Meaningless, all those hours you spent, Raising your voices, lifting your glasses To Cheer. It was meaningless, harboring that hatred, For a man's skin color and shouting The South shall rise again, everywhere, For their health is endangered while Their mouths run, compassion wins. Meaningless challenges the courts Rule: that the poor can be healthy, Rule: that insurance is a right If you pay for it, and you will pay For it, because we aren't grown up, Not enough that it matters, To hand our gratuitous illusionary cash Over to social programs. To a single system. Meaningless, the lack of tact To hammer over and over what the masses Refuse to understand, that they are part, The most important part, for they work at the Bottom of a triangle and seek to pull themselves From poverty. So they shouted, hated, hurt Made bleed when all they had to do was share. Meaningless, the first one hundred days, While apes jump up and down as the President Learns to color and write his name. Meaningless his statement of KING. I acknowledge no king, emperor, ruler, Whose hearing aid and heart are missing. Meaningless, caught in a box crayons Without benefit of a piece of paper That says "In pursuit of happiness." Scoffing, I bow to mediocrity, pretend I can understand...But I don't. It's all meaningless.
I went to a conference, a winter escape into a writer’s paradise of classes, introductions, and learning to pitch a novel to agents and publishers. The Seymour Agency sponsored it, providing excellent speakers on topics of forensics, crafting a novel, fiction, nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy, romance and mystery. Tor Publishing and Sourcebook spent time working to focus writers so that their books might make that great award in the sky of publishing a novel.
Can you imagine the opportunity to take an ocean cruise, see Nassau and Cozumel, meet exotic people, and spend time working on completing a dream? That’s what this agency did for me. While I was learning the foundations of forensics through the eyes of a woman who was raised by two medical examiners and now consulted with Hollywood to make shows believable, my husband read books, sat in the sun, and took a lot of naps. I think I mentioned that he worked nights and slept days, so we are always at crossed schedules.
I met a lovely young woman named Leslie who is a professional editor. She wanted to show us exactly what a copy editor does. Presenting using an overhead projector, she could have taught any school in Virginia that one third of the Standards of Learning that includes grammar, spelling, cohesiveness, and proper word choice. I think she felt a bit strange, what with most of us being over thirty-five, sitting poised on the edge of our chairs to catch every bullet point. She’s a great example of a woman who knows her craft and loves it. She blushed and smiled at us. She reminds me of a sparrow, always busy, always working, always available to listen. I love sparrows. They are a workforce of correctness with a chirp of encouragement. (Please don’t take offense, Leslie, if you don’t like birds. I mean well.)
The agency was started by Mary Sue Seymour, who died last year from cancer. My friend Andy had submitted to her last summer, and the response she gave him was clear advice, helpful tips, and a push to keep working on his book. He said she was the best refusal he ever received. She was a marathoner, a motivational powerhouse, and a believer in the power of the written world. She was also approachable. I’ve added her to the list of people that we walk for cancer to raise awareness and funding for. Before hearing about her, my list was mostly family. But she deserves to be remembered for her effort, indeed her fight, to care for others to the very end. Writers can be difficult, like herding earthworms who surface and then dive for the depths of the earth to get their quiet writing done.
I met Nicole, a senior agent, via email when I was registering. I told her I was related to Murphy, and boy has this been a year for Murphy. Since September, the family has had three totaled cars, one new baby, one thief, one hospitalization, one set of messed up paperwork, several temper tantrums, sixty hour work weeks for my husband, an angry daughter-in-law, a misplaced Christmas spirit and more. Yes, Murphy and I are more than friends, we must be related. There were bumps and bruises in my registration, and Nicole elevated me to human status and solved everything in less than five minutes. She’s one of those women who see you when you speak, listen to your meaning as well as your words, and gently pushes you in the right direction without your knowing it. On top of that, she’s a mother, wife, powerhouse of knowledge and a compassionate human being. It was my honor to meet her. Because of her, I walked away from the conference confident that I’m on the right path.
I met with Diane from Tor Books over a bottle of water in the champagne bar. I pitched my second book, the one science fiction with a naive but determined group of young women, and she gave me guidance on what genre it was, a space opera, a list of authors to read, and a good push to finish the one I’m halfway through. She was a gracious listener and I was her very last pitch. Publishers don’t usually meet with you face to face. She gave Tor books a gracious personality.
Deb from Sourcebooks, who handles a lot of romances, was hosting Stitch and Pitch sessions at odd times and scheduled times throughout the week. She sat and knitted, or unwound tangled yarn with the assistance of an extra pair of hands from one of the participants, as we learned how to talk about our novels. I don’t think she realizes that her honesty is unusual into todays age. Where things were lacking, she was quick to point them out. Her questions were pointed and she listened to the first words out of your mouth, then refocused you on what you were trying to say. You need to know your genres, your sub-genres, plot, characters and put it into one to three sentences because publishers don’t have a lot of time. Neither do agents. They can receive hundreds of manuscripts in a week and you need to catch the eye quickly. She also said to follow the directions on every agent and publisher’s submission guide. For writers, apparently we aren’t always good at communicating.
