Posted in Guest Posts

Healing From Trauma [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Emily Stroia! Thanks, Emily!

Emily Stroia Guest Post

Healing from trauma isn’t a straight line. For me it has and still is an ongoing journey.

We all have our scars, stories and experiences that have shaped our view of the world and of ourselves.

I have explored healing through the mystical, spiritual, self-help, therapy and emotional intelligence. You name it and I have most likely done it.

I have been in therapy since I was 5 years old when I shared with my teacher a fight my parents had. This conversation sparked my healing journey and every week I would meet with the school therapist. These sessions were my saving grace as a child.

Home life was very confusing, dark and traumatic.

My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and my father was abusive; mentally, physically and sexually.

One day around the age of 13,  I went out on my balcony and had a serious talk with the universe. I remember asking what the purpose was for me.

I asked the big question many of us ask when bad things happen,  “WHY?, WHY ME?”.

At first I heard silence.

And then I heard this intuitive voice whisper, “This isn’t happening to you. This is happening for you.” I had the faint realization that I would share my healing journey and my story with the world.

Nearly 20 years have passed since that realization. Slowly in the healing process I have been able to release the need for my story to be different. I have learned that there are gifts in the scars.

The healing journey has also inspired me to write my story in a form of raw poetry.

My new book, Into the Light explores healing from trauma and abuse through the creative art form of poetry.

This book is memoir-inspired and also has notes to the reader on healing from brokenness, finding light in the darkness and coming to peace with the past.

There is a favorite quote that still resonates with me, “Forgiveness is letting go of the past being any different”.

We may not be able to change what happened to us but we can make magic, art and beauty from the broken parts.

Healing is a personal journey of finding freedom, liberation and transcending from what once was. We are not what happens to us.

A storm may leave damage but it is up to us to repair it. I am not a victim to the circumstances I was born in.

It may not make sense and it may never make sense why people hurt us in the ways they do. We may not know how to forgive the unforgivable. But we are born with the capability to love and heal each other through the power of story-telling and sharing.

A poem from my new book, Into the Light:

 When you are at the end of
your rope,
tie a knot and hold on.
When you think you are at the
end of your journey,
reach out your hand
and someone will meet you
there.

About Emily Stroia

Emily Stroia Author PicEmily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily
decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality, and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

About Into The Light

Into The Light by Emily StroiaInto the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts. The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of experiencing trauma & darkness to finding hope, miracles, and light.

In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity and healing through brokenness. This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration, and empowerment. This book is for anyone who has ever experienced loss, grief, brokenness, depression, abuse, trauma and heartbreak.

Want more? Check out this INTERVIEW with Emily Stroia!

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Posted in Guest Posts

7 Solid Ways To Become More Confident In Your Fiction Writing When You First Start [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by author J.D. Oldenburg!

Guest post by author JD Oldenburg

1. Understand that overwhelm happens.

Overwhelm is part of beginning any process, and that’s ok.

We get overwhelmed when we don’t know exactly where to start, because we put our focus on dreams and end goals, instead of the blank page in front of us.

Vast amounts of people quit before they start because they don’t know where to begin.

You will gain confidence from thinking more about daily steps and a little less about the bigger picture.

Realize that nothing comes instantaneously. Don’t loose excitement because of this.

If you’ve never written before, don’t fret so much on that first novel or googling your chances of success. Start instead with short stories, and allow yourself to fall in love with the process.

Do this and you will beat any odds you can find on google.

2. Forget about “perfect” end results.

A big problem I had when I started writing was my craft didn’t live up to my expectations. I thought I was ready for a big worldwide novel, but I had never written anything in my life. The discrepancy between my aspirations and my craft created a lot of stress.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream, I still do. I’m saying focus on the now, and write stories without falling in love with them so hard you can’t edit anything out of them. Learn to go through them objectively, and become a better writer.

It’s not a baby, it’s a story! So don’t be afraid to amputate it, flip it, morph it or even kill it.

It’s about falling in love with the process.

Remember this: An accomplished goal is nothing but a reminder of the energy you had to put in to achieve it. In other words, if writing it feels shitty and stressful, the result will smell of shit and stress.

3. Free-write first thing out of bed.

I learned this from Louder Than Words, a fantastic book on finding your voice by Todd Henry.

This will be an amazing exercise in helping you figure out what you really want to write about. It will massively improve confidence in the work process.

Wake up, grab pen and notepad and scrabble away. This is for you, so don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Just write!

I like to do between two and three pages each morning, that’s probably little over six hundred words a day. You can do more or less, it’s up to you.

Give it a try for at least three days, see how your ideas start flowing. If they don’t, guess what, it means you need to keep going!

Solid ideas come to you from deep in the subconscious mind, often when you are fresh out of bed. These same ideas will be long gone a few hours later when you’ll find yourself thinking, “What was that brilliant thing I wanted to write about?”

