Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Valentines, Dragons, and Ninja's, Oh My! (Plus IWSG)

Would you like a chance to win MY BOOKS? (The Maiden of Time trilogy?) Keep reading...

From Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out and Guilie Castilol-Oriard at A Quiet Laughter, and co-hosted by Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey. and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

My contribution:


I can't do this
echoes loudly
over the petulant stares
and hungry faces
waiting to be fed
my anguish.

I stand straight
smile plastered and cracking
chasing a single breath
blinded to the crowd by
a well of loss.

For he lies in that casket
now closed
to open at some distant date.
Long, long in the future.

Did I know him at all?
Well enough?
Or is he a stranger?

His world so distant.
So dignified.

Farther than I could reach.

Though reach I did,
a child cooing for his pleasure
a girl trusting his grasp while treading ripples
a young woman handing greasy tools beneath an elevated van
a daughter locked behind a piano to produce an adequate eulogy of love.

The song that waits
trapped by four 
bloated words:
I can't do this.

But he is not gone.
He is listening
championing his little girl, though unseen.

My throat opens.
I sing for him.

And though I cannot see him,

I am wrapped in his love.

In my home, Valentines Day is a family holiday. My husband buys/makes gifts for each of his kids and they wake up that morning to a daddy surprise. My father did similar things--surprises. That's one aspect I remember him best for. He passed away in 2004, and though I sometimes speculate about what life would be like if he were physically present, I can attest that he is not far. Those who pass on are closer than we think.

Find the rest of the hop HERE.

As far as IWSG, this is it this month, folks! Emotion is what drives powerful writing--the good, the bad, etc. What emotion are you experiencing right now, and how can you use it to better your writing?

Now how about a giveaway? (One that's a little lighter hearted?)

Last week Rena Rocford shared with us ACNE, ASTHMA, AND OTHER SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE HALF DRAGON, along with two truths and a lie. Those who guessed the lie correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win an ebook.

The Game:

1. I once wore the Hope Diamond. I was working at the Smithsonian for my master's degree, and the Hope Diamond was just being put back into its setting after being scanned for a documentary to see if it was possible to get the Hope and another diamond from the Cul de Mar. They were about to shine up the diamond and they were letting the resident scientists wear the diamond. It was surreal.
2. One time, a person fell out of the sky into the middle of a field trip I was leading. Then, he flew away.
3. I once pulled a matched pair of black pearls from an oyster at a pick'a'pearl. But first, I told the guy running the kiosk that I couldn't buy one because I would pull a pair of matched, black pearls, and that would blow his mind. He said he didn't believe me, and the rest is history.

The lie: #1. And by way of fun, Rena said: I did see the Hope up close and personal. They had it out of its setting for a documentary to see if it could have been cut from the Cul de Mar, but I didn't wear it. No one wears it. My adviser held it, but I didn't have the nerve. So, there I am, standing inside a vault, inside a vault and they're passing around the Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond. My brain leaked. Then, I was looking around and there was a diamond necklace. At first, I thought it was a fake. Then I thought about how I had to walk past two armed guards to get into that room. Every gaudy, shiny bit of of everything in the room that had looked like a cheap tourist attraction suddenly looked VERY different. There was a solid gold statue of a camel with crushed rubies mixed into epoxy to color the blankets. The diamond necklace in the box with silk could only be real diamonds. I pointed it out. The guy said "Oh yeah, that's the necklace Napoleon gave to Marie. That's the package he gave it to her in." This necklace. And I held it--in the same package Napoleon held. 

Interesting side notes about the truths: 

I had the matched black pearls made into a pair of earrings. I wear them when I need some extra luck. I'm suspicious that all the luck is worn out of them with that spectacular origin story, or they are wiser than I am and realize I haven't really needed their luck just yet. 

As for the guy who dived into my field trip, he was just launching his parasailer. It hadn't caught the wind yet (it wasn't the best launch). I saw something out of the corner of my eye and slammed on the breaks. The parasailer fell onto the van, dragged his bottom across the windshield, tweaked the antennae and flew away.

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:


Congrats, Hilary!

And now for this week's feature... A ninja/demon fusion...

For as long as sixteen-year-old Zade can remember he’s dealt with the thing locked inside, another soul that can use his body...if he lets it. 

As long as he stays away from the nearby villagers, he can control the soul’s strange powers—and its hunger—powers he needs to keep the encroaching creatures of the nether realm from finding the demon gate and destroying the valley where he lives. 

But when Zade saves a village girl from monstrous wolves, he loses the one tool that aids his control: the villagers’ fear of him. 

Now they won't leave him alone and his darker side is getting stronger—a side hungry for blood, and it doesn’t care if that blood is demonic or human.
Get your copy HERE.

Ready to meet the author?

