Late Bloomer: An Excerpt from Melissa Wray

This is Thursday, not Monday, Wednesday or Friday, the days I normally post on this blog. But since I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’m going to post. And I promised Melissa I would host her once again on my blog.

Melissa Wray is the author of Destiny Road, a coming-of-age YA novel, that I read and reviewed a few months ago. She is currently writing another YA novel, titled Late Bloomer. The excerpt that I’m sharing with you today has been received an Honorable Mention in the Gold Coast Writers’ Festival. I can totally see why because, after reading it, I want to read more.

Here is the excerpt from Late Bloomer.

It’s only Monday and I have already burnt the toast for breakfast, tripped over the cat on the way out the front door and managed to get the bus driver off side for forgetting my bus pass. Great start to the week Kit! I flush the toilet and hook my schoolbag over my shoulder. I wash my hands but avoid the reflection in the mirror. It’s the same that it’s always been, just zit free today. I still look like I’m ten not fourteen. Mum says we all develop at different rates and not to rush it. I don’t want to rush it, but it would be nice to at least get bumps on my chest in this lifetime.

The warning bell rings as I emerge into the corridor. I jostle past the other students to collect my books from the locker. I slam it shut and squeeze past the couple shoving their tongues down each other’s throat. You would think this is the last time they will see each other. Ever. It’s only two hours until the first break and they can drool all over one another again. I walk along the corridor and ignore the sniggers circulating around me. My paranoia must be joining me early today. I make it to the classroom and enter just before the final bell rings. All the seats are filled, with only the one on the far side remaining. I cross quickly and again a ripple of gasps and snorts follow. I look behind me and they immediately cease. I plonk onto the chair and get my books out.

‘All right everybody, settle down,’ Mr. Hampson says.

The noise quietens and he begins talking about the math work we were supposed to finish over the weekend. I peek sideways at the rest of the class. As I do, a flurry of eyes looks away from me. I try to ignore the unsettled feeling seeping into my nerves. Instead I focus on the textbook in front of me. I flip to the page Mr. Hampson is talking about. Before long I can feel eyes staring at me again. I want to look around and make sure I’m imaging things. But I can’t bring myself to turn my head, in case I’m wrong.

Whack! Something hits me in the back and I turn around. The entire class is looking at me. I notice a scrunched up ball of paper has dropped on to my seat.

‘Nice look,’ Shane sneers from behind me.

I scowl at him and pick up the ball of paper. Like that weirdo can talk with his oily black hair sticking up all over the place. I try to un-scrunch the wad of paper quietly. I flatten it against the table to read.

‘Miss. Mornington?’

I look up to find Mr. Hampson standing right beside me. My heartbeat quickens and I know this is not good. Mr. Hampson does not take to disruptions kindly.

‘Care to read out your secret note?’

My lip twitches as I try to avoid his death gaze.

‘Make sure you use a loud voice,’ he encourages, sarcasm dripping off.

I haven’t read the note yet so I cross my fingers it’s something innocent.

‘Sh … short skirts are b … back,’ I whisper

‘Sorry I didn’t quite hear that.’

Mr Hampson has moved to the front of the room.

I clear my throat. ‘Short skirts are back.’

An eruption of laughter echoes around the room. Mr. Hampson’s cheeks blow out like a puffer fish. He stomps across to my desk and swipes up the note. His eyes scan across it. He glares at me because he knows I’ve spoken the truth. I don’t know why he’s mad at me. I didn’t write the stupid thing. I don’t even understand what it means.

‘Who wrote this?’ he asks, swirling on the class.

One by one the snickers stop. No-one owns up to the ridiculous note.

‘Miss. Mornington?’

I shrug my shoulders. I’m just as confused as he is.

‘Well maybe an hour in the time out room will help.’

My jaw drops open. He can’t be serious. I didn’t do anything.

‘Now Miss. Mornington.’ He drops the note and points toward the door.

I look around the room but this time nobody meets my eyes. I push the chair out and shove my books and pencil case into my school bag. I stand up and as soon as I do a fresh chorus of laughter erupts. I take no notice and stomp out of the room. The trails of laughter follow me and I ignore the repeated calls back from Mr. Hampson.

I make it to the time out room and enter to find it empty, except for the teacher and one other. My best friend Burra is splayed back in the chair. He spends a lot of time in here. Surprise spreads across his face when he sees me. But quickly he ducks his head before the teacher catches him.

‘Mr. Hampson,’ I explain to the supervising teacher.

She nods and records it in the creased notebook. It’s full of all the other naughty boys and girls in the school. I don’t have as many offences as Burra but there are a few with my name attached. I’m not naughty as such, but things just seem to go against me sometimes. I pull my textbook out of the bag and start working. After about ten minutes the teacher stands.