Treat your ideas with respect, write them down when they hit you. If you wait till later they may still be there, but they are likely to move on to someone else.

Spew your thoughts freely, put the notepad down, and come read it a few days later. You’ll be surprised by how interesting the things your sleepy-self wrote turn out to be.

Release the stress of wanting a “good” idea. There is no need for such pressure right now, and it makes your ideas shy. STOP THAT!

4. Read more widely.

I am blown away by how many people tell me they want to be writers, but haven’t found the confidence to do it, and when I ask them, “well, what do you like to read?” they frown and go, “meh, I don’t read much.” Or “not much of a reader myself.”

Not something you want to be advertising too loudly if you ask me, mind you…

If you are serious about bettering your craft, you HAVE to read. Read what you like, read what you don’t like, read what you despise, read what you absolutely adore, read what others read, and read what falls randomly on your lap.

There is no better way to find out what to do and what not to do than reading. Also, I find psychology books to be of incredible insight for creating three-dimensional characters. Of the top of my head, I can recommend A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

If you are new to reading a lot, try audio books, and add twenty minutes of reading before bed to your day. Audiobooks are amazing, and yes you’ll absorb them like reading. It’s not cheating.

You want to build yourself up to reading a novel or two a month if you can. Find your pace.

Remember you love this, so don’t freak out, get on it!

Reading Is an acquired taste, and once it’s there, it won’t go away. It will give you confidence not only in your writing but in your life as well.

Remember that knowledge increases self-confidence.

5. Listen to your gut.

Here is one thing one must always keep in mind: Everyone has an opinion!

The first few steps of this list are about learning to become more objective, detached from results, and able to accept your own shortcomings so you can improve upon them.

This one is about trusting that you can develop an optimal sense of self-assessment so you can see when your work is good or needs to be better.

Asking for too many opinions can massively impair your judgment.

People have different intentions, sometimes good, sometimes not so much. It wasn’t until I started to listen to myself that my work began to get completed.

Not everyone is worth asking an opinion, so choose carefully.

And when you do…

6. Grow thicker skin.

Simple, please don’t be the pal or gal who wants to know what I think, but disses me out when my opinion is honest and not what she expected.

If this happens to you, refer to number two in the list. If you are too attached to the result, to the idea that anyone project alone will change your life forever, you are still green.

The reality is, that one project that will change your life will come after many, many hours spent writing crap that will never see the light of day.

THIS IS OK!! I have so much crap no one will ever read, I could fill my car if I printed it.

This goes from films to novels and scripts. It’s always painful to accept a project doesn’t work, but once you do, it is actually quite liberating, and you can study why it didn’t work, and do better.

I will never regret writing crap. It teaches me to tell better stories and speaking of stories, don’t forget to check out my latest one, Horatio and The Fear of Dying.

About J.D. Oldenburg

Author J.D. OldenburgJ.D. Oldenburg (Jose Diaz-Oldenburg) grew up with an unusually intense fear of death. He didn’t suffer trauma or family member’s death in his early youth, yet as a little kid he often sat with his parents to ask concerned questions about the subject. Conversations about death took place almost every evening. Some nights he understood, some nights he feared.

At the early age of nine, he confronted his anxiety by penning a short tale titled “La Muerte de la Muerte” or, Death of Death. A short story inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 adaptation of an old Russian Folktale called The Soldier and Death.

In early 2015, La Muerte de la Muerte showed up hidden between old books in the family library and a new idea was born. Horatio and The Fear of Dying would come to life.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in film, a couple of highly encouraging rejection letters, and seven years of experience in film production and advertising, J.D. felt compelled to bypass traditional publishing and retain full control of the final product. He built his creative team through persistence, trial and error, and craigslist ads. After locking the right artists, they embarked on an almost three-year process to the final creation released now.

J.D. hopes the book will help kids all over the world ease this universal fear and gain a strengthened sense of adventure about life.

Horatio and The Fear of Dying comes to Kickstarter October 3rd, 2017 – It will be available for shipping worldwide.

J.D. Oldenburg lives in Los Angeles, California.

Connect with J.D. Oldenburg

Website | Booksite | Facebook | Book Facebook | Twitter | Book Twitter | Instagram | Bookstagram

Horatio and the Fear of Dying by J.D. Oldenburg

Posted in Guest Posts

Online Productivity Tools For Bloggers [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by James Porter. Thanks, James!

Online Productivity Tools for Bloggers by James Porter | Guest Post

As a blogger or writer, you are responsible for the articles you create, their quality and how you manage your time to increase productivity. In order to attract visitors to your blog, you have to constantly offer them blog posts that are not only interesting but also flawless. Being a blogger means you do not have the security that an office job offers, so it’s up to you what devices and tools you use to make your job easier. The pressure of being on your own requires a lot of organization and time management skills.

Thanks to the smart devices and advancements in technology you can type a paper or an article faster, easier and focusing less on the spelling and grammar mistakes and more on your creative flow. With the right smart tools, apps and devices bloggers can benefit from a treasure trove of online tools that can help them organize their projects and workload, communicate with clients and readers, manage their time and have the necessary space to store their work.

