Thursday, May 26, 2016

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Due to the festivities, I will post again the following Monday. Have fun and be safe!

If you find the time, go back to previous posts and enjoy the variety from Short Stories, poetry, things of interest, and more.

Thanks for being a much appreciated RainingVoices blog reader =) 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Short Stories & Such 24: The Afterlife

The Afterlife

The screaming.
Painful screaming that pushed the inner ear on itself like a battered drum.

Roman clasped the thick mane on his head the higher he ascended in this world turned in a black and white spiral. Once it all became white, he knelt on the ground. Though, he could not see the ground or the corners to this place, his fingers felt the warmth of the surface. The pain left him as a shadow soothed his face.

“Welcome, Roman.”

A man in a white gown approached him, his bare feet visible with each step taken. His hair was shoulder length and wavy, but Roman couldn’t make out his face as the brightness of the space blinded him.

“Who… who are you?”

“Don’t you recognize me?”

Slowly, Roman rose from kneeling. “You’re Uncle Maximo.” He shook his head, but the Uncle still stood there, watching every move he made, “I don’t understand… you’re dead.”

“And I have been dead for a very long time.” His hand reached out to Roman.

Roman stepped back, unsure of where he was.

“Do not be afraid.”

“What is this place?”

“You’ve died and gone to heaven.”

“Heaven? Heaven’s supposed to be a paradise… trees, a garden, flowers, people.”

Roman turned every which way and found the same white space inclosing them both. This was not how he imagined heaven to be or how he would have liked to be greeted.

“This is the entrance to heaven.” The Uncle tugged his gown and gestured for Roman to follow him, “Come, you will know what to expect of your afterlife.”

As Uncle Maximo proceeded forward, Roman felt they moved in the same place, nothing had changed.

“You see there,” the Uncle pointed into the white abyss, “there is the paradise you seek.”

“I see nothing but emptiness.”

The Uncle smiled like the Mona Lisa and turned in the direction he pointed. “You will live here and carry on as the Angels aide. They will ask for assistance in earth matters and you will provide it.”

“How am I gonna do that?” Roman lifted his arms and turned about in a half circle. “I don’t have any special skills. I was a bank teller.”

“You will know. Open your heart and you will believe.”

Roman squint, trying hard to focus in the white void before him. He thought about the secret pictures in a book where the image was hidden from the naked eye. He opened and closed his eyes multiple times. Then, another thought popped into his head, but he decided to wait after the strange tour.

Uncle Maximo stopped walking, and said, “Here it is.”

“What is?”

“Your new home in heaven…”

Roman still couldn’t see anything but white. “If you say so.” He pretended to open a door.

“I must leave you. I have more to greet. We will meet again.”

“Wait.” Roman placed his hand on his Uncle’s shoulder. “There’s one thing I need to know.”


“What am I doing in heaven?”

“You died a most unfortunate death on earth… rejected in the counterpart world because you were an honest bank man.”

The writing Prompt was from Writer’s Digest on October 2, 2012. If you want to see the original or the comments, go to

Monday, May 16, 2016

Writer’s Workshop 17: Poetry Medley

I attended the 8th annual Writer’s Weekend at MT. SAC in April 2016. Here are a few things I learned about poetry from some amazing presenters:

  • Myrena Ogbu was big on experimenting with poetry and improvisational poetry.

One exercise was to have music playing in the background; what is the music saying to you? what voice do the instruments have? what are the instruments saying?
She wanted us to free ourselves and write whatever came to mind, which is a lot like free writing.

  • Chad Sweeney was big on surrealism and our dreams. He showed us a lot of art made by famous painters like Salvador DalĂ­ and different ways to present our poetry on stage.

He wanted us to manipulate words to mean different things. We could form a list of words and make a poem using the words. The list had to include hard words, too to make it interesting. He provided two separate lists and had us write a poem using one of them. There were over fifty words. Like a found poem, we were to let the words dictate the direction of our poem, letting the stream of consciousness just write without stopping to think about the different meanings or how the words were joined together. Then, he had us present our work in unison using various voice levels. Quite a show.

  • Stephanie BarbĂ© Hammer is great for impromptu exercises to warm up the brain for writing poetry. Her energy coupled with her knowledge added another wonderful experience.

The variety of warm-up exercises that would help get the ideas flowing in your head included choosing seven words from several lists of presidential quotes. Second, she had you write your favorite word on a separate piece of paper and exchange with another individual. Third, we made a list of five political issues that we’re interested about. Fifth, we did a free-write of what you had for breakfast. Last, we wrote a poem as a political speech about the issues we wanted, using as many words we found.
The neat thing about this, is if you got stuck, you could go back and use any of the other words or phrases written throughout the warm-ups to help get you back on track. Kind of a backward way of writing poetry.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Quote 17

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
-        Albert Einstein

I found this quote to be a powerful reminder of the importance of having an open heart to others; an understanding of differences; a love of peace for all. And to top it all off, to include the less fortunate, including animals big and small.

I hear a lot in the news of someone taping a dog’s snout shut to stop them from barking or doing other atrocities. Or you hear about another toddler being left inside a hot car. You have to think; is this the world I want to have?

Most people want a better world for their children… and for themselves. Thank you for all the patience and care put into every day.

So, why don’t we start with ourselves and work our way to letting others into our hearts, sharing this freedom Einstein mentions to reach out to all living things? Then, we’d be proud to call this world beautiful.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Writing Endeavors 11: Publishing 101?

I’ve been researching a lot about publishing because I have a novel I completed and would like to submit to an agent. It deals with a dysfunctional family where father and son are at odds (and that’s all the info you get for now).

One thing I’ve discovered is that you need to be prepared to show how you’re going to market your book.

You also have to think about what name you will be writing under before you submit- your own or a pseudonym.

You also have to be on social media in some way. You don’t have to do all the places, but enough where you get to reach out to a large audience. That’s the tricky part. How to keep up with your writing aside from promoting and still have time to walk the dogs, eat, exercise the recommended two hours a day, and sleep?

In teaching, we have a good analogy for this: “sink or swim.” Some new teachers get hired and aren’t provided with the support needed to establish themselves in the school. You either ‘sink’ and go through challenges that rip your dream job to shreds or you ‘swim’ and stay afloat long enough to see success.

I feel that marketing is the same. You either keep up with all the work outside of actually writing or you suffer losses and break away from the spotlight. I wish it didn’t have to come down to this, but the facts of life pile up on that mountain top…

Monday, April 25, 2016

Death as Metaphor 22: Last Thoughts for Closure

Poets write from the heart and the images they elicit may stem from many metaphors, including death, that may question the way they are used.

Poetry is one of the avenues I chose to share what death might mean and to try to understand it better. Whether it is for literal meaning or non-literal use of the metaphor, writing poetry in a contemporary world is the key to unleashing words that express a variety of things, including abstract or symbolic representations.

Death is symbolic of something lost. In this case, it is the loss of one’s roots, one’s home, of love, and the loss of a future. These experiences are what elicit the reader’s emotions in a personal way. The familiar subject of death touches individuals in a myriad of ways and the metaphors help in its allusion.

As described in my previous posts where I mentioned Charles Darwin, one cannot escape death, whether it comes naturally or not, but one can also create it inside of them. One can become ‘dead’ if they do not actively participate in their life.

Death may hold a lot of metaphors, but it is the way we use them in our poetry that shines a light to the subject. Not all of it is negative or literal.

I hope the Death as Metaphor posts have helped you get a glimpse into its use or has inspired you to read/write some poetry.

And to end on a high note, five of my poems, which deal with some death metaphors, got entered in the Spectrum 4 Anthology: 2016s Top Ten San Gabriel Valley Poets! Pretty nifty, huh?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Books I’m Reading 23

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry was published by Random House and is a great collection of the poet’s work.

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers. Powers is an Iraq war veteran writing poetry with a lot of imagery and emotion. Sometimes from memories of his experiences coming home and at war.

Your Best Brain Ever: A Complete Guide & Workout by Michael Sweeney is a book about how to stay sharp and improve memory by doing different activities which can boost your brain health, such as finding time to exercise.

Treasury of Egyptian Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortals by Donna Jo Napoli from National Geographic KiDS. This is a collection of how the different deities came into being. Sometimes, it gets confusing because the deities can have multiple personalities or similar functions.