Friday, July 30, 2021



WPWT Holiday "Bizarre" Facebook Page Link:

(Please note, if you do not have a social media account, we don't want you to miss out on the raffle, so you can comment on this post to enter by end of day July 31st EST)

Image below has fireworks and sound, photos and background design by NMB

On July 3rd, the founding anniversary weekend, we went deep with a long, heartfelt message to all of you on my FB page as well as the magazine’s (a link was also put on the mag website home page with the photo of eagles--we tested it and didn't need to log into FB to read text). We talked about unity and the freedom to forge ahead as we find ourselves, as a nation in a new term, as a new world in a new phase, albeit a very different time with some lingering and some new challenges and themes as well as fresh hopes. Coinciding with that holiday weekend, there was the most significant solar flare (interestingly) since 2017. As we move forward in this new term and phase, described “cosmic fireworks.” As part of the X-1 class, it ranked amongst the most powerful “eruptions on the sun.” Fleeting, it experienced a quick rotation but caused a brief “radio blackout.” So far away, this quick flare still had the ability to affect us down here. The sun is in a cycle numbered 25 which began in 2020 and we’re making sense of the cycle at the center of our individual and universal systems. Far from the first celestial event in recent years to draw attention, it followed fast on the heels of an eclipse in June which we timed to coincide with a great essay by Vonnie Winslow Crist on creation that called to us as storytellers: (from our description on the page) “ The circle goes round in our sharing and creating and on this day of the solar eclipse, the ring of fire—our passion, our creation, our love and connectedness as creatives burns bright in the dark.” We mentioned the extended need for light, the next eclipse due in December and the presence of holidays unforsaken along this part of the East Coast. It’s not only our WPWT Holiday “Bizarre” page paying homage to the comforts of Christmas and winter celebrations.

Which brings us to what we want to focus on in this post. On July 3rd, we spoke of unity and freedom. In these times, what seems a peculiar choice of theme is actually a kind of human necessity and maintainer of morale. We choose celebration. Rather than making light of anything, it draws out and expands the light from every possible thing. In this and neighboring states, you can take a drive through suburban areas and find that many people still have their homes lit with Christmas lights which is very unusual. It’s been that kind of a fluctuating concept of time following 2020. We need the light literally and metaphorically, in and out. In fact, there was a local radio promotion days ago urging our region to celebrate Christmas in July by putting out a few décor items, strings of light (if not already there), and they played holiday music all weekend. In that vein, it is a fitting time to do the raffle. A good time for presents? Sure. Raffle prizes suit that nicely by bringing with them a little cheer and comfort. All you had to do to enter was to “like” the WPWT Holiday “Bizarre” page—if you have not, BE SURE TO DO SO BY JULY 31st. Winners will randomly be drawn.

Ready for some excitement this summer?

Our fantastic donors, all genuine, amazing people we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years are right here with you, illuminating things with their gracious generosity.

6 AWESOME PRIZES: Need something to read? Maybe a selection from a fave author like Erica Bauermeister, Alice Hoffman, or Anne Serling? For fiction, from two NYT best-selling authors, there are two Reese’s Book Club picks—these fiction selections are The Scent Keeper and The Rules of Magic. For non-fiction, from a widely acclaimed author serving on the board of directors of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation, comes a beloved tome essential to past and present, informing the future—the memoir selection is As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling. Have a book you want to get out there and are looking for more exposure? A book promo package from the modern innovations of BookDoggy (more details below on the prize and donor, Martin Crosbie, below). Want to refresh your look as so many articles talk about this dire need after living in sweats or pajamas for over a year? A consult to refresh your look and incorporate the essential you in a sustainable way from the practical glam of GenuINe STYLE (more details below on the prize and donor, Amy Juneau, below). Want a precious piece of artwork with meaning to enrich a special space in your home or office? A painting from internationally exhibited artist, Linda Bigness.


Donor, NYT best-selling author, Erica Bauermeister

Prize: The Scent Keeper ~visit site for description

(A Reese's Book Club pick)

Now in paperback, Bauermeister also has the latest, House Lessons: Renovating a Life and there will be a forthcoming feature from us about how this book carves out a space for the soulful writer, the heart of a family and sheltered us in its pages and impacted us as we navigated the height of the pandemic, my mother’s cancer treatment and the aftermath.


Donor, NYT best-selling author, Alice Hoffman

Prize: The Rules of Magic ~visit site for description

(NYT best-seller, A Reese’s Book Club pick)

Hoffman’s newsletter describes the summer reading series of books associated with Practical Magic. “Throughout the summer we will be reading the whole series leading up to the release of the fourth and final novel, The Book of Magic, out this October.”

The Rules of Magic coincides with August, so this timing works well with our raffle. We are working on a forthcoming feature about Magic Lessons which powerfully shook me and led to revelations, underscoring important questions of history and the roles of women.


Donor, acclaimed non-fiction and fiction author, Anne Serling

Prize: As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling

(See site for blurbs about the memoir from stars like Robert Redford and Carol Burnett and more, including fellow famed authors)

Anne Serling is currently at work on a novel as well as an updated edition of the beloved memoir where we are introduced to the man who surpassed the myth. She contributed a special, impactful holiday reflection about her father to the WPWT Holiday “Bizarre” page.


Donor, Martin Crosbie (author—his success has been noted in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes, and more…) and Founder and Managing Director at BookDoggy Free and Almost-Free Ebooks

Prize: promo for a discounted e-book ~visit site for further details, (some are informally listed below for the purpose of this prize page but to get full, proper details please go to official site and its staff)

Your discounted eBook can receive things like promo in their newsletter, being featured on their site, appearing beside your author site listing, and social media exposure, YouTube channel video shown, links to where to purchase... Again, the above informal summary of details is not meant to be official or complete, so please visit site, author tab, for proper and full details or contact site.


