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: