Kindra M. Austin Reviews Kristiana Reed’s Between the Trees — May 14, 2019

Kindra M. Austin Reviews Kristiana Reed’s Between the Trees

My reflection in the train window settles

between the trees

beyond the glass

lining the field of gold.

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In itself, the opening of the title poem speaks of forlorn reluctance, wishes, and wonders. It must be because there’s something so powerful and intimate about one’s reflection; we study ourselves and pick up every nuance, whether we want to acknowledge ourselves or not. As I continued to let the verses unfurl, I wondered if Kristiana Reed had written this poem for me.

Between the Trees, as a poetry collection, is a heroic tribute to Self. I say heroic, because self-discovery is a demanding journey that many of us often quit, or never even begin. What strikes me most is that Reed brings her vulnerabilities to light without abdicating a single fiber of her resolve to persevere in life, “I want to reach inside myself/and find perennial blossoms, /butterflies, and next times” (Perennial Blossoms), and in love. “I want to listen to bird song/and reminisce about love, /about your touch” (Reminisce).

On the surface, Kristiana Reed’s poetry appears to be delicate, but don’t be fooled by a simple glance. Within these pages, you’ll find countless chasms to explore. This body of poems and prose is certainly Reed’s body. It is her mind and soul. I hope that when you read Between the Trees, you take the time to contemplate her truth, and perhaps apply this level of honesty to your own life.

 

Between the Trees releases this week, and will be available globally on Amazon. Links to come!

Everything You Wanted to Know About Self-Publishing and Micropublishers, But Were Afraid to Ask-Christine Ray — May 7, 2019

Everything You Wanted to Know About Self-Publishing and Micropublishers, But Were Afraid to Ask-Christine Ray

If you don’t know me, I am Christine E. Ray, one of the co-founders of Indie Blu(e) Publishing.  I have had the good fortune over the last year to have two books of my poetry published through small independent presses. Back in September of 2018 as I was working on the manuscript for The Myths of Girlhood, I made an offer to Indie Blu(e), Brave and Reckless, and Go Dog Go Cafe readers to try and answer any questions that you might have about self-publishing a book or working with a micro or small press.  I thought my experience as an indie published author and indie publisher would make me a valuable resource.  I was very well-intentioned when I made the offer and planned to write a post answering all your questions in October but well. . . time kind of slipped away from me.  So sorry!

I really am happy to answer your questions and provide any advice or insight that I can provide.  Feel free to chime in below in the comment section with your questions or email me your questions at indieblucollective@gmail.com.  I will write a post no later than next week addressing your questions.

Remember: there are no stupid questions.  If you have a question about self-publishing or publishing with a micropress, I probably had it once upon a time as well as do many of our readers.

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is Seeking Social Media/Publishing Interns — May 4, 2019

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is Seeking Social Media/Publishing Interns

Who We Are:

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is a small independent press that is committed to providing an outlet for talented and diverse writers who we believe have something important to say.  We launched in November 2018 with the well-received We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art.  We have had the honor of publishing standalone works by Nicole Lyons, Melody Lee, John Biscello, and Christine E. Ray in 2019 and have exciting titles by Rachel Finch, Eric Syrdal, Kindra M. Austin lined up for publication along with But You Don’t Look Sick: Battles We Fight With Invisible Illness – An Anthology and This is What Love Looks Like. Poetry by Women Smitten with Women.

What We Need:

We are currently seeking Publishing Interns to assist us with our social media campaigns (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and other facets of small press publishing during what has turned out to be a very busy 2019.  Previous social media experience is a must as is genuine interest in independent writing and publishing. We are looking for a commitment of 2 to 10 hours a week from May through August 2019. If there is a good fit, a more permanent opportunity may be available.

What We Offer:

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is a labor of love and currently all royalties not being directly paid to our authors are being used to build the business or donated to the causes we are passionate about.  Interns will be mentored by our experienced editorial team Kindra M. Austin, Candice Louisa Daquin, Rachel Finch, and Christine E. Ray, they will network with experienced and emerging Indie Blu(e) authors, they will learn firsthand about the world of independent publishing, build their writing/publishing resume, and receive free copies of our titles. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals considering self-publishing and/or launching their own publishing imprint.

To Apply:

Email us at indieblucollective@gmail.com with your name, contact information, a couple of sentences telling us more about who you are and why this opportunity spoke to you.  We promise we won’t judge if we had you at “free books”!