Donor, Amy Juneau of GenuINe STYLE   

Prize: A 30-min styling consultation! Amy Juneau of GenuINe STYLE will help you update your look, envisioning new styles you hadn't thought of before—and sustainably, straight from your closet. All the while, blending your style goals and genuine personality for a fresh new look!

*Winner receives 2 outfit updates including accessories*

See Amy featured in’s fashion blog in conjunction with Polyvore's transitional style contest.

Learn more about GenuINe STYLE:

Info (at) .


Donor, internationally exhibited artist, Linda Bigness

Prize: Pears Parade encaustic on panel, 6”X6" inches, value $150.

~Visit her site to learn more about Linda Bigness and her artwork. Her bio is also the first listed on the Artists’ Gallery page of the WPWT site ( 

Looking through the artist’s work is like a going through a scrapbook of time as there are a number of images featured in different issues of WPWT over the years with poignant meaning. Her vast array of work always draws the eye of the soul and we celebrate and congratulate her latest achievements with the Kirkland Art Center in NY.



Thursday, June 10, 2021

Guest Essay, "Embracing the Challenge": A Tale of Perseverance on the Page with a 100 Submissions Goal in 2020 (Storytellers Continuing to Strive in 2021)


Editor's Note (NMB): I recall it was in the winter when I came across a Facebook post from an editor colleague I'd worked with on something in 2011, an NLAPW sister, who had set what seemed an insurmountable goal in an incredibly difficult time. I used the word "inspiring" in my comment on the post and we briefly chatted about it before I decided to approach her to write yet another thing morea piece about her experiences. Without revealing the outcome, I wish to share a bit about what went into my request. 

Ms. Vonnie Winslow Crist had set the goal of one hundred submissions in 2020. In a normal year, it could be considered an amazing ambition. In 2020? It was nothing short of extraordinary in my eyes. Through the many things I've learned and experienced in different areas of life through these times with a continual intention to bring back to you what treasures I can, this was something I wanted my writers to see when so often many were understandably confronted with the difficulty to create. Writers ranging from new to established were frequently saying the same thing to which I could respond with a solemn nod of recognition, and then I came across that Facebook post and its outcome at a time when I was interested in pursuing the theme of writing in challenging times prescriptively in various ways with some possible different authors and tools like prompts on the Facebook Holiday "Bizarre" page or experiences in different mediums. I saw this and thought how I would love a piece from Vonnie for the page that put things in a very engaging, relatable, encouraging way. 

I rather liked the idea of making it a more intimate, gently conversational, "how I did this" piece about her work patterns and specificity about the sending out/submittingwhile in the midst of what was 2020. Thinking of it as, How I Managed Generating (X amount) of Published Pieces in 2020 and Other Miracles... or something to that effect was envisioned. I wanted her to go internally, capture and convey that mindset she'd utilized, drawing on a well of perseverance undeterred and have the external part of the piece be mindful of motivational impact on others. Vonnie exceeded expectation while gracefully and eloquently underscoring the most important elements in her own magical way with reminders of who we are, what we do, and oddly enough, through the process of doing the piece, mentioned to me that it reminded her "once more" of her why.

The circle goes round in our sharing and creating and on this day of the solar eclipse, the ring of fireour passion, our creation, our love and connectedness as creatives burns bright in the dark. Our initial conversations about this piece took place in the winter and Vonnie's recent words in our correspondence said that she "continues to embrace the challenge and persist." So should we all. The next eclipse is in December as a fun fact, so around again in time and creation we go. Let's see what we can all do in 2021. Ignite your heart and your art, storytellers.     

Image of Vonnie Winslow Crist featured with permission

Embrace the Challenge

by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Life presents writers with obstacles all of the time. That said, the year 2020 was filled with more roadblocks to creativity and publication than usual. Little did I know on New Year's Eve 2019 when I decided to write and submit 100 stories or poems to publications in 2020, that a pandemic, fierce politics, and personal challenges would try to stop me. I soon discovered all of those things and more did stand between me and my 100 submissions goal. But I was determined to persist.

I began 2020 with lots of reminders designed to inspire me pinned to the bulletin board behind my computer. Quotes like: “Finish the things you've started,” (a hard one for me). “Everything is possible” – Deepak Chopra. “Know thyself! Know your limitations, habits, and strengths.” “Do your best.” “Persist!” I also hung a calendar (on which to jot deadlines) with animals and inspiring quotes on the board.

Beside the bulletin board I hung two legal-size clipboards. On each of these, I clipped a handmade chart titled, Project Planner. Under the title, I made three columns, exactly the size of postable notes, labeled: Projects, Next Action, Pending. Then, I used three different colors of sticky notes to fill in the charts. In the Projects column, I placed 100 Submissions and the names of several stories I was in the process of writing, Beneath Raven's Wing, Dragon Rain, Writing for Anthologies, and two other untitled books I was working on. In the Next Action column, I listed what step needed to be done to reach that goal. Things like: edit a story, finish a poem, pull together research, or look for a market. Under Pending, I placed tasks which weren't pressing, but I could address when writing seemed difficult. Examples of what I listed: update bibliography, update website, write a blog post, enter data into Internet Science Fiction Data Base, rewrite a flawed story/poem...

Why the bulletin board and Project Planner charts? I'm a visual person. I need reminders in front of me of tasks to be done. Also, it was positive reinforcement when I took down the title of a finished story which had been submitted to a market, and replaced it with the title of another story I'd just begun.

