Winners and Finalists, Sixth Annual Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award

I had the honor of reading this year’s poetry winner, THE MERCY OF TRAFFIC by Wendy Taylor Carlisle, as a preliminary judge. The second I knew I would have to pass the book on to the next round, I made sure to buy a copy for myself – no regrets!

Read about the annual Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award: https://arkansaswriters.wordpress.com/…/winners-and…/

Arkansas Writers MFA Program @ UCA

This year’s winners were Katy Yocom in Prose for her novel, Three Ways to Disappear and Wendy Taylor Carlisle for her book of poetry, The Mercy of Traffic

We also congratulate the following finalists:

Prose:

Not Dead Yet Hadley Moore

Poetry:

Soft Science Franny Choi

Skin Memory John Sibley Williams

The Mean Game John Wall Barger

The McMath Award was founded in 2016 to promote recently published books and to honor central Arkansas author and literary advocate Phillip H. McMath, who selected the overall winner from the finalists chosen by students in the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop.

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A New Chapter

I did it, I am a student again. After what seems like a lifetime, I clicked a button, entered some data, made a payment and a promise, and re-entered the world of academia. With a degree or two already under my belt in business administration, finance and accounting, and general studies, some may think I am crazy to feel the need for another certificate of so-called validation.

This one is for me.

Having focused on my career for the better part of my life in between family, work, and whatever drama was current at the moment, I fought fire after fire to move ahead; or even to stay afloat in most cases. I helped support my family, helped support myself and built my life one survival after the next. I am proud of this, and though they were part of mere continued existence in the world we find ourselves in, I am proud of those accomplishments. But in all honesty, the decisions we make at any given time are often swayed and colored with the opinions of where we are at that particular moment in our lives.

Now I have new dreams, I am in a new phase in my life. This one is for me.

I have no idea where it will lead me, but I have an overwhelming urge to answer the cries of this dream forcing its way into my actuality, this dream which seeks a life of its own to be realized.  Let’s give it a try, shall we? Welcome K M Bates to the creative writing program.

~ kmb

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#kmbates #writinghappy #awayfromthebase #nontraditionalstudent #writerslife #returningstudent #hobonichi

 

The great Notebook debate.

I will admit it. I am scared. One book July scares me… so hard! I know I should try it, I know the benefits, I see all the awesome videos on YouTube. I love them, I get inspired and start plotting ways in my head to make myself take this plunge. Still, I have avoided committing myself to this challenge..

Of course, I then have to ask myself why.

Am I afraid to let go of all the compartmentalizing that I do? Yes.

Am I afraid that I will I will miss something and fold within the first few days? Yes

Am I afraid it will turn into 4 or 5 notebook July when I start with 1? Yes

Afraid to use only one pen? only one calendar? only one planner size? YES

All of these things and countless others push me in the direction of not being able to finish what I start… Which by the way it a WHOLE different group of needed posts. Yes, I would say that I get many projects done. I would also say there are so many more that end up on the shelf completely planned out down to timing, materials, and execution; perfectly planned but on the shelf unfinished nonetheless.

However all these fears, if I push them aside and try to get to the heart of what “one book July” is supposed to help me do, I may find myself in desperate need of at least trying it out. In essence, it is meant to strip away all the extras that may or may not be needed, to find out what really gets use, what you can live with, and what you can’t live without.

I have to let go of the fear. There will be no OBJ Monitors following me to make sure I stay on target. I have to make my own path and stay there. Using the foundations of what this process is meant to help me with, I can reflect on what my planning process means to me and how I may want to alter or not alter my process going forward with what I may find out about myself. Will I make a few concessions to help lessen my fear, of course. Right off the top, I will be using more than one pen. Also, I will be keeping my writing planner separate and apart from any “one book” absorption. With that being said, I think I can make this work.

I will apologize to myself for starting so late, but better late than never; especially when it comes to bettering myself and my planning process. I will also remind others that this is not a strict challenge with strict rules. The heart of this challenge is meant to make us better and feel good about the way we can get things done. If things need to be adapted to help you participate and gather tools to help you succeed, then I think it is a healthy use of the challenge guidelines. But it is still a challenge, meant to push us, meant to see what we can do, and how we can make it happen.

Go for it! I will too!

~kmb

Review: Kikki.K “Cute Collection”

So I decided to start a YouTube channel for my random ramblings. In the first few videos I did a walk through of the new “Cute Collection” planners from Kikki.K. (I will add links below) These planners are amazing and fun right out of the box as you will see. I think a lot of people were thrown off by the fabric material; they are probably use to the leather planners that have become the pride of many Kikki.K planner owners, but I think this is perfect for a fun new look and definitely adds variety to my collection!

