The Crime of a Life Sentence (another excerpt)

*Currently untitled poem*

 

I was swinging

Hair flying

Laughing to myself

Memory running wild

 

Devil’s on the playground

Here to erase my woes

God turned his back on me

Now I live where the fires glow

 

Back and forth

My memory goes

I struggle to keep my eyes shut

I need to live where the fires glow

 

Let me stay in peaceful dream

Bottomless and salty

The pitt of the damned

Where the fires glow

 

Some voices, they urge me

Face your slave master

But the fires beg me

Cover your eyes for sanity

 

Devil, he holds me

Gently in his arms

God’s gone, sweet child

So stay here, where the fires glow

 

The fires

Avengers of my goodness and dignity

I’m safe nowhere

Where the fires don’t glow

 

Wanda S. Paryla Copyright 2016

 

 

 

A New Look

Good day to you all.

I’m all too happy to admit how much my author/writer friends have, unknowingly, inspired me to not give up my craft.

Several times over the past couple of years, I’ve mentioned on Facebook how hard it’s become for me to write. Once upon a time, the words flowed like water to wine. Like rapids even. Then one day, they were seemingly gone. Dried up. It went beyond writer’s block. The words were just gone. It was so bad that I asked the doctor if I could be getting Alzheimer’s. I was lost.

But my hopes that the words would return to me were kept alive vicariously through others. I’d watch their progress, secretly cheering them on. Their words and the thrill of performing their craft were not lost. Quite the contrary.

Recently, I got very ill. And as I lay in my hospital bed the first week in January waiting for the cardiologist to tell me I had some terrible heart ailment (luckily and thankfully, my heart & arteries are as exquisite and tough as Ethan Hunt), I was also very lucky. Due to these terrifying circumstances, I had some time to go over the good old mistakes-made list. I got a chance to see what many others never get to. My heart appears healthy.  But no one knew that for sure at the time.

Alone in the middle of the night – hooked up to all sorts of scary, beeping shit – in an all too quiet room in the cardiac unit, perhaps dying at 46, I was scared shitless as this Scorpio held back her emotions.

Hell, if I died, I was not going out all dramatic like a pussy. Heck, no. I’m Scorpio. I rule death. And if She’s coming for me, she better have 40 silver fucking pitchforks.

Regardless of how worried this warrior pretended not to be, death nor sleep ever came.

At the top of my mistakes-made list was not the things that I thought would be there such as vacations I didn’t take, the kids I didn’t birth, or sorrow at fights with family members. Nothing about a Master’s degree, or the lottery, or all the sugar I’ve consumed in my lifetime. Not even apologies never spoken.

There were two things there. Two sorrows. They are: never loving in return the men that loved me; never giving them a chance. They DID love me. I know that now.

The next is: giving up on my writing for reasons truly unknown to me at the time. I was beaten into submission by me, but had no clue.

Some who know me chalked up the lost interest in writing to depression, sadness, anger, etc. All sorts of barriers. A couple of thrifty pals delegated it to my recent obsession with fixing my past. Or my desire to live there, which actually may have caused my sadness. Maybe they are correct. It was destroying me on many levels. Keeping me blind to all the good; allowing me to only see the bad. I was drowning.

I had no idea what was going on. Maybe I was blind on purpose. That happens, you know? I think I’ve been fighting my age. Maybe those who are older than I know what I mean.

So I enjoyed watching my writer friends. I think if there was no Internet,  I might not have had access to them and who knows where I’d be now. In what state of mind.

They are all winners. And despite that I wasn’t writing, they didn’t treat me any differently than they had years ago. They let me stay in the winner’s circle while, unknowingly, hanging on to me by threads.

I’ve been ill before and hospitalized. But never with something potentially life-threatening.  Life ending. For awhile I was like, “FTW? Figures.” But, while we’re still searching for answers, I’m very much alive. My mistakes-made list is changeable because I’m not dead yet. It’s changeable because I’ve seen others change directions many times.