First line manuscripts were subjected to panels of participants and agents and evaluated on their originality, quality, and foreshadowing. No one is harder to please that a writer evaluating other writers. There was a panel on what happens when real life occurs and you are trying to write (I qualified for this lecture by more than a handful of life experiences getting in the way.) There was a panel about what genres are selling, one about diversity in literature, another about keywords and social media platforms, and I ran from one to the next with notes on my laptop and scribbled into a green notebook they had given all of us.
I had a good time and learned a lot of new information. It helped heal the pain of losing my mentor ten days before the trip. My husband was impressed that I had so much energy. We were both ready for my collapse when we got off the ship and started the second part of our trip. It took me four days to recover, but when I did I was still really excited. In fact, I hope they are going to sponsor a trip next February. I’m going to go again.
Luck has waxen wings; Flying through rays of glorious yellow With a tail of radiant red. Glaring and daring the sun To deny it a future. Luck has paper wings, Sodden and ground-bound, stricken, Laden with gravity, a leaden power, Which pulls it kite-like Through puddles of tears, betrayed. Luck has feather wings, Ignoring words of failure, mockery. Moving in between tears. Dropping lightly, butterfly like, Starlike, super star, nova. Luck has eternal wings, Laughing at the crowds who flock Like joyous crows before a feast, Who beg her for a morsel. Teasing, Recreating herself endlessly. Luck has lunar moth wings, Dominating the nighttime, peeking Into dreams bereft of reality. Children's dreams, hopes, parent's prayers, Planning a voyage into time. Luck has nimble wings, Speeding past the impossible, Ringing the tones of celebration, Paying out at pinball machines, With paper strips and silver coins. Luck has steam powered wings. No misfortune, nor even tasks To pull one through for she is not idle Hands search, alone in the dark. For her wings Are gossamer ideals put to work. copywrite 2017 Ann WJ White All rights reserved
One or the other, We fain a belief, or do we? A ballot question.
Morning comes with stale coffee lingering in the air.
Dogs in and out, and in, then out. Two words erupt.
Then fall to pieces as likely to grow as limestone.
The cord is missing, my laptop still and thoughtless.
Bright sun burns my eyes, warms my hair,
Overheats the brain straining to find a foothold
In actions positive and bright. But the morning hour,
With its teasing laughter, places me in an arid state.
Atmosphere, dry as my mouth, nothing grows today.
Pages to remain blank. Inkless as the well in which
I dip my pen while seeking some other way,
I wish to be in the barren deserts of sand in
Timbuktu, where treasures lie beneath,
Hidden for centuries. Their gift? Knowledge
For the eyes of Africa, hidden from the French,
Manuscripts of jeweled splendor, golden highlights,
Speaking of mysteries solved long ago.
Surrounding a barren land with science, government, humanity.
Like cacti, needling those who would steal their worth.
These documents from the twelfth century, thirteenth,
Fourteenth, Fifteenth. Poetry of the stars to linger.
I would linger in the libraries and ponder how, in an arid desert,
The jewels of creativity could bloom and grow.
I would dally at the question posed of a green world.
How could I, in the setting of new leaves and buds,
Think myself without the soil of imagination?
Such a silly thought that morning is more dry, than the
Deserts of Mali or the great Sahara. Perhaps tea
to motivate and enervate? Or a simple peeled orange?
I write the words that do not rhyme. Poetry it's called. It called me. Do my words scatter in the wind? The breeze that takes the poems Blows through Spring, Summer and Fall. Am I part of a rainbow of particles? When you read me, the real me, do you scoff or do you ask for more? Is it the bare soul that offends? I travel leagues as a digital dot On a web of transparent knowledge Looking to see if I can become a snowflake. I travel to far away lands, to the seas. Each stop I leave part of myself And take part of you away to show. No, not the lover, but the friends That are with me for a breath Before the wind scatters us again. I write the words that do not rhyme. I am a poet, seemingly out of time. From the safety of my sofa, I watch. The world frightens me these days. Words are harsh once again. Dreams are dismissed as lies. But I will continue to look for Those who hold the end of the rainbow. Have you seen me passing with the wind? Catch me and hold me. Hold me close. Take the hole in my heart and fill it With a sense of purpose. Please? Am I alone? Do you see the star I came from?
Translate my pain into inspiration.
A grief that turns my heart to sterling,
A metal that will not leave me stranded,
A mourning that imbeds a jasper arrowhead.
He has gone, looping his words between
His memory and mine. Remaining.
