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Raw Literature: Haiku, Tanka and a Debut Novel

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)

古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音

furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto

An ancient pond

A frog jumps in

The splash of water [1686] – Matsuo Basho

 

隅々に残る寒さや梅の花

Sumizumi ni nokoru samusa ya ume no hana

In nooks and corners

Cold remains:

Flowers of the plum

(translated by RH Blyth) – Yosa Buson

 

芙蓉咲いて古池の鴛やもめ也
fuyo saite furuike no oshi yamome nari

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

 

露の世は露の世ながらさりながら

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

Instagram

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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Raw Literature: Jewels on the Page

jules-paigeEssay by Jules Paige, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

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“How complex in its simplicity or how simple in its complexity; is writing. Much to think about that is for certain,” and so she thought…

How do I describe how I write. I put a pen in hand or place fingers on a keyboard. Do I need prompts? When I started writing about fifty years ago; while sitting at a table at a Teen Arts Festival, I asked those who stopped by for a subject – I then wrote a poem. Simple as that.

While some years I wrote less, other years I wrote more than one piece a day. For the last several years, I write a small daily piece, maybe adding a longer verse and or a fiction piece as well. Prompts sites on the web reintroduced me into writing fiction and memoir. Some have a limited word count. But generally I try to limit myself to one ‘typed’ page. Though I also have done/do series. Some evolving into chapters which could possibly make it into booklet form.

I see prompts, quotes, images and the light bulb in my brain goes off. And to challenge myself further I combine prompts as few as two as many as five or six. I make associations to memory, news articles and anything else and everything else that crosses my path.

I write for amusement. Perhaps guided by a muse. Though some may argue that muses do not exist. Maybe my muse is my own intuition, which often unconsciously picks up even the most subtle of cues. I write for myself as well as everyone who believes they can see themselves in something I have written. I can not explain how my brain works. I just like to, I just have to, write. For me writing is like breathing. A necessity of my life.

I write as JulesPaige (or as evolution has occurred; just ‘Jules’) because words are like ‘jewels on a page’. Not all are gems. But a good lot of them strung together are fair enough.

Daughter, sister, friend, poet, wife, mother, and grandmother. More introvert than extrovert, inspired by nature and pretty much anything.

About (me, sort of):

I’m just an old leather boot

not army boots, though I once thought about joining

however early rises and following someone else’s rules –

you know that a rebellious artistic spirit just wouldn’t work there

trying to walk on a catwalk

or eggshells, being the ‘monkey in the middle’

Jane of all trades, master of none, little bits of knowledge

tucked between aging marbles and greying locks – still young at heart

and nobody cares because

Oh maybe there are a few, but I’m not in the spotlight

and frankly that’s OK too – If you are looking for frilly lace

and a made up face – you’ve come to the wrong place – I’m not a rock and…

I’m not a plastic mock animal high heel shoe.

###

I was a teacher for young students and worked in various retail positions full and part-time until I became voluntarily employed to watch my grandchildren for a few years before semi-retiring to travel with my husband (who does so for his job). I’ve also had an active volunteer life when my own children were younger. I also enjoyed singing in choirs, though I only sing now to my favorite oldies station (though I enjoy other music too), because I’m a misfit of the 1960’s.

Always young at heart, humor is a big part of my life. While I’ll celebrate turning sixty this year, I still like to tell the story of how while vacationing with family that not once but twice I was mistaken for my oldest son’s wife. But I can be very serious, and have had bouts with depression after the loss of my maternal mother at a young age, and having to move many times as a young child. Even in my very healthy marriage I’ve had several homes with my loving husband whom I often write about, like in this renga:

Love 1

On’t Truth

(a renga)

she found a book by

an author he liked, and placed

it by his pillow…

he found it and asked her where

she found it… ‘charity shop’

so that night they read

when politics aired instead

of a favored show

©JP/dh

“We love being in love, that’s the truth on’t.”

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

English Novelist

The Book Of Hearts: Visions of Love in Word and Image

Running Press  * Philadelphia / London

© 1994

Through the internet I’ve learned many different short forms of poetry and experiments with combining them, even creating a new form called a Shadorma Summation. Where a haibun is prose that has haiku (within and or) ending the piece, a Shadorma Summation does the same with the six line syllable counted verse like this (first attempt in September of 2015):

Mooning Mayhem

(free verse/ shadorma haibun? Shadorma Summation)

Definitely and defiantly a horse of a different color.

She never did have one of those pink princess ponies.

Now she was getting on to be an old grey mare.

That reflection in the mirror could just have well been

in the smooth reflection in an aged fine wine.

Doppelgangers are not twins.

Are most of us really triplets; me, myself and I?

Grammar notwithstanding or sitting either, I suppose.

It all has to do with one’s id, ego and superego –

Are all horses of the same color, Thoroughbred?

The person I am becoming…ever evolving…

empathetic humane human, valuable, priceless?

Trying consistently constantly to remember the worth of

my being – self awareness, self forgiveness,

self indulgent; enough to give myself some hugs

Looking up what the human body is worth

can be deceiving; dead or alive – pieces and parts –

from about $3.50 to about $9 million

which doesn’t take into account what one

person’s actual artistic or intellectual value might be.

Definitely and defiantly wake up each day

Rule it with passion, exploration, devotion – It’s all better

than being lead astray through some unknown dark alley

where you might not know which way is up,

especially if you forgot to pack your compass rose.

as she was

a fish in a bowl

out of her

natural

element

it was all she could do to

step back, look and breathe

©JP/dh

I would like to be a published author, but I know that poets are hard pressed to get agents. I’d have to hire a secretary, and I’m not terribly fond editors who seem to like to change the tone and value of even short pieces. Having also almost been taken by some vanity publishers, I’m wary of the whole process and don’t feel skilled enough self publish via the web. Though I have put together several booklets and have just given them away.

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Jules Paige, a Rough Writer  for Carrot Ranch, writes every week for about a year and a half since she found the ranch through another blog friend. You might think so, but she is not a professional writer or at least hasn’t been paid any money…yet. She’s been published in school and college journals, congregational services, a narrowly themed chapbook and a local newspaper. She also entered and got an honorable mention in a haiku book contest. She has been ‘published’ on her friends blogs for haiku and Elfje and for prompts in flash fiction, non fiction and memoir. Jules also has a few pieces published in a book overseas that is raising money for charity. A self proclaimed opinionated rebel, born in the south, but northerner by life, Jules is thankful for all of the friends she has made throughout the world via the net. And is most grateful for the opportunity to write for Carrot Ranch and be one of the Buckaroos.

Jules attempts to stay organized by keeping her short verse here. Her longer verse here, and fiction or non, here.

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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.

Liebster Award Paying It Forward

Blogger Norah Colvin of Norah Colvin has honored me with my second Liebster Award, reminding me that bloggers can pay it forward. It’s an opportunity to read other bloggers and to be read. As part of the acceptance, she has posed the following questions to her nominees, which I have answered:

  1. What do you value most in life? I value living in such a way that I look for beauty all around me and find good even when life’s path gets rocky. It feels like a way to live truth. Not big truths, necessarily, but my own.
  2. What activities do you enjoy and why? Since I still love to dig in the dirt, I enjoy gardening and scrounging for rocks and old bits of broken glass. Activities that connect me to living in the moment are best; simple things like cooking and writing about the birds outside my window.
  3. What is something you wish you had more time for? I used to wish I had more time for writing, and now I do. I think we fill our lives with too much busy-ness. I’ve found that by taking time to stare at a sunset or falling snowflakes, I have all the time in the world. It’s what I do with it that matters.
  4. What is one change you would like to make in the world? I’d like to contribute to world change through one beautiful book at a time. It seems we have too many books embracing darkness, and I just want to honor the hero’s journey within us all and to actualize everyday beauty.
  5. What is something you would like to change about yourself? To stop worrying whether or not people approve of what I do. It’s a deep-seated issue that I work on rooting out and some days I do better than on others.
  6. What surprises you most about your life – something good in your life that you hadn’t expected, dreamed of or thought possible? Wow, if you would have asked my three years ago when I was going to take on the “writer’s life” I would have said, maybe in 20 years. Little did I know that an upheaval in my life would open the door for me to step into that writer’s life. It isn’t easy, but it is what I’ve dreamed of doing and I’m doing it.
  7. What ‘big” question do you often ponder? How do I listen to God’s calling and live in the light?
  8. What sorts of things amuse you? Silly little things amuse the daylights out of me. I have a quirky sense of humor that’s easily triggered. I laugh at things like realizing that my hubby and I forgot to drop off our trash at the dump before we drove into the mountains to fish. I laugh at the knowledge that it’s going to summon every grizzly bear in the region and I’m so scared of bears. All I can do is find amusement in the juxtaposition of garbage vs. bear-fear.
  9. What do you like to collect? Stuff from the ground that’s old–rocks, fossils, arrowheads, purple glass. I have a keen eye for these things. I have a large glass vase filled with old glass, buttons, marbles, tokens that I find while gardening or walking the pastures around the house. I have bowls and clusters of river rocks, fossils and Lake Superior agates and beach pebbles. Oh, and books!
  10. If you could talk with anyone and ask them to explain their ideas and/or actions, who would it be, and why? I’d love to talk to my 5th-great grandfather, James McCanless, and ask him why he left North Carolina. He was a poet and wrote such sad verse about leaving those mountains as an old man. I’d like to have coffee with him and talk about why we feel compelled to seek other places beyond what is familiar.
  11. What is something you can’t do without? Internet! Awful to admit, but I’d go crazy as an isolated writer in the Rocky Mountains without human connection, and the Internet provides that daily touch. Also, I’m not only compelled to write, I’m compelled to share what I write and read and comment on what others write.
  12. What is something important you learned about life, and how did you learn it? A life of truth is not an easy one. Some truths are scary, others humiliating, yet  truth sets us free. But many people cling to lies that they use to cover up truth. I’m drawn to people, artists and writers willing to be vulnerable in seeking their truth. This is why I’m drawn to  write fiction–I seek the truth that is revealed in the hero’s journey. I learned this the hardest way, being a survivor of incest. Such families are masterful at deceit. Seeking a different way became my own hero’s journey, and I successfully raised three children away from that family, thus breaking the cycle of lies and ugliness. But it’s hard, not to have a family of origin that I can trust.
  13. What is your earliest memory? One of my earliest memories is of a black cat that I coaxed into being a pet on a ranch where I lived the first seven years of my life. That cat made me feel safe.

The purpose of the Liebster award is to help discover new blogs. In keeping the engagement dynamic, I’d like to offer this nomination to the following bloggers who I’ve recently discovered their poetry and short stories, something that inspires me in pursuit of my own fiction. You can read their work at:

I Am A Writer, That’s What I Am is a terrific blog with stories, thought, photos and quotes. Truly it’s a well of inspiration. I’ve learned that creativity is a pool we swim in; if you don’t dive into its waters, you’ll never know. This is a blog that you can dive into and find out about yourself and your own writing.

A Little Bit of Poetry is a new blog by seasoned blogger, Susan Zutautas. This blogger is multi-talented from the kitchen to her writing space. She inspires me daily with her posts, recipes and poems. I have fun every Sunday with her on another blog (she’s prolific) but this new blog of hers is new and deserves discovering.

The Well Tempered Bards is an amazing blog of poetry. It’s the kind of poetry that seeps into your bones. You’ll discover many poets who make guest appearances so it offers a variety.

Squirrels in the Doohickey is great fun. I started grinning at the title and went into full-blown belly laughs as I read entries. This is a new blog to me, but I hope other will discover it too–sharp writing, well-branded and spot-on humor.

The Real Housewife is neither fiction nor poetry, but is so funny it should either be chick lit or a series of life’s limericks. Kelly finds funny anywhere, and her humor is scathing. She’s such a character she might show up in my fiction (just kidding…sort of…).

If you have been nominated you can choose to accept to play along, or not. No pressure. It’s a bit of fun, an opportunity to connect and can help spread knowledge of your blog. If I nominated you, it is because I do read your blog! If you accept, here are The Liebster Award Rules adapted from Wording Well:

  1. Each nominee should link back to the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 5-11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 1,000 followers.
  4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Questions for my Liebster Award Nominees:

  1. Congratulations! You just won a Liebster Award. What award do you dream about winning?
  2. What compelled you to start a blog?
  3. How did you come up with the blog’s name?
  4. What else do you write?
  5. Why are you drawn to writing fiction?
  6. What is your favorite genre to read?
  7. What is your favorite writing snack?
  8. What is your strongest writing strength?
  9. How do you keep focused on your writing?
  10. Who is your favorite book character and why?