But where to find 100 stories or poems to submit? I had a few pieces of writing in my files which just need to be revised. I revised those, then looked for markets. While searching for suitable markets, I jotted down the submission information on several anthology calls I spotted on, the Submission Grinder, or in Facebook's open submission call groups. I used the themes of those submission calls as inspiration. If I was going to write more stories, why not write with an anthology in mind?

Which brings me to drabbles. You might ask, “What's a drabble?” Answer: It's a piece of flash fiction exactly 100 words in length, not including title or byline. Having written poetry, a genre which requires every word to earn its place, writing a story in 100 words seemed an easy task. Wrong! But I'd decided 2020 was the year to embrace challenges, so I tried my hand at drabbles.

Sometimes, I took a longer story I'd already written, and condensed its core narrative down to 100 words. Other times, I wrote a 100-word tale knowing I wanted to expand the drabble into a longer story later. Committing to only writing 100 words never seemed a huge mountain to climb—rather it seemed a few minutes of scribbling. An unforeseen bonus to drabbles, markets for the little stories usually allowed multiple submissions and acceptances. Ta-dah! I was moving toward my goal.

My go-to word for 2020, persist, became more important as acceptances and rejections arrived in my in-box. I had to remind myself, whether an editor loved or hated my story/drabble/poem, it was one person's opinion. I signed the contracts for the acceptances, and immediately found a new market for the rejected pieces of writing—while continuing to write new work.

The continuing to write new work part of the formula to reach 100 submissions was sometimes difficult. The world seemed to be crashing down. How could I worry about writing?

Every day (and sometimes more than once a day), I reminded myself stories were not only important, but necessary. From childhood on, I'd always valued the family stories I was told. From the moment I taught myself to read, I'd read books brimming with story in every spare minute. As soon as I was able to string together a few sentences, I'd told stories and recited nursery rhymes (one of the first narratives we discover) to younger sisters, family, and friends.

What I still remind myself, and encourage others to remember, is: Story, whether told in prose, poetry, or paint, is one of the things which bind all humans together. Therefore, storytelling is important. And those of us who wear the storyteller's sweater, are essential to this world. Remembering you and your writing are valuable, makes those hours spent in front of the computer or at your desk worthwhile.

To complete the 2020 writing puzzle successfully, I not only needed a 100 submission goal, the knowledge that storytelling was important, and markets to send to—I needed inspiration for stories/drabbles/poems. Discovering new themes while looking for markets was helpful. Researching those themes often helped even more. When I spotted a call for drabbles about ancient societies, I leafed through a book on my bookshelf about lost civilizations. I discovered many civilizations I'd never heard of before. Reading that book and doing a little online research gave me far more information and ideas than could be used in 5 drabbles.

After writing the 5 ancient societies drabbles and submitting them, I wrote an “extra” drabble as a replacement in case of a rejection. Then, I wrote several poems based on the research. One society in particular appealed to me, so I began a longer story based on its possible demise. Before I could complete it, I spotted an anthology looking for flash fiction (up to 1,000 words) about Easter and other spring holidays.

A little research generated not only ideas for four short Easter and St. Patrick's Day stories, but fascinating information about uncommon folk customs. I managed to write about one of those customs before I spotted an anthology call for 500-word stories with witches, magic, or spells as the theme. Five-hundred words didn't seem too long. So I wrote three witchy tales and submitted them.

The research for these three submissions calls had given me an idea for a long story featuring a magical woman, folk customs, and an ancient society. I added the challenge of setting the witch/folk/ancient tale in the future on Earth after the grid had been destroyed. After writing so many drabbles, flash fiction stories, and 500-word tales, I was ready to sink my teeth into a novelette!

What else kept me writing when others found it difficult to put fingers to keyboard? I signed up for a writing contest! With no expectation of winning, I wanted the challenge of writing four stories of 4,000-6,000 words, in four different “surprise” genres, assigned one after another, with only three weeks to write each tale.

You might ask, “Why?” Because I knew after I'd paid the $10 entry fee, I wasn't going to waste my money! Remember the “Know thyself!” saying from my bulletin board? I knew if I invested money, I'd complete the contest. So while recovering from surgery (I did mention 2020 was a tough year), I wrote four new stories.

But I still needed more motivation to write! Remember the list of projects from my bulletin board? Beneath Raven's Wing and Dragon Rain were story collections I hoped to pull together. I focused on the raven stories first. I had almost enough stories published and unpublished for a 45,000+ word collection, but they needed to be edited, ordered, and slightly revised to eliminate repetitive imagery. Also, at least two more stories needed to be written to increase the word count to an acceptable length. No sooner had the task been completed, then I spotted an opportunity to submit Beneath Raven's Wing to an Indie publisher. The book was accepted, and the editing process began. Two stories were pulled by the publisher, so I had to write two more stories to replace them. Remember the research I'd done months earlier and the extra ideas not used? Here's where they came in handy.

No sooner had I sent off the raven story collection, then I pulled together Dragon Rain. Again, stories needed editing, ordering, and revising. Again, I had to write additional material. The dragon story collection was sent off, and currently remains in the hands of a different Indie publisher.

I must say, it was with great relief I returned to writing a few poems and drabbles. I needed to catch my breath. That was until I spotted a call for a Weird Western anthology. An idea, which required lots of research, popped into my mind. And so, the cycle began again.

Though my writing output might seem large to you, some of my writing friends completed more than one novel in 2020! I can't even imagine doing that—or maybe I can.

When 2020 put up obstacles, I viewed them as challenges. When it was near-impossible to muster the drive to write, I persisted. When rejections hit the in-box, I sent the stories to another market. When writing new material seemed impossible, I revised old work and did writerly “chores.” When ideas seemed scarce, I researched. When the world seemed to be falling to pieces, I reminded myself storytelling is part of what makes us human.