There is nothing wrong in making your job and life easier if you can. In fact, this is why these tools were created in the first place.

1. FocusWriter

Sometimes, focusing on writing can prove a struggle, especially if you choose to work from home or a public place such as a café. It is very easy to get distracted and lose your focus, whether it is a mail that you get, a notification on Facebook that you cannot refrain from checking or a message on Skype that you want to read. FocusWriter gives you a distraction-free environment. You will have on your screen only a gray text area to work on. No other tabs or applications to distract you.

2. Paper Rater

Paper Rater is a top contextual spell checker which relies on Artificial Intelligence to help you write accurate articles. It is a proofreading tool with an in-built plagiarism detector and grammar checker. It will highlight in green the grammar mistakes and in red the spelling mistakes, also giving you tips on how to create a good article and a list of the most confused phrases and words and their explanation. You do not need to download the tool to use it.

3. 123writings.com

Being a blogger means constantly writing on various topics and always being up to date with the news and latest information. 123writings.com is an online writing company which offers custom paper writing services to a variety of clients. Whenever you feel that you need writing paper help or just to see some of the blogs they are writing, you can contact the company via live chat, email or phone number. It’s perfectly normal to be sometimes stuck and simply have no idea what to write about, so a little help would be exactly what you need to get back on the track.

4. Evernote

As a blogger, you will write hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts, go through numerous articles, resources, books, magazines and much more. With Evernote you can have all this information in one place, storing emails, documents, photos, websites and articles in folders that you can access from any device. You simply create an account and sync your folders across all your gadgets to access them remotely.

5. Grammarly

Why not focus on your ideas and messages you want to put in your articles and let Grammarly focus on grammar, spelling, and plagiarism? Yes, it’s that easy. The app not only checks mistakes but also provides useful explanations for each one of them. Thanks to the embed plagiarism checker you will make sure that your articles do not have duplicate content. Grammarly supports various document types, and you can choose between a blog post, an article, a business document and so on. You can even choose the US or British English. Although Grammarly is free, you might want to consider upgrading to the premium version to benefit from more advanced grammatical and phrasing errors.

A great number of bloggers and paper writers are not native English speakers so using such tools can make their work easier and help them deliver top quality content. With flawless articles, they are able to attract an audience and bring traffic from search engines. Once you start using these tools, you will wonder why you did not do this earlier. They will be your personal assistant, who proofreads your work, organizes your documents, and finds the documents and resources you need.

Writer’s block is a dreadful taught of any blogger. Nobody wants to just stare at the white screen with no idea of what to write about. These productivity tools are just some of the much more that you can access for free on the internet or install them on your computer. Having the right tools and apps can ensure you will never forget ideas and that your blog posts are optimized. Try these tools and see which your favorite ones are.

Let’s chat in the comments below!

Posted in Guest Posts

Write The Book! [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Annette Rochelle Aben. Thanks, Annette!

If I could do one thing today, it would be to inspire someone, out there, to write the book. I believe that there is a book inside nearly everyone, a book seeking the chance to have a coming out party! You may be one of those people or you may know one of those people.

Everyone has a story to tell. It could be the story of family heritage, shared through recipes handed down from generation to generation. Possibly, it’s the tale of overcoming addiction to find a wonderful life you never believed possible. You may want to share your adventures of traveling across the country or visiting foreign lands.

Perhaps your imagination simply screams for the outlet to set free the worlds you envision and to breathe life into the characters who speak to you all the time. Maybe you’ve written poetry forever or have a collection of short stories seeking a home away from home. Ah, you may be the person whose doodles would make a terrific adult coloring book!

There is a quote from the late, great, Dr. Wayne Dyer, best-selling author and eternal champion of people being healthy and happy! “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” The depth of this statement speaks to the premise that each of us has something valuable to share. The value is more in the sharing than necessarily how far the reach. The feeling of being able to free that with which you have been blessed is remarkable. Dr. Dyer’s plea reminds us to consider this as important, if not more important than striving for recognition or riches.

Of course, you could receive recognition and riches for a book you pen. There is a teenage boy in the State of Minnesota who wrote a book about how he rescued a cat. He is giving 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book to a local animal charity that helps cats! A blog, originating in England, picked up the story and shared it with tens of thousands of followers. This young man has begun receiving recognition which may well lead to the riches he wishes to gift to cats in need.

Here is the Facebook page for Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story by Justin M. Anderson.

Whatever your story, set it free! Put it on paper so you can hold it in your hands. Marvel at the sheer audacity of your brain to conceive and honor the calling of your heart to believe in your ability to achieve! Give voice to your music! WRITE the BOOK!

About Annette

Michigan author, Annette Rochelle Aben, is ruled by the world of words. Five of her nine self-published books feature haiku poetry. She has also written and published in the self-help and inspirational genres. When she isn’t writing, she is ruled by the world of 3 cats with whom she lives.