Scorpio may rule death, but also rebirth. I’m reborn. It’s not time to return to the Underworld just yet. The gods have forced my eyes toward what I should see: the good. This goes beyond writing. It encompasses my spirituality and beliefs. It extends to who I know, where I live, as well as to my abilities of storytelling. My ancestors have given me a gift, and I’m still alive to use it. I should not abuse that.

My advice: do not fight the inevitable.  Change only what can certainly be moved. Let the rest go.

Thank you for reading.

-Wanda

The Crime of a Life Sentence (excerpt)

Hello there!

Please enjoy this excerpt from my book-in-progress of original poetry, tentatively titled The Crime of a Life Sentence. As mentioned in my previous blog, the publication dates of this work as well as the sequel to Someday Always Comes – The Devil Plays Dice – have been pushed into 2017. I am expecting to publish this particular book April 2017.

The poems in this book have been written over many, many years and when I post an excerpt some will have the original copyright dates.

(Please find the link to my previous blog below this post – I’ve inserted one and there’s the link back under this post if my link doesn’t work.)

 

CRYING AT MIDDAY

Crying at midday
I cannot find the right words to say
What I feel is lost

Staring into space
I recall another time with grace
What I feel is lost

My heart breaks in two
Heart bounded by the tragedy of you
What I feel is lost

I strive to not see
Myself and you surrounded by defeat
What I feel is lost

Copyright 2015 Wanda S. Paryla

 

FALLTIDE

Mysterious sounds creeping
While ravens call weeping
And wait on bare branch swaying

Triangle-eyed, round pumpkins smile wide
Cats use shadows to hide
Orange light seeping out bright

And crackling fires warm the eve
While crisp, crackles the leaves
Fall’s arrived; Winter’s nearby

Copyright 2013 Wanda S. Paryla

 

 

The Devil Plays Dice – excerpt

 

The Devil Plays Dice – Excerpt (and other work)

Greetings! Thanks for reading.

This is a Chapter One excerpt of The Devil Plays Dice – the sequel to Someday Always Comes. This is totally raw and unedited, so beware of crazy wording, long winded-ness, and odd grammar.  😉

The targeted publication date for this sequel was originally September 2016, however, I am embarking on a mid-life career change and moving from Illinois to Texas this coming summer, 2016. So I’ve had to push back the target date to Spring 2017 simply due to editing and cover graphic processes and expenses. But I want my readers, blog visitors, and friends to know that I am writing and working to bring them the best work that I can.

I have my eye set on 2017 for the self-publication of The Devil Plays Dice as well as a book of original poetry currently titled The Crime of a Life Sentence. There is another project I have in the works but I’m not sure where on the wheel of the year that will fall, if in 2017 at all.

I’ll add  excerpts from other chapters, as well as poetry from The Crime of a Life Sentence, and I’ll add information as I go along over the next months and try to keep everyone up to date on the process.

Happy Reading! And thank you for your patience.

 

THE DEVIL PLAYS DICE

 

Our house was in total bedlam with cops and emergency personnel buzzing all around. Hypnotizing red, white and blue lights swirled around the neighborhood like disco balls possessed, ricocheting off buildings, cars, trees; the driveway. It was Spring Break, 2010, but for me it was more like Independence Day, as the strobe lights pierced the twilight like the rainbow colors of sky rockets on the Fourth of July.

 
It was déjà vu, and despite the iron fencing and the fact that our home was far from the street with a driveway two city blocks long separating the road from us, I knew the neighbors and the press had their faces smashed against the vertical bars of the front gates.

 
I’d experienced such bedazzlement before. But this time it was all slow motion to me and came with a much higher price: the newspapers, magazines, and TV news stations to name a few. For heaven’s sake, what were we going to do? The usually reclusive lifestyle my family and I enjoyed was now busted to pieces.

 
God, how I hoped there would be a lesson for the public in this one. Otherwise, my daughter was just a murderer. Plain and simple.

 
My husband, Seth, tried to talk to me but I couldn’t really understand what he said. I stood leaning up against one of the pillars of our front porch. I slid down it landing on the top stair, head in hands, crying like a fool. Emotionally and physically drained, I just didn’t know what else to do. I thought this wouldn’t happen to me ever again. That it couldn’t happen.

