacy of African-American” Literature to be released February 2014.