Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mina Vaughn's Title Change and Cover Reveal!!!!

Hello!! Long time no blog, eh? I had to come out of the shadows to bring y'all the awesomeness that is Mina Vaughn's HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR VAMPIRE!!! Holy cow, y'all. This stuff is hot.

**Warning: The above image is a replication of what could very well happen to your panties. You've been warned.

Mina is a self described pin-up princess and shoe whore. But I'd argue that she's SO MUCH MORE. I met Mina on le twitters (you can and should follow her too @MinaVaughn) and she's been so uber nice, so I couldn't be happier to participate in these shenanigans. So without further ado I present you the brand spanking *giggles* new cover and title!! 

And HERE is a little snippet from How to Discipline Your Vampire (preorder it for $1.99 NOW):

The Office Christmas Party Scene—How to Discipline Your Vampire Excerpt

Here’s a sexy little tidbit from How to Discipline Your Vampire.  William, Cerise’s submissive, is responsible for setting up elaborate role play scenes each day.  Today’s scene: an office Christmas party…and Cerise is the boss’s wife.

I heard the purr of her car pull into the driveway, and the soft jingle of keys as she put her purse down on the table. The bathroom door slammed, and I threw on some holiday tunes and a mistletoe tie while I waited.

“Have a holly jolly, Mrs. Norrel,” I said, handing her a cup of punch as she walked into the “office,” looking like sex on legs. I could barely keep my body from pouncing at her. Forget the blouse hugging her, it was sensuously embracing her. Cerise’s cleavage peeked out so amply, I wanted to accent it with some mistletoe, or stick a candy cane in it. I held back my desire as she took the punch wordlessly from my hands and sauntered over to the bar.

“Thanks, William,” she said, sipping casually. “Any plans for the holidays?” She leaned over, décolletage bouncing slightly. I licked my lips and found words. “Not really. My family’s heading to visit relatives in Pennsylvania, but I have too much work to catch up on. You?” I tried to break eye contact, not wanting “the boss” to walk in and catch me ogling his wife. I suppressed a smirk—I was getting immersed in my own fictional scene. She made a sour face with her full lips and groaned. “Ugh. Matthew’s taking me on some cruise. I hate cruises,” she said, raking her hand through her long, curled hair. “He always picks vacations where we’re forced to be together 24/7. I’d rather just travel and sightsee. I prefer being alone,” she purred, biting her lip slightly.

That sent me over the edge. I had to get things moving sooner, but without her noticing I was taking too much control. So, I flirted. “I wouldn’t want you to leave my side, either,” I mused. “Mr. Norrel is a smart man. A lucky man,” I said, my throat going dry. I wanted her so badly. She turned to refill her drink, and I caught a glimpse of her long, luscious legs through the slit of the skirt. I imagined taking the fabric on either side in my hands, and tearing it until it exposed whatever lingerie she was wearing beneath. I was hoping for some lacy boy shorts tonight. They were the perfect blend of a thong and bikini panties, and showed lots of cheek.

Now I was the one biting my lip. She noticed. “Well, if you were on the cruise with me, I don’t think I’d leave the cabin,” she whispered, leaning in conspiratorially. I feigned shock. She opened a candy cane and took a long lick.

“Mrs. Norrel,” I said softly, voice hushed and scandalized. “You shouldn’t talk like that.”

She grabbed me by my tie and pulled me close. I could smell her sweet scent, blended with the sharp mint of the candy on her breath. “The firm’s partners all went onto the balcony to chat about a case and smoke cigars,” Cerise said softly, and nuzzled my cheek with her nose. “Matthew couldn’t possibly hear me propositioning you right now, don’t worry.”

I pulled away, hesitantly. “I don’t deserve attention from someone like you, Mrs. Norrel,” I said, bashfully. “My job is my life. I’m usually buried in paperwork, I just don’t—”I stuttered.

She leaned against the bar, pulled me against her, and wrapped one long leg around my waist. She radiated heat, and her aroma made my head spin. “I want you buried in something else,” she said huskily, grinding against me, pressing her sharp heel into my back. I moaned, and grazed my thumb along her collarbone.

“I’ll do anything you want,” I panted, as she slid her tongue down my neck, fingers loosening my tie.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Seleste DeLaney's CLOCKWORK MAFIA Release!!!!

