Ode to a Tip Jar

Ode to a Tip Jar 

A ringing noise upon my ear
tells me that an email's here,
so, I look to see, and sure enough-
a WordPress logo, bold and tough!
Oh, perhaps has someone read my tome?
I wonder aloud as I start to roam
my way around the website’s format,
hoping to find a like or comment.
But look! Oh no! It bears bad news!
No, not a troll with too tight shoes,
no, not a bot trying to sell me a cruise;
it’s the company telling me it’s time for my dues!
But woe is me, I’m out of work,
and what little is coming is already marked,
so, what is a writer-girl to do
when her tip jar is empty
and her wallet is, too?
Shill yourself, honey, sell them a book!
Better yet, a Patreon subscription-those are off the hook!
Or if they really love you, the tip jar they will find…
to the very right of the blog page, no waiting in line.
See, usually it doesn’t matter, I get by on what I get,
but I lose quite a chunk if certain needs are not met,
like the webhosting bill that comes due every July
and makes me suddenly want to vomit and cry.
So here I am asking a favor of you,
my dearest readers, I hope you come through,
and offer to me maybe a buck or two,
so I can keep this site running for me and for you.
Ok, now that my rhyme is done,
I’m off to pen some delirium,
because I just got a new notification
and it has brought me great exasperation.
So hopefully you find some happy in your day,
because mine is slowly ebbing away,
and I urge you please to consider a donation,
so I can keep on writing these quotations.


Solicitous Histrionics

Open a dictionary. Pick a word. Now close it.

Open it again.  Pick another word.  Close it.

Now, write a poem using those two words.

This is a fun little game taught to me by my favorite local poet, Justin Karcher.  Back in January, I discovered he would be doing a workshop at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and my mother was kind enough to purchase me a ticket.  It was in May, so it was a long wait.  There were only 9 or 10 of us, but it was great…to me at least, who had never been to a writing workshop of any kind. 

One of the first questions he posed was what poetry meant to us.  It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but if you don’t have a grasp of what your craft means to you, then what are you even doing? I responded to this question with a poem of my own, naturally:

Poetry
By Brigid Hannon

Poetry is my voice, 
louder in word than in action.
My pen on paper. 
or my mouth and teeth and tongue,
no different from each other.
Each meter should lift darkness into light. 
Each verse should move a heart to break, 
each stanza another gasp from muted lips-
poetry is power and 
opinion and 
might-
the never ceasing beat 
of our living hearts.

Now, a lot of Justin’s stuff has to do with our shared home of Buffalo, NY, which may be why I love it so much.  I have long held a hope to write a collection of just Buffalo poems, so when he said we would be writing poems about “home” in some fashion, I was delighted.  I started free writing some thoughts down, and eventually I took those bones and pieced them together into a skeleton of a poem, which I took home with me to work on further.  I knew it wasn’t the sort I could pound out in an hour-long class.  I did, however, write this little guy as well, which I have no intention of doing anything with, so I might as well share it with you here:
Safe Shoes
Also by Brigid Hannon

No flip-flops today;
no sandals.
Sneakers?  But no...
laces come untied.
Little ones, so scared,
and yet prepared,
and I cannot choose a shoe.

An adult counterpart,
I've no active training.
"Where's the exit," I ask myself,
looking to the black sturdy Sketchers
I picked out,
with rubber soles and no laces-
shoes that keep me safe,
like I keep little souls who find me,
willing to sacrifice for such.

She tells me she likes her school;
she feels safe:
"We hardly ever have a lockdown." 
Hardly.
Look to the ground to keep from crying, 
seeing only sturdy safe shoes-
shoes that make me RUN.

Anyway, the workshop was lovely.  I went home and worked on my main poem for a bit, and when it was done, I emailed it to Justin to show him.  A few days later, he got back to me and asked if he could publish it in the June edition of Ghost City Press, which is the mag where I published my first poem, so, I mean…yeah, dude.  Of course.
So, in honor of that, I made a TikTok for it, which I will share at the end of this post.  It is a poem about my city, but also about my grandparents.  We were supposed to write about what home means to us, and my city is my home, where I would not live were it not for my grandparents, who gave me this wonderful home without even realizing it.  
Finally, I tried to write a poem using the dictionary game, and I tell you, friend-I have failed.  I have been drowning in the words “solicitous histrionics” for weeks now, because those are the two words that noodled their way out of the book and into my brain.  Eventually, I will write that poem-it will probably be a weird one.
So, that’s all for today, I think.  Happy Monday!