 
And then there was Detective Ron Rosales. Yes, you read right. Rosales. He was there too. He was always there. Remember all those things I’d said about cops in the past? Well, Rosales turned out to be different. He kept up with me over the years for the most part. Always checking in on how I was and keeping up with the births of my kids. He and his wife, Anna, visited us now and then, and we them. Getting together for barbecues and such. Anna came to all my baby showers. They didn’t come to our wedding, of course, since we got married so far away and Rosales had to work. Crime doesn’t stop for a trip to the Virgin Islands.

 
Of course, I called him Ron ever after. When my kids were tots, they’d lovingly call him, Detective Ronny. He rushed to Wilmette from Chicago when he heard through the fast-and-furious police grapevine what had occurred at my house. But, I’m not sure if his being there made me feel any better. It did a bit, legally, but not really emotionally. Nothing made it better, despite that he understood me. I never saw this mess coming.

 
The half hour or so before the Wilmette cops showed up were the worst minutes of my life. Now I know what you’re thinking. You read Someday Always Comes, didn’t you? You’re saying, hell no! Something can be worse than some of the episodes in that story?

 
When I finally looked up, my eyes fell on my twelve-year-old daughter, Audra. She was perched on a stone bench in our front yard, poised like a warrior queen, looking at me pitifully as I cried like an idiot. My aunt, Kathy –formerly known as Kiki, sat by her side holding her hand. My lifelong friend, Brianna, stood nearby with her arms folded biting her lower lip, trying to hold back her tears as she nervously turned this way and that way looking for answers she’d never find.

 
Poor Audra. It should’ve been me by my kid’s side, not Kathy. But, I just couldn’t do it. My Audra was way too proud to take my love and coddling. She seems made of stone, that girl. I swear it. I have no idea where she gets that from.

 

No. I could not take care of her. I felt responsible for the whole thing. Seth and me, both. Then there was Kathy and Brianna. They were there too. Nothing we could have done would have change anything. We couldn’t protect the babies. We tried but there was just no way. There’s no way you can do anything when desperate, criminally insane men have their automatic weapons turned on your kids.

 
All our kids were there. Not just mine, but Brianna’s and Kathy’s too. We had no idea where Audra and Diana were when those terrible men busted into our home to terrorize us. But then, an infinite time later, came Audra out of nowhere from below, like a wizard. Like, Rambo.

 
For the first time in many years, terrible menace visited me once again and this time I had no idea how things would turn out. And now that my kid shot a monster, I had serious reservations about Audra’s future as the authorities carried away the body of a dead man-beast from our formerly peaceful abode, all zipped up in a vinyl bag. Yes, it was worse than ever before.

 
What could we do? Despite there were so many of us adults, we were in no position to tackle two madmen with guns and put the kids’ lives in jeopardy, or risk the children seeing one of us killed. I wanted to shield the children. I would’ve died for any of them. Mine, Brianna’s, Kathy’s; even my son, Bret’s, best friend, Donald. Jesus, there was another woman’s child in my house. And his mom wasn’t there. Don’t you people understand that? Another woman who expected me and Seth to guarantee the safety of her son; a woman we’ve known since Bret started kindergarten ten years earlier.

 
There stood Donald, all wide eyed and breathing heavy. Both scared and shocked, but yet I’d look at him and see the wheels turning. He was trying as hard as the rest of us to figure a way out of the mess.

 
And there we all were. All of us with our hands in the air…Seth and me, Brianna, Kathy; dare I say, even my twenty-year old son, Brandon. And we were helpless as one of the crazy monsters waved a gun at my two year old daughter, Abby, threatening me with her life as she cried and sucked on her fingers.

 
Well, there was only one chance…and once the intruders were distracted, Audra shot one of them and killed him. In an instant, instinctively Seth, Brandon, Bret and Donald jumped on the remaining man and nearly beat him to a pulp, wrestling the gun away, as Brianna and Kathy grabbed and ushered the other children out of harm’s way. We always taught our kids to face trouble head on, and Audra did that, despite she had to shoot the prick in the back.