Here are links to my 2 new YouTube Videos. Please forgive the newbie in me for any errors in lighting, editing, even content. I feel like such a weirdo hearing my own voice. I am a beginner for sure!!!!

PLEASE subscribe so that I can bring you more videos, be it planner addict related, gamer related, book reviews, writing related, or whatever strike my mood at the time! THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!

 

 

Here is the main website for Kikki.K. Be sure to click your country in the top righthand corner as they have a few different “warehouse and shipping” area options.

http://www.kikki-k.com/

 

Opportunity

My response to a facebook posting: Threats be damed, let the feeling-less systems crumble! Love shall build new cities brick by irresponsible, irrepressible, rebellious, dangerous brick! Let passion and love rise, taking over with the beating heart and the power it evokes.

What on earth would elicit such a response? Well you would have had to read the cross post that I did to get even a partial impact of what the author wanted to convey. The important thing for me is what I began to think about after the fact.

Related? Not in the slightest, but that’s how the mind works, with tangents and segways, refractions and digressions.

I think that sometimes people are so beat down with whatever experiences they have had in the past that they both fear and loath the thought of trying again. And again. And again. But how on earth can you achieve the relationship that you truly need and desire if you don’t keep trying. So often, not just in relationships but in everyday experiences, people stop trying just a moment too soon. A girl gets upset trying on clothes when the perfect pair of jeans is waiting just one hanger behind the last one touched. A guy in a strange city stops one block short of his destination for fear that he is lost. These are missed opportunities just as there are countless missed opportunities when it comes to the heart.

When love (or what we think might be love) is lost..

Do I think it is right to jump blindly from one relationship to another in the hopes of finding that true heart-fulfilling prophecy? Not at all! The heart and mind needs time to mend and heal from the disappointments and the suffering that our souls experience. We cannot simply feign indifference when we are grieving over what “could have been” or “should have been”.

Do I think I think a line needs to be drawn in the sand when it’s time to cowboy/girl up and get off the train of self-pity. Absolutely! It is only natural to run the scenarios in our heads again and again of what we did wrong, why we did it, and what we would do over if we had the chance. Or perhaps we anguish over the fact that there really wasn’t anything we could have changed. We were powerless and the other person made a vital decision to move on, leaving us behind. But let’s be honest, we are human, most of us. Humans make mistakes. We need to use those mistakes as examples to make things right going forward.

If we are constantly living in the past we have no chance of grasping the opportunities that are presented to us today. Then, well, your tomorrow is pretty much hosed too, right? We are human, most of us. Humans make mistakes. We make messes, errors of judgment, crazy decisions all in effort to grab hold of our desires. Occasionally our efforts succeed, other times they only work for as long as we hold them together by sheer will of self-preservation and determination. Sometimes they fail, cascading down from the mountain of happiness into the pit of despair as our happily ever after is shattered and burned to ash with the fire of a thousand suns.

So when is it okay to stop trying? I don’t have the perfect answer for that. What I do know is that it only makes sense to stop trying when you find yourself staring at the face of the one that may just be the one. And if they aren’t? Well then clearly they weren’t the one now were they?!

Love is both maddening and calming. Maybe the goal is to find a counterpart that will calm you when you are maddened and not be afraid to madden you when you are too calm. If you both come out alive and with your sense of humor intact…keep’em around. No wait… don’t just keep them around. Hold onto them with all the power within you. The caveat of course, which is an entirely different post for an entirely different day: If your intentions are never made known, then it’s really hard to blame anyone but yourself for your missed opportunities.

~Fate controls who walks into your life but you decide who you let walk out, who you let stay and who you refuse to let go of.

The Sweater Song

When I was in high school, my friend Tracey and I would spend hours pouring over new music selections. She would often find the weirdest items of note and then blast them from her mom’s Chevy Beretta GT at top volume. Most of these involved heavy base and lyrics that, well I was lucky that the base was so loud otherwise the actual words might be heard by members of my church youth group *blush*.

But don’t get me wrong, not all the songs were high base, mind numbing rap. Some were just …. interesting…. catchy…

A while back I was talking to a co-worker and she commented on this song she remembered from high school but couldn’t think of the name. Something about an obsessive teenage girl sniffing a boys sweater. Immediately, a song popped into my head out of the blue, the same one to which she was referring. For years the song was hidden in the fringes of my mind and recalled only when the appropriate time allowed, usually during the viewing of teen drama series or a movie full of youthful angst.

