Tag Archive | writing inspiration

When Art & Poets Have a Conversation (poetry)


Image by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave

This poem is a response to the poem written by Maureen Doallas—  http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2014/01/31/image-ine-poetry-jumprope-lisa-hess-hesselgrave/



You are where you don’t belong

Hands tied behind a dollhouse chair

A captured Alice in Wonderland

screaming at the top of your lungs

“Off with their heads!”

Only the rag doll, strung out

on the table draped in chapel white sheets

gives a damn

The stepmother hovers over you

She is the reincarnation of

Hansel and Gretel’s captor.

She has no time for your antics

You will stay there

until the sunlight filtering

through the white curtain

fades to black

until the Jack in the Beanstalk tree

dangles shadowy leaves

all over your pretty in pink walls

until you realize

that your parents’ divorce

is really final

and happily ever after

just doesn’t happen

in real life




Image done by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave

Image done by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave


Little avenger

ties on his cape, all ready

to save a freckled face

next door neighbor crush

from under the bed monsters

blowing goodnight kisses.


Poetry Pic: The Breakthrough

The Breakthrough

A Poem Inspired by a Photograph

Written by Alexandra Caselle





Image found on Google Images, originally on mannykagan.com


Each ring, a landmark,

a calling card, a slot of

time where two men bound

by a covenant

broke their rank . Each colored bead,

a makeshift, pint-sized

tombstone, with henna

stained first initials marking

just not the right time,

but the wronged hollow

place of babies lost in her

sea. The white one stood

for a mother entombed

in a hell of her own, a

father locked inside

the hallowed halls

of a once beautiful mind.

Now the morning sun

drags her new lover

out of bed, out of her life

with cumulus clouds

softly whispering

a benediction over

her house. She lights up

the cigar, nicotine

sealing in the broken places,

wisps of smoke streaking

strands like an ex-man’s

rogue. Hardship can bring

all the rain it wants.

She stares at it straight

in its eye because she is–

a perfect storm.

Letting More Than the Cat Out of Santa’s Bag–A Secret & Super Blogger Award

taken from Google Images

taken from Google Images

On August 5th a writer-friend who has made such an impact on me through her work and her life chose me as a recipient of the Super Blogger Award.  Months later, I am still honored that she thought of me.  I met Julie on SheWrites last year.  Around this period of time last year, I had just ventured out into the blogging world.  I didn’t know if I had anything to say that would appeal to anyone, but I knew I had to answer the muse’s call.  Julie reached out to me and we bonded in the writing ranks.

Not only do I admire her art of storytelling , but also the strength and tenacity she has shown during her personal trials, which she wrote about here.

I already knew the person that I was going to pick as the next recipient.  It just took me a while to come up with a secret.  I am the true epitome of an introvert.  I hoard books and snippets of words, but what writer doesn’t do that?

But I think the timing worked out well because this author has a book that is coming out this December.

I would like to say thank you again, Julie, for nominating me.  You can find out about her secret here.

The rules for the Super Blogger Award are as follows:

Take the award for yourself, then pass it along to someone who inspires you or you just think is “super” in one way or another. Tell us why you think that person is super and deserving. Now, all the recipient has to so is reveal (as in one) small secret about themselves (super people always tend to have a secret or two, right?) and pass the reward on to someone they think is deserving.

My Secret

It is no secret that I love to write, but it wasn’t the only talent in the fine arts arena that fascinated me as a little girl.  I loved dancing and choreographing. Unbeknownst to Debbie Allen, Paula Abdul, & the Soul Train dancers, I was their protégé. I made up dance routines all the time, studying Janet Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle” video moves until I had each one perfected (except for that devilish split! )

I had already mentioned this fact about me online before.

Only my family knows about the “other” me, the secret identity that hid behind library books, scrawny legs, and a soft whisper of a voice.  I loved acting.  My cousins from Georgia and I always had active imaginations.  We loved to dance and whenever we visited each other, we would show each other the latest dance moves and perform for the adults.  My late cousin had a large deck in her backyard.  I always corralled everyone to put on a show for everyone.  We would act out different scenes cooked up in my wired imagination.  When I acted, just like when I danced, I became a different person.  I wasn’t worried about what others thought about it.  I loved to entertain.

But as I entered middle school, adolescent angst got the best of me.  I became more comfortable with the characters inside of my head and writing their stories.  I remember when a childhood friend and I wrote a soap opera featuring five teens.  The 100 page+  work of art was a little too racy for my mom’s tastes.  She tossed it out and further dashed my hopes of it being included with the other artifacts of other writers.  🙂

Maybe it is not too late to become the next Shonda Rhimes or Keri Washington. Nahhh..that would be too much of a scandal in itself for my easily embarrassed preteen!

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

And the Super Blogger Award Goes To. . .

Sydney Avey writes a weekly blog in which she features a list of published short stories that center around a theme or topic.  Her blog has introduced me to different works that have impacted me as a reader and a writer. As a writer and a teacher of writing, I always felt that models of professional writing were the best teachers.  You learn so much about technique and other literary elements by reading.  Sydney also features short stories that are examples of literary devices such as point-of-view.

I also think that those who teach literature in secondary and postsecondary schools would find her weekly list of stories to be a wonderful resource.

Sidney has been published in several literary journals, and she has a novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, coming out this month.

I hope Sydney continues to share these wonderful lists of stories with the writing community in 2014.

Taken from Amazon

Taken from Amazon

The Devil May Wear Prada, But The Gibbons Gold Diggers Prefer Men’s Hearts: The Player & The Game by Shelly Ellis

Sugar-coated game

floats from her siren  lips,

a snare for the gullible.

Her nectar garners

a contract of one-sided


As a Gibbons girl,

she always saps honey from

her sugar daddies.

The queen bee designs

her honeycomb to entrap

men’s hearts, not her own.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. . .

By A. C.

the player and the game2

Enjoy Some Hot Deception on a Romance Platter with the latest installment

in the Gibbons Gold Digger series!

The Player & the Game

It’s business as usual for the infamous gold digging Gibbons women of Chesterton, Virginia. But this time, middle sister, Stephanie, may be the one getting played. . .

Stephanie Gibbons thinks she’s finally hit the jackpot— the Gibbons family’s Holy Grail. Her new sugar daddy, Isaac Beardan, is loaded and treating her in high style. When he proposes, Stephanie is sure she’s set for life—until she finds her bank account empty, Isaac gone, and a strange—but very attractive—man following her.

Private investigator Keith Hendricks has tracked Isaac down to Chesterton, Va., and stumbles upon Stephanie. He’s not sure if she’s Isaac’s accomplice or his next victim, but what he is certain of is his overwhelming attraction to her—an attraction she shares. As the pair follows the con man’s trail into the Deep South, Stephanie faces a dilemma: True love… or the gold-digging game. Which will she choose?

Shelly Ellis head shotSix Questions for Author Shelly Ellis

What makes The Player and the Game stand out among other African American romances out there?

My editor likes to describe the books in my Gibbons Gold Digger series as romance but with a little something different, or romance with extra spice. And this extra spice isn’t just sexual. I don’t write erotica, but I like to do romances that are sexy with a dynamic storyline. I like to write stories that are a hybrid between the typical romance and evening soap operas—making them more than a tale of boy meets girl and then they eventually find their happily-ever-after. The Player and the Game is a blend of romance, mystery, road-trip adventure, some laugh-out-loud moments, and moral lessons thrown into the mix. I hope readers have a ball reading it. I had fun writing it.

What would it take for a player like Stephanie to be reformed?

I can’t reveal too much, but Stephanie goes through a humbling experience in the beginning of the novel that starts her on her journey to reformation. Falling in love for the first time in her life also helps reform her.

In the first installment of the series, Can’t Stand the Heat, Lauren is a chef who leaves an abusive marriage & proves she can hold her own in and out of the kitchen. What would be a great recipe for writing the perfect romance?

I don’t know what the perfect recipe is, but I think I know what doesn’t work. Try not to go with typical ingredients/tropes of romance. Romance should be like an exotic, spicy curry, not a boring vanilla cake made with mix out of a box. Both may taste good, but one definitely required a lot more thought and originality than the other.

Try to avoid the insecure hero who doesn’t think he’s good enough for the heroine, or the bad boy who’s reformed by his love for the good girl. Try to avoid snowstorms that lock a couple together in a cabin, forcing them to confront their feelings for each other. Don’t have novels with the heroine waking up in the morning, looking in her mirror, or talking to her girlfriends over drinks at a bar or restaurant. Try to keep the reader guessing what’s going to happen next, as opposed to them thinking, “Hey, haven’t I read this before?”

The Gibbons sisters have their own playbook in which they maneuver the rules wisely with their men. What would be the ultimate playbook for women in our society to use while searching for that spicy romance?

You know, it’s funny. I try to write spicy romances, but my personal preference is a lot tamer. Love and compatibility are more important to me. Humor also can get you through the rougher patches. Spice is nice, but it’s not essential. (And honestly, it can fade overtime even with the hottest of couples.)

So what rules/playbook should one follow to find the best romance? Have an open heart; have an open mind; know your self-worth and be willing to assert it; and make sure that any man you want to treat you like a princess, you’re willing to treat him like a prince. Don’t forget, you’re equal partners in this story!

What tips would you give to writers who are trying to balance writing and parenthood?

I just became a mom four months ago, so I’m still trying to find that balance. But, no matter what, I’m a mother first, and a writer second. Even if I’m in the middle of a great writing jag and the words are flowing like crazy, if my baby starts crying, I have to step away from my laptop and address her cries. But I also know now to accept help when you can get it. If your mom or your hubby is willing to watch the baby for awhile, take advantage of it! Nap times are also a godsend. Use those quiet moments to work on your novels and catch up on badly needed rest/sleep.

We writers create characters that are close to our hearts, and we want our readers to establish a relationship with them. We want our characters to leave an aftereffect on our readers. What aftereffect do you want the Gibbons sisters to leave on your readers?

The Gibbons sisters are deeply flawed characters, but I still think they’re likeable. They come from a good place, even if that place is a bit screwed up. I want readers to have the takeaway to be careful of judging others on face value.

Also, the lives of the sisters can serve as a cautionary tale. Each sister has made decisions that have negatively affected their lives because they were taught that wealth and prestige are what’s most important. They all experience things that make them question that belief.

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

Here’s an excerpt:


Chapter 1

Busy, busy, busy, Stephanie Gibbons thought as she hurried toward her silver BMW that was parallel parked in the reserved space near her office. Her stilettos clicked on the sidewalk as she walked. Her short, pleated skirt swayed around her hips and supple, brown legs with each stride.

She shouldn’t have gone to the nail salon before lunch, but her French manicure had been badly in need of a touch-up. Unfortunately, that slight detour had thrown off the entire day’s schedule and now she was running ten minutes late for the open house.

The spring day was unseasonably warm, but it was tempered by a light breeze that blew steadily, making the newly grown leaves flutter on the numerous maples lining Main Street in downtown Chesterton, her hometown. The breeze now lifted Stephanie’s hair from her shoulders and raised her already dangerously short skirt even higher.

She adjusted the realtor name tag near her suit jacket lapel, casually ran her fingers through her long tresses, and reached into her purse. She pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed her assistant’s number. Thankfully, the young woman picked up on the second ring.

“Carrie, honey, I’m running late . . . Yes, I know . . . Are you already at the open house?” Stephanie asked distractedly as she dug for her keys in her purse’s depths. “Are any buyers there yet? . . . OK, OK, don’t freak out. . . . Yes, just take over for now. Put out a plate of cookies and set the music on low. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes . . . I know . . . I have every confidence in you. See you soon.”

She hung up.