Auditory

I guess you can thank my friend Carey for my summer project.

See, school ends after this week’s Saturday program, so I am in pursuit of something to do over the summer.  I did score a nice gig as a theater teacher for a kid’s summer camp, but that’s only for a week.  I took it mainly to pay for my trip to Salem this Autumn.  That leaves several more weeks with little to do.  I intend to find a few more jobs to make a little extra cash…maybe babysitting or home care or something.  But my big project for this summer is the seed that Carey planted.

Carey is my self-proclaimed biggest fan, in that she would still like my stuff even if she didn’t know me.  And she LOVES when I share videos on TikTok.  One night, after reading my book, she came over and said that she wanted me to read it to her someday.  She said that the poems are good on their own, but spectacular when I bring them to life with my voice.  I simply took this as a lovely compliment and moved on with my life, and didn’t think much more of it…until I got similar compliments from other people.  I also was coming of the high of a good open mic night, and the wheels started to turn.

See, I have a background as an actor.  In fact, if there is a job to be done in the theater, I have done it.  So, when I read my poems, I’m not just reading them, I’m performing them, and that makes a lot of difference, apparently. Then I read this article about using Audible for publishing audio books, and pieces slide into place.

It’s not too hard, and it’s not too pricey, and it’s a great way to expand on what I already have with A Lovely Wreckage.  So, I called in the troops…Sahar came to the rescue by donating funds to buy equipment needed, and Kevin will be directing and recording.  A lot of articles say not to voice your own book…I don’t care about that.  I’m not just a writer; I can hack it.  Also, narration is the biggest cost in the process, so I am cutting that one right out, right away. 

I annotated the book, and will be offering this special edition only through Audible.  It shall also contain an extra poem or two, written since its release, as bonus material.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money, but I do hope that my friends and family give it a listen, as it has, in my opinion, more depth and interest with the annotations…but then, I am a sucker for annotated poetry.  I guess I’m hoping you are, too.

So, that is my plan for the summer months, to turn my words on paper into a song for the ears. I hope you will enjoy it…I know Carey will.

Happy Thursday!

Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Sick, with Stories

Well, that marks the third Thursday with no update.  This time it was illness again…it’s been like that all week.  The worst part is that I missed work yesterday, which I hate doing.  I love my job…like actually love it, because it is the perfect amount of childcare for me.  I can’t really do those long days I used to with kiddos anymore, but the few hours I put in in the afternoon for the program really makes me happy, and exhilarates me, because I’m actually out there doing something I love again. 

Of course, then I get sick and I wonder just how long it can last.  I went for this job because I was delighted that it didn’t start until midafternoon, which means that even if I am sick early morning, as is usual, I can be better by 2pm.  On Monday, I managed just that, going to the ER in the morning before coming home to nap, shower, and go to work.  I was fine that day.  Yesterday, not so much.  I couldn’t shake the crummy feeling, even after returning from the hospital, so I had to call off, which just kicked me in the stomach again.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  What’s good??  A good thing from this week is that I wrote myself a little story.

I needed something on Wednesday for my Patreon, something meaty.  More than a poem, y’know?  And I had this little thought in my head about what it takes to get me running in the morning, and then the thoughts started to take a shape.  There’s this movie called Osmosis Jones that I have loved always, and I started to ponder it.  What if there were a cell in my body, that was responsible for what I do?  It was a fun little thought experiment, but what would the cell actually do?  What would be its true purpose?  I thought of the Vonnegut quote: “Make your characters want something right away, even if it’s only a glass of water.”  And so, the tale of Bob the Cell who works in the Hypothalamus was born.  His goal?  Get the Girl a glass of water.

It’s a funny little story that both Sahar and Mom called “brilliant,” which I actually believe to be true because, as rare as it is, I love this story. 

Hardly ever do I write something that I like from the jump, so when I finished this and was so delighted with it I knew it would receive great reception from my “fans.”  (Why is that in quotes?  Because the only people who have read it are friends and family.) And it did, Carey liked it, Mark loved it, and of course my mother just wants to know why I can’t automatically have it picked up by some magazine.

Anyway, that was my big accomplishment for the week, and if you would like to read it (well, the rough draft, anyway,) then you can pop on over to my Patreon and pay $5 for that and more.

I’d really like your patronage over there.  You’re missing out on a lot, I promise.  Also, I need to pay the internet bill.  (See also: Tip Jar, to the right of this page.)

Ok, well, It’s Friday.  I have two kiddos here already and two more on the way, so I guess I better get myself going, and participate in life since I am well enough to do so.  I hope y’all have a great weekend, and happy Friday!