Questions/Concerns:

Contact us at indieblucollective@gmail.com

A Review of John Biscello’s Nocturne Variations — November 5, 2018

A Review of John Biscello’s Nocturne Variations

Nocturne Variations: John Biscello

Reviewed by Kindra M. Austin

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Nocturne Variations is a twenty-first century presentation of avant-garde literature.

Super. But what is avant-garde? Avant-garde is a French term that means advance guard; people and ideas that are ahead of their time. It’s a concept that refers to artists, composers, and writers whose works oppose mainstream values. As a noun, avant-garde is defined as new and unusual or experimental ideas in the arts. Often connected to political activism (think of Theater of the Absurd, Bob Dylan, and John and Yoko), there exists a misconception that avant-garde must always be politically driven.

Regarding visual art, it’s of popular thought that the avant-garde movement began in the mid-nineteenth century with French painter Gustave Courbet and his astonishing gift for realism. A notable example of Courbet’s opposite is fellow modernist Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist who created The Persistence of Memory. Courbet and Dali differ in style and perception, but their works are equally avant-garde.   

That’s all good to know, but we’re supposed to be talking fiction. So, what are some examples of avant-garde literature? Literary experts go bananas over James Joyce’s Ulysses; first published in 1922, this epic is best known for its stream-of-consciousness style. Another disturbance to convention was T.S. Eliot’s publication of The Waste Land, a poem that obliterated traditional form and ideals. 1922 had proven to be a formative year in the writing world. Thanks to writers such as Joyce and Eliot, we saw the influence of the modernist movement flourish in the works of Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, and ee cummings.

Fast-forward to post-modernism: radical novelists like George Orwell and Anthony Burgess, and the experimental poets of the Beat Generation continued to revolutionize written expression. In the twenty-first century, however, avant-garde literature, or experimental fiction—whatever you prefer to call it—has become rather familiar. We’re living in an age so saturated with uniqueness, it’s a challenge to produce anything that is not derivative.

Enter John Biscello.

Nocturne Variations is the tale of young Piers, a runaway, huffing enthusiast, and doyen of shadow puppetry. Within the pages, Biscello has created a kind of dystopian subculture where the illusory and the palpable breathe equal air; he’s built a world where even the shadows have distinct voices, and philosophy and folklore weigh the same.

“Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 Welcome to Tabanid, the L.A. vaudeville nightclub where dark and lascivious characters come alive. We meet our protagonist in the coat closet, engaged in a tryst just as she’s due to take the stage. One develops an opinion of Piers straightaway; seemingly carefree and wild-hearted, what Piers may lack in savoir faire, she makes up for with an offbeat kind of charm. The camaraderie between Piers and her shiny shadow partner, Trink, endears her even more—as an observer, it may be easy for readers to overlook Piers’ addictions in the beginning.

The world in which Piers subsists is a cruel one, and not unlike our own. She is often confronted by a monster called childhood trauma, as well as the devastating knowledge that she isn’t who she is supposed to be. As her story progresses, the spiritual theme presents itself organically through her musings, self-reflection, and interactions. Yes, we learn a great deal about Piers when she must run away from L.A. We also discover that this world can be a kind and forgiving one, not unlike our own; for in the old coal-mining town of Redline, there exists a new life path awaiting Piers.

It takes the relationships that Piers develops with Henry Hook and Gwen to reveal Piers’ actual nature. Once the enlightenment hits, you realize you’re not only an observer; you realize that you want to take care of this tragical shadow being.

“Wait for me somewhere between reality and all we’ve ever dreamed.”

                                                                                                            —J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan 

Nocturne Variations includes an arrangement of features that one might consider too ambitious. On the contrary, these pieces intermingle with the narrative quite naturally. Poems; diary entries; newspaper excerpts; interviews; notable quotes; and notes on cinema all operate as single vehicles with a shared destination. This composite not only makes odd sense, but it excites.

Biscello’s command of dialogue interested me because of the unusual structure, and I’d quickly decided that standard formation would have only disrupted the story’s distinctive movement. This novel is proof that he is one of the great visionary authors of today. He impresses with his employment of unconventional construction, multiple points of view, and cinematic scene direction without sacrificing a single thread of the human element.

Simply put, this novel is bold in design and syntax. As an author, ravenous reader, cinephile, and lover of art, I challenge anyone to argue that John Biscello’s Nocturne Variations does not qualify as both avant-garde literature and multimedia artwork.