‘Right you two. I am going to trust that you will behave whilst I go and get something from my desk.’

She gives us the stare that is supposed to frighten us into submission. We both nod and watch her leave. Once she’s gone Burra strolls over to my desk and sits on it.

‘Well this is a new sight.’

I roll my eyes. ‘Not from where I’m sitting.’

He doubles over in mock laughter.

‘Seriously Kit, how did you get in here?’

‘I didn’t even do anything. Some idiot threw this note at me and Mr. Hampson went off his tree.’

I retrieve the note from my bag and pass it to Burra. He reads over it and raises an eyebrow. I snatch if off him and stand up to throw it in the bin.

‘Oh Kit, short skirts are back,’ he says with a smirk.

I stare at him with a screwed up face. I pat my hand down my school dress and that’s when my blood runs cold. I rewind through the morning so far. Leaving the toilet, the sniggers along the corridor and the snorts in the classroom, the stupid note that got me sent here. It all makes sense.

‘ARGH!’ I pluck my dress out from my knickers.

I pat the material down repeatedly until I’m sure there is nothing stuck where it shouldn’t be.

‘Nice underwear by the way,’ says Burra.

‘Shut up!’ I punch him in the arm.

‘No seriously, polka dots are definitely your style.’

I shove him off the table. ‘Not helping Burra.’

I cover my face with my hands. I can feel the heat radiating from my cheeks. I drop into my chair.

‘This is so embarrassing. The whole school must have seen my backside hanging out my undies.’

‘You’re such a drama queen. I doubt the whole school …’

Burra’s voice trails off as he looks at me with a toothy grin.

‘What! You doubt the whole school what?’

‘I doubt the whole school saw you, unless someone got it on their phone. Then they sure will.’

The blood rushes from my face. ‘I think I’m going to be sick.’

I push the chair back and lay my head on the desk. I try to take in deep breaths but it’s not helping.

‘Kit I’m kidding! It’s not like your dress has been hooked up all day. It was just before school.’

I peek up at Burra. ‘Do you really think that?’

‘Sure, besides you’ve been sitting on your butt most of the time.’

‘Yeah, I only walked to my first class and then here.’ I nod, trying to reassure myself.

‘That’s right,’ Burra encourages. ‘It was only a few guys from your class.’

I nod and think about it. There’s not much difference between underwear and bather bottoms. I can live with a handful of classmates seeing my polka dot hipsters.

‘You’re right, there was only a few.’ I shrug my shoulders. ‘No biggie.’

‘That’s the girl,’ he pats my back. ‘Besides, what’s the chance of it ending up on YouTube?’

‘Nooooo!’

Have you enjoyed reading this? Leave a comment or a ‘Like’.

You can also find out more about Melissa Wray and her work on the following sites:

http://www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au

http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/melissa-wray—author.html

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6465945.Melissa_Wray

http://www.facebook.com/melissa.wray.733

Meslissa can be reached at melissawray@hotmail.com.au.

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Behind the Return of the Poets by Guest Author, Carly Fierro

Carly Fierro is an aspiring writer who loves animals, spending time outdoors, and traveling. She hopes to someday publish a book – but for now, she’ll settle
for indulging in her love of blogging.

****

Not so long ago, poetry was considered a dying art, suitable only for academics and love-struck teenagers. It could be argued–with some certainty–that outside of high school English class, most people’s exposure to poetry was the doggerel found in greeting cards.

Considering the poets of the 18th and 19th century were the rock stars of their day, lack of interest in modern poets suggested poetry was destined for oblivion. Some claimed the art was dying because people no longer read aloud to each other. In a world of high-tech toys and instant gratification, poetry was delegated to the dusty past. Or so it was thought.

Online Poetry

The very technology thought to be killing poetry has been instrumental in a quiet revival. The Internet gives poets opportunity to share their work with a wide audience (many of whom are searingly critical–online poets require a thick skin).

Every month the British-based Poetry Archive site boasts more than one million page views from 125,000 users. Recognizing the importance of the spoken word to poetry, the archive offers recordings of poets reading their own work.

Slam! The Art of Performance Poetry

Listening to recordings of poems, while delightful, still maintains a distance between the poet and his or her audience. The 1990s saw the genesis of slam poetry events, combining performance art, poetry and competition.

Slam poetry renewed public interest in poetry as performance art. Sure, the nature of slam poetry angered some academics who had firm views on what constitutes poetry, but historically poetry has always shaken up the status quo. Poets like Byron and Shelley have always annoyed the establishment.

Slam poems very much carry on the tradition of poetry as a galvanizing, political medium. Over the course of a slam event, you might hear poems focused on politics, racism, alcohol rehab and gender discrimination. Slam poets are angry, thoughtful, funny and sad.

A slam is a competitive event, although the event is more about sharing poetry than “winning.” Poets are given three minutes to recite their work, and points are deducted if the poet exceeds the time limit. No props, musical instruments or costumes are allowed; the poet uses body language and the spoken word to present his or her poem.

Randomly selected audience members judge the event by assigning poets points for performance and content. Poets may compete as individuals or in teams.

Some argue that a three-minute time limit restricts poets, but working within limitations has long been an accepted part of poetry. Haikus and sonnets, for instance, must adhere to strict formats, but this in no way detracts from the power of the poems.

Perhaps it’s the thrill of sharing poems driving the popularity of slam. Perhaps it’s the sense of excitement and competition. Or perhaps it’s something deeper. Poetry is one of the world’s oldest art forms, connecting us to our history and our future. Perhaps we need poems. Despite a few shaky decades, it seems poetry, contrary to popular belief, remains alive and well.

Writing From Intuition by Dr. Lesley Phillips

This is a guest article by Dr. Lesley Phillips. Phillips is a speaker, author, workshop leader, spiritual and meditation teacher based in Vancouver BC, Canada; her book, The Midas Tree will be available on 11 November 2012.

There are as many ways to write a book as there are authors. Depending on the writer, and the book, it might be important to do extensive research on the subject matter, location, historical context, even the area of professional expertise of the hero. Some writers take classes from experts and join writers groups to learn the “correct” way to structure and write a novel.

This is great and clearly works for many successful novelists. Coming from a scientific and intellectual background, I certainly can see how this approach makes sense. Although, I also believe that it could be very limiting, as it sets boundaries. If you never cross these boundaries, how can you ever break new ground?

My way was to write from my intuition.

When I wrote my book, I was a workshop virgin. What I mean by this is that I had never attended a class on how to write fiction and so I knew nothing of the prescribed ingredients for a successful novel.

I did after I had written my book and was glad not to have done so before, as it would have made me too critical of my own work to succeed.

I wanted to by-pass my intellect and tap into my creative flow!

So, I meditated on becoming a writer. I connected with my higher consciousness and I released limits to my creativity. After several hours of meditation the floodgates opened. That night I didn’t get any sleep, as the contents of my book were pouring into me in a great surge of creativity.

By morning I had met all the characters of the book and had a complete outline, including the chapter headings and a title The Midas Tree.

Writing was like watching a movie.

When I wrote, I did not concern myself with speller or grammar or composition. After all, that could be taken care of later by a copy-editor. Instead I entered a meditative state where I was able to see the book like it was a film. I could stop and restart at any point, and so could write at my own convenience. There was no writers block; the only limiting factor was my time and availability.

As I did not plan the book, I did not know who the target audience would be until I had a finished draft in my hands. Then I had to take a step back and see what I had created.

I created a Spiritual Adventure Story.

It turns out that The Midas Tree is a spiritual adventure novel that teaches truths about the nature of reality through an allegorical fairy tale. The hero battles with his ego on the journey through the tree, which represents the journey of enlightenment.

The book also includes the meditation techniques that I teach in my classes. It is written a way that makes the information available to children and adults alike.

It is my deepest wish that this book will help children to validate their intuition, as I did, and use it in the most creative and rewarding way for them.

You can learn more about Dr. Lesley Phillips at:

http://www.facebook.com/themidastree 

www.drlesleyphillips.com

You can also find her on Twitter @DrLesleyP, and you can contact her at

Turn Your Town Into a Literary Capital

This is a guest article by Carly Fierro. Fierro is an aspiring writer who currently works for a company that sells classroom desks. In her spare time she loves writing about anything and everything. Fierro loves that blogging allows her to share her writing with people all over the world.

You love books of all kinds, from fiction and biographies to how-tos and humor. You also love talking about books, and you spend your free time checking out the latest and greatest from writers in your area. Well, you would, if your town offered more book-related activities.

The printed word is slowly being replaced by tablets and mobile screens, but that doesn’t mean the thirst for reading has disappeared. If you feel like your town isn’t doing enough for book lovers, some of your neighbors may feel the same way. Make the first move and turn your town into a thriving literary capital.

Host Free Readings

Literary souls are everywhere, even if you can’t easily see them. One of the ways to bring them out is with a monthly reading series, where people enjoy the works of their neighbors or even share their own.

Pick a place that has both the room and the desire to attract local writers and literature lovers; a bar or coffee shop with an open room works well. If you know writers, invite them to read 15-20 minutes of their best works, or make it an open mic night. Promote the event with flyers and social media to spread the word. After a few months, you’ll have larger audiences and a signature literary event in your town.