With car keys finally retrieved, Stephanie pressed the remote button to open her car doors. The car beeped. The headlights flashed. She jogged to the driver’s-side door and opened it. As she started to climb inside the vehicle, she had the distinct feeling of being watched.

Stephanie paused to look up, only to find a man standing twenty feet away from her. He casually leaned against the brick front of one of the many shops on Main Street. He was partially hidden by the shadows of an overhead awning.

He looked like one of many jobless men you would find wandering the streets midday, hanging out in front of stores because they had little else to do and nowhere else to go. Except this bored vagrant was a lot more attractive than the ones she was used to seeing. He also was distinct from the other vagrants in town because she had seen him several times today and earlier this week.

Stephanie had spotted him when she walked into the nail salon and again as she left, absently waving her nails as they dried. He had been sitting in the driver’s seat of a tired-looking Ford Explorer in the lot across the street from the salon. Though he hadn’t said anything to her or even looked up at her as she walked back to her car, she had the feeling he had been waiting for her.

She had seen him also on Wednesday, strolling along the sidewalk while she had been on her date with her new boyfriend, Isaac. The man had walked past the restaurant’s storefront window where she and Isaac had been sitting and enjoying their candlelit dinner. When Stephanie looked up from her menu and glanced out the window, her eyes locked with the stroller’s. The mystery man abruptly broke their mutual gaze and kept walking. He disappeared at the end of the block.

The mystery man had a face that was hard to forget—sensual, hooded dark eyes, a full mouth, and a rock-hard chin. He stood at about six feet with a muscular build. Today, he was wearing a plain white T-shirt and wrinkled jeans. Though his short hair was neatly trimmed, he had thick beard stubble on his chin and dark-skinned cheeks.

“Are you following me?” Stephanie called to him, her open house now forgotten.

He blinked in surprise. “What?” He pointed at his chest. “You mean me?”

“Yes, I mean you!” She placed a hand on her hip. “Are you following me? Why do I keep seeing you around?”

He chuckled softly. “Why would I be following you? Lady, I’m just standing here.”

He wasn’t just standing there. She sensed it.

“Well, this is a small town. Loitering is illegal in Chesterton. You could get arrested!”

“It’s illegal to stand in front of a building?” Laughter was in his voice. He slowly shook his head.

“We’re still in America, right? Last time I checked, I was well within my rights to stand here, honey. Besides, I’m not panhandling. I’m just enjoying the warm sunshine.” His face broke into a charming, dimpled smile that would have made most women’s knees weak. “Is that a crime?”

Stephanie narrowed her eyes at him warily.

She didn’t like him or his condescending tone. He was attractive, but something emanated from him that made her . . . uncomfortable. It made her heartbeat quicken and her palms sweat. She wasn’t used to reacting to men this way. Usually her emotions were firmly in control around them, but they weren’t around this guy. She didn’t like him one bit.

“If . . . if I catch you standing here when I get back, I’ll . . . I’ll call the cops,” she said weakly.

At that, he raised an eyebrow. “You do that,” he challenged, casually licking his lips and shoving his hands into his jean pockets. Defiantly, he slumped against the brick building again.

Stephanie took a deep breath, willing her heart to slow its rapid pace. She climbed into her car and shut the driver’s-side door behind her with a slam. She shifted the car into drive and pulled off, watching him in her rearview mirror until she reached the end of block. He was still standing in front of the building, still leaning under the shadows of the awning, still looking smug as she drove to the end of Main Street and made a right.

Finally, she lost sight of him.

Copyright © 2013 by Shelly Ellis

Connect with Shelly Ellis:


Twitter:  @ellisromance

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6464591.Shelly_Ellis

Websitehttp://shellyellisbooks.com/   (a great resource for personal and professional insight into the writing life and the publishing industry.)

The Player & The Game  is available on August 27, 2013.

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-player-the-game-shelly-ellis/1113785676?ean=9780758290373

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Player-Game-Shelly-Ellis/dp/0758290373/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1368236031&sr=1-3

A Summer Sojourn

Julie Luek (A Thought Grows  http://www.athoughtgrows.blogspot.com) and I decided to collaborate together on  blog posts that depict our distinct states (Colorado & Florida) and their sources of writing inspiration for us.  We hope that our posts, inspired by the city mouse/country mouse fable, will encourage other writers to find their own sources of writing inspiration where they live.


To sojourn is to linger a little longer in a place, a detail, a memory.

The fresh swig of tea brews outside by sunlight that warms my late grandmother’s porch in Mississippi.  A dry summer breeze spins whirligigs of red dust from Georgia’s dirt roads.  Pecan trees hover around whispering hushes inside the hollows of their trunks.  Trickles of children’s laughter line the summer skyline as they trade dances, stories, and slang like baseball cards.

The palm trees , crape myrtles, and magnolias of Northern Florida  draw a sharp contrast to the aspens and hummingbirds that thrive in the mountainous region of Colorado. Each area has its own beautiful terrain full of stories and history, a place to lose ourselves and submerge our senses into the surroundings.

We appreciate the subtle changes of one season into another—in nature, our lives, and our writing.  We sometimes tarry in a stage of our writing and our lives for the purpose of addressing what has been left behind or immobile to advance to the next level.

(Baymeadows Rd. Office Park area in South Jacksonville, FL)

(Baymeadows Rd. Office Park area in South Jacksonville, FL)

The greenery dips  in and out of the man-made  baptismal pool as the waves ripple in movement and possible stories across the office park lake. Her voice folds into the natural calm as it beckons me to become her scribe:

We dumped the bodies one at a time.  The last two were Gemini’s and Joshua’s.  The crowd moved back as I had my final moments with my child and my husband.  I swirled two scarves on them, lacing them through their arms and legs and making their hands cross over their chests and their legs cross at the ankles.  Grief rocked me just like that river there.  That ‘Sippi River would be my womb, God’s womb nursing them to glory. I cradled each one to my chest, looking at death head-on. It was like the body was just a mere suit that the soul steps out of.  God breathes life into us.  And when we die that breath returns back to him.

Her story haunts me as the summer rolls in on the impending  anticipation of the second tropical depression. It bears down on me like the humidity forming a bubble of heat around me.  She demands to be noticed.  Part of my sojourn will be staying a little longer, angling my ears like antennas and trying to pick up her signal again.

Dames Point Bridge

Dames Point Bridge

To sojourn is to cross a bridge into new territories.


(University of North Florida campus)

I need a place of solace to write.  As I drive toward the Dames Pointe Bridge, I think about how the newI-295 beltway hula hoops around Jacksonville and bypasses the areas the city wants to keep hidden like bastard children, but it highlights newly built shopping malls modeled after the St. Augustine & International Parkway (South Orlando) outlet malls.

Before the muse and I commence on this writer’s work, I stroll around the campus and found another source of inspiration (the picture above). College campuses are the breeding grounds for summertime love, and new adult romance is a genre that I have learned about through social media interaction. The romantic in me envisions a statuesque woman in her early twenties with skin smooth as black velvet and wide, dark eyes that invite the beholder to discover how the motherland and her neighborhood speak a universal language inside her, but she has no time for love.

To sojourn is revisit the familiar in order to see it in a new light.

Hart Bridge aka "The Green Monster"

Hart Bridge aka “The Green Monster”

Another bridge that I have travailed in my past, and most recently, for the past three years is another bridge that hula hoops around different stages of my life and plays a major part into my sojourn that has led to a major transformation in my mindset and self-esteem.  The Hart Bridge’s moniker aptly symbolizes its effect in my life, but my crossing of it, literally and figuratively, has minimized the terror it once held in my life. It has inspired me to share a deeply personal story in the hopes of helping someone who is tarrying across her own bridge.

I cannot wait to see what (writing) fruit this seasonal sojourn will yield.

What places do you tend to find your writing inspiration in your hometown?