Nocturne Variations releases on 30 November, 2018, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

My Publishing Story-Sarah Doughty — September 17, 2018

My Publishing Story-Sarah Doughty

 

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My origin story is much like anyone else’s, I suppose. I turned to writing because it helps me feel better. It’s what I’ve always done. When it came to a point in my life that I desperately needed something to help me deal with traumatic memories of my childhood, I turned to writing. Not only for the therapeutic benefit, but also as a means of proving – not just to myself, but as a middle finger to my abuser – that I was capable of doing something I loved and could do it well. Sure, it took time to grow and evolve, but that’s how writing is supposed to be. A constant evolution over time. It was the best decision I ever made. And I will never look back.

What is the name of your work and via which format (online, small press, e.g.) did you publish it?

I self-published all of my books (you can read more about them on my author page) for free through Smashwords. They don’t charge to distribute to retailers, and except for Amazon, all the major retailers carry my e-books on their digital shelves. (Mobi files, however, are available for Kindles through Smashwords.) I chose to do this because writing is therapeutic to me. Reading, for many others offers the same benefits – the escape. I didn’t want money to come between someone finding an escape in my books. That decision isn’t what many authors would do, and that’s okay. It works for me because the writing itself is reward enough. It’s icing on the cake to know that people are continually downloading and enjoying my books – just as I’d hoped.

What made you decide to self-publish/publish through a small independent press?

When I wrote my books, I did it with the intention to help me therapeutically – to escape into my heroine’s mind (or a temporary moment through my prose poetry). In many ways, my heroine saved me. I’m far from fully healed, but I was faced with a dilemma. Would I publish my books online for free so that others could read them and benefit from the story as I did, or wait until I was better to go a more traditional route? Considering the extent of the abuse I endured as a child and how long it lasted, I didn’t know when, if ever, I would be capable of the stresses of the book industry. So, I elected for option A. I would much rather share my words for free to help people than wait. As long as my writing helps me, I want to keep it free to help others as well.

Did you face any challenges in the publication process you chose, and if so, what advice can you give aspiring writers who are interested in taking that route?

My decisions aren’t what most writers would do, and that’s okay. But if anyone does decide to go that route, there’s very little stress involved. And once the books are published, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about advertising or trying to get books sold so you can take a vacation this year – unless, of course, you want to. Publishing was easy. Smashwords made it clear and simple and I don’t think I would go any other route for my e-books again in the future.

Many writers struggle with the question of when to publish their work. How did you know the time was right for you?

Just Breathe was my first novel in a lot of ways. I had never – not once – finished writing a novel successfully. I would always get stuck halfway through the story and have no clue where to go next. When I set out to write for its therapeutic benefits, I wasn’t going to let myself fail again. I found that carefully plotting was the right course for me. And I wrote my book from start to finish, coincidentally during National Novel Writing Month (November). The first draft was admittedly a mess, and it took twice as long to finish the first edit. But it was worth it. The story was important to me, and I finally wrote it out. I was determined to release it to the world.

When you write, who is your intended audience?

For many fiction writers, there’s a target audience. For my genre, since it’s a rather specific one (urban fantasy romance), my target audience is adult women, ages 18 and above. My books aren’t erotica, but they have some scenes in them that wouldn’t be appropriate for minors without an adult’s prior permission to read. My prose poetry is mostly for all ages, any gender, though some of the more sensitive subjects regarding my abuse, or romance might be better suited for people that can handle the content. But, more importantly, I write for myself. If I hadn’t written my books, I would put them among my favorites and go-to rereads.

Indie Blu(e)’s mission is to promote independent/divergent writers with an edgy ethos. What does being an indie writer mean to you?

I write to heal. It helps me feel better when I write, and I genuinely love what I’m writing. If you don’t, you’re doing it wrong. I had so much faith in what I was doing that I felt compelled to share my books as they were completed, for free of course, because I didn’t want anyone to be deprived of the escape or experiencing the kind of story I loved so much. I also write for the community. So many people have stories of their own that mirror mine, likewise for many other writers. So not only have I found some forever friends that are also badass writers, but I’ve found people that have connected with my words so deeply, that they feel as though I’m writing about them. That is truly better than being a bestselling author.

What and who do you most like to read?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved urban fantasy – an often-secret supernatural world within the real world (often with a bit of steamy love interests involved), and horror. Stephen King made me fall in love with horror when I was maybe 7 years old and I watched It for the first time. To this day, Pennywise is by far the best antagonist I’ve ever read (or more recently, seen on the big screen). From Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series (True Blood fans, anyone?) and many more have captured my heart over the years.

In your recently published work, what is your favorite piece and why?

The last book I published was the most recent in my series. I think my favorite part was finally introducing a character I’ve teased about since Just Breathe. But I won’t spoil the fun. I’m currently working on a new poetry book that will cover the last few years of writing, as well as new pieces. Hopefully it will be released in 2019.