Connect with Annette

Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook

Posted in Guest Posts

Have You Ever Read A Book? [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Aayush. Thanks, Aayush!

If you have, you will probably be able to relate to what I’m going to be talking about here.

There are books that lure you into them and refuse to let go. They drag you into their world, show you the wonders that are there, the characters that you begin to love, the adventures taking place and the villains that threaten to destroy everything. They cling on to you, trap you, and keep you in their world, until suddenly, they don’t. The books end, and that world ends with them.

When we talk of spells, we often consider them a figment of fiction. We fail to see them all around us. These books that bring tears to our eyes, the ones that elicit laughter, the ones that motivate us, and the ones that excite. How could a bunch of sheets with markings on them wield so much control over our emotions? How could events that have not happened, characters that have not lived, become so dear to us? Certainly, there could be no greater spell than one which creates a world.

Writing a story is, to me, a sacred act. It involves creating your own world, where everything is under your control, and you direct the events taking place. You decide the flavors of romance, adventure, mystery, that are to be added. You mix the tragedy and the comedy in the cauldron, then pour a little depth to the characters- show their past, show their thoughts, show their regrets. And then, after eons of arduous churning and meticulous care, you create a story.

The worst thing someone can say when you’re reeling from the loss of a loved character is “It’s not real.”

And the reason this attempt at consolation is so infuriating is because it’s false. The world created by the writer is just as real as ours is, and the characters were people that we knew personally. The story is not merely scribbles on a paper, but something greater, something more permanent. It is the creation of a universe as imagined by someone, trapped in the confines of the words that the writer has penned. There is life in those pages, a portal that you flip through to glance into that peculiar world.

Many people think that books are an escape from reality. I do not agree. A story is not of leaving the current reality as much as it is exploration of new ones. You’re not merely a reader, my friend; you’re an explorer of worlds.

About Aayush

I’m Aayush, 16 years old and still stuck in school. I love to write about stuff cause it’s a really cool way of expressing your opinions. It’s practically the only way you can talk about something without being interrupted or having to repeat yourself. I can never restrict myself to writing about just one thing, because there’s so much going on and so many interesting things. And anyway, who would like to read about only one topic all the time? That’d be so boring and monotonous. (I just used a big word to sound cool. Don’t act like you don’t do it too.)

I love to write about juicy,  controversial topics,  such as taxationdrugsreservationsLGBT rights,  and so on.

If you’re interested in milder topics, you can check out my posts on fitnessfriendshipimaginationcommunication, and motivation.

Regardless of what you enjoy, you should check out my blog because

A) It has interesting things you might enjoy reading and
B) I really want more views and likes.

You can find me procrastinating on Facebook or reach out to me through emails on aayushthereader [at] gmail [dot] com.

Posted in Guest Posts

Redwood Summer [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Robert Kirkendall. It’s the first chapter of his novel, Redwood Summer. Thanks, Robert!

aerial photograph Santa Clara, San Clara county, California

SAN JOSE, CA 1990

Was it all just too good to be true?  Jason was in the passenger seat of a work truck as he reflected on the life changing events of the previous few months.  He looked out across the austere expanse of unadorned one and two story concrete tilt-ups of Silicon Valley as the truck passed one building after another.  I had a good job with room to grow, Jason recalled, I had all my friends, Christine and I didn’t have a care in the world.  How did all change so quick? Jason lamented, then wondered if all the good times were gone.  The morning sun was above the eastern Mount Hamilton range and shone across the late autumn sky.  The faceless buildings cast shadows on half filled parking lots and dry landscaping.

“So what do you think about all this?” Hal asked from the driver’s seat.

“Huh?”  Jason was knocked off his train of thought.

“You know, what’s going on in the Persian Gulf.  They’ve been talking about it on the radio all morning.”

“Oh, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”  Jason once again noticed the news talk over the radio.  He was a little annoyed at the interruption, then wondered how long his mind was somewhere else.

“Don’t you follow the news?  This is going to be major.”

“Of course.  I was just thinking about some other stuff.”

“We may soon be going to war,” Hal emphasized.  “What’s more important than that?”

“Look, I hear ya,” Jason agreed, “but I got other things on my mind right now.”

“More important than what’s going on?”

“Maybe not, but it’s important to me.”  Jason sensed Hal’s waiting for an answer.  “You know, personal stuff.”  He tried to hold onto the series of memories he was thinking of as he waited for the intrusion to end.

“Okay, I won’t pry.  But you might want to start paying attention to what’s going on.  I’m too old to be drafted, but you aren’t.”

“No one’s been drafted in years,” Jason replied.  “I’m not worried about that.”

“Well if things gets worse, you’ll hear about it,” Hal warned.

“No doubt,” Jason said reflexively.  They drove along further through the maze of nondescript structures.

“Well, maybe it’ll be good for the economy.  Wars usually are,” Hal pointed out.

