Here’s a bit from my #nanowrimo story #7, a retelling of the headless horseman. Poor unsuspecting Cleora! I am severely behind on my nano word count at 31,825 words today, but I’m having a lot of fun researching this story so I don’t quite mind.
Here's the original tale, one of my favorite American folk tales:
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
by Washington Irving
FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS
OF THE LATE DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER.
A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.
CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.
In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.
My #6 story for #nanowrimo is after the Japanese fairytale “Willow Wife.” I’ve adapted it into a near-future story of friendship and the challenges of our worldwide climate change.
Here is the original story:
In a certain Japanese village there grew a great willow tree. For many generations the people loved it. In the summer it was a resting place, a place where the villagers might meet after the work and heat of the day were over, and there talk till the moonlight streamed through the branches. In winter it was like a great half-opened umbrella covered with sparkling snow.
I was delighted to get to do a fun and quirky interview over at Riddled with Arrows literary journal. Riddled with Arrows publishes metafiction/ars poetica, one of my favorite genres of writing.
When did you first meet poetry?
HLW: I was maybe fourteen, sitting outside the crappy pizza joint across from my high school, where I often went to wait for my mom to pick me up after school. I think I was scribbling in my journal, you know, the kind of dreams and chapstick-scented hopes at that age. Maybe I was in love, or maybe just as lonely as only a teenager can be, when poetry came up to me. She had this lopsided grin on her face and she was wearing a cloak made of stars. Her face was cracked and two-toned like a faded map you might find rolled up in a scroll, hidden under the porch stairs in a dusty box buried in the dirt . . .
Read the full interview here . . .
Story #5 of #nanowrimo 10 stories in one month is a retelling of the fairytale “Girl without Hands.” This one is super dark. Here’s a little excerpt: ͞
“You got the prettiest hair,” Nettie would say. That close, I could smell the forest on her. I didn’t like the forest, not one bit. It was dark and there were strange men that came through there sometimes, cutting over the Johnson’s land to the main road. Nettie smelled like she’d been lying in the dirt, and she sat there in the buff, shivering. Her face was smudged, and her boots were sitting near the fire caked with mud and frost, and her hands were hard and cold. She’d put her icy fingers out and wrap them around one of my braids. She’d run her hand up the braids. She’d kiss me on the cheek and I’d go stiff as a board, my hands against my sides, not thinking nothing at all.
Here's the original fairytale:
The Girl without Hands
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
A miller fell slowly but surely into poverty, until finally he had nothing more than his mill and a large apple tree which stood behind it. One day he had gone into the forest to gather wood, where he was approached by an old man, whom he had never seen before, and who said, "Why do you torment yourself with chopping wood? I will make you rich if you will promise me that which is standing behind your mill."
This past weekend I participated in Zinefest Houston - one of my favorite local events. In this event, local paper artists create zines to sell--small, hand-made, individual books, pamphlets, and other paper ephemera. I've participated twice and I always enjoy this well-crafted event. What I like about Zinefest is the audience. It's mostly young people who are interested in meeting other writers and artists. It's also one of the most diverse and well-attended events I go to every year. I always end up meeting some lovely folks!
For me, the zine is about vulnerability. You can put something in a zine that you might not want to put online. You can also show off your skills with your hands. Each zine I make is hand-folded, hand-cut, or hand-colored. In this way, zines are ephemeral and special. Like chapbooks, they usually focus on one specific theme. I love making them and buying them because I always learn new ways to play with paper. We often forget that paper is what physically connects us to readers. It's a precious resource. Perhaps this is why most of my writing starts out as a handwritten draft. That connection to paper propels my imagination. It says, it's okay to make a mistake, in a way that Word, with its myriad of editing options, doesn't.
Zinesters are some of the coolest people I've ever met. They might seem strange to outsiders, but every time I'm around them I feel at ease. It's like finding your tribe.
I'm already thinking up new ideas for next year's festival!
Day 11 of #NaNoWriMo and I’m on to my fourth fairy tale retelling. This one is quite dark. It imagines a world where fairies have been eradicated as part of a holocaust and fled underground. But a fairy anthropologist wants to find them to offer help.
Here are two tales that this idea stemmed from:
Origin of the Hidden People
Two Legends from Iceland
Once upon a time, God Almighty came to visit Adam and Eve. They received him with joy, and showed him everything they had in the house. They also brought their children to him, to show him, and these He found promising and full of hope.
