Raw Literature: Haiku, Tanka and a Debut Novel

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 22, 2017

Essay and flash fiction by Marjorie Mallon, guest writer to Carrot Ranch.

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Thank you so much to Charli Mills for her kind invitation for me to guest post on her Raw Literature series on Carrot Ranch.

I’m delighted to introduce you to my first novel: The Curse of Time–Book 1–Bloodstone.

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

It is my great pleasure to share with you some of my poetry inspired by themes in The Curse of Time.

I’ve always loved poetry but never considered myself to be a poet! If I hadn’t started blogging I doubt I would ever have written a poem. How sad that would have been! A blogging event on WordPress: Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge kick started my confidence! So, I have much to thank Ronovan for. I now write loads and loads of short form poetry and have written the odd limerick or longer piece of poetry too.

More recently, I’ve been participating in Colleen Chesebro’s weekly poetry challenge.

I love writing haiku and Tanka.

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry.

The four great Haiku Masters of Japanese poetry are:
Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694)
Yosa Buson (1716 – 1784)
Kobayashi Issa (I763 – 1827)
Masaoka Shiki. (1867 – 1902)


furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto

An ancient pond

A frog jumps in

The splash of water [1686] – Matsuo Basho



Sumizumi ni nokoru samusa ya ume no hana

In nooks and corners

Cold remains:

Flowers of the plum

(translated by RH Blyth) – Yosa Buson


fuyo saite furuike no oshi yamome nari

cotton roses flowering —
the mandarin duck in the old pond
is a widower – Masaoka Shiki



Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara

This dewdrop world —

Is a dewdrop world,

And yet, and yet . . . – Kobayashi Issa

Kobayashi Issa wrote the above poignant haiku after experiencing two terrible tragedies. His first-born baby died, and his daughter died less than two-and-a-half years later (translated by Lewis Mackenzie) as you can see a tiny poem conveys so much sadness and torment in so few words.

These original haiku from the masters are translated from Japanese. Our English haiku attempt to approximate the work of these great poets.

Our English haiku tend to have seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. In, the Japanese form it often evokes images of the natural world. Haiku traditionally avoid the use of metaphors or similes. The last line suggests the opposite to your initial thoughts conveyed in the first line.

Tanka is a longer form of haiku with a rhythmic variation with the two final lines being longer: 5,7,5,7,7. The first three lines (5,7,5,) create a visual image and the last two lines (7,7) express the poet’s thoughts about the first three lines.

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t too hard and it’s fun to experiment with the syllables and have a go.

Haiku and Tanka may be short but they deliver a tremendous punch with the capability of expressing a wide range of emotions from humour to deepest sorrow. These wonderful forms of poetry are intriguing to a potential reader and hopefully motivate book enthusiasts to discover more! With encouragement from my writing friend, author Colleen Chesebro I added further micro poetry to my novel. Each chapter, or puzzle piece as I call it begins with a Tanka.

Here are some of the Tanka’s I’ve written in response to Colleen’s challenge. These are extra material not included in the book. Several are inspired by the main protagonist Ryder and these are the ones I’d like to share with you today, as Ryder is without a doubt one of my favourite characters, and he is handsome with a dark side!


Marjorie Mallon a debut author who has been blogging for three years at M J Mallon Author. Her interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. She writes Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. She loves to read and has written over 100 reviews.

Her alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. She love superheros! MJ was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit), second child and only daughter to her  proud parents Paula and Ronald. She grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with her elder brother Donald. Her parents dragged her away from her exotic childhood and much loved dog, Topsy, to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh MJ mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager MJ travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that she now lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing her author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When she’s not writing, MJ eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, she practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes her, she snorkels with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Amazon UK Author Page

Amazon US Author Page

Amazon Canada Author Page

See M J Mallon Author for information about new releases, photos of main characters/character interviews, book reviews and inspiration.

MJ’s New Facebook Group #ABRSC: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook


Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time

Facebook: Facebook: m j mallon author

Tumblr: Tumblr: mjmallonauthor

MJ has devoted the past few years to writing over 100 reviews on Goodreads and her blog to help support traditional and indie writers.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.



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  1. Ritu

    Wonderful post Marje! Gotta love a haiku!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m in awe of those who can whittle words into haiku. Thanks for stopping by, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        They are a true skill Charli ????

      • Charli Mills

        Sylvia Play was said to have envied novelists because “There is so little room! So little time! The poet becomes an expert packer of suitcases.” However, novelists, with our endless trunks and moving vans, should envy poets their ability to say so much in so few words. I think it’s good to exchange the lessons contained in learning both genres.

  2. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    Thank you so much for featuring me on raw literature Charli. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a pleasure to host you at the Ranch, MJ! I enjoyed learning how you took up the various poetry challenges and discovered new forms to entice your writing. I’m wishing you the best with your book launch!

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Thank you so much Charli. Really appreciate your support. 🙂

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hi there. I remember this story from Excerpt Week at the write stuff. I’m happy for you that you now write poetry, and incorporate it into your other work.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      So does your poetry lead to fiction, fiction lead to poetry, or both?

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a good question! I recently attended a Writers Workshop in Hancock, led by an MFA poet. She advertised that it would include flash fiction, so I wanted to see her take on it. Comparing notes as poet to novelist, she writes be taking away as many words possible to still convey the essence in base bones. And while flash fiction allows a novelist to reduce a scene to it’s essence, the goal is to build up the story and shape its flesh. I think writers can learn from different approaches, genres and forms. I like to think flash fiction is a common ground for such sharing and exploration. Thus, I’m delighted to see a writer develop an affinity for poetry while pursuing novel writing.

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        My fiction lead to poetry and I’m so glad it did! Without the fiction writing I doubt I would have had the confidence to even attempt to write poetry.

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoy seeing how writers mix different forms. I think it adds to out creative repertoire.

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Definitely Charli, I couldn’t agree more!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Sally!

  4. Micki Peluso

    Excellent post! Marjory, the book sounds like a winner–got everything in it that I love and more. Good luck!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by the Ranch, Micki!

  5. robbiesinspiration

    Congratulations on a super post, Marje and Charli. A real treat to read more of Marje’s lovely haikus.

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoyed reading MJ’s haikus and seeing the intersection between poetry and novel writing. Thanks, Robbie!

  6. dgkaye

    Fantastic to see Marje here. And I loved learning about Haiku and Tankas. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Debbie! I enjoyed her post, too!

      • dgkaye


  7. Norah

    What an interesting post, Marje, and how lovely to read more about your writing here at the ranch. What a great idea to introduce each chapter of your book with a tanka. I very much enjoyed the sample of haiku and tanka you included in the post. The Curse of Time story sounds intriguing and I’m sure it will have great appeal to your intended audience.

    • Charli Mills

      I liked that creative approach, too, Norah. Thanks for reading!

    • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

      Thank you Norah, so glad you enjoyed the post and sample of my poetry, I really apprecate your encouragement and kind words. 🙂

      • Norah

        You are welcome, Marje.


  1. Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge # 47 – #Haiku #Tanka #Haibun: Shadow & Light | M J Mallon Author - […] Charli Mills Raw Literature: https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/22/raw-literature-haiku-tanka-and-a-debut-novel/ […]
  2. Launch Party!!!! The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone – Kindle E-Book | M J Mallon Author - […] A big thank you to Charli – https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/22/raw-literature-haiku-tanka-and-a-debut-novel/ […]
  3. The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone: Kindle E-Book. – The Militant Negro™ - […] A big thank you to Charli – https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/22/raw-literature-haiku-tanka-and-a-debut-novel/ […]
  4. The Curse of Time – A Thank You!!! | M J Mallon Author - […] And a feature about my love of poetry on Charli’s Raw Literature: https://carrotranch.com/2017/08/22/raw-literature-haiku-tanka-and-a-debut-novel/ […]

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