literary submissions to 150 words and bios to 50 words for possible inclusion on the ALVA Visiting Writers'
Trauma and Writing
Blog by Novelist Nancy Means Wright
Good writing often comes out of adversity-out of trauma. My first novel back in
1973 was written in a boys' boarding school where the headmaster wouldn't allow me to teach English, my college major, because,
he maintained, it was a man's subject. Writing the book was a way to cool the slow burn in me, but even so, in the end, my
faculty wife-heroine slowly anesthetizes herself with Sherry. Years later, after two more books, I left a difficult marriage
and went down to the mid-Hudson Valley, New York, to teach in a small liberal arts college. I missed my family and friends;
I felt like a pariah in this new place. I couldn't write anything longer than a poem!
But then I invented an alter-ego called Fay, a gutsy, older woman divorcee who lives over a Video
King and toughs her way through life. I wrote and published almost one hundred poems, many in her persona-poems thrive on
adversity! The alter ego helped, but I still craved order in my life. I wanted to go to bed and wake up mornings knowing that
all was right in my world. And it wasn't.
a newspaper article about an assault on two elderly dairy farmers that appalled me, and decided then and there to write a
mystery with a single-mother sleuth (like myself) that would begin in chaos and end in order. I hadn't ready a mystery since
fourth grade when I penned one inspired by Nancy Drew that my mother threw out. To my surprise, Mad Season was published by
St. Martin's Press, five books in all before, in 2005, my dairy farmer sleuth's cows in Mad Cow Nightmarewere to
be euthanized, and my editor and I jointly decided to end the series.
I had remarried, but just after the demise of my series, my husband died of cancer, and I almost quit writing
altogether. But I slowly picked up the pieces of my life and went back home to Vermont. Already I had three grandchildren!
Enough to live for surely, but a writer must write. I wrote two kids' mysteries - one won an Agatha Award. Yet I longed to
write another adult novel.
I taught a course in Women
and Literature, and rediscovered 18the century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman). Wollstonecraft
became governess for an autocratic Anglo-Irish family - an often humiliating position like my job in that boys' school. There
were cries of horror when her Vindication came out, advocating breast feeding for all, and coeducation - they called her a
madwoman. And like me, feminist Mary had a dilemma: despite her insistence that marriage was little more than slavery, she
liked the company of men. In Paris during the French Revolution she fell in love, got pregnant, was abandoned, and shunned
by society all over again. After that she suffered myriad traumas - but a resilient woman, she kept on writing. Her novels
Mary: A Fiction and The Wrongs of Womanare largely autobiographical.
I, too, after divorce and widowhood, find writing a therapy. With Wollstonecraft my
protagonist, my mystery novel Midnight Fires, set in Ireland when Mary was governess, will be out in April from Perseverance
Press (aptly named.). Sometimes, it seems, it's hard to distinguish real life from fiction. This fall a number of traumas
affected my family, and my personal anguish has colored the psyches and events in the lives of my fictionalized Mary. Writing,
I find, is not only a mediation, but a way of processing our traumas, a way to instill order and a measure of peace in our
Nancy Means Wright is the author of fifteen books,
including five mystery novels from St. Martin's Press and a historical novel, Midnight Fires (Perseverance Press).
She was an Agatha winner and nominee for two kids' mysteries, and has published stories in American Literary Review, Ellery
Queen, Mystery Magazine, et al.
An Excerpt from Lily White Lies
by Kathy Reinhart
"Meg, when this happened we all agreed the truth could never
come out." Lowering her head, she continued, "I may have had a little too much to drink and chirped like a bird
the last time I saw you, but I'm not so sure that telling you was for the best."
"Why? Gram, I have the right to know; besides, without knowing who my real
parent's are, I have no way of knowing who I am or who else I may be related to." I hesitated. "Gram, what I'm trying
to say is... I could be marrying a blood relative."
for the love fo God, child, what wretched thought!" Reaching for her purse, she added, "If it'll help put your mind
at ease, Brian is not relation."
then you do know who did it?"
Taking a swallow
straight from her flask, she looked around the room and pulled her chair in closer to me. I instinctively glanced around the
room also, not sure who or what I should be looking for.
Kathy Reinhart is the winner of the 2009 Brighid's Fiction Manuscript contest
for Lily White Lies. Reinhart conducts weekly interviews with fellow authors at Ink Drop
Interviews on WordPress while working on her latest novel, The Red Strokes, due out next year.
Lily White Lies on Amzaon!
An Excerpt from Streetscape: A
Jake Soho Mystery
He walked the neighborhood to work off
restlessness. Along Bleecker Street he stopped in front of a window with three mannequins. They seemed to look at him with
contempt. Women out of his past frozen behind glass. Best to revisit them when dreaming, not awake.
What he found for sleeping this night was a first for him - scaffolding in front
of the corner empty building at King and MacDougal. It had been poorly assembled, like something out of a shantytown. Missing
pieces left a convenient hole within the overhang though which he could wiggle to find refuge on top.
Jake dreamed of his hometown upstate - not New York City.
Hiding in that big tree house.
Jake! Jake! Little sis Caitlin was calling him.
But Jake ignored her.
Waldman is the author of a number of reference books on history and popular culture, including Atlas
of the North American Indian. He also has co-written several screenplays, including an episode of Miami
Vice for NBC and The Legend of Two Path, a drama about the Native
American side of Raleigh's Lost Colony, shown at Festival Park in North Carolina. Streetscape: A Jake Soho
Mystery may be found at ALVA Press, Inc.
Remembering the Dance Pavilion
at Woodcliff Park, Poughkeepsie, New York
I was just about to chuck my dreams
of a life lived in front of klieg lights,
When I saw a sign on a dancehall wall that read, “Marathon Dance Tonight.”
Though I wasn’t sure of my tango
and my thrift shop shoes were too tight,
I managed to find me a partner named ‘Sal’ and we waltzed all through that first night.
The tempo increased come morning,
but the steps Sal and I knew by heart,
So we skimmed our way ‘round that dance floor, as fresh as we’d been at the start.
The folks in charge of the contest, said a hundred bucks would be the first prize,
And since we were both completely broke, we could sure
use a sum of such size!
Even split half and half with my partner, those greenbacks would keep
me in style,
due rent to the landlord . . . give me peace of mind for a while.
The following night
was a doozy, most dancers half-dead on their feet,
But my partner, Sal, let me drag him around to a lonely drummer’s beat.
Next morning arrived
the dance fans, to cheer on what couples remained . . .
Shuffling slowly about the scuffed oak floor while their muscles and joints complained.
Then contestants began
to totter . . . those not in best physical form . . .
They crawled to the sidelines exhausted, in numbers that seemed about norm.
With only three couples
remaining, upright on that scarred dancehall floor,
Sal and I had a good chance of winning . . . if we could just last twelve hours more!
Hang on for that one more night needed to
win the mad marathon Dance . . .
Take home a sum seemed like a fortune; give my dreams of success one more chance.
But I broke both
high heels while hauling my limp partner ‘Sal’ ‘round the floor,
And I had to pry my
shoes from my feet before I could dance one step more.
Barefoot, my silk stockings in tatters and a terrible migraine to boot,
My chutzpah had just about had it when somebody started to hoot!
That sound quite incited my moxie, and I gazed dazedly at the crowd . . .
Saw a gang of young hoodlums come jeering . . . booing and laughing out loud.
Some ruffians were ‘dancing’ to mimic those still
on the floor . . .
Prancing and giggling and ‘singing’ until
they were thrown out the door.
The other folks started applauding . . . those fans who’d been there since the start,
And THEY were the people I danced for . . . the ones who had stolen my heart.
The prize had retreated to nowhere, and my partner just didn’t
exist . . .
All I knew was the sweet, sweet sound of applause
. . . a sound I could never resist.
I woke to find myself lying flat out on a hospital bed,
With every inch
of me hurting, from my bloodied toes to my head.
My partner, it seemed, had fared better, come out of the dance on his feet . .
Able to scoop up the hundred we’d won before beating a hasty retreat.
I never did know where he went to, and nobody knew his last
But ‘Sal’ took me straight to the cleaners . . . playing his chiseler’s game.
He’d grabbed every cent of our
winnings, half of which were quite rightfully mine;
But he wasn’t
really the winner, which is why I have written this rhyme.
For my story appeared in the papers . . . News, Mirror, and Herald Tribune,
Then roses arrived from Bus Berkley with a contract
to dance to HIS tune!
So I’m not going back to Peoria or to sleep in a fleabag hotel,
Nor being fed soup at some mission where they preach such a lot about hell.
No, I’m living the life most girls dream of . . . as
a star on the bright Broadway stage,
As the critics decided to crown
me, “NEW YORK’S MUSICAL COMEDY RAGE!”
Elizabeth Doolittle Hampel is a longtime resident humorist, novelist, and artist of Middlebury, VT. Born in New York State, Betty,
as she prefers to be known, writes for the pure pleasure of it. The widow of prominent Vermont artist Harrison Hampel,
a number of her short stories have appeared in national magazines, as have many of her commissioned portraits and landscapes
been reproduced on magazine covers. Prolific in any medium, Betty Hampel writes in many voices, in many styles, of many eras.
Among her published works are Mirror Image and Gumshoe, Xlibris,
2009, from which this biographical information is quoted.
On Writing and Trauma
Products of the Tree
There's a pressure
at all hours of the day
only a poem can assuage.
Born at the bottom
of a margin, fringe in a brood
beat for generations
desolate at the root
of the family
oak like the rest
of my nuclear crew,
I could not lay the seeds
for my own progeny, i.e., tomes,
unless I learned to write myself out
of the paper bag self-esteem I had
been living in, too.
So, at midnight or noon
can look into the opaque mirror
a blank page
and make a new legacy
of my personal estate, pen
my ancestors back
with words yet too modern
for their graves
pain - all while tilling
should another hopeful sapling
my name bloom.
poems have appeared in many literary journals throughout the US. She has an MFA from University of Arizona and an MSW from
University of Albany. Kristen runs the Cherry Branch Gallery in Cherry Valley, New York. Her recently published book of poetry
which includes "Products of the Tree" is available at ALVA Press, Inc.
From Depression Cookies
by Tia Silverthorne Bach and Angela Beach Silverthorne
through the dingy school bus window, I felt the emptiness of losing another place. I wasn't losing a home; my family knew
better than to get attached to a location. It was worse than that. The persona I had created would stay behind; so in essence,
I was dying. I never knew what I would have to become on the other side. The North Carolina girl was an illusion I had yet
to create, and the real me was a reality I had yet to know.
Late at night, I would often think about the many characters I had created
over the years. I could imagine how actors felt. They become each new role only to lose that part at each premiere. Now, through
the cruelty of fate, I would lose another me. I was heading off to start a new movie, a new role.
Tia Silverthorne Bach and Angela
Beach Silverthorne, are the co-authors of Depression Cookies, a Finalist in the Chick Lit category of the
2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Depression Cookiescontrasts the perspectives of Krista, a 13 year old, and
her mother. The excerpt above is by Tia - an avid reader and blogger and the mother of three girls.
The nights I sleep with you between my legs
- your absence as profound as your presence -
I dream of jungle rivers,
sunlit mountain waterfalls,
those three colorful bodies swirling facedown in the water,
nights and steamy days.
Sounds and smells bring you close to me...
the roar of a bus,
the Chinese takeout's
The poets here have nothing political to say.
tongues are caught fingering their egos
in this freedom called consumerism.
Even the best ones drink your coffee,
while moaning about their loves,
their meager lives,
you stand there asking for freedom to live,
to grow your crops,
work your land,
to live with without the corporate prostitution of your people
and the army that
would kill them all for a few barrels of oil.
There was a time here when the people fought,
out their pens and carved pages leading others to freedom.
That was before the sedatives arrived...
alcohol, sex and other opiates.
What drives me to write are others that do
but say nothing
Academic hooha, playing with forms, iambs, tercets...
killing all emotion.
there is so much to say.
And what began as a love poem has eroded to this...
You ask me from your
mountainous perch so far away,
- your soul well hidden from those who would stop your breath -
And I would answer yes -
at your absence from my life,
which makes it all the
at the vision of a moon I watch alone wondering if you can see it as I do...
would prefer to stand within your heat,
to smell the salt of your ocean,
to wrap myself around the howlers
through the moon's full night.
And I would prefer to love you openly,
bring you here to my
eating tortillas con huevos.
I think to travel to other places
there are less cracks to fall into,
less love to finger...
it is always you I come back to,
listing at your irreplaceable shore.
March 5, 2000
Lorna Tychostup is an international journalist, photographer,
and communications consultant. When Senior Editor of Chronogram Magazine, her reporting took her
to Mexico, Morocco, and the Middle East, with a long-term focus on Iraq. She has BA in Cultural Studies from Empire
State College SUNY and a MS from NYU's Center for Global Affairs. Her poems may be found in Poet's Gallery
anthologies and publications; Dyed-in-the-Wool, a Hudson River Poetry Anthology; and her book of poetry,
Tales from the Revolution. ALVA Press, Inc.
As I Watch You Sleeping
It was minutes before the dawn
When bunnies were meandering the lawn,
cock was preparing to adorn
The morning that was yet to born.
The misty cold wind gushed swiftly
you were steady,
Unmoved by the notion,
Undisturbed by the supplication.
You are innocent,
As I watch you, sleeping.
Helmy Kusuma makes his home in Jakarta Utara, Indonesia. Indonesia
is the fourth most populace nation in the world. There Kusuma writes in both English and Indonesian. Kusuma has published two novellas: Mementoes of Mai
and Cinta 3 Sisi; a thriller short story, 'There is Hope', and a collection of
flash fictions, A Flash of Inspiration. He can be found at http://www.helmykusuma.com.