Now, the all important question: did I write and submit 100 stories/drabbles/poems in 2020? Yes! In fact, I surpassed that goal (not counting the stories/drabbles/poems resubmitted after rejection). As for the contest? I was one of the winners, and those four stories will be appearing in an anthology this spring. Counting reprints (which as a constant reviser, I revise before sending out again), over 100 of my stories/drabbles/poems were published in 2020. A bonus of persisting I never expected.

What's in store for 2021? I've modified my new stories/drabbles/poems goal to fifty. Why? Because I want to complete a novel and at least one non-fiction book. Do I expect 2021 to be easier than 2020? No! I expect this year to come with its own roadblocks and detours. Still, I will persist.

In conclusion, I say to each of you reading this essay, be proud of being a storyteller. Remember, as our long ago ancestors gathered at night around the fire to chase away the shadows and warm not only body, but soul, it was the storytellers who helped the world make sense. It was the storytellers, with little more than a stick with a glowing red tip and their imagination, who wove the threads of our society and inspired our future.

Be that storyteller. Persist despite setbacks. Find inspiration in the ordinary. Cheer on the successes of fellow writers. Don't allow a closed door to prevent you from knocking on another door. Seize opportunity if it shows up on your doorstep. And challenge yourself to weave the warp and weft of story—which make up the fabric of who we are and who we want to be.

Updates regarding the essayBeneath Raven's Wing, the 1st story collection mentioned, was published Jan. 30, 2021 by Fae Corps publishing, and continues to receive good reviews. Dragon Rain, the 2nd story collection mentioned, is under contract with Mocha Memoirs Press, and should be published in September 2021. I've also begun working on another story collectionthis one containing magical horse stories. There is a publisher interested in reviewing the manuscript this summer for possible 2022 publication. 

BIO: Vonnie Winslow Crist, SFWA, HWA, SCBWI, NLAPW, is author of The Enchanted Dagger, Beneath Raven's Wing, Owl Light, The Greener Forest, and other award-winning books. Her writing appears in publications in Japan, Australia, India, Pakistan, Italy, Spain, Germany, Finland, Canada, the UK, and USA. She's also an artist with over 1,000 illustrations in print. For more information:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valiant Valentines with Alluring Alliteration

Image designed by NMB 

By Nicole M. Bouchard

Our Christmas Eve social media communication to you had lines in its closing that are most appropriate for this holiday’s blog post opening: “[T]onight, just know a simple thing, a fundamental truth—you are loved. We're working on communications to get out to you soon. Please keep us in your hearts as you shall be in ours. Be kind, be warm, be blessed on this and all nights… Love to you all.” These wishes, these sentiments remain the same. On a holiday for and about love as well as unity, we wanted to reconnect with you in a very special way.

Our WPWT family is never far from mind and in fact, the work we’ve been busy doing behind-the-scenes is really our continuous valentine to you. It is one which will endure and keep delighting with things shiny and new as well as retaining that which is treasured and true. 2020 is the dawning of a new decade. We in this world are standing at the forefront of change. What better time, what better opportunity to seize the momentum and aim for new horizons? We are indescribably excited to share how we chose to infuse the magazine with new innovations, new ideas, new components…all to invest in its new incarnation. We will be speaking more about this and factors outside of us that necessitated temporary shifts in focus and timing to do what we have wished to in the way that we like to do things. As we’re going for latest and greatest, we will communicate to you in further detail and talk timelines, but for now, we want to reconnect in the spirit of play. There are variations of this quote and it has associations with the 1800s, the 1600s, and even Plato, but the essence is this: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

So, dear ones, we came up with something to bring vibrant fun to Valentine’s Day that is partly rooted in family tradition, partly a nod to our mag’s signature Home page wording alongside our dove logo, and partly a way to celebrate one of our fantastic interviewees, the ever-inspiring Ms. Naomi Epel (The Observation Deck, Writers Dreaming).

A tradition of your editor-in-chief is to gather with family and friends for a Valentine’s dinner, followed by a sometimes elaborate dessert (yes, I love to bake), and then to put a bunch of supplies on the table to make Valentine’s Day cards. It began as a quirky tradition that involved a lot of humor and rhyming with cutouts, stickers, pens, and paper, but it has evolved to colored pencils and cardstock where even those in attendance who cannot draw, do so, much to the good-natured entertainment of those present. We always try to make one another laugh and this is because we feel the more serious emotions throughout the year and those are unchanging. This, we see as a time for joviality and cake. However, what we at WPWT plan to do with you is rather different. We still want levity but your creations are more to fire up your creativity in this cold season and to convey whatever kind of message you like to one particular recipient. Keep in mind the concepts of feasting and merriment, supplies covering your table.

Now, imagine that you are seated at a table in a chic café much like the one described aside our magazine logo on the Home page. The difference is that instead of one person pulling up a chair to tell you a story, there is a buzzing atmosphere of many people and they are all the writers and artists of our community. It is a warm, welcoming atmosphere and everyone knows you and enjoys you because they’ve seen your art or read a piece of your writing. We are there too, visiting every table and talking about all of the great memories of over ten years. There are sounds of shuffling decorative papers and cardstock, the snipping of scissors, the shading of pencils dragging over surfaces. People are sharing items and passing different colors or tape or glue. When the time to write comes, conversations are muted, but friendly smiles are caught by wondering glances. Everyone is comfortable and there is an electric charge in the air with all the incredibly powerful collective creativity. Helping as generous guardian and guide to all, we are so honored to have Naomi Epel with us in the café