The song… The Sweater

I finally hunted down the lyrics so that could read them over again and giggle at the commonalities held between the song, girls of a certain age and the boys they tended to chase after with wild abandon only to be reminded that the relationship may have only been in their mind. Remembrances of dreams dreamed while awake and waiting for the next Biology lesson to be over so that you can run to your locker and pray you see the note fall from the top shelf as it opens before you. It is humorous now to think back on what we use to find so important to us as “young adults” and how those same laughable, miserable, cryable, and possibly mortifying situations that we often found ourselves in are repeated by our successors on a daily basis.

In the world of teenage girl…history definitly repeats itself.

**See Song Lyrics in Comment** it is HILARIOUS

On Love…

SONNET 116

W. Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

This is one of my favorites… it is about love in its most ideal form. It offers praise to lovers that have willingly joined together allowing their relationship to be established on trust and understanding. A “marriage of minds” joined together in perception and faith.

It proposed that love in its purest form will not “alter when it alteration finds.” Meaning no matter the change that comes it will still remain the “ever-fixed mark”. It will remain to be firm in its foundations no matter what crisis may arise.

It also notes that to some degree, love is able to be measured. Even if we do not understand the why and how of our love, it just “is”. The full worth or value will never be known, remaining a mystery. We are only confident that the perfect nature of love is unshakeable thru time.

What I find interesting is that Shakespeare sets a clause at the end declaring that if he has judge love inappropriately then clearly no one has loved to the degree that he has. Reiterating that he is so sure of the constant, unmovable nature of this perfect love he writes about, that if he were wrong, he would have to take back all of his writings, most of which encompassed love, friendship, and the feelings they evoke.

I could probably go on, writing more about the details he included and references even in part from other works that in some facet back up his claim to the purest of loves, but I shall save the detailing for another poem on another day….

Or maybe just continue with writing my own. Food for thought to wake up my senses on a slow Sunday morning. LOL

Here’s to the Roof!

Okay picture it … two days before Christmas and I awake to the sounds of banging and scraping and chatter. That’s right, roofing day. Just one day, that’s what I tell myself until my contractor, nice as he could be, comes to tell me the work may be more extensive than expected. It seems it will be not only more costly, but more time-consuming as well…

It’s okay, I end up rationalizing with myself. This is a necessary evil that I have put off for long enough.

Backing up for a second, I think I have unusual taste at times. My home for instance, a quirky little house set in the outskirts of a major city, across the tracks to some, the ghetto to others, and to even more, the nicest little space in the entire region, especially one that a gal could have hoped to have on her own. I love my street, love my neighbors that look out for each other, its nice.

So I picked my quirky, tiny, little, flat roofed oddity of a house, set in the middle of an older model cookie cutter style area and feel confident that the house is as original as the owner likes to believe herself to be. The house itself, nothing to write home about, other than the unusual design and the fact that even though it looks small from the street, it has more than adequate space for all of the “treasures” one might have “collected” throughout the years. But the one thing that just set this house apart from the others in my search, from the very beginning…. The ceilings.

In every room except one (clearly an addition and afterthought to the original house design) there are these beautiful (at least to me) wooden ceilings. I remember walking into the house when it was on the market, empty of furniture, empty of life, but one look up and my heart just melted. I knew that it was the one for me, even after seeing, well, I lost count of how many others… I always went back to that house for a comparison to what I wanted.

So of course, knowing that the roof would need to be fixed was a must eventually. Living thru the actually transformation, a nightmare!

So they found more damage than originally planned out there and striped my baby down to the rafters. I remember falling to my knees and crying when I saw slivers of sky peering thru some of the slats in that beautiful to me ceiling.. it hurt. It was like my house was channeling my body and at that particular moment, clearly it was not thinking straight and needed a good cry. Boy did it get one! Still not completely sure why I got that emotional, but there I was mid kitchen, knees curled under, palms to the ground, bawling like a baby! I am sure it was a sight to behold.

A few of my friends correlated it like a child going thru surgery, the turmoil is felt during the process, and the recovery is the time when logic sort of kicks back in and then once it is done, everybody sighs in relief and the pain passes.

All fixed up like new, sure, but traumatic impact during the adjustments… FOR SURE not what I was thinking it would be like…

The Wall

No, this is not MY collection… ahhh… but wouldn’t that be divine!

Minutes

The randomosity of life…

minute one in car coming home from Irish pub gathering with friends

minute two being “pulled” from my car into what appears to be a well concealed rager of a party (boy that house is well insulated)

minute three/four hanging with people that for a split second of life will become a new best friend

minute five find oneself singing it out with random strangers then rocking to a DJ rediscovering that yes…this body use to dance hip hop and still remembers a few things

minute i totally lost count entering my home as if the chunk of time were but a random dream inserted into what could have been a routine drive home

😛

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