Poetry Night

I didn’t post on Thursday, because I didn’t feel like it.  Simply no excuse…just wasn’t in the headspace to write.  Plus, the only thing I wanted to write about was something that hadn’t happened yet.

Back in October 2019, pre-plague, my dear friend Beth (whom I had lunch with yesterday, coincidentally, and therefore has already heard this story,) went with me to a monthly poetry night at a bookstore near my house that I like.  I wanted to read one of my poems during the open mic portion, but I was terrified.  She sat by my side and encouraged me, and I was able to do it.  I was very proud of myself that night, for overcoming my anxiety of not just attending a function full of strangers, but for reading in front of them.

Come February, we had a problem, and that problem was a pandemic.  Poetry night kind of moved online for a bit, and while I would love to say I’ve watched every episode (because it was very good,) I honestly fell off when I started working on the novel.  I pretty much fell off poetry all together, then.  But now, she is in editing, and that bug is biting, and here we go again.

So I inquired a couple of times at the bookstore once they reopened as to when they would be bringing the night back and they kept telling me “soon.”  Then one morning my father tells me that an old buddy of his is hosting the return of Poetry Night!  I was ecstatic, and not at all anxious to attend.

When I got there, I sat by a woman and who seemed to be her boyfriend, and also a woman who appeared to be her bestie, and bestie’s husband.  Woman A, whom I came to know as Mary, seemed very nervous, and as I unintentionally eavesdropped on their conversation, I learned that she was going to be sharing her poetry for the very first time.  She had brought her reinforcements, as had I, and was probably so anxiously awaiting her turn that she barely even heard the key speaker…at least, that’s how I was that first night.

She had the courage to go first, too, once the open mic started. And it was good.  Her poetry spoke to me, because guess what?  They were about chronic and mental illness.  I sincerely hope my poems spoke to her as well, but as per usual, I flew out the door first, because mingling is still really hard for me.  I’m going to push myself to do it next time, though, so wish me luck.

In other news…yes, this is a two-parter, to make up for nothing last Thursday.

So, I decided to do a book giveaway, for funsies.  I figured I would do it on Twitter, where all my reading/writing friends live.  Out of my nearly 7k followers, 82 whopping people saw my giveaway tweet.  No one responded.  Ergo, Twitter’s algorithm is a steaming pile of garbage, yet again.

So, I roll over to TikTok, where I get better views, and I got a couple hundred.  A few folks commented, hoping to win the book.  I picked a winner, and emailed them.  A day went by with no response, so this morning I hop on and browse their page to see when they were online last.

It’s a kid.  It’s a literal child.

Now, my book doesn’t really come with a content warning because it’s not really graphic or anything, but there are some choice words and definite adult themes.  So, I emailed the kid and told him that I was sorry, but I couldn’t send him the book.  Also, he would have to give me his address, and it isn’t cool for me as an adult to encourage that, or safe for him as a child to do so.  I feel kind of bad, because I should have specified you needed to be 18 to win.  I hope he isn’t too disappointed.

Anyway, I have moved this giveaway over to my Facebook page, now.  So, if you’re not already following me there, I encourage you to do so, especially if you would like to win a book today!  I will be announcing a random winner tomorrow morning, so this offer is only good for you folks who are reading my blog on Monday the 28thGo follow me now!!

Anyhoo…that’s about it.  Happy Thursday, my friends.  I’m off to watch a bunch of TV, which might sound lazy, but is actual research for Thursday’s blog, I swear. 

This quote doesn’t really have anything to do with anything…I just like it.

You’re a Poet, and You Don’t Know It.

All day yesterday I was without a topic.  I tried all day, I swear, but nothing came to me.  That is, until right before bed when I saw a Facebook post from Amanda Gorman about World Poetry Day, and did a literal facepalm.

So, if you’re a constant reader, you know that I share poetry on this day with you.  In the past, it has been my own, but today I have something special.  Today I am redefining the word “poet,” and I am including everyone.

Since October, three folks have shown me something they have written that they asked me to take a look at and perhaps give some advice about.  For me, editing poetry is just as fun as writing it, so I of course said yes to these three.  What I discovered is that you can absolutely be a poet, and not know it. 