“Yeah, as long as you don’t get killed.”

“Serious, look around at all these tech businesses.  This whole valley was built because of the Defense Department, and with the Cold War over we need something new to keep the wheels turning.”

Hal continued to talk as Jason looked out the window in thought.  He tried to focus on the day and the job ahead, but the past kept drawing him in.  When did it all start to change? he wondered.  The year started out really good, every weekend was a party, I was working toward my A.A.  Jason then remembered how credit card bills suddenly piled up at around the same time the rent on the house he was sharing went up.  When was that, he wondered, April?  May?  He remembered how his parents let him move back home so he could pay off his debt quicker.  He remembered how he told himself at the time that it was only to be temporary situation, but he also couldn’t help but be bothered by the idea that it was a step backward.

Jason leaned back in his seat and rested his arm on the window frame.  Did my life already hit its peak? he worried.  When did things began to go downhill?  His memory searched from the beginning of the year onward.  He thought back to a company meeting at his last job, not long after he moved back home, but when things were still good.  That was some day, he thought.  They said everything was looking up, and the future was only going to get better.  We were true believers.

Jason focused on that day.

About Robert

Robert KirkendallRobert Kirkendall grew up in San Jose, CA, lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and is the writer/producer/director of Pacific Television Theater, a live drama anthology broadcast from Community TV of Santa Cruz.

Posted in Guest Posts

How Reading Aloud Made Me The Teacher And Person I Am Today [Guest Post]

Today’s post is brought to you by Jennie Fitzkee. Thanks, Jennie!

Guest post by Jennie Fitzkee: How Reading Aloud Made Me The Teacher and Person I Am Today

My very first day of teaching preschool in Massachusetts, thirty-two years ago, was both career and life altering. Lindy, my co-teacher, asked me to read the picture books to children each day after our Morning Meeting. Sure (gulp)! I was new, scared and unfamiliar with many children’s books. I had not been read to as a child, except for The Five Chinese Brothers from my grandmother. I still remember the page that opens sideways, with the brother who could stretch his legs. One book, and to this day I remember it vividly.

The book I read to the children on that first day of school was Swimmy, by Leo Lionni. It was magical for me, and for the children. The storyline, the art, the engineering, the words… it was a taste of something I knew I had to have. And, I couldn’t get enough.

The next few decades I consumed children’s books. I realized that the more I read aloud, the more the children wanted to hear stories and be read to. I displayed books in my classroom front-facing, so children were drawn to picking up and ‘reading’ the books. In this way, the children wanted to handle, hold, and turn the pages of books. This was a big deal! It was true hands-on learning, with exploding questions and interest. I was the yeast in the dough, or perhaps the books were the yeast. Oh, our Morning Meetings grew. We had to include a children’s dictionary on the bookshelf so we could look up words that were new. That was fun!

By this time I had become picky about good books. Whenever I read a good book, it sparked so many questions and conversations, that sometimes it took ‘forever’ to get through the book. The first time I read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky, it took forty minutes to finish reading the book. I started with the inside cover, a picture of the courtyard, and simply asked questions; “Where is this?” “Does this look like Massachusetts?” “What is different?”

Reading picture books triggered big discussions. I often stopped to ask questions. Sometimes I would simply say, “Oh, dear…” in mid-sentence and let the children grab onto that rope. Yes, I was throwing out a lifeline, a learning line, and it worked. It was exciting, always engaging.

Before long, I started reading chapter books before rest time. This was unconventional for preschoolers, yet it felt right because children were on their nap mats and needed to hear stories without seeing pictures. I started with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and have never looked back. The first thing children learned was ‘you make the pictures in your head’. This is thrilling because we now have non-stop reading and multiple discussions, without pictures. Thirty minutes of pretty intense reading-aloud. My chapter books include the best of the best.

My teaching had become language based and child centered. Often there were ‘moments’, things that happened because we were reading all the time. Reading had spilled over into my curriculum. The day we had set up a restaurant in housekeeping, children were ‘reading’ menus and ‘writing’ orders on clipboards. I was spelling out the words to one child and listening to questions about the menu from another child. I doubt these moments would have happened had I not read so often in the classroom.

I wanted to tell families what happened, about moments of learning, and of course about reading aloud. So, I started to write more information in my newsletters, and include details. I wrote, and I wrote, sharing small moments and relating those moments to the big picture in education.

I attended a teacher seminar, and Jim Trelease, the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, was the keynote speaker. As he spoke I wanted to jump up and rush over to the hundreds of teachers in the room, screaming, “Are you listening to this man?” “Do you realize how important his message is?” Instead, I wrote him a letter and included one of my newsletters to families that spoke about the importance of reading aloud. That sparked his interest in my chapter reading, and he visited my classroom to watch. I’m included in the latest version of his million-copy bestselling book.

