Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meet the Writers

Writers and Graphic Designers - One dependent on the other

When I set out on my mission to review articles, with my first post in June 2011, I was quite skeptical about the feedback and support I would get. Although I was convinced that this is what I wanted to do, it largely depended on my audience to appreciate and support this effort. Surprisingly, I have received a lot of encouragement (even from unexpected sources) and have completed nine posts so far. This is my tenth (yes, double digits) and I am so excited that my blog has made it this far; thanks to ALL of you.

Since this is my TENTH post, I thought I'd try a twist to the usual Channel-wise format. I've decided that this post will be a potpourri of sorts or rather dedicated to writers I admire, for their talent, skill and (I have to say this...) common sense. If you need help navigating through or guidance on some topics from the Channels that I've already featured, these are the writers for you. Most of them have been of help to me in the past in some way or the other, and many of them have been around to cheer me on. It is with pride that I turn the spot light on to them. I have picked the following writers on the basis of the Channels that I have already covered. Do not be disappointed if your name isn't on the list. You might be featured in the following weeks. (Image Credit: Dieter Manero)

I don't think anybody needs any introduction to Raymond Alexander Kukkee. He has been with Helium since November 2007 and has also been one of the Managers under the Arts and Humanities Channel. But in case you do not know the full extent of his Writing passion, here are his very own words... "Creative Writing has been my favorite past-time, and writing fiction has become my favorite challenge with a focus on humanity itself. Novels, short stories, books for children, technical writing, essays, information, how-to articles, experimental writing, poetry and two completed full length motion picture screenplays are all included in my portfolio. I continue to believe 'Our use of words is fraught with traps and treasures' and also infers much responsibility."

The sanctity of a writer's work area - by Ramond Alexander Kukkee, Arts & Humanities

I know its been mentioned before, but if there is one person who knows how to convey humor and satire through her writing, in my opinion, it is none other than Diane Quinn. Its because she believes she can do it, does it reflect so much in her writing. Diane says... "Creating is the passion all writers thrive upon, but I also enjoy researching a topic that interests me. Being factual and informative are important, but just as important is emotionally engaging my readers. When I have firsthand knowledge, like a first person story for my life, writing with a sense of humor makes the process just that much more fun."

Satire: Music by Diane Quinn, Creative Writing

Meet W. Diane Van Zwol. She is a person so full of compassion and caring. Although a nurse by profession, and a dedicated contributor to the Medical Ethics section, Diane is ever passionate about poetry; and in particular 'Love Poetry'. She goes to no ends to stand for 'love' despite the conflicts and confusion of human life around, and this can be seen poignant through her poems. Based on the theme of love, you cannot go wrong, for what can be greater than love? Check out 'It's all about love' for an entire collection of love poems written by Diane. She says, and I quote, "In 1995, I attended the International Society of Poets Conference, D.C. What a wonderful experience for me as a budding poet! There were 2700 poets present and everyone did a poetry reading. That was fun! Johnny Cash was featured as the live, Saturday night entertainment." A truly remarkable writer to impact my world.
Poetry: An angel's wings by W. Diane Van Zwol, Creative Writing

All of us know M. J. Joachim. An ardent contributor to the Business, Arts & Humanities, Celebrations & Holidays and Creative Writing Channels, (and more), M. J. has stepped out beyond her comfy zone of writing articles, and has ventured into publishing quite a few eBooks. An excerpt from her biography at Helium, "M. J. Joachim is an extremely creative soul. Her hobbies include cooking, yarn and needle crafts - including bead work, gardening and creative writing, though research writing is also at the top of her list. M. J. believes writing is writing. It challenges the mind and heart, causing us to view the world with less skepticism."

Quick and easy Thanksgiving decorating tips - M. J. Joachim, Celebrations & Holidays

From creative writing to business, one person I know I have to give credit for is my senior editor at Bright Hub, Michele McDonough. Highly qualified academically, winner of two Editorial Awards at Bright Hub and Managing Editor and Senior Writer to the Business Channel, Michele is well knowledgeable in topics pertaining to Business and Science. Taken from her Bright Hub profile, I quote, "After spending several years teaching mathematics, engineering and programming at the university level, Michele shifted her focus to the corporate world. Her extensive background in the technical fields eventually led her to take up consultancy work, primarily with small, privately held companies. She still maintains an active presence in the academic community and enjoys keeping track of the latest developments in scientific research."

Creating Pareto Charts With Microsoft Excel by Michele McDonough, Business


Did I tell you that I had actually planned out this post differently? When I realized that this would be my tenth post today, I decided to rework my entire page. Yes, I deleted an entire section, if not all of what I had done, just to change it to some idea that popped into my head a little earlier in the day.

However, one part that I have been meaning to do all week is to feature Donald Hancock. I am not sure how many of you know him, but quite a few of us at the Castle Coffee House and Pub fondly call him Sir Don de lu. [You'll have to ask him to elaborate on his title. ;) ] Donald has recently published his book titled 'A Message for all Time'. I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Sir Don de Lu on a job well done and for being such an inspiration. :)

Synopsis of the Novel: A young man finds an old sealed bottle while fishing. He and his mother read a message, written by a sailor whose ship was sunk in 1942. Richard and his mother, Gloria, who live in London in 1954, are challenged to share this heartfelt message, about three dying men, with their surviving loved ones. Their search takes them on an adventure that change their lives forever!

A Message for all Time by Donald C. Hancock is now available at Amazon Kindle and Smashwords as eBooks at the following links.

Image Credit: Dieter Manero

This brings me to the part where Conny Manero's son, Dieter Manero, played a part in designing the front cover for Donald's book.

Dieter Manero is a freelance graphic designer, graduated as a graphics designer and specializes in editorial and industrial design. Editorial design comprises of book covers, advertising material and newsletter layouts. Industrial design include concept design of cars in 3-D and custom vehicles. His services are directed to authors and small businesses. Those who might be interested to know more about his professional expertise in the field of Designing may contact him at dimaconcepts@gmail.com. He's there to help.

You may visit Dieter Manero's Portfolio at Dieter Manero, Freelance Graphics Designer.

Last but not the least, during the past few days, I requested friends and writers to share their best poems with us. I thank each of them for their contribution and support and hence share what they have to say about their work.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee - "The best of my own selection of works in poetry may well be 'Silver Drops' because of the imagery of unrequited love and sadness extending to infinity."

Angela Masters Young - "Its a poem called Marilyn Matters. In a nutshell, when my mom (Marilyn) was dying of cancer, she felt like her life had not mattered, that she didn't matter. During this time (I was staying with her and caring for her), she received some of those pre-made address labels in the mail. My mother's name is Marilyn Masters. The labels were for Marilyn Matters. This was definitely a God story about how God showed her she does matter. I wrote the poem from there and have been able to change the name and use it again for others in need."

Alexandra Heep: "Poetry: Yesterdays. I like this one the best because I had to use a word bank. It is my all time favorite."

Conny Manero: "Poetry: Spring love and Poetry: Cats. Both poems deal with cats. Cats and their well being are very close to my heart. Through both these poems I have tried to draw attention to shelter adoption and the importance of spaying / neutering. Even though the poems are about cats, they apply to any other type of animal as well."

JoAnn Windsinger is of the opinion that this poem, titled Poetry: In like a lion, out like a lamb, is her best.

Sarah D'costa: "This poem, 'Here No More' was written for Yvonne, a very precious friend... much elder to me. She passed away due to a cardiac arrest while she was alone at home. Yvonne was the kindest soul I ever knew. Always soft-spoken, gentle and optimistic, I could turn to her for anything. I feel this is the best piece I have written as it comes from the heart. After we lost Yvonne, I often wished I could have helped; wished I was there to help. Wished she would come back... so that I could tell her how precious she was to me."


The call was sudden

She had to leave

While al her loved ones

Grieved in disbelief.

That fateful Saturday noon

Saw her uneasy and distressed

All by herself wreathing in pain

Help was rendered……. Minutes late!

Still and motionless she lay

Lusture lost, pale and grey

Anxious loved ones left distraught

Hope and pray, they were briefed.

How we longed to hear her speak

To see her smile and feel her move

The shadow of death lurking by

Seemed elated to have found its prey.