The first poem I would like to share can be found HERE at Pink Plastic House: A Tiny Journal.  It is by far one of my favorite mags, and when my friend Audrey asked me to take a look at her October-themed poem, I immediately thought of the journal’s Halloween poetry countdown as the perfect vehicle to get her work out there.  She sent me a rough draft, and I polished it up for her, and when she was pleased, I sent it off to the editor at PPH.  Audrey has written plenty for herself over the years, but this is the first piece she shared with the world.  I am hopeful that it gives her to drive to continue to pursue her creative talents. 

Next up is Kevin.  Back in his day, Kev was the best freestyler I knew…he knew every word to every rap song, but on top of that, he made his own music.  I always loved listening to his beats, but when he would flow over them was always my favorite.  When he and the guys would hang out and take turns coming up with ciphers, his was always the best.  So, when he sent me a text one day with what he called “a poem,” I was excited and surprised.  He doesn’t often write down the stuff he comes up with, but when he does it’s pretty cool.  So, he sent me this piece, and I formatted it for him, and now I would like to share his pretty cool words with you.

H2O by Kevin Henry

While I sit stoic, 
smothered in stinky sea fish,
the sight of society succumbed to solid selfishness-
my subconscious steams like that of a shellfish.
Everybody now walks like zombies 
on Zofran and barbiturates,
In 2021,
a walk in the park
might mean mask mandates and manipulators, 
a society sculpted in supreme science, 
overpopulated with particle of plastic.
Seems we're swimming in a sea of synthetic sickness,
an ocean of sadness.
I sit stoic, 
smothered in stinky sea fish.

Then, my husband, Mark. Mark is not a writer by any means and will tell you so…he’s the math brain in this relationship; I handle the words.  But one day, he had a dream, and he wanted to capture it somehow, so he tried to write it down as a sort of poem.  He came to me for help, and we gussied up the words and changed the formatting, and now he has this:

Awakening, by Mark Falcone

Awaking under my blanket, 
winter beckons from my window, 
daring me to come outside.  
Sadness holds me there, 
frozen.
I rise and dress 
for weather 
and wander down and out,
with my protective clothing. 
Pressing cold on my face, 
he beats me down,
but I trod on in the snow- 
another day.  
Until finally, 
home, 
I wrap myself in my blanket,
hide from him again. 

What my point?  I’m a poet.  They’re poets.  You’re a poet.  Poetry lives inside of all of us, if only we are brave enough to let it out of our hearts.  That’s where it resides, deep inside your soul, sleeping and waiting to be released.  So why not let it out?  Don’t be scared.  What you make is beautiful, and if you don’t think so, no one else will either.  (Also…I am totally free to help you edit, should you want to make it a little shinier.) 

So, Happy (Belated) World Poetry Day, to all us poets!

Price Point

Today I went to check on my chappie on a whim, just to see if maybe a review came in that I hadn’t noticed.  I haven’t checked in with her in a while, so suffice it to say that when I saw she was now listed at 25% off, I threw a hissy-fit.

My immediate thought was whose pocket is this money coming out of, and it had better not be mine!  Second thought, what do I do now?  Well, God bless Google, because apparently this is an oft asked question and it led me to several forums and articles about what to do when your book price drops.

Now, I have been assured by a few sites that the money is not deducted from me, but I’m not 100% sure who is footing the bill, be it the publisher or Amazon.  I just know it ain’t me, and that’s fine.  Many sites suggest buying up your book when this happens so you can sell them at full price by hand, which is not a terrible idea…right now it would only cost me a couple of bucks a book, in the long run, and I would have stock to do a signing or something.  Still, my writing funds are low-I only use what I make writing for my writing.  It’s a career that supports itself, at the moment. 

Alas, that kitty will grow if I can sell a few of these ladies at their new rate…so if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of A Lovely Wreckage, I invite you to CLICK HERE and get it while it’s 25% off.

I think that if it drops lower, and I can scrape together the funds, I will buy up whatever is left.  The reasoning for price droppage that I found was either that Amazon determined it will sell better at that price point (no, not out of the goodness of their hearts-they want to make that money,) or they have a stock they are unloading.  Either way, if it goes lower, I’m snatching them up.  Then I’m finally going to try to figure out how people end up with signings and such.

Soon, I will hopefully also have single-run limited edition copies of my minichap, and ideally, I’d like to be able to sell the two of them together.  Alas, I am waiting on my editor to get back to me.  A month ago he said we were almost there…then nothing.  I sent an email a few days ago, but I know he is busy not only with the press but also the bookstore he is opening.  So, I will bide my time and hope.

Speaking of hope, I just remembered my other minichap…did I tell you about that one?  It’s about nature through the lens of depression.