My public library asked me to direct a library reading group for second and third graders. This was another new adventure in reading. I read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, among many wonderful books. Again, these were new books to me, and I loved it. This past summer I embraced YA books, thanks to reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I read every Kate DiCamillo book I could lay my hands on. Everyone.

My reading and reading aloud continue to grow. Thank you Read-Aloud West Virginia for getting the message of how important reading is to the public. We are making a difference.

About Jennie:

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that is most important and exciting. That’s what I write about. I am highlighted in the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Posted in Guest Posts

Why I Write [Guest Post]

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Jasmine Farrell. Thanks, Jasmine!

Why I Write [Guest Post by Jasmine Farrell]

Writing poetry is the preeminent route to express myself.  Poetry is my biography. Story telling has always nudged my shoulder since I can remember. To encourage, enlighten and cause a few chuckles within people, writing is the way to go for me. My grandparents, on my mother’s side, were unintentional story tellers and hearing them merely planted a seed within me for creating stories.

When I was a little girl, I used to write stories in the language of toddler. I was so fluent, I’d sneak downstairs to my late Grandmother’s bedroom and write my eloquent scribble scrabble in her memo pads, she scolded me to stay away from.  I’d read my stories aloud to my mother and she’d nod in admiration of my words as though Langston Hughes had reached our home on 638 44th street in Bay ridge, Brooklyn. I’ve always been fond of poetry. However, when I was in the second grade, poetry pinched my heart like clothes pins to sheets on clothes lines in backyards.

I never noticed my loved for poetry until I was thirteen years old. I was over flowing with repressed emotions, lack of freedom, “Mom never understands” and crazy for a boy who didn’t care to know what my favorite SlipKnot song was. You know, the usual thirteen-year-old angst on love and coming of age. I needed an outlet to release, an outlet to share whatever was going on with me ( I still have my stack of composition notebooks filled with poems and songs). However, I didn’t choose to be a writer then. I desired to be a fashion designer. I knew how to sew, sketched countless designs and I even had a brand name in mind.

I attended Fashion Industries High School wide eyed and ready to become the next Ann Lowe with fishnet cut off gloves. However, during my fashion classes, I would find myself writing poems and stories. I would rush through my fashion assignments so I can finish a poem. I’d shove numerous poems to, the editor of My Quintessence, Andrea Lauren to read and rate. By my Junior year, I joined my high school’s literary magazine called, The Hanger. The Hanger editors took us students on a field trip to a poetry event that featured Major Jackson and that event is what hooked me in. That event grabbed my love for poetry by the collar to take writing seriously. There was something about observing the various voices, poetic devices and forms utilized on one platform that made me realize I could share my story too- via poetry.  I remember a teen reciting a poem, who obviously practiced internal rhyming faithfully, that detailed the story of gold diggers. Another student did an acrostic poem on women being called bossy for simply having leadership skills and I was floored at her use of alliteration. After that event, I knew I wanted to be a creative writer, especially a poet.  I researched various poets, poetic devices and forms. I decided to major in English once I arrived to college. I began writing short stories and Christian spoken word pieces. I joined my college’s newspaper for a few semesters and submitted a few of my poems into poetry contests.

After publishing two poetry collections, de-converting from Christianity, beginning the journey of self-discovery and performing at various venues, I realized why poetry is important to me.

I write poetry because that’s where my memoir, voice, soul and heart resides. My “When I was little” wounds reside in the crevices of allegories. My heartbreaks and love stories leap off pages with internal rhyming. My views on social justice and humanitarian issues scream free lyric and grittiness. Poetry is my biography and my introduction.

Story telling is a great form to share the lessons that life has taught us. It connects us and reminds us that we are not as alone as we think we are. Whether an oral tale or a written one, stories can become our getaway, our teacher, our paper friend and inspiration.

About Jasmine

Jasmine FarrellJasmine Farrell is a freelance writer and blogger. From Brooklyn, NY, she has a Bachelor’s in Communications and she loves red velvet cake. Writing in her Grandmother’s memo pads is included into her repertoire of writings. Creative writing is her niche. She loves reading, randomly dancing and creating off-key ballads.

Jasmine’s Book

Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis DovesPhoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves is a collection of poetry that draws the reader into the world of personal identity, inner growth and the complexity of human relationships. Ordinary and common images, especially ones found in nature, are used to craft poems that appeal to the uncommon, the suppressed and the others. Filled with incredible grace and accessible wisdom, the poems explore a wide range of complex emotional themes. With unexpected metaphors and sparkling similes, the pieces vary in rhythm and theme making each one like a foil-wrapped candy: something to savor, enjoying each new bright color on the tongue.

Amazon | Goodreads

Posted in Guest Posts

What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post]

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Heena Rathore P. Thanks, Heena!

What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post by author Heena Rathore P.]
Image Credit: TC (talkingcomicbooks.com)

When I hear the term ‘psychological thrillers’, I feel a shiver of anticipation run down my spine. Is it just me? I don’t think so; I’m sure that almost everyone who’s read at least two good psychological thriller books (or even movies) feels the same way, especially those who love the genre.