Start a Literary Magazine

Maybe you were more comfortable sitting at classroom desks than in front of the class when you were in school. You can still bring great writing to your town; just do it in print instead of in person.

Start with your own stories and poems, and add original work from your friends. If you know more book lovers than writers, change the focus of your magazine. Encourage contributors to write book reviews, discuss their favorite books, or even land an interview with a writer. Whether you print it or post it online, a literary magazine is a great way to bring your town together to talk all things literature.

Start a Class

Writing and literature classes make community-centered learning about books not only possible, but fun.

Try hosting a writing class for kids at your school or library. They’ll have fun making up stories, especially if they can make their own books out of craft materials. Host free writing workshops for teens and adults at your local college or community center, or just host a class right in your living room. As people start writing, they start reading and sharing on their own, and your literary town is born.

Reading and writing might be solitary activities, but your love for them needs to be shared with the world. Create programs and activities that make sharing possible.

Getting Water from the Well

This is a guest post from Norma Jean Lutz. Lutz, is an author, speaker, writing instructor, and novel critique consultant. Author of more than 50 published books, she’s been in the writing/publishing industry for more than 30 years. You can visit her website at http://www.beanovelist.com/index.html.

Well of Inspiration

I remember a writing instructor who once said that the subconscious mind is like a deep well and most people never bother to either 1) keep the well filled, or 2) bother to learn how to fetch refreshing water from the well.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the well of inspiration.” Perhaps you’ve even heard someone remark that the well has gone dry. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself.

Keep the Well Filled

For most people, going about their everyday lives, the majority of their thinking is in the conscious mind. Much of what is flitting about in the subconscious is ignored, or tamped down, or scoffed at. Novelists, however, cannot afford such luxury. It is in our best interest to understand, appreciate, and respect the subconscious. We must learn how to keep the well filled; we must learn how to get our inspirational water from that well.

Your conscious mind tends to think in linear, logical fashion. First you have A, then comes B, and after that comes C. No so your subconscious. The subconscious mind work in a web-like fashion making random connections that, at first, may not make much sense. This is part of the reason why that information is easy to ignore.

That subconscious mind of yours wants to communicate; however, it’s often misunderstood. And even more, often underestimated. (Might I add undervalued?)

Amazing Things Happen

Let’s say your subconscious wants to say something, but your first response is, “I don’t want to think about that right now.” Or, “I don’t have time to think about that right now.” Now what happens in any relationship when one party ignores the other? The ignored party becomes discouraged and indifferent. That ignored one may even begin to distance from the one who has treated him so shabbily. Once you begin to recognize and respect your own subconscious, amazing things begin to happen.

In order to be super-productive old Mr. Subconscious needs plenty of stimulation. (Filling your well.) This can be books, odd facts, art, insights, new articles, specimens, interesting data, travel, and on and on. My suggestion is that you do this purposefully, and on purpose. Meaning you know what you are doing, and you are expecting results!

Cooperate

From there, you expect the subconscious to think about the issue (problem? dilemma? plot complication?) and work out the solution. You expect to wake up after a good night sleep with little thoughts skittering around in your mind. Grab them, catch them, write them down. Cooperate.

Sleep is wonderful in that it allows your conscious mind to shut up for a while; it gives the subconscious time and space to function as it is designed to function!

This is how you fill the well. This is how you encourage the subconscious to speak. It’s not something you can rush or force. The learning process takes time.

Your Subconscious is Eager

This may never have occurred to you before, but your subconscious is eager to work with you. It only needs permission to be released.

The subconscious is delighted with all the little bits of stimulating information that is sent its way. Likewise, you (your conscious mind) should be just as delighted – and appreciative – for the nuggets of meaning that the subconscious sends your way.

Most often, information from the subconscious comes as a little idea that pops into your mind almost spontaneously. At first it may seem irrelevant, but accept it at face value. Later, you may find it’s more important than the surface structure you are aware of.

But if not – if it never has any relevancy at all, ever – still and yet, you have just succeeded in learning a principle. You are learning how to get water from the well!

It can be the beginning of a great relationship!

If you need a little help with your novel, you might want to consider the workshops that Lutz has to offer.

When writing a novel, the start can be the scariest part! Yours free! Be A Novelist 15-page Writer’s Workshop entitled: Don’t Dilly Dally at the Starting Gate – How to Start Your Novel with a Bang. http://beanovelist.com/wkshgft.html

Be A Novelist, Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge!

Are you one of those budding novelists who makes a great start but you can’t seem to finish? Then this is for you! Be A Novelist, Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge! Six full months of guidance and instruction. Guaranteed to light a fire under your novel-writing attempts!
http://www.beanovelist.com/finish-my-novel.html