R. W. Hert spent her childhood dreaming of fairies and dragons, large battles filled with magic, and the impossible coming true. Books were a  portal that allowed her to visit the impossible and believe in the unlikely. Today she uses those dreams to create worlds that others can travel through and enjoy. Today she lives in Utah with her husband and three kids.

She really likes Asiago cheese and Swiss. You might run across her munching some while curled up on the couch watching a movie.

R.W. gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to an eBook of DAEMARKIN, DEMON'S VOW! (Open Internationally.)

You have until Tuesday, February 9 at 1 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answers on February 10.

1. I climbed a waterfall barefoot and when I reached the top gorged myself on wild raspberries. Best raspberries I’ve ever had (and the most awesome climb I’ve ever done). 
2. I ran over a mile in under 4 minutes because I thought I was being chased by a mountain lion. 
3. I was dropped down a twenty foot hole and left to get out on my own. 

ALSO, you have a chance to WIN MY BOOKS, along with R.W. Hert's. (My books are the 7th prize--see the dots below the prize announcement? Yup. A paperback of Soulless for US residents or eBook of MOONLESS and SOULLESS.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So sleuths, which is the lie? Are you missing someone this Valentines season? Do you like ninjas? How about demon stories?


  1. I'm sorry! Those are special memories you'll always have of your father though.
    I'll guess the second one is the lie. (I never guess correctly anyway, so why not?)

  2. Your children will have such nice memories of Valentine's Day and their daddy surprises! Such a great idea. :)

  3. Daddy surprises. How sweet.

    Gosh, not sure about the lie this week. I think number 2. A 4-minute mile sounds really really really fast.

  4. Beautiful poem. It is the little things like that which are so important. :) My guess is #2 is the lie!

  5. Hi Crystal - thanks so much for Rena's win .. I'm an acne-asthma loving dragon - now to read and actually do the learning. Wonderful back stories to your three choices - love them all - crazy life.

    # 2 is the lie ... However your poem 'Never Lost' is I am sure very true - those gone are still with us ... an emotional read. Also the Valentine's Day surprise is a lovely idea ...

    Cheers Crystal and thanks so much for the win - Hilary

  6. I could not agree more, Crystal. I believe the spirit lives on and they are with us and watch over us. Your poem is powerful and speaks volumes of your love for your dad. Well done. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. A beautiful poem—Really lovely imagery!

    I'm guessing #2 is the lie, but like Alex, I never seem to get them right, either. Always a fun game, though.

  8. Love your poem!

    #2 is the lie.

    I enjoy your posts.

  9. The poem is a lovely tribute. Rena's tales about working in the museum were super cool. I don't think I'd want to hold the Hope Diamond either.

  10. What a beautiful tribute, my friend. Excellent Valentine. I want to say #2 is the lie. But everyone said that. I must walk this road alone. #3 is the lie. :-) But pfft, I never get them right. Hugs, pal.

  11. I'm coming to yours on Valentines Day. What a lovely thing to do. Your family should be on telly so I can watch and covet.
    Nice poetry!
    I think 2 is the lie.

  12. Lovely poem. I love the idea of Daddy surprises! I saw the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian in 1967, can't imagine being that close to it! And I'm going to say #3 is the lie.

  13. Beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing it. And what a sweet tradition you have on Valentine's Day.

  14. I love that poem. I miss my father all the time and he's been gone for over twenty years. You have tons of news today.
    I don't think RW ran a mile under four minutes because she'd be training for the Olympics instead of writing if she had.

  15. I ran over a mile in under 4 minutes because I thought I was being chased by a mountain lion. My guess for the lie.

    Loved the poem. A beautiful tribute to your father. I do love hearing about folks that celebrate a day of love. Unusual and sweet!

  16. Hi,
    I really don't know so I am going to guess #3 is the lie.
    Your poem is beautiful.

  17. You are so right about emotion in our writing and your poem proves that to be true. Well done. Losing a parent in this world - the hardest thing I've ever had to overcome, even with the knowledge that they are truly not far.

  18. That is a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Your Love Lost and Found contribution was endearing and quite touching.

    So glad Hilary won! Congrats to her.

    I'm saying #2 is the lie.

  20. Whew, lots of stuff here. First off, I love your poem. Made me get all misty-eyed. I think most of us feel that way about someone who's passed away.

    As for your books, I've read the first two, and am waiting for the third one, so hurry up! :)

    As for the truth/lie thingie, I'll say #1 is the lie. I think she ate blackberries. HA!

  21. Congratulations to Hilary. Your poem is evocative and so sad. Great entry.

  22. I think #2 might be the lie. Crystal that poem was so touching and indeed those who leave us physically are still with us. Hert's book sounds dark and exciting. A hungry soul indeed. Is the contest for a signed paperback copy of Daemarkin international?

  23. What a stirring and artfully written poem, Crystal! From heart-wrenching loss to the ethereal embrace of a father's eternal love. Beautiful!
    I'm guessing #3 is a lie - unless of course, there's a mountain goat involved:-)

  24. I loved your poem. In Mexico Valentine's day is also about frindships. It's nice how we can expand what love is in that day. Because romantic love is not the only love where we can feel we've found or lost something. Very heart fealt.

  25. Beautiful words Crystal. The tradition of your dad and husband are sweet. We never celebrate Valentines day in my house. But that is about to change for my brother:) Have a great week.

  26. That's great that you make Valentine's Day into such a wonderful tradition and memory for your family:)

  27. What a beautifully crafted poem straight from your heart. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Love the poem! I reminds me a bit of Julia Cameron's poetry.

  29. Well done on the poem!

    I'm pretty amazed at the black pearl story. I'm guessing #2 this time.

  30. Your poem...sigh. Wonderfully heartbreaking, if those words could be applied. Well done!

  31. Lovely poem, Crystal. I think 3 is the lie.

  32. I'm going to guess #2 is lie but truly I'm not sure xox

    I love your story about your dad and your hubby... what a sweet and wonderful memory xox ♡

  33. A wonderful poem Crystal! It is a privilege to know of the family tradition which is sustained even till now. Such a fine tribute you've rendered here to your late dad. I think the lie is #2 as not many can run a sub-4 minute mile or outrun a mountain lion. Btw Hank had posted a proper Lost and Found verse at:


  34. Crystal, your poem was a moving tribute to your father. So much emotion! But you've discovered: you can do this! Thanks for such a powerful share.

    Denise :-)

  35. Valentine's Day? You mean Singles Awareness Day. I'll stop before I get bitter...

    Lie... #2...

  36. Such a sweet gesture.... That takes a special kind of guy to be that way with his kids... imagine having two of them in your life!

    Congrats to RW.... The premise sounds amazing!

  37. Really nice poem. And you spoke true words when you said our passed loved ones are closer than we think. I know that's true!
    I'm guessing #3 is the lie...I'm probably wrong but it's just a guess...

    Michele at Angels Bark

  38. I didn't know you did poetry!!! And very well done at that!

  39. I do appreciate poetry, especially since I'm no good at writing it. I do write about angels and demons because the do exist, and Einstein's E=MC2 tells us they can manifest from spirits (energy) to flesh (matter) and back again. Science and the supernatural. They fit together so well.

  40. Beautiful poem. The ones who pass on are closer than we think. Agree. The lie is 2.

  41. Wild raspberries are the best, so I think that one is true. I'll say #2 is the lie.

  42. Sweet poem about your dad, and that you feel he is not far away. How sweet that your husband makes and gives presents to everyone on Valentine's Day.

    Mary at Play off the Page

  43. Beautiful poem. The ones we love are never truly lost. I've no doubt your father sees you still, and is very, very proud:)

  44. Such a wonderful tribute to your dad, Crystal! It sounds like he was special person and obviously had a GREAT influence on you as a child!
    I love the 'Daddy surprises tradition' you've kept going over the years...awesome.

  45. Very cool poetic work. When our parents leave us it is sad. I wonder what things would have been like had my father lived past his 67th year when he departed. They are always with us so we have at least that comfort.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  46. Your poem is so cool! It looks like it's in the shape of a sword.

  47. We celebrate Valentine's Day as a family holiday too. And our Anniversary. When they were little, they looked so disappointed not to be included in the fun. I figure Chad and I will have plenty of alone time when they have kids of families of their own to keep them busy.

  48. I liked your poem and your use of vivid details; it was really good! And I like the idea of giving Valentine's Day gifts to your kids, because that makes it fun for them too. I remember exchanging those little Valentine's cards and candy with my friends and classmates in grade school; I miss that.

  49. That's a nice memory of your father. V-Day was never a big day at my house, so it tends to pass without much fuss for me.

  50. Now that is a special day! I'm sure it will be as treasured for you kids as it is for you. Loved the poem :)

  51. Congratulations, Hilary!

    Love the idea of Valentine's surprises :-)

  52. Your poem is so touching that it's brought tears to my eyes.

  53. Beautiful poem... We don't really celebrate Valentine's day over here, but I do like your tradition of including the kids and having surprises for them. :)

  54. Great poem! I viewed the Hope Diamond once. The blue is so striking and to think it's a diamond and not a sapphire blows my mind. It really is breathtaking.
    The lie is #3

  55. Sounds like Valentines is better than Xmas in your house. Happy Valentines to you and yours. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  56. Valentine's Day is so awesome in your house! I can't even imagine. Outside of my parents doing something for each other, it was barely acknowledged in mine, a tradition I continue to this day. If I don't work on Valentine's Day, I don't even know that it is Valentine's Day.

    Um, #3 for the lie? Either way, she's done some pretty exciting things!

  57. Emotions in writing: how about frustration! (I'm in revisions from an editor.) Shaping conflict with emotion is at the top of my To Do list for each scene. In fact, I'm finding I need to create a new character arc worksheet noting goals, crisis, flaw, etc to further shape the emotions while i'm editing. I need a roadmap.

    I'm writing about social media overload today with a few resource links on how to better focus your efforts: My IWSG post: Stephanie Scott

  58. What a beautiful poem. My Dad died in 2012 and I got tears in my eyes reading this. You are so right though. Last year I found myself in a dangerous situation while driving thanks to my own stupidity, and thought I was alone. I realized quickly that I wasn't though, I could feel that he was there with me. I got through it and I know he was the one who helped me do that.

  59. Such a beautiful poem! Our loved ones to cling to us even though they've departed, huh? That's so true.

    I agree about emotional writing. It can be good and bad and managing it all is the challenge.

  60. Love the challenge to think about emotion and my writing. I probably tend to push emotion aside, but should probably learn to embrace it a bit more.

    Valentine's Day in your house sounds lovely. Have a great celebration!

    Cheers - Ellen |

  61. I loved your poem, it made my heart ache (in a good way!). My grandad passed away a few years ago, but whenever I feel particularly low, I feel like he gives me strength to go on :).

    Rachel Pattinson
    February IWSG Co-host

  62. I am missing my dad terribly, it was just the 2-year anniversary of his death and next week is the 2-year anniversary of the loss of my best friend. I miss them so much.
    I have used writing as a way to process my emotions since I was 10. It is still a habit.
    Trying to figure out the lie, wow those are all pretty frightening but I am going with being chased by the lion.

  63. I really like your contribution - very touching. When you speak of your Dad, it makes me think of my Mom who passed away in 2010. You're right, they are never that far away from us. Their contributions to our lives touches our current world too.

    Nice to meet R.W.! Wishing her well! :)

  64. What a beautiful poem. Valentines is sad for me now. But it's good someone celebrates :) Congrats to RW!

  65. Sounds like Valentine's Day is extra special at your house. Maybe we should try and start a tradition like that ourselves. thanks for the inspirational thoughts and words.

  66. Your words are so touching. I love how your family celebrates the holiday. Emotionally I am a bit worn out but it's a new day and the sun is shining, and I can definitely use my emotion to conclude the resolution in my work In progress. Thank you Crystal. Erika

  67. What a lovely ode to your father... Mine died back in 1992 (I was 19), so your piece hit the spot in more ways than one. My favorite line? "...chasing a single breath". Those four words translated, for me, immediately into a feeling I know too well. Excellent, excellent contribution to the Lost & Found hop, Crystal. Thank you so much for joining!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

  68. Beautiful words and tribute to your dad. Mine has been gone 26 years, but sometimes still feels like yesterday. What a lovely family tradition you going too. Happy Belated IWSG Day
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

  69. Your thoughts about your father and loss put a tear in my eye.

  70. Aw, I think it's so sweet how your husband makes Valentine's Day gifts for your kids, and that your father had had a similar tradition. Sorry he's passed on already. Your poem is such a lovely tribute to him...

  71. Such a beautiful tribute to your father and husband. You are right, those that pass before us are still close. It's just so hard to realize that sometimes but your post reminded me of that. xoxo

  72. Sorry I'm so late getting here. My employment schedule has me working 12.5 hour days every Monday through Wednesday (37.5 hours in 3 days), which leaves me no time for anything until Thursdays, when I begin my 4-days "off" from work.

    Very nice poem for the 'LOST & FOUND' Blogfest! And, yep, they may move into the Spiritual realm, but our loved ones are still nearby. Bingo! This I know.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

  73. I loved your tribute. So lovely. And awesome that your husband sort of carries on your dad's tradition.

  74. The major emotion I'm feeling right now is relief, after the week I've just had. >_< As for Valentine's Day, the sooner it's done and gone the better. *shrug*

  75. "For he lies in that casket..." Oh, that really nailed me in the heart. That was a moving tribute. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  76. I love the poem. So powerful. My father's still around, and I make sure to see him all the time, because that's the kind of thing I don't want to take for granted when he is gone one day.

  77. I screwed up and totally missed IWSG this month. Posted that day, but forgot IWSG. Sigh. Hm, the lie is #2. I love the idea of a personal gift from dad to kiddos for V-Day.

  78. A beautiful touching poem. It reminds me of my father whose been in Heaven for many years. I miss my husband, the second Valentine without him.

  79. I love the idea of Valentine's Day being a family holiday! Daddy surprise gifts. Yay!

  80. Those who pass on are closer than we think... Oh I hope you're right. I also hope you had a great Valentine's Day.



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