A loving gentle harmless soul

Sought happiness in life’s woes

Adorned with simplicity and grace

Angel on earth, one could say.

Friend to all, mother to a few

Sister to those who knew her too

Left to her father’s Heavenly abode

Without the slightest bid adieu.

Life has changed for all who knew

This God sent angel…… here no more.

Watching over me and you

Somewhere in the distance through.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Creative Writing: Part 3, Poetry - Lyrical heartbeats of the Soul

Lyrical Heartbeats of the Soul
da DUM da DUM
da DUM da DUM
da DUM

Doesn't it always feel good when you read poetry that has a soul to it? I'm not necessarily talking about just love and romance or wooing a beloved. I'm talking about 'the reader connecting with the poet' through the contents of the poem. I have always loved William Shakespeare's sonnets. But even more, am I a bigger fan of William Wordsworth's poems. (What is it with these Williams? I wouldn't be surprised if you Williams out there are poets. Seriously.) I mean, take a look at the poem The Daffodils. It has always, always (double always on purpose) fascinated me. What is it that these great poets have that we aspire to have? Is it 'soul'? Is it 'emotions'? Is it a command over one's language? Or is it just a knack for converting expressions and ideas into words?

This week I will take you through some basics of writing good poetry. No, this was not necessarily taught to me in black and white, but is my collection of handy tips from the past few years' interaction with ordinary people like you and me who love to write poetry.

There is one question that always nags my mind when I see it at the forums and discussions. 'Is poetry subjective?' I can understand when people share their opinion about a poem being written for themselves. At the same time, does it have to relate only to the poet or 'what is it that makes good poetry stand out from the lot?' I am sure all of us who rate poetry, especially at Helium, ask ourselves this question, with the amount of poetry that floods the site.

Writer of the Week

Adam Clark

“I guess it’s subjective, in that a poem may be based on the writer's personal interpretation of the subject. But what separates good poetry from the bad is the objective part, like the science of writing poetry. Edgar Allen Poe has a great lecture on this, titled 'The Philosophy of Composition'.

See, poetry like all arts, is a magic show. It looks so full of wonder and magic, but when you look behind the curtain, you see that it’s all calculated tricks; smoke and mirrors. This is what separates the pros from the amateurs. The pros embrace the boring science of the art form, while the amateur embraces the romantic idea of it.

It’s like when you hear piano music being played. You may picture the foot pedal being pressed, the left hand playing this, the right hand playing that while the notes are on the page. When I hear music, I can lay back and enjoy its seemingly magic effect. Why? Because I don't know what's behind the curtain. I am not burdened by that knowledge. It's the poet that has the hardest time appreciating poetry. Instead he appreciates technique; never getting the full effect that the poem intends. Of course, sometimes in making art, you have what Bob Ross famously coined as ‘Happy little accidents’ which is when you unintentionally create something that is later recognized as a great element in your work.”

With this in mind we can take a look at a few basic points that make up the 'science of writing poetry'. I'm not going to beat around the bush, but come straight to the points I have in mind. While these may be only a few pointers, I am sure the more experienced poets from among us can shed their light on what they think makes up good poetry. The points that I mention are in random order.

1. When writing poetry, follow the same grammar rules of prose. That is, the sentence you write should have some concrete structure and meaning. Put commas where commas should go / periods where periods should be. Even if you use only phrases, there should be connectivity between phrases.

2. Always have a concrete imagery. Even if your title or topic is abstract, like for example, if you were depicting 'Pain', jot down words that will describe pain, or be alternative words to be used for pain. These could be agony, hurt, torture, ache, etc. Another example, If you are writing about freedom, you could use words like 'bell rings, break chains, unlock, soar high, run away, escape...)

3. If you plan to write a rhyming poem, try writing with a specific syllable count per line. Begin the first line with something like 8 counts (safe bet) and then work the next line and so forth with 8 counts. Do not work on the rhymes right away, but get your theme / plot / setting right first.

4. Once you get your setting right, work on your end rhymes. Do not use the most common rhymes, but try using a Google search for 'words rhyming with... ‘and you will get 3+ letter words with the same end rhyme or at least with half rhymes.

5. Use metaphors if needed, but the metaphors must be true and relevant. For example, if you are to relate something to ‘being like the desert’, your description of it should likewise imply the desert mood or setting.

6. When converting a sentence draft to a poem, drop the pronouns, articles and conjunctions as much as possible. Put in your imagery as concise, easily understood phrases (this is part of poetic licence). At the same time, maintain continuity in thought from one line to the next.

7. In freeverse poetry, write as you may without rhyming and syllable count, but maintain poetry more than prose. Nobody wants to read a narration of events which could be got in prose. What the reader needs to see is the poet's flair, or flow of poetic language.

8. Your choice of adjectives can create the mood of the poem.

When writing something that shows your liveliness, use words that also express liveliness, like brightness, spring, sunshine, radiance, bounce, laughter, smile, twinkle, etc.

When writing dark poetry, use words that can create such a setting the same way you would do in prose too.

9. If you're writing many verses, make sure that all the verse center around the theme; ie. do not divert on another tangent. Sometimes we can begin with one idea, but tend to end up with another. So always when in doubt, refer to your title. (These are for titles that are put up at Helium). If you are writing your own poem, apart from this site, create a title by which you will center your poem around it. Even if you use the Helium titles, you can create your own subtitle and then write your poem. So whatever it is... concentrate on the same theme throughout.


What does Poetry mean to you?

This is a question I asked my friends last week. The response has been amazing. Maybe in a day or two I might try to connect back-links to each one's pages - but for now it’s just overwhelming to receive your feedback and support. Thank you for this. :)

Gerard Quain: It means passion, the resonating echoes of mind and heart

Linda Hurley: Skip when rating ;)

Angela Masters Young: playing with words

Saoirse O'Mara: A means to express strong feelings.

Alexandra Heep: To me, it means conveying emotions or evoking them, while using unusual words

Gerard Quain: The only unusual word these days is love, it gets abused in ways no one thought possible

Darryl Bunty Rosario: ...thoughts and expressions..in a nutshell !!!!

Gavin Serrao: A poem is a story, or just the way I feel, expressed in Rhyme, and Rhythmic zeal. To say what I want, even if nonsense, with the convenient excuse, of poetic license!

Son Saturn: poetry is an expression.

Sunitha Fidelis: Poetry is a dream world where we forget ourselves, and also a place where we can express our happiness and sorrows..

Mac Pike: Silly doggerel rhyming to engender either groan, snicker, or stricken cry of outrage.

Deborah Bauers: Poetry is an outlet for what I feel in my soul.

Jane Anderson: Hmmm... Poetry is an artistic expression of the heart, channeled through the mind and conveyed through words. And of course, expressions of the heart are what you feel when you write a poem, not that I've written any. But it’s a transference of the mood of the poet to the reader in language that is beyond merely a string of words and that which makes an impact upon the reader.

W. Diane Van Zwol: Love Poetry is my passion!

Julie Sawyer Helms: My very politically-incorrect answer is that poetry should show/examine the beauty of God's creation, the quirks of human nature or animal behavior, and the flexibility of language. I do not enjoy self-absorbed poems (oh woe is me because of...)

Glory Lennon: An expression of emotion in rhyming sing-song fashion with silent music.

Ruth Olivia Bredbenner: Poetry for me is an unbridled opportunity for creative expression, if inspired, I begin with no ending in mind, I am on freeflow and travel wherever my heart leads me. Words just spill out onto the page, on an unknown journey. I t is as if I am just along for the ride to wherever it takes me. Even I am sometimes surprised where we land.

Cherry Kelly: Creative expressions - spur of the moment (like late last evening) or created over time. When it happens it just happens!

Charlotte Howard: A way to express my emotions at that point in time.

Angela Masters Young: I often start out with a concept I want to express creatively and start 'playing' with words or phrases and placement... until it tells me it's done:) I love the expression part of it, but I really love the word play -- can I take a word or concept and put it together like a puzzle of sorts that expresses and yet allows the words to do their thing.