All right, lovely lady! Fist things first, you're purdy and I thought you should know. Okay awkward statement has passed. let's keep it there. *ahem* 

Seleste: Thank you! And we won’t leave it. I have a sister who, when her friends see my pictures on Facebook and ask who I am, says, “That’s my sister, and this is what she really looks like.” So I never ignore compliments now. Muah!

Okay. I think I'm okay now. Moving on...

1) For those new to you what kind of books do you write? 
I write…a lot. LOL.
Seriously though, I have an urban fantasy series (Blood Kissed), I’m one of the authors in a multi-author/shared-world contemporary romance with paranormal elements series (That’s a mouthful. It’s much easier to just call it Cupid’s Conquests.) I have a quirky action-romance series (For Keeps—first book releases June 10!) and an untitled Brazen series coming from Entangled Publishing. Oh, and my steampunk romance series (Badlands), of course J

2) How long have you been writing? 
All my life? To answer the real question there, I first started (slowly) to get serious about my writing in 2007. It took a few years before I wrote something that was considered publishable though.

3) Who are your favorite authors that inspire you?
First and foremost, Kelley Armstrong. She pushed me along most steps of my writing journey. My critique partner, the amazing Katee Robert. Where Kelley wasn’t around to push, Katee took over. She also inspires me with regard to life. A trio of other authors I think are amazeballs are: Hannah Moskowitz, Tiffany Reisz, and Allison Pang.

4) Your new book CLOCKWORK MAFIA  looks incredible! What was your inspiration for it?
LOL My actual inspiration was that when Badlands came out, people demanded more. Seriously, as an author, I do pay attention when my readers speak. I can’t (and won’t try to) make everyone happy, but “more” I can usually manage. From there, I looked at Badlands and thought about which woman’s story had to come next. Because of the events in that first novella, I knew it had to be Henrietta. That meant examining how she connected to everything and the “unkillable” army was born.

5) Will there be any more books in this series?
Editor-gods willing, yes! I have two more books planned (Mahala and Laurette). I just need my brave and trusting editor to take them on. Seriously though, one way or another, the series will be finished. After all, I hereby solemnly swear I am up to no good. ;-)

Thank you for stopping by my blog and giving us some insight into your awesome! 


For more info on Seleste check out her website.

Go forth and buy BADLANDS and of course you need to buy CLOCKWORK MAFIA so you don't have to skip a beat between each delicious book!

Thank you again, Seleste!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Chapbook

Here's my chapbook from my Craft of Poetry class. I warn you I am not a poet so don't hold any expectations. :D I've moved things around a bit because I have a poem on submission and there really isn't a need for a title page on here. Enjoy!

Critical Essay
At its core poetry is a written history and personal interpretation of life and the workings of the human mind. The greatest value in poetry is its ability to reach inside a reader and either unite them through recognized experiences, or shake them to the core with thought provoking prose. I am still not interested in reading poetry beyond Shel Silverstein; however, I have a great respect for the art of creating a work that can evoke powerful emotions with an economy of words. I would like to take the things I’ve learned from this course and incorporate them into my picture book and novel writing. So much of what is required in the craft of poetry is useful and applicable to those endeavors.
While Riccio says, “narrative poetry is concerned primarily with telling a story” I think that all poems have a story to tell. This is what draws people to it. Whether through the use of powerful imagery, or the use of white space and visual pacing, such as Jackson’s use of it in his poem “Emergency” (70-72). This vivid imagery and intensity of pacing draws the reader in, and when skillfully crafted can quicken the pulse and wreak havoc on the readers emotions for complete strangers they would normally have no emotion ties to. It is this expert handling of craft and evoking of emotional and physical reactions that draws so many to both the reading and writing of poetry.
So many elements of the craft of poetry are useful to not only poets, but wordsmiths of any genre. The importance of utilizing an economy of words is necessary for affective writing in fiction as well. And while meter may not be as central a part of fiction writing, pacing certainly is. Keeping a reader on the edge of their seat, wanting for the next lines on the page is what every fiction writer strives for. The cadence of language is universal whether the work is meant to be read aloud or silently. The mind has a way of being attracted to patterns and sounds and in this the poetic elements are essential.
Though I may never consider myself a poet I am thankful for the elements of craft that I have learned within this course. As stated above pacing, imagery, and most importantly mastering the economy of words will be tools I hope to utilize and eventually master in my own writing. It is possible to write without knowing and understanding the elements of craft, but in order to write in a daring and new way, you must first know the rules in order to break them.

Chapbook Table of Contents
I.                   Title Page
II.                Critical Essay/Introduction
III.             Table of Contents:
Poetry in Moments: Ars Poetica Poem 
9        Days Late: Four Temperaments Poem 
Leading Lady: Imitation of Gary Jackson’s “Gothamites”
Holding the Ocean: Form and Meter Poem 
What Else Could I Do 
The Eyes Have It: An Imitation Poem of Shel Silverstein’s Style 
Final Stop 
IV.             Notes Pages:
a.       Notes on the inspiration for the poem 9 Days late
b.      Inspiration of the poem Leading Lady
c.       Inspiration of the poem The Eyes Have It
d.      Inspiration of the poem Final Stop
V.                Author Biography

Poetry in Moments
A thousand tiny elephants stomping through,
words tumbled and jumbled.
A need,
to make long dead people proud.
Beneath layers of muck.
Doubting if this simple task
is too much—yet not enough.
Headache gained,
fear receding.
Hair pulling, nail biting,
A wall of faces judging, having earned their place.
Still, still, still here.
A hummingbird in a hawk’s disguise.
Fake it long enough and it can be true.

 9 Days Late
9 days late,
3 tests,
24 hours of pain,
Heart rate drops in tandem with blood pressure,
The pain and the fear weaving together into a crescendo of tears and blood,
8 pounds 2 ounces later,
Tears of joy, fear turned to elation
A boy to bring about a change.

9 days late,
2 tests,
0 hours of Pain-scheduled,
Nothing but joy,
A new love to expand the heart,
7 pounds 14 ounces later,
Love expands despite,
A girl’s tear stained face.

9 days late,
2 tests,
0 hours of Pain-scheduled,
Silence meets the ears, bringing tears and fear,
A mother’s cry met by a baby silence,
A first breath gone wrong,
A worn heart breaking as new lungs collapse,
The thrumming of hope takes flight,
2 hours of hope dashed as a new life slips away,
Back to the beginning, with no middle before the end.

4 months later,
9 days late,
4 tests-digital confirmations,
3 unscheduled stays,
0 hours of Pain-scheduled,
Too scared to let go,
Fear-all consuming,
6 pounds 3 ounces later,
Fear disappears-replaced,
By a baby girl that comes into the world, laughing.

Leading Lady
Let TVLand have its June Cleaver,
Disney have its Mary Poppins, Max
his Ruby. We have our Connor.
She is toughened.

True she’s only a woman,
but not one girls dream about
becoming—fighting for survival,
saving a son that would save them all.
Our lady keeps company
with outliers, self aware machines,
keeps time by the exchanging of clips.

We’ve heard the rumors—
from psychopath
to savior of the future generations. How
she’s forty now, yet still keeps
pace with police and machines
able to destroy the earth.

Some of us bet she’s even
Home-grown, right her.
Not some fantasy
or misogynistic creation.
but one of us, who had to decide
she was going to be strong,
take this dim future back
into the hands of humanity,
show those sentient robots
how a woman defends her home.

Holding the Ocean

Were there
Holding hope,
That I’d reach out.
The need for flesh clear,
Your face—falling from high.
Wind blows, salt burns—an ice heart
Glistening, blazing, your hand falls.
Moments passed in the blink of a life,
The back door of the ocean never closed.

What Else Could I Do

You left,
in the slender hours before dawn.

You left
the lights burning their way through our groceries.

You left
me angry, sated, so full I became empty.

You left,
every day only to return again—until

you left
me standing beside a chasm in the ground.


The Eyes Have It
They say eyes are a window to the soul.
That no matter what people say, you can go
Look someone right in the eyes and know.
So tell me then, if you can
With so many eyes upon it, does a potato
Have a soul too?


Final Stop

The station, empty
in the slender hours of morning.

A slight rustling of feathers
against brick, the mortar crumbling—
in spots. A picture of the newest show
hanging slightly askew in its rust framed perch.

The hum of life trickles in with the people,
shaking off the snow like a toddler in the throws of a tantrum.