We had interviewed Naomi in the summer of 2011. During a recent call, I loved how fitting it seemed when she described how she literally was in a café on the West Coast. We got to talking about new directions and projects. When hearing that her new work dealt with alliteration and excavating the essence of individual letters in full expressive, communicative capacity, I half-jumped up because it’s not only a fluid, beautiful way of expressing and stressing poignant messages, but frankly, whatever new tool springs from the great mind of Ms. Epel is going to ignite excitement in the heart of a writer. Her works, such as The Observation Deck and Writers Dreaming, continually give fresh insight and stand the test of time, applicable not only to creative work, but to life, really. Sometimes when I feel stuck at a crossroads, I shuffle my Observation Deck which has graced my shelf since I was a young girl, and whatever card I draw, I can derive some literal or metaphorical action to help me step forward. As an adult, it holds all the same power and wonder to me that it did when I first utilized it. Thus, discussing possibilities around a new tool with Naomi was exhilarating. Alliteration, used by masters such as Edgar Allan Poe, is a spellbinding literary device. We’d like this first exercise we’re doing, our first foray into this, to honor Ms. Epel and herald future opportunities for her exciting presence amongst us.

Alliteration comes from the Latin, littera (or latira).  It was fascinating to discover that this term means “letter of the alphabet,” according to Wikipedia. After researching various articles in-depth for some time to check some of my examples and learn more, I found that it is more of an art form than a specific science. The portion of it that is “science” references the science of sound. There was a piece on how it is differentiated by our breathing and movement of parts of the mouth. Though it can have varying parameters around its use and slightly different interpretations, we want the inherent inclusive freedom in how a multitude of reputable sources and some input from experts define it. We do, however, offer options to further increase the challenge.

Ready to play? Okay, break out any art supplies you have (and of course this is optional). Organize these first and proceed to the designed printable chart we have featured below. Its blocks are numbered 1-26 to account for all of the letters of the alphabet with their associated numerical values. A=1, B=2, H=8, Z=26, and you get the picture. It adds to the suspense to see which letter you get (wink). You don’t even have to print the chart if you’re working solo on your computer. You can just close your eyes and point with one finger to a number on the chart. You can print the chart and cut out the individual blocks of numbers to shuffle in a bowel and pick that way. You can roll a small pebble or bead across the printed chart and see what number it lands on. Whatever its letter equivalent, that is the letter you have to work with. The only letter for the purposes of this particular exercise. The focus of this is fidelity to one beginning letter, one theme or tone of your choice, and one recipient of your choosing for your Valentine’s Day card. For a trickling, almost melodic sound the letter adheres to one sound at the beginning of each word. A quick example (don’t judge, this is being done near midnight) might be a valentine from a fellow to a gal that references the mythically beautiful Helen of Troy in her positive aspects: Heavenly Helen habitually harbors hale heroes in hallowed, halcyon days. We won’t be too strict on this, so small words of different letters are allowed to string things together.

This is really for you and how you choose to do this in terms of increased complexity to jump-start your imaginative engine is left to your discretion. It could be serious, it could be comical, it could be ardent devotion. You decide. You could make it a haiku, a poem, just a phrase, just a few lines. Color outside the lines if you want. Use festive or plain paper. You can hand your work to the intended recipient ideally if they are present or mail it to them (getting mail, as Naomi and I discussed, is so lovely and rare in these electronic days). You could do all this on your computer if you truly wish and e-mail it or take a picture of what you made and send/text that image with the wording. The MAIN rule is this: Have fun. Charge your creative batteries and create something. You can even make one of encouragement addressed to Y-O-U in honor of self-love. You choose.

Should you wish to share any of them, feel free to send the wording through the magazine feedback form on the Feedback and Questions page.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my darlings, from our hearts to yours.

Image designed by NMB

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Nostalgic Charm: A Fiction Short of Sweet Simplicities, Summers Past, and Tender Youth

Like a preserved glimmer of sherbet-hued warmth from a past summer sunset, this fiction short is a reminder of simpler, sweeter times. Despite its gentle levity and charm, it poses important questions about how and why we can overcomplicate something as fundamental and essential as love. It asks what is true, what is real, and asks about the worthiness of intent concerning the worlds we create to thrive in. The piece is itself a depiction of the beauty of memory, of the moment, and an insulating space created to live and think differently about the important things within. The characters' innocence makes them rather wise beyond their years and full of sincere conviction. It is sure to bring a knowing smile to the youthful spirit in all of us. 

Moonlight Takes Over

by Mark Joseph Kevlock

"Don't you think we're too young for this?" Dorothy said.

"No," Cleveland said.

They walked along the shoreline at sunset. Cleveland wanted to take her hand. But he was afraid.

"We're kind of just kids," Dorothy said.

She was at least a foot taller than he was.

"Kids used to get married in olden times," Cleveland said. "Kids used to rule the world—young princes and such. Princesses."

Dorothy could not imagine herself that way.

"I can't imagine myself that way," she said.

Cleveland paused, then said it anyway: "You can be my princess, Dorothy."

They kept walking. The sun kept sinking behind the waves.

"Love is a big thing," Dorothy said.

"The biggest," Cleveland said.

"People don't treat it with enough respect."

"No," Cleveland said, "they don't."

"We'll be different," Dorothy said.

Cleveland smiled. "We already are," he said.

It wasn't a real marriage, both of them knew. But what was real, anyway? The whole world was built of made-up concepts and imaginary structures. Maybe the truth inside was the only one that counted.

They piled three rocks on top of each other and used seaweed for hair. This was the minister. Two seashells and half of a boomerang were the witnesses. Dorothy and Cleveland stood on the rocky clifftop. The ocean provided their music.

The vows were simple and short. No one shed a tear. Love wasn't a prison to the young. It was a way of life.

Dorothy and Cleveland were wed.