Mona Gallagher: It depends on the poetry - I love to read lyrical poetry (Hearn in particular) Once I wrote spontaneously and was published, but except for a one or two, they are very forgettable. --but Now I write with purpose-to touch recovering hearts- and I labor over each phrase. ---Planning audio production with a wonderful male voice to do the reading.

Cherry Kelly: I have had poetry published in numerous anthologies over the years from 3rd grade - through college (needless to say numerous decades) different genres (publications) prefer different poetry... I write - what is chosen is -- what isn't - is not.. WRITE from your heart!

Jay Maul: Poetry is the never-ending quest to put into words what we see, hear, and feel. It is an artistic arrangement of language: a portrait painted with letters, a sculpture chiseled with words. Poetry is a reflection of humanity-its ugliness and its beauty, its evils and its goodness. It is the expression of our relationship with God, with the world, and with ourselves.

Darren Horton: Regarding poetry. I like to try all types. I especially like the challenge of strict forms (I also like puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, etc, so that might be why). The hardest thing for me is meter and trying to be poetic within the boundaries. I think the rhyming and syllable count is the easy bit.


Feedback from Diane Quinn

When it comes to poetry, I know what I like and sometimes poems move me in a way that other writing doesn't; perhaps because poetry emanates more from the soul than other writing genres.

My first recommendation has to be my old friend Jon Coe. You only have to read one of his works to know he's an excellent poet. I found this one that reveals a lot about Jon that I didn't know and his poem sits at 1 of 206 for good reason:

My painful pastJon Coe

If you haven't already featured him, Raymond's poem about Bob the Eleventh is charming and fanciful and is, in a sense, a blueprint for his creative mind.

Cats Raymond Alexander Kukkee

I also like this one of your's Mandy. It sits on top of a lot of other poems in the title also for good reason. Like Jon's poem, this one reveals a lot about you and why you have grown into the wonderful wife, mother, and friend that we all know you to be.

In my home - Amanda Dcosta

I also like Alex's poem about summer from our challenge. It sits at 7 of 155 because it is really good--short, but packed with fascinating word power:

SummerAlexandra Heep

I like this one of Elie's. The message of "don't give up, anything is possible", never gets old. There are times that Elie appears wise beyond her years. She is a rising star!

Anything is possible Elie Hutcheson


Last but not the least is a set of poems that I have found quite entertaining. This has been contributed by Rex Trulove. "I've read my share of very poor poetry, sometimes by people thought of as a poetry 'giant'. I've read great poetry by virtually unknown poets that made me laugh, cry and to feel genuine emotions. To me, a good poem is one that Ican identify with, and that can make me feel, with the poet's words. (that may sound crazy or corny, perhaps a bit forlorny). When I *think* of poetry, I think of my brother, who has written some poetry that never fails to make me laugh."

Ol Charlie

Ol Charlie was an alley cat, his whiskers long and sleek.

The others never realized he had a yellow streak.

He strutted here he strutted there, he scared the feared masked bandit.

His cowardice was never where the other cats could find it.

They said, "He's strong!", they said, "He's brave! He's never lost a battle!"

"He's through," a little mouse began to rave, "for I'm about to tattle!"

"I saw him once, I saw him lose," the little mouse began.

"My mother took the ugly brute and knocked him on his can!"

Well, Ol Charlie slank away for he realized that

it wasn't fitting and proper, for an alley cat.

Yes, Charlie was an alley cat, now he'd better stick to galleys,

For there isn't a single mouse whose afraid of Charlie’s alleys.

Charlie's Comeback

I saw this feller the other day, the feller said to me,

"How's Ol Charlie anyway?", he laughed and slapped his knee.

"You shouldn't laugh," I said to him as he looked at me concerned.

"His past may seem a trifle dim...that leaf he's overturned."

"Into the country Charlie went, far from any house.

This self converted city gent hardly ever touched a mouse.

Muskrats and otters he would hunt with skill he soon developed

but in later adventures, his heart was soon enveloped."

"Rough time he had but anyhow, he finally learned the trick.

In a ring with the cat now, Joe Lewis would look sick."

"Where's he now?" the feller asked, "And what you suppose he's huntin'?"

"Suburbs, where I saw him last, his diet's really somethin'."

"Yes, Charlie's come quite a ways from what he used to be.

Make him mad now, you're sure to pay, he'll run you up a tree!

Advice to you, I will give, and by this rule you should abide:

Keep your doors locked at night and keep your DOG inside!"

(Author of these is Rex Trulove's brother, Steve Trulove)


Creative Writing Guides

How to write a Shakespearean sonnet

How to write good poetry

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creative Writing: Part 2, Words: A Writer's Life

Words: A Writer’s Life

Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to become a writer. I didn’t know how I would get there, or reach where I am now, but I wanted to be a writer. I had this nagging habit of being distracted by scraps of paper I’d come across and get engrossed in reading when I had to be doing other things.

Almost all of us who are writers now have gone through such phases in our lives. Anticipation, anxiety, eagerness and an uncanny attraction to words: All the while wishing we could live the life of the Great Writers. Of course, the skill at writing develops along the way, and the more one writes, the more one grows as a writer.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to look up to writers who have made it big time. It is also good to know who to approach for help when doubting one’s literary skill. I don’t necessarily mean the Bestseller Writers who’ve written great literary works and are legends; yet difficult to reach. But right here in our company we have our legendry story tellers and book writers who have a rare talent for ‘writing stories that tell a story’.

Today at Mandy’s Pages, we’ll take a look at book excerpts, why Glory writes, and most of all, what others have to say about your work. Last week we have seen a few writers reach the limelight. This week, I’ve asked them to give an insight into writers that have inspired them and influenced their work; the very reason why they themselves have become credible writers.

Writer of the Week

Glory Lennon

As anyone who knows me can tell, I have no delusions of grandeur. I don’t expect anyone to see a literary genius in me (heaven forbid!) nor do I expect to write the next bestseller and I don’t care if no one or everyone reads what silliness I write. I just like to write.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when someone, a friend, stranger or foe, tells me they find some enjoyment from a story I tell, but I won’t allow that to get to my head. With all those people out there reading anything online, some are bound to like something I scribble down. I figure the odds are in my favor!

What do I write? Oh, just funny little stories of no great import and somewhat epic novels with no end in sight (see Violet’s in Bloom for proof of that!) I just know that nothing’s going to stop me from writing, not bad reviews, rolling eyes nor wagging fingers telling me to stop splitting infinitives (I guess I really should learn what an infinitive is, huh?)

I tell no lies. I write for me, not my ego. I write to make myself happy, not for accolades. I write for my own enjoyment, for my peace of mind, for my sanity. Some may say they see no evidence that my writing has improved my link to reality and they’d be right, indeed.

But I’ll turn around and say, “Just imagine me if I couldn’t get the voices out of my head!” SCARY!

Glory recommends

A Fool and his wish by John Devera

Humor: The problems associates with growing old by Diane Quinn


Moving on, Conny Manero has quite an impressive collection of books. I'm not talking about a library of books that we've collected over the years to read or as our favorites. These are books that she has personally applied her talent to. These are stories that she has written; each a tale in itself. Take a look at her work. You will find that she so skillfully crafts her stories around characters we can relate to. And more importantly is her humane side; her unmistakable love for animals.

Here are three of her book excerpts which give an insight into the story-line of each.

Novel Excerpts: Waiting for Silverbird

The audience rose to their feet in a standing ovation as Danielle Hamilton gracefully dropped to the floor, ending a three-hour show. Panting with exhaustion she listened to the crowd, the sound of hands clapping and voices cheering. The show was a success, no doubt about that, and for a moment she enjoyed the satisfaction of it. As the lights went to black and the stage was covered in near darkness she got up, ready to take her bow when the spotlights were turned on again. Noticing the chorus in the wings of the stage, seeing they were applauding her too, she signaled for them to join her on stage for yet another bow, and another and another.

Kitten's Diaries: Chanel's Story

For a while I lived in a cat shelter. Then one day my friends and I were put in cages, loaded into a car and transported to a pet store. On the way in, I saw a sign that read "National Pet Adoption Week".

Being adopted by a family would be nice, but I did not have much hope.

In the cat shelter, I saw plenty of people come and go, but I never got chosen. People walked past the cages, saying how cute and adorable the other cats and kittens were, but they never said that about me. If anything, they frowned at the sight of me.

Voice of an Angel:

When Jack Garrett first heard the otherworldly voice, his head snapped up and he quickly surveyed the street around him. The song, or rather ‘the voice,’ was hypnotizing, powerful, and crystal clear. He listened, recognizing the song as Memories, made famous by Barbara Streisand. He was pretty sure that it wasn’t a recording because he couldn’t hear any accompanying instruments. His eyes swept over the multi floored apartment buildings, looking for a woman singing; but, he couldn’t see anyone.

Now ain't that impressive!

Talking about Book Excerpts, Channel Manager, Heidi Peister's work is worth checking out. She is one who is a story teller in herself, with real life taking center stage in her themes. Her whole life has been one of weaving stories; her main inspirations being her children. Some of her stories are reflected through her book excerpts at Helium.

Novel Excerpts: Children's Fantasy


Some of last week's featured writers have been tagged. I've invited them to contribute reviews on writers of their choice. I have to admit they amaze me with their spirit and cooperation. Take a look at what they have to say.

Reviews by Jay Maul

Michael Burgwin

The way in which he uses language is as poetic as prose can be. The subject of his pieces are hard-hitting and honest. He pulls no punches, but softens the blows with his wonderful word choices.

Short Stories: Dead Fish

Elizabeth McGrath

She is a writer who touches upon the human psyche, searching it's depths to answer the eternal question: Is there such a thing called a soul? If so, what does it look like?

Poetry: So She Dances

Chelsea Crawford

She is a young and exciting author who is full of insightful inquiries that keep her stories fresh, like the human spirit: always seeking new ways of looking at the world around it.

Flash Fiction: Death On A Cruise Ship


Review by Alexandra Heep

When I thought I could not swim in the Creative Writing pond, Melissa Bickel embraced me into the school of poetry fish. In the beginning she held my hand; then let me swim free. She is part of the reason I ventured out trying to express myself with an audience.

Melissa has been with Helium for a long time. While always encouraging others, she never seeks recognition for herself. Let this be one time she can have the well-deserved spotlight on her.

Songs: Cowboys


Reviews by Darren Horton

Alistair Marquise

Alistair has a great imagination, and one that I admire. He creates characters, places and situations that are both original and brilliant (and usually quite unpleasant, too). His Flash Fiction is expertly crafted and his style and ideas are unique. I often think to myself, I wish I’d thought of that.

Flash fiction: A mysterious woman

Rachel Howells

I always get the impression that Rachel seems either amused or bemused or downright annoyed with the ridiculousness of life. Most of her articles leave me grinning, and those that don’t leave me grinning, leave me thinking. Rachel writes both funny and serious with equal jaw-dropping, talent.

Humor: Great ways to annoy coworkers

Jay Maul

Jay writes the best stories in a style that is often purposefully vague, relying on his skill as a writer and the imagination of the reader to interpret his poetic, almost dream-like tales. Not many writers are so eloquent when describing something ordinary or something brutal.

Short stories: Home


Reviews by Elie Hutcheson

Alistair Marquise

I enjoy Alistair's vivid descriptions and colorful characters. I like his work because it keeps me intrigued. He is a very versitile and talented writer. I have read many stories written by Alistair and the only constant in his writing seems to be that there is no constant. Each story is it's own unique piece.

Glory Lennon:

Glory's draws her reader in with down to earth characters and realisitic adventures. I like her work because it's unpredictable and well written. The main thing that pops out to me about Glory's writing is the relationships between the characters. Her dialog is also captivating. It seems so natural, and flows so evenly.

Diane Quinn:

Diane makes me laugh. Her brand of humor never ceases to bring a chuckle to my lips. I like her writing, her stories and articles are well written and unique. What makes the so unique is her own unique perspective and the addition of humor. A good laugh gets me every time.


With that, friends and writers, concludes my blog post for this week. Next week I will feature writers and writing styles exclusively related to poetry. Should you have an idea, review or style of poetry you'd like to talk about, drop me a line. You know how to find me.

Amanda Dcosta - Writer, Helium.com