 
Audra did it. She committed murder to save the rest of us. See, I know deep down it’s not about adults versus children. It’s who’s in the position to do the job right, and are they sharp enough, smart enough, steady enough to do what needs to be done if presented with the opportunity to try to put an end to a frightening, potentially deadly situation. And my Audra was, as any of my intelligent children might have been. God knows, they’re all smarter than their mom.

 
Really though, we never know how things will turn out until after we take a chance. Sometimes we are forced to do things we would not normally do for the people we care about; for those who mean the most to us. Sometimes, a bigger tragedy can be stopped by a smaller one, like taking the life of one man, er…fiend, to save the lives of several innocents. We can’t know how things will turn out when we set out with an idea or goal in mind. No matter how safe or scared you feel, no matter how much you plan or don’t plan, care or don’t care…doesn’t matter…just throw any scenario out there. You never know what’s going to happen during the means to an end.

 
Unfortunately for most of us, knowledge comes after the roll of the dice. And we still keep playing.

 

Copyright 2015 Wanda S. Paryla

Happy Thanksgiving!

image

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, friends.

Today, I’m not looking back. I’ve had a 50/50 year. Plenty of things to be thankful for, and some that upset or frightened me.

But there’s so much that I’m looking forward to in 2016 and even 2017. I feel blessed even just for the possibilities.

I’ve learned a few hard lessons this year. But what I’m giving thanks for today is that, during 2015, I’ve learned to look forward and not back. Living in the past does nothing for us.

And on the same note, living for others does nothing for us either. When every decision we make is centered on how the opposite choice — the choice we really want — might anger or hurt someone else, we’re living to please others. Or to keep the peace. It is not a smart thing to do.  It kills our spirit; causes anxiety and depression.

I’ve shucked that off. I have decided that I will not carry responsibilities that are not rightfully mine.

I cannot continue to be where I don’t want to be. And even though I do not like the geographical area in which I currently live, I’m not just talking about a place. I’m talking about a space. Sacred space in the head and heart.

My gift to myself is to let go. That’s my plan anyway. My agenda for 2016 is to move back to Texas and pursue a midlife career change teaching. That, my friends, scares the heck out of me. As some of you can probably attest, changing careers anytime after about 43 is excruciating,  especially since often you’re absolutely new to the field.

I had planned to self-publish something new in Fall 2016. However, with all this activity going on — my full-time job complete with nearly 3 hours of round trip travel per day, working overtime, completing a teacher certification course, making moving plans, now the holidays — that part if my agenda has been pushed back. I’m still writing, just not at a pace that will afford finishing any novel complete with a professional edit and cover by Fall 2016.

In my spare time, which is very limited now due to my teacher courses, I’m working on putting together a book of original poetry tentatively titled The Crime of a Life Sentence. The book is put together so that by publication, each chapter will represent a decade of my life to date. My hope was to definitely put that out October or November 2016. I’m still trying.

2017 holds a great deal of promise for self-publishing for me. If I don’t get my poetry book out in 2016, it’ll be ready for for 2017. Also in 2017, I’m expecting to FINALLY! publish The Devil Plays Dice — the sequel to Someday Always Comes, as well another project.

My moving back to Texas wasn’t planned over months.  One day in August, something aweful happened. My heart was broken. My feelings hurt. My anger spiked so high it would later land me at the physician’s office. And I’d had enough. I said, screw it. And after a couple of weeks of pondering and researching, I made a choice — right or wrong.

The hardest thing for me to work past was the idea that one person or another will get angry, hurt, or be sensitive to my choice in some other way and lash out at me, which usually  happens anyway. I’ve readied myself if the shit hits the fan, and I’m ready to hold fast when that wall of negativity comes at me. It’s okay. I’m attempting this prison break, folks, no matter what.