Older brother of soul, teacher of order,
He had taken Valentines, paper cutouts,
Red hearts and Pink silliness,
Dark visions combating the light.
Wrapped them in cushions of unsweetened
Advice, given freely, powerful in their
Scent of citrus, their odor of sage.
Wholesome and forgiving. He listened.
Silence now that his breathing
Has erred on the side of quiet.
His heart filled with the love
A teacher has for student.
Transient as they grow, but his eternal.
I must write to find my heart again
Where I laid it out for him.
How many, many types of love there are.
So many ways taking the crystal bonds,
Which when broken remain
In our memory of precious laughter,
Honest criticism, layers upon layers of
Rebuilding. He gave these seeds to us
To plant in our inner gardens, to bloom.
Watered by tears of grief, blinked,
They will grow. Tiny green hopes, words,
Writer to writer. Clearing weeds
Nourishing plots of future dreams.
I hear his voice in the wind
Teasing me, scolding me, holding me close.
Calling me to finish what I had begun,
To love those he loved, to work, to stand
On two feet knowing he believed in us.
We must carry his gift to us,
The world’s visions, the expected literacy.
Must share our voices, must care, we must,
Even when the caring scares and scars us.
His footprints stay with us, his books,
His stories, his belief that the world
Must read, write, share and pass
The compassion of an old friend to a new.
We carry him now, heart to heart.
We will honor him by our words, soon.
But written as the storms come,
Rain beating the earth in a primal flood
As he flows away from us, following the flood
Of our sorrow. The transportation of our hearts,
Flooded and sitting now filled with salty tears.
Our memories are precious, sketch in words,
Written as the tears streak, but forming
Wary wry smiles, smiles that will not betray.
Oh the memory of those smiles, he loved us.
I will carry him with me in my pocket of life.
Filled with random pebbles, coins, a leaf,
An acorn or two, a magic ring, a fallen star.
This hole of sorrow, this well of loss,
Fill it with swords, shields, puppies
Pictures, mystery, letters, trials,
Hopes and dreams. Do not forget…
You see, I loved him.
I loved him as brother, father, friend,
Mentor, teacher, and confidant.
Bill Manville, of Sacramento, California died on Valentine’s Day 2017. He was a published author, a teacher, a traveler, radio host, copywriter, U.S. Army Veteran and dearly loved by Beverly. He ran a class on the internet called Writing to be Published. He was a well loved member of AA.
Volunteering at his local library, he ran a class on writing that was open to the public. He understood the need, the urge, to write and that writers need support at all levels of their ability. Being a gruff, loving, inspiring man, he passed the gift of what he had learned to others with an open heart. Whether the class succeeded of not, he urged them on. Revising, placing students in groups to evaluate each other, support each other, he gave us a rare gift of insight into ourselves.
He worked tirelessly in the pursuit of helping others escape the madness of addiction, remaining anonymous except for his first name. If a song represented his attitude towards others it might have been this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjhCEhWiKXk also know as Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” He accepted people as they are. Truly a testament for human to be remembered as, Bill was “amazing” just the way he was. Of course you would have to change to words from girl to guy. Volunteering as a rehab clinic volunteer, he understood that by helping others he would help himself remain successful as a long-term sober recovering addict.
Celebrated as a Book of the Month author, he also worked as an editor for Cosmo, contributed columns to the Village Voice, Key West Solares Hill, The New York Daily Times and the Huffington Post. Magazine articles appear in The Fix, Cavalier Magazine, the Saturday Evening Post. He published his books through MacMillan Publishers, Duel, Sloan and Pearce, Simon and Schuster, NAL, Delacorte, Dell/Random House, BSForge Press and Tor Publishing. His works include: Cool Hip and Sober, Goodbye, Saloon Society, The Man who Left his Wife and Had a Nifty Time, Writing to Be Published, and Breaking up. He was a contributor to the fourth edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (commonly called The Big Book at meetings.)
Bill also hosted a radio show, Addictions and Answers on KVML in Sonoma CA, which delved into real stories of the struggles faced by others dealing with alcohol addiction. With over forty years of research into the material he had available to him, he was able to paint a realistic picture of the process of becoming sober, something that was both a personal and social matter of importance. He believed in the process of sobering up as a lifelong purpose. One of the transcripts of a show he hosted with Dr. Dave More is available through the NYDailyNews.com, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/parents-cope-moms-dads-turn-kids-ambien-adderall-day-article-1.1092155.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania, but graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. His next stop was the University of the Mediterranean, Nice where he explored life in all of its fullness and color. As his works were being published, he was encouraged to begin teaching. So he did. He was a member of LinkedIn where he looked for aspiring authors to take his online course.