You know what?  Let’s save that for another day.  Like the day it gets picked up.  I don’t want to rain down any bad juju on it.

Anyway, go get a copy of my book, so I can get some copies of my book.  Please, and thank you.

Happy Thursday.

“I’m finally done!” she lied.

Sometimes in life you have something you want to scream from the rooftops, but that would be rude to your neighbors, so you scream it all over your social media instead.  That said, I have been waiting until today to share this with you, my dear blog readers, who have been with me every step of the way: she is done.  She, of course, being my first draft.

I conceived this baby back when Dubya was president, by the way, so it has been quite a long gestation.  I suppose my first encounter with the electoral college sparked my primary rage of injustice, and I began to plot.  Now, the book I penned is FAR from the book I originally plotted oh so long ago, but the key values remain: injustice.  Disparity.  Inequality. 

And now we have my little WIP, well, not so little, coming in at around 65k.  Bigger than the 2019 attempt for certain, this is a proper novel.  And, unbeknown to me in the beginning, it has potential for a sequel now.  Not that I am thinking about that at the moment, because I must focus on the major task at hand.

When I was explaining the editing process to Mark and Carey yesterday, Carey noted that it seemed like a lot of work.  Mark agreed, adding that he never would have known how much goes into it were he not married to me.  See, actually putting the words on the paper, that’s the easy bit…and we have all seen what a struggle that can be.  Now comes the hard part, the even greater challenge: the edit. 

This is the part where you read back every paragraph four hundred times and it turns to word salad and then you quit writing as a career altogether until Sahar calms you down and then you go back and start reading the next paragraph four hundred times.

Eventually it doesn’t suck just enough, and you send it to Sahar and Mary, and they read it and give you notes, and then you go read it again and make more changes.  Maybe once, maybe twice, maybe sixteen times…then you do a final polish and you send it off with hopes and prayers and if you’re lucky, if you’re really really really lucky….someone will pick it up and then you have to edit it all over again for them.

There you have the publishing and marketing end of the biz, which is whole other ball game that you, as a wordsmith, are expected to navigate.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, words on paper ain’t no thang.

Anyway…I’m off to read read read my WIP over and over until it becomes gobbledygook.  (Yo…fun fact: according to spellcheck, gobbledygook is a legit word.)  Hopefully by the end of the week I will remain on target and can say that I have edited a few chapters.  Or, I’ve gone insane and Sahar had to make an emergency trip from Cleveland to bring me tea and a thesaurus.  We shall see.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

The Finish Line

Right now, I am neglecting my WIP.

I mean, I’m working on other things.  There’s the blog, and then I’m prepping a microchap to send out tomorrow morning.  But I’m not giving her the attention she deserves, and she’s angry about it.  I projected to be done by tonight, and that will only happen if I spend the next six hours locked in this office without internet access.  So, y’know…that’s not happening. 

I’m only a few scenes and an epilogue away, though.  I plan to write a scene today when I finish what needs to be done, and hopefully if I can find the time, I will be done with the first draft by the end of the week.  That would be ideal. Then I can spend the rest of the month of February editing, as planned.

I considered hiring a professional editor, but it is way out of my price range at the moment.  Mark wants to stary a GoFundMe for writing costs, which is a great idea in theory but probably not in practice.  I don’t even know if you can make those for career advancement purposes, and honestly, I have enough trouble selling books and Patreon subscriptions, and that’s cash for a product, so what makes me think people are just going to GIVE me money?

I’m just out here trying to get my Patreon’s sold, really.  That’s the best revenue for me right now, aside from folks using the tip jar…it’s over there on the side of the page, and is as close to a GoFundMe as I’m going to get.  If you really do just want to GIVE me money, that’s how to do it.  Otherwise, buy a product.  Pick up my poetry on Amazon, or check out my Patreon, where for 5$ a month you get something new every week.  All the proceeds from all these things go towards writing expenses…and coffee.  Which I suppose, is a writing expense in its own right. 

Anyway…professional editing set aside until some real cash flow comes, I will be doing it on my own, and then sending it to a few trusted sources for their notes.  Then another edit, a polish, and its off!

It’s a huge task.  I mean, I think of the microchap, which didn’t take me very long to put together at all.  I knew I had a bunch of poems centering one topic, so I organized them and got it ready for submission.  It took maybe two hours total.  My WIP, however, has been going since November 1st.  Much, much longer, if we are talking “spark” to finish…in that case it’s been over a decade.  And here I am, on the last leg of the race, attempting to limp my way across the finish line by Friday.

Wish me luck.