And while I’m looking forward, to my new path,  I want to thank my past for teaching me how to work in the present while looking ahead, and to stop living my life based on how someone else might, or will, feel about my choices because of how the choices might affect their life.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy positive changes for us all.

When Your Own Writing Sickens You…

Book fire

 

That’s right. You read the title correctly.

 
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever looked at a pile of your own manuscript sitting there, just minding its own business as it has for an undocumented amount of time, and you hate it? Just the thought of flipping through it makes you want to vomit. Or leave the house?

 
Maybe you’ve got a bunch of work saved on your hard drive, flash drive, or in Drop Box – or some other “cloud” archive, and the thought of opening it and looking at even the title of one or more of that crap makes you want to drink vodka. Have you experienced that?

 
Okay, so, those are extreme. (Maybe for you, but not for me.)

 
I had been going like mad. Muse was hitting me with ideas and storylines and character development like she was hurling mud pies at me. I had all I could do to keep up…or duck. You all know what mud pies are? I don’t think there’s a place in the world where anyone under the age of, maybe 35, isn’t familiar with a mud pie. But one cannot be sure. I’m sure. Haha.

 
Anyway, so there we were – her and I, just plugging along. A new idea, a new chapter. An old idea, a few new paragraphs. My notebook is half full of ideas and all the juicy things that go with them. Oh yes, a mile a minute.
Then, nothing. A few months ago, I hit a brick wall. No, I did not get writer’s block. It wasn’t even procrastination. It was plain old, bonafide….something. Something bad. Laziness is wrong. Maybe it was something more like depression, but that’s not really accurate either. I just stopped. I had just got finished writing a line and stopped for the day. I saved everything, turned off the computer, and that was it. That was all I wrote.

 
Oh, I tried a few things. Tried to look at stuff. Then my own writing made me sick. I hated it. I came so close to deleting months, even years of work. But I couldn’t do it. I would imagine myself printing everything out and burning it in the street.

 
Then I went numb and found myself just doing nothing. And the truth is I did not give one stinky hoot. Really. I was like, “Yay! I’m free! No more writing.” Oh boy. Then I’d get upset and feel guilty.

 
Then it set in hard. This depression-like feeling. And as silly as it sounds, I didn’t relate it to my writing. I mean, my lack thereof. Months went by. In fact, much of this year has gone by and my writing has just been lying around dormant for most of the months that have passed.

 
I started Chicago Down. Then, I worked on Angel Maker. Then I started slacking. Then some odd tale with no name came into my mind. I wrote 3,000 words then stopped again. I really did as I said. I shut down the computer and never did anything else.

 
Starting around the Independence Day weekend, I started thinking about myself. Not in a narcissistic kind of way. Just about my past in general. I always felt I had some talent lurking somewhere. Ever since I was a kid. Talent for writing fiction. I also had interest in directing movies or making music videos. I went to broadcasting school in my early twenties. Many people don’t know that. I think I would have made a good deejay.

 
I thought I’d make a great this or that throughout my lifetime. Unfortunately, I never tried a great many of those things. There were some I did try, but didn’t take them far enough to even glimpse a result.

 
Starting and finishing my book, Someday Always Comes, was a great accomplishment for me where my interests lie. But now it sits on a virtual Amazon shelf over two years after publication all alone. My very own love, my pride and joy. My very own Gone with the Wind. I didn’t know what to do with it. I’m broken-hearted about it. How can I revive it?

 
I’ve been considering other authors I’m familiar with, whose growth I have witnessed in the world of writing and publishing, and public relations, etc. I’ve been bearing in mind what they’ve been doing and how they accomplish what they do or what they have in the past. Then I was thinking about myself with those things in mind.

 
I think I got ho-hummed over my failure to promote, or to know how to promote, Someday Always Comes. I feel the story is worth reading. Really, I do. I caused its failure. That makes me sad. And, to go a step further, I did not know how to redeem it after interest dropped. More and more time went by and then I just gave up, citing the book is too old to revive. But after thinking about others that I know have talent – and how they succeeded, or at least keep an active voice in the publishing and self-publishing worlds, I see my awful, passive mistakes. I knew they were there all along. I did. I knew. I just refused to look because I might feel even worse than I had been previously.