No one can summarize the character, love, production and history on a single page and with such short notice. I have done the best I can. So a final toast: To all who aspire to sobriety or writing, we have loved him, learned from him, and will never regret that opportunity he shared with us.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Oh, my, the face of the political machine. Grim faces, hollow eyes, lies after lie, One citizen who stands, remembers, raises a fist protesting, In a game, a silly game, where men tackle men, Where brains are shaken, battered and bruised, So that humans may be equal. Why his fist now? Why raised in protest? His brothers in arms, From the streets he escaped, are beaten, broken, With trials valid only in confusion. Murder and Murderers wear badges that shame the men and Women who give their hearts to the law. Young black women, volleyball champions, From a high school, a high school that Sent countless youth to futures lacking hope, now those That were uncertain, rise. With pride born of knowledge, These teenagers, born in the poor side of town, Bear witness to the deeds of the bully pulpit. Against Which female athletes rise for equality that Great-grandmothers and fathers raised in conflict earned. Denied for decades, for a century now. Time flies, promises fall And the hatred based on color, sexual preference, sex. Even sex still. An amendment to a constitution that Gave women the power to make decisions, to be independent, Yet we are dictated as to how our lives must center itself on trust, Color should be celebrated. Voices raised in black churches. Voices raised in protest. Signs written, petitions filed, Congressmen and women elected that see us, hear us, raise us to The seriousness of action, against inaction, refusing quiet. These must become our battle flag. A voice that steadies. So powerful that it rocks a nation of quiet shame, Of angry men and women, of injustices and just protests. We allow the beatings of First Nation peoples as their Water turns black with oil and greed. Tall and proud They stand, fearing nothing but inaction. A president Feeding on the profits he earns while his ears are closed To the Appeal for commonsense. We should be a Nation Of commonsense, looking for the future of all of us. "We the people" in earnest reformation "Of the United States of America" the beautiful, the possible. "For liberty and Justice for all" shall carry a message of the cause Justice, Of the welfare promised, of the charge that we be given "happiness." For "We the People of the United States, in Order to form A more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote The general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty To ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish This Constitution for the United States of America." This is the promise for which protests are just. This the hope of the poor, to be seen and raised. The middle class, the wealthy. How mighty the voice As it pours into the streets? A wave of determination. Protestors meet immigrants with signs. Hello! Welcome! Mighty the wave of compassion while we are poisoned By the water we buy. Action instead of promises broken. Promise that we are the real voice of our nation, The serious citizens of the United States, willing to resist Compounding moments of shame formed by greed, fear and hate. An interest rate we are unwilling to pay anymore. We are, Willing to love, include, protest for equality and against a voice that should never have emerged. The ugly voice of racism, hatred, fear and indifference. Pledging allegiance to a flag of action. Protecting The welfare of all Americans, not just the few. Brothers, Fathers, Sisters, Mothers bring your seriousness To bear on the foolishness of folly in office. We are a union of action shouting at the sound of profit Born on the backs of the common citizen who works. Serious times need serious measures they say. We rise to the Call for justice for all, just like we pledged In elementary schools, middle schools, military, congresses Where the idea of patriotism was a promise to action. Raise fists so that truth will come. We rise. We pledge.
I laughed so hard, I fell over.
Overwhelming, the number of letters Your soul can handle, Before it all comes crashing done. Twelve letters, rolled off the tongue, Held in abeyance only by the off switch. How? Why? And the answers pull me Into a world I do not know. Positions on humanity that spout And sputter into being based On a nameless fear of something... Political parties spare for the news Broadcasting a descent from known facts Until even the broadcasters must turn away. Limits on being human, kind, mindful, Actions based on color, mindset, empty empathy. "Don't let them in." No, not out either, For a four year old refugee might Play games of war as youth becomes teen. It's a ridiculous argument, Holding that a sixty-five year old... Change all that was good, helpful, given As a gift from government. Make it void of Color or charm and let me scream My frustration at the overwhelming hatred Of bigots, fanatics, tv viewers... They sing a song of hatred, without A single why. One hundred thousand visas, Cancelling hope. Banks cheering, burdens given, Regulations falling, Morality redefined Millions of mothers standing, fist raised to the morn. Overwhelming, twelve letters becoming twenty-four. Discourse to hold off the helplessness Of being Disabled, a woman, unable, wished able, To make the world step back into sanity. Not the globe, My world, my resolve, my liberty. You threaten me at your peril, for I think. I write. I protest and resolve. I turn, I hide nothing, I am...and being I must Prevent this overwhelming sense of doom. Overwhelmed as we rise, surrounded by void. By Twelve letters that roll off the tongue. Easy letters. Ts and Ls, Es, O, a G. Government stating that there are none of the above. Twelve letters that hold us back. W, V, R, H, M Twelve letters to define the abject despair, Actively adding the ing to the pile We face now, with limits on rights, hopes, dreams, loves, friends, health, Overwhelming. And continuing...