An excerpt from my fairytale retelling of "The Country Where Death is Not." In my version, a young man hunts for a place to bring his dying mother. He is seeking a place to call home, a utopia, you might say. But what he finds is much darker than he expected.
This is the original tale, from Sudan:
The Country Where Death Is Not
There was a man with his mother. The mother was much afraid of dying, therefore she wished to go into a country where there is no death. The son said, "Where is a country without death?"
Day 8 of #nanowrimo, 2,300 words. Finished up my Beauty and the Beast (with lady Beast, set in the Scottish moors) retelling and on to a lesser-known fairytale, “The Town Where Death Is Not.” If you haven’t read this gory little tale, I highly recommend googling it. 😈
I got a bit behind on updating my website and trackers because of house maintenance stuff yesterday, but here are the excerpts from day 3 (the ending of Mrs. Winkle - a take on Rip Van Winkle from a woman's POV) and day 4 (Beauty and the Beast):
I have 1793 words so far on my first NaNoWriMo story, a retelling of Rip Van Winkle from a woman’s POV. Here’s today’s excerpt:
“The city was harsh and dirty, and sometimes beautiful, but those days were few and far between. She’d never known anything different than the city, with its staggering heat, pulsing voice of music falling out of cars, and tremble of planes passing low overhead late at night. The city was progress and destruction and rebuilding and progress. It wasn’t a place for daydreams.”
This #NaNoWriMo, I'm writing 10 short stories, all fairytale retellings!
The fairytale genre has always fascinated me, even from a very young age. This is probably the case with most speculative writers, and also with people of my age who grew up in the golden age of Disney. Drawing inspiration from authors like Carmen Maria Machado, Shirley Jackson, Naomi Novik, Helen Oyeyemi, and Gregory Maguire, this November I'm focusing my short story writing on fairytales. As the month goes on, I'll update here with the list of fairytales I'm retelling. To begin with, I've focused on fairytale tropes as story seeds.
1. Rip Van Winkle
2. Beauty & the Beast
3. The Country Where Death is Not
4. Origins of the Hidden People
5. The Girl without Hands
6. The Willow Wife
Check back for more updates as my month of writing progresses. I usually try to post excerpts from my stories as the month goes on, both on my blog, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you want to add me on the NaNoWriMo website, my username is Hwally.
Greg Bem over at Yellow Rabbits has posted a review of Glimmerglass Girl. Thanks Greg for reading my work with such care!
"The chapbook Glimmerglass Girl, while a whorl of selected moments, contains a collective and collective energy that has the potential to awe and influence. It is a feminist work as much as it is a work of an independent, confident poet. There is a general outburst of energy here, one that indicates journey and trial and achievement. It is a landscape of learning and knowledge, wisdom even, attained through the process of living out womanhood. These are poems that, as a collection, field experiential memory and meditative spaces of raw emotion. The book, both narrative and lyrical, lends itself to a harmony of reflection and gracious internalization. The poems are short and brief, and ultimately find their strongest qualities through Holly Lyn Walrath’s overarching voice when the book has been read and the covers finally closed. . . "
Read the full review here . . .
This November 17, I'll be reading with Gemini Ink and fellow Finishing Line Press writers at Kaboom Books. I'll read a bit more from Glimmerglass Girl and try not to buy more books. Oh, let's face it, I'll probably buy more books.
RSVP on Facebook . . .
Feature in the Houston Chronicle: Looking through Houston poet Holly Lyn Walrath’s ‘Glimmerglass Girl’
Sometimes being a writer can be a little surreal. Yesterday, I went out to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to take pictures with the butterflies, today I get to share with you this Houston Chronicle feature about my writing.
Poems have always been there for me. I've had a whirlwind of personal life stuff lately. Putting out a new chapbook. Moving to a new house. A death in the family. But I can always come back to poems.
Thanks to everyone who has come with me on this journey and to those who've always supported my writing. It's lovely to know all of you. I'm grateful to get to share my words with the world.
"Walrath’s “Glimmerglass Girl” is an intense collection of poetry that speaks out from the first page. Not for the faint of heart, it’s open, but sharp as Walrath doesn’t shy away from letting her readers see the blood, even if she lets it drip across flowers and suburban kitchen countertops.
The female experience is a large part of Walrath’s poetry. Much of the work does match her interest in the speculative. The spirits of nature and the wonder of fairytales are common themes across her verses. However, like fairytales there is something dark and primal underneath the resemblance to children’s literature."
Read more at the Houston Chronicle . . .
Fellow poet and SFPA member Matt Betts asked me to do a "poetry post-mortem" for his blog! This is basically a behind-the-scenes of one of my poems, how it came to me, what inspired it, and why I wrote it. I chose "Two Hundred Fifty-Seven," a poem from my new chapbook Glimmerglass Girl.
Read the poem and its post-mortem here . . .
This fall I'm hitting up a few book events in Texas. Here's where you can find me, pick up a copy of Glimmerglass Girl, and say hi!
Join Writespace and Spider Road Press as we celebrate the release of Glimmerglass Girl, the debut poetry chapbook written by dedicated Writespace volunteer Holly Lyn Walrath. The collection’s publisher, Finishing Line Press, describes the work as a “unique visual collection of speculative poetry [that] addresses femininity, feminism, and the intersection of womanhood and nature."
To celebrate Glimmerglass Girl, we are inviting women-identifying writers to share their own work alongside Holly at our Women’s Voices Reading and Open Mic. We are excited to hear work that examines all aspects of womanhood, and we especially welcome historically marginalized voices.
DATE: Friday, October 19th, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Writespace (2000 Edwards, Studio #208, Houston, TX 77007)
PRICE: Free to all! If you are interested in reading, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Book Festival - Tabling with Bountiful Balcony Books
DATE: Saturday & Sunday, October 27-28
LOCATION: Texas State Capitol
I'll be tabling with Bountiful Balcony Books at this year's Texas Book Festival! Come say hi and pick up a signed copy of Glimmerglass Girl or one of the other awesome offerings from the Bountiful table!
Zine Fest Houston - Tabling
DATE: Saturday, November 17, 2018
LOCATION: Lawndale Art Center
PRICE: Free to all!
I'll be tabling at Zine Fest Houston this year with some new story zines! Come say hi and pick up a signed copy of Glimmerglass Girl!
I have a new prose poem up today at Terse Journal: What it Feels Like to Play Video Games as a Woman.
Read the full poem here . . .
My tarot-inspired story "Tarot of the Animal Lords" is now available on Amazon in the Shards Noblebright anthology by Spring Song Press. This story is about a woman trying to find her way out of a dystopian future where a mysterious illness has devastated the countryside. Along the way, she reconnects with her wild roots and the boyfriend she left behind.
Get your copy today:
I have a new poem, "Erasure" (after Ralph Waldo Emerson) - in ARTHouston Magazine Issue#7 (September 2018)
those souls / in the pictures /
breathe / memory /
in danger of forgetting /
that they had their origin /
in wax / and / paint / in the narrow lodging /
of a thought which pours itself /
color and form / barbaric pearl and gold /
I was to see / with eyes / pierced
/ with / salt water, to find that which was perfect /
in the chambers of / the earth
I got to share some fun pics of my bookshelves over at The Coil Magazine as part of their #Shelfie series.
As I'm moving, books have been on my mind because my current shelves are bursting at the seams. I finally convinced my spouse to get me yet another bookshelf for the new house. (We now have 6?) But there's something magical about your whole house feeling like a library. Books are a safe harbor in the storm. Check out my copies of Jane Eyre, The Eyes of the Dragon, and of course, now I get to add my own chapbook Glimmerglass Girl.
Read the article here . . .
I have a new poem up today at Liminality: A Magazine of Speculative Poetry. It's called "Dead-Eye Girl" and it's nice and creepy for the upcoming month of October!
I am seeking you in the blood on my tongue
in the rims of shattered bottles under bridges
in the blossoms of storm clouds in summertime
in the songs of cicadas swarming.
Read the full poem here . . .
The Coil Magazine has five poems from my chapbook Glimmerglass Girl up today! It's really cool to see these poems out in the world.
Read them here . . .
I wrote a little creative nonfiction piece over at Cotton Xenomorph today on my secret food love: sweet pickles! Yes, I am a Southern girl and I love these little sweet nuggets of goodness. I am ashamed/not ashamed.
Read the full essay here. . .
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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Holly Walrath's books on Goodreads
ratings: 19 (avg rating 4.21)
Our Space: Shorts & Poetry from the Houston Community
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)
In Medias Res: Stories from the In-Between
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)
The 2017 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2016 Selected by the Science Fiction Poetry Association
ratings: 16 (avg rating 4.31)
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.67)