 
But after looking at my work – all this work lying around on the floor, on flash drives, just all around, I did not feel worse. Sure, I felt brainless while milling it over. Then I thought, “Why are you crying over spilled milk when there’s more in the refrigerator? Here’s a towel – clean it up, Silly!”

 
Yes, I talk to myself like that often. But don’t overlook the whole point. Or even half of the point. I knew immediately that I had to stop this. I’ve been doing this crap most of my adult life: being negative toward myself and giving up on my projects; my interests. I’ve also found that when those closest to me do not care about my projects, or support me, I give up on them more quickly. I find my excitement fizzles out. I get a “No one cares. So who cares anymore? Not me,” attitude and I stop working the project, and even stop talking about it or other ideas.

 
I often long for other writers to talk to about my work. But I don’t know anyone personally, here in the same area. I don’t even know if I can be active member of any physical writing group. I have this phobia about my work. I really do. I know some of you do too. How do you get past the fear of sharing your unfinished work and it being stolen. Yeah, like someone wants to steal from me. Actually, the truth is, I had something stolen from me once many, many years ago. I guess the experience still makes me uneasy.

 
Ok. So no one cares. My sister doesn’t care. My brother doesn’t care. My niece doesn’t care. My mom, now she is always ready to listen to me. She doesn’t read anymore, but she likes me to read my work to her. When I read it, she “hears” my mistakes or any odd language or sentences. She’s always been a great help. But I have no one else to support me. Or anyone to talk to about what I do. And the sad thing is, they just do not care. My family situation is a blog for another day. In truth, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that I do not get support from them.

 
But wait. What the hell? No one cares? Some do. My readers do. They’ve said so. It’s been helpful to have their support and to have people that show curiosity. I admit that. But, hell. I care too. Fuck all those who are born to care due to their role in my life. If they do not give a damn enough about me or my work to read my book, screw it! I care about it. My 20 fans and readers care. I have a few friends that care.

 
The writing. It’s what is mine. And guess what my family of uncaring meanies, I do have fans. A few prized diamonds in the rough, they are. My small bundle of joy. I have a coworker who read Someday Always Comes, and I share my other work with her. She gives me nothing but praise. She has passed my book all around the office. She tells everyone that I am a great writer. I love it. Yes, yes I do. Even if she is stretching the truth a bit, it’s okay.

 
Support from family, friends, even coworkers means everything. However, with all the ups and downs – like mine…family doesn’t care, coworkers do care…I think as writers we should pick and choose our support – not the other way around. What I mean is, we need to seek it out. If we just stand around waiting for it…we’d be waiting for ages. I took a chance on telling a coworker who reads a lot about my book. She’s an avid reader and has given me overwhelming feedback. See? I would not have gotten a new fan and great feedback if I didn’t take a chance on her. Seek it. Don’t wait for it to find you.

 
Suddenly, I feel revived. I feel my accomplishments like I never had in the past. I feel all those half-finished manuscripts calling me. I feel the readers waiting for them. I do, I feel it. Can you feel it?

 

Conspiracy – What’s It Mean?

Greetings!

I posed this on my private Facebook page and I thought I’d present this question on my blog here as well. This will also feed to Twitter, my Facebook author page and other sites. I hope you will lend me some feedback if the subject strikes you as interesting at all. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.  🙂

From Facebook:

HELP! What do you think of when you see or hear the word, CONSPIRACY?

Is a conspiracy only a plan for the future, or something that has occurred in the past? Or can a conspiracy remain so even as it’s being played out? Does that make sense?

I’m asking because I am struggling with using it in a book title. Some of you may recall my “The Adam Conspiracy” which is the working title of one of my babies that’s been on the shelf, then off again, for years. I pull it out for inspiration usually. But I believe the time is coming for it to not go back upon the shelf. Now I am struggling with the title. It’s always kept me focused, but I am not sure what “The Adam Conspiracy” will mean to a person before they read the back cover or skim a page.