Engines grind to life
another day of rushing by the dead girl
under the tracks—she waits for night,
where she is mourned by the silence.



9 Days Late: I had to interview a friend for another class assignment and we discussed her children and their births. In talking we discovered this odd truth in numbers with all of her pregnancies. 

Leading Lady: This poem is an imitation of Gary Jackson’s “Gothamites” (Missing you, Metropolis 27)
The Eyes Have It: This poem was written as homage to Shel Silverstein’s style.
Final Stop: Poem inspired by in class selection of noun and verb pares.

Author Biography
J.C. is a student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA pursuing a major in Professional Communications and minor in Creative Writing. When she isn’t chasing messes left behind by her children or dogs she’s reading, writing, or tweeting.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One of my assignments this semester was to find literary magazines that I would hypothetically like to submit my poetry to.I say hypothetically because my poetry is ballz and I wouldn't willingly subject anyone to it. However, I thought some of you might like to see the magazines/journals that I found and why I liked them. All of the following literary magazines are open to submissions of poetry and were found using list server.
Basalt appears to be a more traditional literary magazine both in their mission statement and submission guidelines. They accept postal and online submissions, but no submissions via email and are willing to accept simultaneous submissions as long as the submitter notifies them. They pay in copies, as is typical, but they also hold contests so that opportunity to win something beyond that is possible. A literary magazine such as this would be a wonderful place to send a work that is more serious in nature.
The Southeast Review is Florida State University’s literary magazine, established in 1979. It has multiple opportunities both as a straight submission for publication and through their contests. They also accept simultaneous submissions, which not all do so it gives a writer a greater chance at their work being accepted. They publish everything from literary fiction and creative nonfiction to poetry and art. This coupled with the fact that it’s run by MFA students makes it a desirable choice for submitting as an unpublished writer. Their focus and intentions of being a valuable resource for writers through their magazine and online presence is also very much desirable for an unpublished writer.
The Missouri Review was founded in 1978 and has a laundry list of accolades for its writers. Many of the works they have published have gone on to win prestigious national prizes. They accept both email submissions and simultaneous submissions year-round. They have the a high payment at $40 per page in addition to two copies of the issue with the writer’s work in it. They have a fantastic blend of established and new writers and poets. If someone’s work was published in this journal it would be a great honor and exposure for the aspiring writer and poet. They also have a witty editorial voice that would be fun to work with.
Gargoyle Magazine just looks fun and slightly out there in comparison to so many of the other literary magazines. They were founded in 1976 and accept simultaneous submissions and email submissions. They have an eclectic assortment of work that they publish and they seem to ride the line between academic and off the wall. Their focus seems to be whatever catches their eye. This can be a great advantage for a writer as the majority of literary magazines like to hold to a theme for each issue putting a limit on what can really be sent in. While they have a rather small opening for submissions it is definitely worth the effort.
The New South literary magazine is another that is very open to all genres and subjects. They accept simultaneous submissions year-round, and pay in the form of copies. As it is a literary magazine that is run by the graduate students of Georgia State University’s New South Workshop, they are on the lookout for all forms of poetry and writing. They are open to unique writing styles just as much as traditional. Their focus is on quality and what catches their eye. Their focus being on work that is thought provoking and inspiring.

Works Cited
Hill, Denise, Foor, Nicole, McIlvenna, Kirsten, & Zemsta, Holly. NewPages. Casey Hill, 1999-    2013. Web. 12 February 2013.

Friday, March 29, 2013

An Interview with the Delightful Delilah S.Dawson

Today I am SO EXCITED to bring you an interview with the lovely and talented Delilah S. Dawson!!!

I know *I* can't wait to get my hands on the next adventure in Sang!  So I guess I should stop fangirling and get on with the interview.

1. How many books and novellas do you plan to write in the world of Sang? 
So far, the world of Sang includes three books, three e-novellas, and one short story in the CARNIEPUNK anthology out this July with Gallery books. I'm always open to more, though, and especially hope I'll get a chance to finish Criminy and Tish's story from WICKED AS THEY COME, which was left just the tiniest bit open.


2. Do you have any actors or models that inspired you for this book?

Ooh, yes! THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE was entirely based on the idea of Thor in a kilt. With a Scottish accent. The rest of the story grew to accommodate that concept. Frannie is based on Jewel Staite of Firefly, and Casper is a mash-up of Brad Pitt as Louis in Interview with the Vampire and Matthew McConnaughey. There's a Pinterest board with pics here: 

3. What was the last book you read and loved?
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare completely ripped me apart-- like, I ugly-cried all day. I adore her world and writing, and it was truly the perfect ending to the Infernal Devices series. Now I'm working on Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore, which couldn't be more different but has totally grabbed me by the throat. 

4. You're about the coolest person I've met on the interwebz. You climb trees in heels, constantly match wits with Chuck Wendig, and I'm fairly certain you're really a long-lost Russian Czaress. No question I just wanted to put that out in the world.
Nicest. Compliment. Ever! Thank you! One day, I'll have a lightsaber fight in heels with Cherk, and then the internetz will implode. 

5. Have you ever fangirled over anyone? If so, who was it?
Uh, I fangirl over people and things all the time. I had to be physically restrained from climbing the barrier at the NYC Harry Potter exhibit because I wanted to ride Buckbeak. I am so full of enthusiasm it's kind of embarrassing. Oh, and my pal James Tuck had to drag me by the arm to meet Norman Reedus at a con bar once. It was awesome. Ooh, and once Andre Benjamin was in the booth behind me while I ate an omelet! 

6. What is the next project you're working on?
I just wrapped up a huge edit on my first YA, a creepy paranormal called SERVANTS OF THE STORM that will be out next year with Simon Pulse. Next up is finishing the third Blud book, WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT, which is a Sangish trip to the Moulin Rouge.

Thanks so much for having me, darling! 

Thanks! I can't wait to read the next installment of awesomeness!!!

And to you my readers, yes all 14 of you. I urge you all to snap up WICKED AS THEY COME, THE MYSTERIOUS MADAME MORPHO and THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE. Now. Enjoy your reading, and try to behave yourselves until next time!!

Monday, March 18, 2013


I have been stressing out about my mid-term exam for my Craft of Poetry class for the past two weeks. I just received an email from my professor stating there was an error in the schedule for the computer lab so she's letting us A.) Take the exam at home and B.) IT'S OPEN BOOK!!!

This is what I've looked like for the last 10 minutes:

Then I did this:

And my big finish:

So, yeah. I haz a happy.

I hope your day is going just as well!!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dealing with Reality

Hey, guys! It’s been a while since I last posted on here and unfortunately this time isn’t for sunshine and rainbows. Someone I regard very highly was trolled/verbally accosted on a blog post she made FOR US. I’m saddened and confused by this. You see, the VAST majority of the writing community is AMAZEBALLS. Seriously. You guys are incredibly supportive and I probably would have thrown myself off an anthill and twisted an ankle if I hadn’t been talked off the ledge by you guys. I’m sorry, there is a point to all this babbling.


The blog post was about contests and the fact that maybe you should rethink participating in them, at least rethink using the SAME work you’ve entered in 50 contests. And the truth of the matter is sometimes your work just isn’t what the agents or editors might have specified to the people running the contests. Plus this business is SO subjective. The people running these contests are reading over hundreds or even thousands of entries and if you don’t catch their eye then it’s nothing against you personally it just wasn’t right for that contest, okay?


Now the accusation that you have to be in-with-the-in-crowd to get in is freaking ASSINIGN. The truth of the matter is that if that were true I would have made it in to a shit-ton of these contest because I’m friends with a lot of the people that run them. However, I haven’t made it in to a damn one of them. This hurts. I totally understand having hurt-butt-syndrome from not making it in, but that doesn’t mean you can spout hateful vitriol all over someone because you didn’t make it in.


As I stated before, the writing community is made up of incredibly supportive people that want to see YOU succeed just as much as they want success for themselves. It’s such a rare thing to find and you need to take advantage of that camaraderie and get yourself a likeminded group of people that can support you in whatever ways you need. So dust off the ugly, write something new, and get it out there in any way you can! Someone’s going to love it if you put the effort in to it and STAY POSITIVE!


Peace, love, and hippie shit! Wheee!!! GO FORTH AND WRITE, MINIONS!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Here is my final analysis for my Craft of fiction class. I hope this helps you look at how you read and/or write and inspires you to keep pushing yourself to be your best!

English 456
7 December 2012
“East of the West” by Miroslav Penkov: A Critical Analysis of Craft
1. Objective One: Analysis of Application of Elements of Craft
“East of the West” by Miroslav Penkov is a great example of how to weave various elements of craft into a short story. From the beginning the plot of the story is strong, containing a clear tension and crisis. The plot is enhanced by the characterization of Nose by his interactions with his family, his cousin from the town across the river, and the river itself. Penkov’s use of the river as a symbol for the oppression of the people and the barrier to family and greater things makes it almost a character in and of itself. In all, it contains many examples of how to affectively utilize various elements of craft.
Penkov’s plot structure is rife with tension and holds the conflict throughout the piece. There is rarely a moment in the story that could be called quiet or uninteresting. This holds the tension throughout the story so that even in apparently docile moments, such as when the family is preparing Nose’s sister Elitsa for her impending wedding there is foreshadowing of the tragedy to come (171).  The entire family participating in helping her try the wedding clothes on is almost like the dressing of a body for burial, though the reader is unaware of this until the next paragraphs. Penkov does not have anything in the story that is extraneous or unnecessary. This succinct form of storytelling keeps the reader engaged with the plot and keeps the flow of the work at a steady pace.
The device of placing the beginning paragraph of a future Nose anticipating seeing Vera again lets the reader know that at some point things may work out for him. This makes the majority of the story a flashback until it comes full circle to Nose taking a cab to Vera’s place in Beograd. By starting the story in this way the main character’s want is clearly shown. His driving need is not necessarily a fantastical want like world domination or murder, but it’s a universal want that most readers can identify with, acceptance and love. This is an oversimplification of the themes of the plot, but at its heart this story is about love and the need to find a home in others. The epiphany for Nose is the discovery that he is his own home and he is not tethered to the earth and his past as he once thought.
The way Penkov moves back and forth through time is seamless and is another example of his skill at plotting, and even characterization since the story is told from Nose’s first person point of view. The reader neither feels as if there is information lacking, nor are there info-dumps that would leave the reader confused. As time progresses and after the death of his sister and eventually his parents his story moves on and his character remains rounded, though he is stuck in the drudgery of the depressed town and all the memories it and the river holds for him. The use of “summary, indirect, and direct dialogue” is also well done (Burroway, Stuckey-French, and Stuckey-French 74). Penkov’s use of summary allows the time changes to shift without jolting the reader out of the story and is a great example of flashbacks and flash forwards.
The characterization of Nose was enhanced through his interactions with his family and his internal machinations and interpretations. The economic use of dialogue allows the interactions to be even more powerful and characterizing. For example when Nose comes home to discover a priest, the town doctor, and his entire family under the trellis in the front yard his father explains, quite beautifully, the Nose’s sister, “…requires an Olympic pool to cleanse her” because she’s pregnant (Penkov 170). This overexageration by the father characterizes him and shows the reader the level of their beliefs regarding such things. It works to characterize Nose’s father as a person with traditional sensibilities.
The use of dialogue in the characterization of Vera helps round her character out. The clipped, almost snobbish responses she gives Nose every time they speak shows the reader her feeling of superiority. However, when she speaks to Nose asking if he considers her Serbian or Bulgarian allows her a moment of character building vulnerability (163). Simultaneously this conversation characterizes Nose to show he isn’t a weak individual, but proud in his heritage. A character’s silences can be just as effective as any monologue if not more so, as is exampled in her closing her eyes and staying silent when Nose questions where she lives. This brief conversation bonds the characters to each other and the reader and effectively creates the opportunity for the introduction of the church.
Penkov utilizes summary in describing the conversation of Nose and his sister Vera discussing her coming nuptials and immediately after discussing the family talking about the wedding. The only words highlighted being “Elitsa” and “My God, child…take your jeans off” (Penkov 171). The sparing bit of dialogue when separated from the main part of this section is rife with symbolism and even foreshadowing in the information it doesn’t give the reader. The focal point is Elitsa and pointing out her not wanting to take her jeans off is a symbol for her holding on to the promises of the West, even though her family is dressing her in her traditional bridal clothes. This nuanced blending of dialogue and summary make the story move, help create characterization, and provide symbolism within the story that a writer can study and learn from.
One of the most powerful parts of this story; however, is the use of symbols and objects.  The river is the most literal and powerful of all of these. In some ways it became a character as well. Penkov weaves details like that silver earrings and the church that were swallowed up by the river, very similarly to Noses sister, to exemplify the countries the these towns bordered. No matter how hard the people tried to get around the bureaucracy it found a way to take even more from them. The river’s action of cutting off family members from each other was ubiquitous with the countries as well. This beautifully dangerous representation of a government and how it can both give life and care for its people, but also destroy and separate them was very well done and something every author can learn from. The beautifully written line describing how the bomb blew up the church in the river and, “a large, muddy finger shook at the sky” was such a poignant turn for the character.
Much like the river that entombs it, the drowned church holds great symbolism. Each of the young lovers meet up at a church swallowed by the river as if they are looking for salvation within each other on its spire. Not only is a church often associated with the refuge for people seeking guidance and protection, but the fact that the river (acting as the government in many ways) has left only a small section of the church for them to stand on in the middle of the river. This small section of church is very much like the sliver of hope that these lovers hold for being together. It very much symbolizes how the government separates the families and loves. Even the last lines elude to the river. When Nose recognizes he is neither a river, nor is he stuck in the memories like the earth (181). Not every story needs to be heavy in symbolism, but if a writer wants an example of how it’s done well, “East of the West” would be a good story to study from.
2. Objective Two: Lessons Learned
Penkov’s story is a great study in how to appropriate a variety of elements of the craft of fiction. He not only follows the rules of crafting fiction well, he does it in a seemingly easy manner. His carefully crafted descriptions avoided clichés well, such as when he described Vera’s eyes as, “…very dark, shaped like apricot kernels” (Penkov 162). His ability to create imagery through fresh metaphors, similes, and other descriptors worked towards strong characterization and even to pacing. Penkov’s use of active voice kept me in the rhythm of the story and it’s something that I strive to keep consistently throughout my longer pieces. I have to say I was left a bit unsettled by the story, but I enjoyed it and I’d like to write a piece that resonates with readers in the same manner.
When I look at how this story and its careful craftsmanship can apply to my own work I am immediately pulled into the details. I love giving detail for everything, and strive to use new descriptions that are unique, but understated in their creation. The best descriptions are the ones that stay with a reader, and are almost poetic in their placement in the narrative. I am honestly not sure what I will end up writing, as far as a specific genre is concerned. However, whether I write picture books, contemporary women’s fiction, or fantasy/science fiction I think utilizing the knowledge of beautifully worded descriptions takes any story to the next level.
As Burroway et al point out, you have to avoid metaphoric faults that can lead to mixed or clichéd metaphors that can detract from an otherwise strong piece (34). When Nose describes the words of the priests at Elitsa’s funeral as, “piled on my heart like stones” the reader can almost feel the crushing weight of sadness he feels at the loss of his sister (173). Another point in Penkov’s story where this is illustrated is on page 172 when Nose describes Mihalaky riding down in the river, “in smoke and roar”. The words are separated in a standalone stanza which does more to highlight the hauntingly beautiful words and encapsulates a scene in a succinct two sentences. It is not that I write too much, it is more that I am learning new devices to be utilized to make my writing more impactful. While this particular section is not a metaphor, but rather a straight description, it is still enviable in its ability to portray the image of the funeral ride down the river.
The occasion to slip into passive voice is something that has been a bit of a struggle for me before this class as well. I had been told by a few published authors that very generously read my first pages that I had a couple of spots that slipped into passive voice, but I had no idea what that was supposed to mean, much less how to fix it. This class and our books have helped enlighten me to what it is and how to avoid it. Of course the instruction in class to burn all adverbs from my vocabulary was something I won’t soon forget.
Over all the story resonated with me because it is so haunting. The descriptions and emotions felt fresh and raw. It felt like an open wound that the author had willingly laid bare for the world to see, and whether it was based on a real experience or not, he captured the tension and pain of a man with no country. I hope to one day write a piece of fiction that resonates with readers and is as eloquent as “East of the West”.

 Works Cited
Burroway, Janet, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French. Writing Fiction: A Guide   to Narrative Craft. 8th ed. Boston: Longman/Pearson, 2011. Print.
Penkov, Miroslav. “East of the West.” The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Ed. Laura Furman. New York: Anchor Books, 2012. 157-181. Print.