"I don't feel any different," Dorothy said.

"I hope you never do," Cleveland winked at her.

The last light faded. Moonlight took over.

"It's like our own little world," Dorothy said.

"Everybody builds that," Cleveland said. He almost thought it sounded wise.

"It's depressing to think about leaving here," Dorothy said, "about going back."

"We won't ever go back," Cleveland said. "Not really. We'll live here in this place we've created. No one else can know about it. That makes it ours."

Dorothy wore the pull-tab from an old soda can around her third finger.

"Love makes the world a better place," she said.

"Especially our love," Cleveland said.

The moonlight gave everything a glow, a superior sheen.

"Do you ever think about the rest of our lives?" Dorothy said.

"Nope," Cleveland said.

"Me either," Dorothy said. "Why is that?"

Cleveland thought maybe he should stop and kiss her, his bride. "Because," he said, "our lives are right here in this moment."

Dorothy closed her eyes. "I suppose they are, aren't they?"

"Yep," Cleveland said.

Some force like romantic gravity seemed to be propelling him into action. Cleveland didn't fight it. He kissed Dorothy under the moonlight. The universe approved.

"Wow," Dorothy said.

"Yeah. Wow," Cleveland said.

The next month they both turned eleven.


Bio: Mark Joseph Kevlock has been a published author for nearly three decades. In 2018 his fiction has appeared in more than two dozen magazines, including 365 Tomorrows, Into The Void, The First Line, Toasted Cheese, Literally Stories, The Sea Letter, The Starlit Path, Fiction on the Web, Bewildering Stories, Ellipsis Zine, Yellow Mama, Down in the Dirt, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Friday Flash Fiction. He has also written for DC Comics.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Synchronistic Surprises: Books That Found Us in The Write Place at the Write Time

Cover image of The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

Ever have that subtly life-shaping experience of going into a bookstore and randomly happening upon a book you were not seeking, but one which reflects a personal theme, need, want, dream, question, or thought? We're a community of ardent readers, writers, and artists, so the chances are high (despite the fact that brick and mortar stores are becoming rare gems). We understand this sort of sychronistic phenomenon—we love it, we invite it, we're used to "being found" by these little powerhouses called books. Yet what if the books take the trouble to package themselves and embark on a journey to travel all the way to you, unexpected and unbidden? There's a kind of wonderful magic to that.

This is our decade milestone year of the magazine. A decade of having poured much of our lives into this endeavor which is as alive as the extraordinary souls spanning the globe who make up its very essence. Yet the other parts of our lives have asked much of us and we've been pulled by the gravitational force of the infamous, albeit well-intentioned, work/life imbalance. Often, when called away temporarily from the mag world, we consciously or unconsciously record, note, and bring back in metaphor, symbolism, or theme, our outside revelations, discoveries, lessons, and observations. We do this because there is a never-ending correspondence between what we live and feel, what much of the WPWT community lives and feels, and what the magazine decides to impart to us all. The themes and the "magic" live there in the in-between spaces because it always turns out that what we need to experience, learn, or absorb is never in a vacuum—it's always, in one sense or another, universal, something with a meaning affecting many in the WPWT sphere.

We'd tended to think that the magazine held tight and dragged us by the wrist in one direction, life tugging the other another way, with some divine (higher than us) inspiration connecting points we touched along the paths of will and resistance. It only took a decade to drive home the revelation that it's all interwoven—you, us, our/your experiences and feelings, all the work as creators, a shared state of the world, and that higher presiding thread tying it all together. How does this relate to parcels we'd like to imagine are delivered by owls (Harry Potter style), arriving to surprise us? Read on, my friends.

We keep receiving these hardcover beauties (links below for further info) that are answers to individual issues of the magazine. Following the release of the winter-spring issue, April brought about the appearance of a brilliant green shoot in the form of a debut novel from Knopf. The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale in a contemporary kind of almost inner conversational candor, grabs a sub-theme of the issue through exploring our most important relationships—those we share and outwardly seek and strive to work on with the ones we love, and those we safeguard, continually search within for, and strive to work on with ourselves. Through the protagonist's feelings and choices in the novel, we saw an echo of two of the l's of the winter-spring issue. One to do with transforming loneliness into an understanding of transient phases of the human condition, a sometimes deliberate journey of solitude  or a return to self for survival. The other, to do with the strain and salvation of love.

For modern women, the novel captures the distinct challenges and phases, the plans and alternate paths, the still-prevalent pressures, and the liberations stemming from the inherent growth of awareness, embracing the everyday, and reflective acceptance. Also, the book has a nice tie to our beloved New England (MA in particular) as does the author. We made plans to run a book giveaway and we're going to include the details further down so you can enter to win this lauded 2018 release!

The second synchronistic surprise arrived only a short time ago and it was a face-to-face greeting of sorts regarding the upcoming issue and my own work. During a pre-autumn cleaning, I spent time kneeling down and truly looking through the bookshelves in the guest room that contain years of my life, countless memories...whole ages and stages. The books that surround me now are from more recent incarnations and hold different, quite specific meanings. I was doing other tasks in that room, but found that I'd unwittingly opened a door to the past to find something I needed. I was reminded of all that led me here, what I'd wanted, who I'd been, what wonderfully came to pass, and yet also what I'd forgotten. Some of the titles I hadn't seen in some time.

Running my fingers over the spines with nostalgic ease felt like going back through a pictorial timeline of pivotal years on a touch screen. I could visualize the formative moments and the volumes were the faces of old, cherished friends. Two were bought on the same day in a used bookshop around the time that I chose this road and they influenced my fate. (Fitzgerald and Doctorow, how can I thank you?) Suddenly I was nineteen in NYC visiting NYU to have a conversation with the latter author who kindly took time to answer some questions of a young writer. A snow globe of the city I grew up near purchased in the train station, and a poem, were my humble tokens of gratitude. I remember my father and I talking on the return trip home about the fact that one life goal of mine (meeting the brilliant author) was checked off.