The term itself makes me feel a rush that I just can’t describe; it means anticipation and intrigue, a lot of thrilling action, psychological twists, unimaginable turn of events, gritty situations, incomprehensible acts of self-preservation and a nice ending that’ll definitely blow the mind. At least for me, this is how I feel when I hear this term.

Being a reader and a writer of this stunning genre, I’ve spent a good many years submerged in it. And needless to say, I have read and watched my fair share of good as well as “bad” books and movies in this genre – psychological thrillers. For me, there’s no bad as such, but I guess there are a lot of books or movies that makes you feel like there was so much room for more and that they fell short somehow.

I’ve been observing all the psychological thriller stories (movies and books combined) like a hawk because that’s what writers do. And for me there are a few things that really make a good psychological thriller:

  • Killer suspense.
  • Scary as hell and super creepy antagonist.
  • At least one vulnerable character for whom I can root for.
  • Growth of that vulnerable character into someone who can fight all odds .
  • Spooky and chilly settings.
  • Crazy situations that I would hate to be in, but would be extremely curious about.
  • Mind-numbing anticipation.
  • Building frustration that keeps me on the edge.
  • One hell of a climax that’ll keep the wheels in my mind running even after I’m done with the story.

These are, of course, only a few things that make for a good psychological thriller, but if the author manages to get at least these elements right, the reader is in for a smashing story.

A few handy things that I feel help a lot in making a book a really good psychological thriller:

  • Glimpse into the mind of the killer through a distant or limited POV of the antagonist – just enough to creep out the reader, yet only a glimpse so as not to make the reader feel sympathetic towards him/her.
    You can’t feel scared of someone if you feel sorry for them. Hence, a distant POV works best.
  • Epistolary elements like letters, or diary entries, or random newspaper articles or bits of transcripts or something like that. These things instantly create a wonderful atmosphere full of suspense and intrigue.
  • Creepy and blood-chilling settings. They’ll add a lot of character and weight to the story and create an eerily horrific atmosphere that’ll accentuate the entire story.
  • Strong characters. Always. They’ll make the reader emotionally involved with the story and make everything feel personal. That is one thing a writer can’t afford to go wrong with.
  • Multiple POVs. It’s always better to know the story from different angles and POVs. It adds spark to the story and provides a deeper understanding to the reader helping them to get inside the story.
  • Suspense build-up. Suspense is what takes the story to another level and makes it extremely entertaining. If the author manages to get the balance of suspense and thrills right, then nothing can stop the story from hitting the bullseye.

These elements need a great amount of work, but if done well, they add a lot of weight to the overall build-up of the story.

At the end, the main thing is the story itself, so no matter what you do or how you do it, try to make your story shine and you’ll have a winner at hand.

About Heena Rathore

Author Heena Rathore PHeena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also the Editor In Chief at a publishing house and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014. .

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon. She’s also a fan of Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.

An introvert and freethinker, Heena prefers neatness to chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena is twenty-six years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

Connect with Heena:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Book:

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

Posted in Guest Posts

Something Needed Bleeding [Guest Post]

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Chris Long. Thanks, Chris!

Something Needed Bleeding: A Guest Post by Chris Long

So, this is how I started writing a novel.  Sort of.  There was an article in the paper about the town saving money.  I didn’t really pay it any attention, but a lot of people around me got quite annoyed about it.“They’re turning the lights off after midnight every night to save us money?!” was pretty much what I kept hearing, over and over again.

“They’re turning the lights off after midnight every night to save us money?!” was pretty much what I kept hearing, over and over again.

Personally, I’d always been a fan of the potential for more money, but that didn’t seem to be the point.  To be honest, I didn’t really think about it until I went to walk home from the pub one night and someone mentioned something about the lights being off.  I said I’d be fine and set off on the fifty or so minute walk, hoping to clear my head before I had to struggle with the front door key.

The darkness I found waiting for me outside was cold and heavy.  It was too quiet.  It changed the whole town around me.  The town centre became a hidden maze, defined by raised voices and the occasional thunder of distant bass.  The suburban streets turned into tangled knots of faceless houses and dead ends.  Parks or fields felt endless without light.  The whole night became a bottomless pit and, by the time I got home, I felt like I’d been walking for miles.

That whole experience stayed with me.  At first, it got me trying to write a short story about it.  I wanted to try and talk about towns using the idea of saving money as a cover for removing the unwanted, the struggling and the downright broken.  You know the sort of thing.  People going missing in the middle of the night.  Suspicious town council meetings.  Cheap food suddenly becoming readily available for people on a brand new housing scheme.  It all got a little Soylent Green, if we’re being honest.  Still, though, I knew there was something interesting there.

When my publisher asked me if I was ready to write my first novel, I went back to that idea.  It felt like there as potential there.  I wrote a really sharp opening to the story, but couldn’t quite get anything else together for it.  In fact, my stupid brain kept getting distracted by other ideas.  Ideas that didn’t fit together.  There was one about a group of kids who may find something demonic locked under a barn in the moors.  Another about a young man who gets himself lost in a hotel that turns into a shapeshifting maze at night.  Or there was the one about that man driven mad by the sound of dripping water after an encounter with something ancient and lonely in a mine turned tourist attraction.  Or that other one about the character who is told the day they are going to die, but not the date.  Which means they’re forever afraid of one day in seven, every single week for the rest of their life.

The problem was that none of these stories were the one I was meant to be writing.  I was meant to be trying to write my ‘Evil Town from Hell’ story.  That one which spoke about society.  About how easily we could slip into treating each other inhumanly if we simply did as we were told and believed it was for a greater good.  Okay, okay, it had elements of Hot Fuzz about it as well as Soylent Green.

It’s probably thanks to that sort of thinking that, one morning, I turned away from the latest draft of the story and went back to my notes for it.  What do you want to write, I wrote to myself on the page.  What are you trying to do?

It was a good question.  I knew I was a horror writer, but I didn’t feel comfortable with this horror.  In a way, I didn’t feel good about what this horror could say about me.  I’d had a couple of ideas like that.  It was as if the thought behind them was too dark, too grim for me to face ever coming from me.

Thinking like that, I turned my attention to those other little ideas I’d been toying with.  Each of them was tackling a stage in someone’s like.  The children playing on the moors.  The young man travelling alone.  The middle aged man tormented by guilt.  The older man who was trying to live with his demons as best he could.  The four ages of men, I remember scrawling in my notes.  I underlined it.  Ringed it in question marks.  That was more interesting than what I’d been trying to write for months.

Those four stories could be linked.  Maybe not by characters, but by the ideas behind them.  After all, it was the ideas behind the horror stories that were distracting me.  The idea that telling a horror story was about expressing something horrific either within yourself, or something that had happened to you.  That was when Thomas Singer was born.  An older author than myself.  A recluse.  A man with some mild success and a cult following.  His fans believed Thomas was holding back a few stories to only be released after his death.  Five stories that possibly spoke of a secret he would take to his grave.  So, I killed him off and the book became his final release.  His confession, through the act of telling stories.

All those separate little stories I’d been trying not to write slotted together so nicely.  I wrote an introduction for the book as myself and then an intro to each story.  Finally, I wrote an afterword from Mr Singer himself.

I remember sending off the novel when it was finished and feeling strangely shell shocked by the experience.  I’d heard so many stories about what it was like to write your first novel.  None of them were right.  Mine had started just by walking out into the dark and thinking I’d be okay.

About Chris

At thirty-six years of age, Christopher Long is a relatively young writer. But when you read his writing, you realise he is older than beyond his years. He has the horror and torment of a million tortured souls in his work.

Dark, supernatural stories are his life blood. His first shocking novella, The Compressionist, is a scary tale about a man that feeds on the very life force of people and has done since the dawn of time. It was published early Spring of 2014.

He writes like a man possessed. Maybe he is? He sure seems older than his years suggest. No one dare go up in his attic to see if there is a picture of his good self that might be changing.

His second novella, The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce, a tragic tale of a recently retired thespian who finds something very strange in the grounds of his seaside retreat. Was published in the summer of 2014.

His third novella, The Narrow Doors, a tale that proves sometimes you should leave the past buried, was also published.

Then all three of these were released as part of a novel length collection, Christopher Long’s Unusual Things.

These books and three further novellas – The Beast of Belfield, The Count of Three, and The Wooden Walls, Christopher Long’s Unusual Things volume 2 and the Righteous Judges were all published in 2015 as part of Kensington Gore’s Hammered Horror book series.

This series showcases new, exciting, horror writing talent. And they don’t come much more talented than Christopher Long. He has a back catalogue of work that Stephen King or Kensington Gore himself would be proud of.

His debut novel Something Needs Bleeding, was a ground-breaking novel where he edited the last stories of mysterious horror writer Thomas Singer is a horror tour de force.

A further two novels are in the pipeline, or sewer pipe in Christopher Long’s case. The next is early 2017 and we at KGHH Publishing can’t wait.

Christopher has been writing stories since he was first able to hold a pen. Reportedly his first book collection, Tales from the Crib, would scare any nursery school or kindergarten.

It all began for Chris when someone gave him their copy of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and he hasn’t looked back since. If only in fear that someone’s going to hit him with the library late returns fee.

For Chris, stories are a means of escape. Not always to a place your average person or writer would go, but a dark, scary place that Chris feels most at home. The dark places that are in all our minds.

He is happily married to the lovely Samantha, or “Her Highness” as she likes to be called. They live in the midlands of England, which is a bit like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but with just a few less Orcs! And where Sam refuses to let Chris read her his bedtime stories, as he told her one once and she didn’t sleep for a month.

Connect with Chris

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads