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!
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
I read 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
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,
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."
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."
"Well 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."
"So then you do know who did it?"
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.
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
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
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,
Pay past 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
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
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 . . .
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
my silk stockings in tatters and a terrible migraine to boot,
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,
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 name,
‘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
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,
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
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
of the Tree
by Kristen Henderson
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
and 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
I can look into the opaque
of a blank page
and make a new legacy
personal estate, pen
my ancestors back
with words yet too modern
and simultaneously heal
their ghostly pain - all while tilling
my symbolic womb
should another hopeful sapling
my name bloom.
Kristen Henderson's 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
Looking 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.
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,
bloodied swimming pigs,
sunlit mountain waterfalls,
those three colorful bodies swirling
facedown in the water,
cool nights and steamy days.
smells bring you close to me...
the roar of a bus,
Chinese takeout's kitchen emissions,
The poets here have nothing political to say.
Their tongues are caught
fingering their egos
in this freedom called consumerism.
the best ones drink your coffee,
eat your bananas,
while moaning about their loves,
their never enoughedness.
you stand there asking for freedom to live,
to grow your crops,
to work your land,
with without the corporate prostitution of your people
and the army that would
kill them all for a few barrels of oil.
a time here when the people fought,
took out their pens and carved pages leading others
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 -
Am I angry?
And I would answer yes -
at your absence from my life,
which makes it all the more meager
at the vision of a moon I watch alone
wondering if you can see it as I do...
And I would prefer
to stand within your heat,
to smell the salt of your ocean,
wrap myself around the howlers shrieking
through the moon's full night.
And I would prefer to love you openly,
bring you here to my home,
eating tortillas con huevos.
think to travel to other places
where there are less cracks to fall into,
less love to finger...
But it is always you I come back to,
at your irreplaceable shore.
March 5, 2000
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
And the cock was preparing to adorn
The morning that was yet
The misty cold wind gushed swiftly
Yet 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.