I remembered that youthful fervor for the written word and wanted again to put pen to paper just for me. Being an editor is incredible in a number of ways but if not kept in moderation, can, at times, stifle the writer identity—they struggle for space and time and supremacy in one person, one mind. Sometimes they feed one another and thrive harmoniously, sometimes it's just war. I'd been reading The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (this vital book could get its own commentary when I finish it so I'll only mention it here) and it occurred to me that I didn't recall what I was fighting and where/how I should allot my service or allegiance amongst the roles I juggle. I was retrieving some parts of myself that had, for one reason or another, been placed upon the shelf. Needing something "of one's own," I was drawn to another image in time. To the Lighthouse beckoned and I stopped there, shy and curious, like a child lingering on the threshold of a space where something important is happening inside. What did Virginia have to tell me?

Not more than a week later, a huge package containing a giant treasure of a book that had her face on the cover was sent along. This book, Writers: Their Lives and Works from DK (Foreword by James Naughtie), this reply to an unasked question and an unnamed longing, is the consummate inspiration, the companion of companions, the creative coach. Why? Because it opens conversations and consultations with centuries of creative compatriots. They show up to be there for you, understand, and remind you why you love the written word so much. Virginia was a comforting catalyst showing up at a crucial time. Hemingway whispered something about a protagonist I'd neglected for over a year and an empty notebook was suddenly graced with black ink. Camus commented on the upcoming magazine issue and prompted me to firmly further develop the central theme I was working on, coloring in its lines to define its deeper message. It's like meeting and spending time with them. Seeing images of their work spaces, keepsakes, and much more, you're transported in a visit—and however well you think you know them, you learn something new and are so eager to read, research more beyond what you discover. We'd like to do different features on this book and are still brainstorming. Stay tuned.

These were the books that found us in the write place at the write time, delivered (at least in our imaginations) by wise, helpful owls from the Hogwarts castles of publishing houses in the mystical land of New York City. We received them by surprise. The writing universe has no shortage of "magic" and according to Caroline Myss, the wizard archetype can "produce results outside the ordinary rules of life," and has the ability of "converting matter into some form of altered and enhanced expression." Other interpretations talk about the power of the will and intention of the archetype for a purpose. What are writers if not wizards with their pens as wands to render extraordinary aspects of life by converting feelings, experiences, world events, beliefs, and countless other elements into forms of "enhanced expression," so we might all speak a universal language of human understanding... So close to October, we'll embrace the idea of enchantment with a grateful nod to higher inspiration, the power of words, and the way the world of creatives unifies, assists, and operates beyond "the ordinary rules of life." Cheers to that. ~NMB

BOOK GIVEAWAY: What to do to be entered in a drawing to win the debut novel by Jana Casale (pictured above)? Simple. Just e-mail us your comments (use the Feedback form on our magazine Feedback page, link below) about our milestone year of the magazine and each name will be entered into the drawing with the winner chosen at random. As we prepare for our decade anniversary issue that carries not only the significance of what's transpired here but all the stories and bonds beyond the pages that we've shared with you, we intend to celebrate in the same way we started—together. Thus, we'd love to hear your words about what you've enjoyed about the publication, what you feel makes it unique, what has affected you, and what anecdotes or memories you'd like to share about WPWT. Deadline: October 12th

Feedback form link:

Links to further book info:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Fiction from the Heart: I Only Have Eyes

This short story is an emblematic exploration of what we do for love and how we endeavor to search, to wait, to strive for the right—and the best—things in life. It is an ode to every romantic and every romance on this last day of February and, as we were informed by its author, it was penned on Valentine's Day last year. A number of synchronicities surrounded its acceptance, so we share with you a tender bit of fond fate in the form of a tale about what keeps us going in life. 

I Only Have Eyes

by Mark Joseph Kevlock

"You can't just stand around here waiting," Charley said.

"I can and I will," I said.

"What if she never comes by?" Charley said.

"She will."

And so I began my street corner vigil, in the heart of the city. They say perhaps a hundred thousand people pass through City Square on an average day. I say those were pretty good odds.

I had no particular type in mind. No certain hair color, education, or mannerisms. She would simply be the love of my life. I'd know her when I saw her.

The first few hours turned up nothing. Charley came by again around 10:00 a.m. to offer more encouragement.

"This is ridiculous," he said. "How long do you plan to keep this up?"

"How many hours are there in the day?" I said. "How many days in the year?"

"Incurable," Charley said. And waved his hand dismissively.

Charley was no romantic. But I was no fool. I knew it sounded crazy, looked crazy, even felt crazy. But I wasn't giving up.

She didn't show up, that first afternoon.

Ah, but the second....

She didn't show up then, either.

A stadium full of people passed me by, one face at a time. None of the faces were hers.

"How do you know?" Charley said. "If you don't even know what she looks like? Why don't you just pick a nice-looking girl, and get a courtship started? Isn't that easier?"

"This is easier," I said. "It's easier to wait and make sure. Then there can be no mistake."

Charley didn't come by the third day. Or the fourth. I began to believe I might have to hang in a while longer than I thought.

What made me execute this somewhat foolhardy plan? you ask. How did I ever concoct it in the first place?

Age 5: I remember hearing my first love song on the radio. Love seems like a good idea in the world. I come out in favor of it.

Age 8: romantic daydreams push away a lot of other stuff, like playing sports, learning how to shoot with a hunting rifle, watching game shows.

