Z is for Zest

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For my Z post I am lucky enough to have been able to ask a good friend if mine a little about the online journal she has started with her friend fittingly for this challenge her E-zine is called Zest

What inspired you to create your own online journal and how does it differ from the others out there?
Amy – For me personally, I knew this was the project I wanted to take on so that I could use the skills I’d gained in my previous life as an Acquisitions Editor at a textbook company for good in the creative writing community. I left publishing to pursue my life-long dream of being a writer, and eventually an author. I wanted (and still want) to be on the other side of the desk…getting my own work published. But, while I work towards that goal, I have a lot of resources to draw from, from my 10 years in publishing. So, why not put some good writing karma out there and make space for others also trying to pursue the same dream of being published?

Kate – Let’s face it, there is a myriad of online journals out there and, at first glance, many appear to be easily accessible to all types of creative people. However, the reality is often quite different. There can be specific criteria that potential contributors need to meet on a personal level before they can even contemplate submitting their work. And the guidelines are often sketchy.  As a writer, I’ve found it can be hard to really understand what some editors’ expectations are. I wanted to be able to create an online journal that was a little more inclusive and less rigid. We don’t have set criteria regarding ‘desirable’ contributors. That’s just not what we’re about. Regarding the submissions, we are genuinely interested in diverse, quirky, original writing and artwork that inspires us. It feels great being able to create artistic space for others.

Can you quickly sum up each of the people working behind the scenes on Zest?
Amy – I am definitely the neurotic, obsessive, probably-too-organized for my own good one. I’m a list-maker. So, I constantly had a list, or multiple lists, going – whether it be a list for a meeting agenda, or an ‘action-item’ list for after the meeting, or just general to-do’s, stuff to remember, etc.

Kate – It’s funny that Amy’s the neurotic type. She’s from California but I guess I’m the one who’s more laid back. I was very good at turning up to all of the meetings on time but I always followed Amy’s agenda!  Don’t get me wrong, I can stress about things but I think we work well together and keep each other balanced and calm. Tea helps. So does wine. The other thing is that this whole process (little hurdles aside!) has been such a blast and we’ve had so much fun working together and learning from one another as we’ve both brought different skills to our project.

How hard is it to decide what goes in and what hasn’t made the grade?
Amy – I think at first it was really hard, but then we put on our editor hats, reminded ourselves that if we had to ‘justify’ keeping the piece, or felt it needed lots of changes, or had too long of a think/discussion on it that it probably wasn’t the right fit for our journal then. So, we started off going through submissions slowly and then as we reminded ourselves of these things we started deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ much more quickly. That being said a big part of deciding to be editors of a journal was to provide an experience different than you might get at other, or larger – more established, journals. With any pieces we rejected we made sure to give a minimum of a couple sentences feedback on what didn’t work for us. We did a mini-workshop of the piece in a way. This way the author would know why it didn’t work for us and if they wanted to could take that feedback to rework the piece. We also encouraged all those we rejected to submit again, and we meant it wholeheartedly! We know the pressure to submit, and sometimes the only reason for getting rejected is that the piece isn’t quite there – just needs a bit more revision.

Kate – It’s pretty easy figuring out the difference between something that’s outstanding and something which hasn’t quite made the grade. For me, the hardest part, is figuring out those borderline pieces. The ones which maybe you can see potential in but they’re just missing something. It’s also difficult because, as writers, we can empathise with the folk who are trusting us with their work. It would be unfair to suggest making changes to a submission which would make it entirely unrecognisable from its original self. If it looks like that will happen, then the piece isn’t right.
Providing feedback was essential for me. There are few things that piss me off more than submitting work to an editor and either never getting a response or waiting a ridiculously long time (sometimes over a year) just to receive a basic rejection. The quick rejections suck as well! Personally I think that if a writer/artist has taken that risk of sharing their work with you then it needs to be treated with respect. An editor may think that work is utter mince but I believe it’s their duty to provide some constructive feedback. Similarly, I find it a little frustrating to have a piece of work accepted with no explanation as to why the editor enjoyed it… Maybe this will sound controversial but I just don’t see the point of being an editor if you’re not prepared to do that.
There has just been one issue so far but if you could have an article written by anyone for your 100th issue who would you choose?

Amy – OMG that’s a hard one (that’s what she said…sorry :))…. um, I guess being a creative non fiction/memoir/personal essayist type of writer it would have to be someone I admire from that corner of the literary world. There are so many, but if I had to choose one then I would have to say David Shields.
Kate– Oh gosh, that’s difficult. How much power do I have here? Can I bring back someone from the grave? If so, I would love to have an article written by Scottish author Muriel Spark, she’s such an inspiration; such a dark, enviable talent. If that’s not allowed, then I have no hesitation in wishing for a little something from American author Paul Auster – fabulous writer!

Zest is currently accepting submissions for its second edition and guess who has had a poem accepted Yay!!!!!! I have to point out when I did this interview I hadn’t even written it let alone submitted it so this interview was totally impartial but if you would like to submit something check out the guidelines as Submissions

You can check out the First edition here ( the only comment I will make for this first edition is that you need to read it on the computer rather than download it for the kindle as at the minute the format does not work well on the basic Kindle I own)

V is for Verne

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Not Jules but my facebook friend Laverne I am not going to go into the life changes she has made recently that is her story but this is my tribute to her bravery and honesty.

Courage comes in many forms

It faces many foes

To stand head held high and be yourself

Is harder than one knows

Some say that it is a choice you make

But that cannot be true

For the only the choice you’ve made

Is simply to be you.

We cannot chose the path we walk

Only pain from its refusal.

We cannot be what others want

Though we may try to please.

Only heartache awaits for everyone

If we lie to ourselves and all.

If I could have made a choice

I would have picked a simpler road

I would have been who you wanted to see

I would never have chosen to hurt

But I am me, this person you see

The one I tried to hide.

And if you take the time to see,

And get to know me

You’ll know why this is right.

 

U is for Undressing

20130210-230657 Now I know the title will have had a few eyebrows going up but I am not talking about what happens once the clothes come off I am indeed talking about the actual act of stripping.  The problem is that in most cases the actual act of removing clothing from characters is an inconvenience rather than seductive.

My novel is a dark medieval fantasy, lots of raping and pillaging and in one way that solves the problem the bad guy simply takes out his knife and cuts the clothing away.  The problem comes with other characters, it is easy to lose momentum when there are leather straps to be untied, armour to be removed and layers to be discarded of.  And it is not just this genre, think about bodice rippers fine if you happen to have a knife about your person but given that most women required at least one other person to help them into the corset and layers of petticoats, the idea that they could all be removed seductively is a lost cause.

I know these things do not bother the reader, they are happy to suspend disbelief to get to the good bit, skirts can just be pushed up and then thrown off a few minutes later but for the writer who has to know every detail they can be a real headache and passion killer.

T is for Tango

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As I have mentioned before I love dancing not only doing it (back when I could) but also watching it and my favourite is the Tango.  For a writer this should not be a surprising choice, latin dances tell stories, stories of passion, lust, betrayal, in the space of a few minutes they create a whole tale of intrigue.  As I am playing catch up still this week I am going to share a couple of my favourite clips of Tango’s enjoy…

S is for Strangers

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It is a truth we rarely acknowledge that we spend the first few years confusing children as to what a stranger is.

Technically a stranger is someone you do not know and have never met seems simple enough but in the modern age is it?  Families are spaced out not only around the country but the world my son has an Auntie he has no recollection of as we do not speak and another who he would only recognise via photographs as she spends half her life in the rainforest.  He does not ‘know’ these people yet would be expected to act as if he did by the sheer title of family, yet people he passes daily in the street we envoke the stranger danger tag.  Likewise we as adults blur the lines who amongst us does not have a ‘friend’ or twenty at the other side of the world with whom we share every thing, yet we do not speak to most of the people who live on the street we live on.

And lets take it one step further we place our children in the position of having to accept strangers constantly without further clarification of our definitions, don’t speak to strangers but answer the little old lady on the bus that asks how old you are!

I used to love the definition that a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet, but when teaching our children we need to be consistent and think things through a little more.

R is for Running (And Running Late)

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(Altered due to late finishing and publication)

Turn the clock back a little under thirty years ago and my Sunday morning would have been spent pounding  the pavement.  Don’t get me wrong it was not by choice, I did long jump and did not go happily to to the conditioning session intended to build up stamina I did 15 steps in my run up and could not appreciate the need to run a couple of miles.

The thing is once you have the option taken away from you it becomes more appealing.  Since my spinal problems I no longer take my health for granted and I now know just how precious it is.  I tried finding some picturess from the athletics club I belonged to but like many things it is long gone.

As I write this the world has been rocked by the events at the Boston Marathon and the London one is due to be run tomorrow (was run yesterday) thousands of people line up with one aim, not to win medals or break records but to achieve something while representing those who no longer can represent themselves and raising thousands of pounds/dollars for charities.  I know both causes close to my heart will be represented on not only the London start line but that of other races throughout the year.  Hours spent pounding the pavement in wind and rain to do those precious angels proud, and I know the families of those helped by both charities The Joseph Salmon Trust and Charlie’s charity Cords4lifeUK will continue to contribute to helping these charities help more people.  I wish neither of these charities had to exist, I wish that both boys were playing in a school playground right now not looking down on their families and smiling at the legacies created in their name, but both not only exist but are needed and do great work.  I don’t know if I will be fit enough by next year to join either of the teams on the starting lines but I do know that I want to be and that before I turn fifty I intend to run at least one 10k race for each charity.

Maybe I will even get fit enough that I will experience the thrill of lining up one Sunday morning to begin those 26 miles that are not about the Elite runners they are about the masses saying we just want to give something back and make a difference.

Q is for Queen

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Are we talking the band? Or royalty? Nope we are talking me, a fellow blogger Rhonda affectionately labelled my as the queen of hearts, sadly she was not thinking Princess Diana but rather Alice in Wonderland, yup my friend thinks I am a power mad tyrant. Infact this is how she sees me…

25919_10200418533736779_1200560390_nwe decided the final story behind it was as I have stopped smoking (yes am still resisting the urges) that I had confiscated her cigs and was refusing to return them.

The nickname has stuck between us and I know it was given affectionately due to the fact I can be a little bit of a control freak lol anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that.  It also meant she bought me the mug I am drinking my coffee from as I write this..

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Life can be hard at times, we get stressed out, we get hurt, tired and frustrated, but if we can retain the ability to laugh at our selves then all is not lost, if we can find a way to laugh in the darkest of hours we cannot be defeated, and if laughter can be mingled with our tears then we know we can survive.

P is for Poetry

20130210-230657It is not surprising this should crop up on a writing blog for the letter P but hell I have to be predictable at some point.

The thing is I look back and most of my poems have a theme running through them and that is loss, with the exception of the kissing one the other day and a couple of others most of my poems tend to be quite depressing, but I think I know why.  I tend to write poetry by hand rather than write it on a computer at first and where I write influences what I write.  Now of course some have been tributes for people that either I have known and lost or they are the loved ones of friends, I was going to make a point of writing some nice poetry but then another P word has reared it head today and spoilt my mood ‘parasite’.

I can’t comment on what has happened and I don’t know all the facts lets just say the police are involved as are some sick individuals, it is hard to remember not to feed the trolls but these ones I would like to see publicly humiliated maybe it is time to bring back the stocks in the market place

O is for OMG and other Exclamations!

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Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…well it won’t be me I am guilty as most of us are for random exclamations and text short cuts,  I confess I lol and occasional Lmao and very very rarely I roflmao.  I know it is lazy, a quick easy way to convey emotional responses to humour, the same way OMG demonstrates, surprise, shock or disbelief.   The thing is it would be very easy to dismiss them simply as text speak and having no value but is that fair, when you think about books, TV series and films they are littered with catch phrases we know that the use of which will immediately be recognised as having a specific meaning.

So I decided to share a few of those catchphrases which we know and love so well..

I have a cunning plan

 

EXTERMINATE!!! (Hilarious)

 

This time next year we’ll be millionaires…

 

I could probably go on for hours but now lets hear a few of yours, what sayings have automatic meaning for you??????

N is for News

20130210-230657I had actually chosen a different subject for today but as I had not actually written the post I felt compelled to change it.

Yesterday tragedy struck, in struck in Boston not aimed at politicians, or the military but at thousands of normal people who have spent hours training to fund raise for good causes and charities, people running in memory of their lost loved ones, running for the betterment of mankind.  The were attacked by cowards, people who set bombs then walk away innocent are slaughtered.

I do not know who will claim responsibility nor if the people responsible have been captured as one feed has suggested.  It is very easy to get caught up in the speculations and theories which fly around immediately after this sort of event, I have already seem posts on Facebook which have been proved to be false or misinformed which have the potential to add to families grief who are already worried or suffering this is one example hoax.

I think when tragedy strikes we have a duty to be careful what we share, we should sent our sympathies and respects generally but be wary of sharing photos claiming to show victims , even should they have the right person we have know way of knowing if they have the families consent, once a name and photo have been shown on the news that many be acceptable to share but would you want to see your loved ones face all over social media if you hadn’t been informed yet or worse still if they actually had the wrong person.

There are plenty of pictures that you can share to show your respect and support but please stop and think before you hit share. Pick one of the many like this one and know you share your feelings and are considering those of others.

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