Age 12: women are out there. I've seen them. The young ones are called girls. I might just get up my nerve and speak to a few.

Age 14: still waiting for my nerve to get up.

Age 16: the pop radio songs are like a bible. I study them. Broken hearts. Hearts aflame. Look what you've done to my heart. Conclusion: romance is deadly dangerous. Actual romance.

Age 19: three years into my fantasy romances. No broken hearts yet. No flesh and blood women either. I draw them in my mind. I can love my own creations easily enough. But they don't love me back. Even if I imagine it.

Age 22: college graduate, degree in Romantic poetry. Big money in that. During the Renaissance.

Age today: I'll wait it out, as long as I have to. Intuition tells me my true love is out there. Lady Luck says she'll pass me by, on this corner. Unless she lives in Zurich. I've given it a week. Is it time to be discouraged? There are many lovely women, smiling at me. But not the right woman.

If I told you about my job, it would be boring. I worked in the evenings. Slept at night. Manned the corner all day. My legs got pretty strong, the second week. I didn't just stand there. I moved around and got exercise.

Charley came back, the third week. "I'm going to pull you out of here soon," he said. "Forcibly remove you, if I have to."

"Five minutes after I left with you—that's when she'd come by."

Charley held his mouth open as long as he could. No words came out. Charley left.

There was a stoplight on my corner of City Square. This made all the pedestrians pause, waiting for the walk signal. This gave me a good look at everyone. No one appealed to me.

Week four: she didn't come.

Month four: she didn't come.

What was I standing here for—if I didn't believe it? I had to believe it. The pop radio songs said so.

It was a rainy day in October. Then it was a rainy day in November. Rainy days seemed more likely to yield results. I don't know why.

Charley almost got hit by a car, because he was busy yelling at me. "One of these people must be a shrink," he said. "I'll start asking." Then he turned toward an oncoming group. "Excuse me, sir, are you a psychiatrist? My friend here needs one, A.S.A.P."

The next day a patrolman walking his beat asked me what I was doing there.

"Waiting," I said. "Just waiting."

"Gimme some details on that," he said.

"I have to wait here to meet someone," I said.

"Maybe your wife," he said, "Mrs. Vague."

I started getting afraid he was going to boot me out of there. Then my life would be over.

"I'm not causing any trouble," I said.

"So far," he said. Then walked away.

At least if I had a few close calls to keep me going.... A woman here or there who I thought, for just an instant, might be the one....

But no one ever came close. It would be all, or nothing at all. Pop radio lyrics.

So now a year went past. I worked the holidays. I came in on weekends. I got older.

Charley took a job in Vermont. No one visited after that.

How could I be sure I wasn't going crazy? A lethal dose of lovey dovey intentions.

It came to be my existence. I found my life in the details. The precise number of seconds it took the light to change. The monthly changing of the billboards overhead. Who overdressed for the weather. Who underdressed.

It was a sad day in mid-February.

It wasn't the first year on the corner.

It wasn't the second, or the third.

I was like a lamppost that could think. A fire hydrant with a beating heart. A City Square fixture.

Then she came.

I saw her from all the way down the block, approaching. She had an aura that matched mine. No BS. She had hair and legs and all the rest of what she needed.

What made her special? you ask. What made her the one? Look to your own romance for that impossible answer.

She walked right up to me with everything she had. "Hey," she said. "Hey," I said.

"I've been walking past every corner in every city, for years," she said.

"I've been studying every face walking past this corner," I said, "for years."

"What have you been waiting for?" she said.

"You," I said.

"What have you been searching for?" I said.

"You," she said.

"I almost gave up," we both said, at the same time. "I'm glad I didn't."

The patrolman from years ago came by.

"See?" I said. "She's here at last. My wait is over."

"Jesus, kid," he said. "I've seen statues with less patience than you got. Glad it worked out for ya'."

"Me too," I said.

The day was still a sad one. I was leaving my corner. I left a note for Charley, in case he ever came looking:

You were right, my friend, about just what I needed. Turns out she's a shrink. And now I'm her lifelong patient.

Bio: Mark Joseph Kevlock (used to spell it: Kiewlak) has been a published author for more than two decades. His work has appeared numerous times in The Bitter Oleander, Wild Violet, The Oracular Tree, Cezanne's Carrot, and A Twist of Noir. He has also written for DC Comics.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Writing Prompt: The Sounds of Headlines

The YouTube video shared below (scroll to bottom of this post) blends music and lyrics from two talented, powerful contemporary female artists. The song you are about to listen to features the tune of "Gasoline" by Halsey and the words of "Savages" by Marina and the Diamonds. When listening to one of the artists, this video came up as a suggestion. It seems that YouTube users can create what are referred to as musical "mashups" of various artists, blending their work to mix sounds and phrases. This mashup, compiled by user Gingergreen, is one of the most dynamic we've come across in how it stresses the message of "Savages" with the melodic force of "Gasoline." The song "Savages" depicts the dark aspect of man and refers to much of what is seen in the headlines. It asks provocative questions of human nature and attempts to comprehend the incomprehensible.

For this writing prompt, click on the video below and develop written responses in the forms of poetry and flash fiction (under 1,000 words). Do not post your responses in the comment section of this blog post. If you'd like to share them with us, please use the Feedback form on our magazine website feedback page (as we may choose to feature a few of the responses, please also glance at our submission guidelines page).

We are also featuring links to the song lyrics as well as the original, separate songs of both artists for further perusal.

Mashup link (if shared video doesn't play):

Original songs and lyrics to "Savages":

"Gasoline" by Halsey (audio):
"Savages" by Marina and the Diamonds (audio):
Google search on "Savages" lyrics by Marina Lambrini Diamandis: