Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review of August

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Can’t believe it is the end of August already! What a CRazY month it has been – especially when I consider last year (in my first year of writing before I had found my poetry feet) I practically took the whole month off! Although I think that had more to do with resigning from my job and enjoying the last summer off on full pay for a while!

August saw; a plethora of birthday celebrations, wedding outfit shopping, allotmenting, garden centre visits, new plants, harvesting vegetables, catching up with friends and family, as well as Arts/Music festivals, one off events, performances and Book Launches!

August is always busy because it is summer and I don’t work (or get paid) < before you get too jealous. This month I may not have gone on holiday but I did extend my birthday celebrations over several weeks and it wasn’t even a significant one! Who needs a holiday when the 6 weeks poeting took me all over the Midlands.

Zebra© 2014 Rangzeb Hussain

Blogs and Projects

52 continues – as it will all year – I am now planning a catch up though before I start back to work as I have missed some weeks.

Last month I wrote about Naked Lungs and a project/performance for Birmingham Literature Festival. I presumed they had picked other participants to collaborate as I hadn’t had an email. There was an email. It just didn’t get to me! Momentarily dancing around the lounge… My next exciting venture to work on, the performance is October 11th, a week after my brother’s wedding.

INKSPILL a free online writing retreat I run from this Blog at the end of October 25th/26th is in full swing (organisation), more on this soon – September will be full of tasters and teasers.

ONE YEAR A POET – I am also busy organising a celebration of my first year back in the world of poetry and it was also the point at which the 1st 9 months of a writing life bore fruition – in terms of work and being a writer. There are lots of poets/artists lined up and it should be a cracker!

BLOG The blog now has 781 follower just 3 people joined this month. The most popular post continues to be my articles about Short Story Writing

Title Views
Writing Short Stories – Tips on Planning and Structure More stats 438
Writing Short Stories – Tips on Narrative Structure & The Writing Process More stats 279

This may have to do with being linked on educational sites, or just they were dang good posts!

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Submission

I worked on lots of writing this month, I regret not spending more time on my pamphlet submission, I lost confidence with it and shelved it, only to dust it off again on the deadline day – when by the time the writing was finished I was half an hour late leaving for an event, speed reading is not to  proofreading, needless to say I came home and found 3 mistakes!

I sent poetry to Bombay Gin, Paragram, Barrelhouse and a portion of a pamphlet to VPress.

Publishing

I worked with proof copies of GBWO and Restless Bones Poetry Anthology.

HCE Here Comes Everyone Published my poem ‘Falling into Line’, written especially for the Boy/Girl Issue of the magazine, it is available online and as a print copy.

 

Performing Poetry

speak mic

Performing Poetry – the links will take you to blogposts about the events.

All over the Midlands this month, I have (as always) missed some events – because I am human mainly, once I find my superhero self I shall fly out to all gigs… Mr G also booked a fortnight off work.

The month started amazingly with A Night with Maya Angelou – organised by Jordan Garvey and Shakti Women. I watched a video of my performance for the 1st time, it was a little uncomfortable.

Maya Angelou

Mouth and MusicWar & Peace A great evening hosted by Sarah Tamar, I was expecting the subject matter to weigh heavy – but the evening was as vibrant and uplifting as always.

War and Peace

PFL Poetry For Lunch – The Funny One with Andrea Smith

Birthday Stanza – a normal Stanza meeting where I took CAKE! Great to be back with the Stanza crowd, first meeting in 2 months, due to clashing dates and performances.

Stanza

Bridge the Gap – an intergenerational tea party on a canal boat – the brainchild of Aysha Begum(Beetfreaks). My first time on a moving canal boat and therefore also the first time I have performed on one!

Poetry on a Boat

Restless Bones Poetry Anthology – Book Launch – Restless Bones raises money for Born Free Foundation, protecting animals against the fur trade. The book launch was at Akamba an African Heritage Centre in Solihull, a fitting environment. It was a great night and it is a great book. Details on how to buy your copy, coming soon.

Book Launch

42 Drummonds – An open mic/ off theme night at 42. A small and select crowd, a great night of story, poetry and theatre.

Worcester Music Festival Humdrum Express – Ian Passey organised a menu of bands and supporting poets for a great night at The Swan and Two Nicks.

Worcester Music Festival Word & Sound – Amanda Bonnick and Jenny Hope organise Word & Sound nights and this one was hosted by Amanda as part of the music festival. It was a cracking night with some stellar performances. Crème de la crème!

(Links to follow)

 

Performances and Events

52 shakespeare centre 3

I don’t always perform, sometimes I just enjoy the Arts and support friends and fellow poets.

Benches – Jan Watts Book Launch / Off the Page Event – starting on the canal and finishing in the Library of Birmingham.

Launch

I have since read and reviewed the book. This link is the blogpost and details on how to buy your own copy can be found here.

Review

SpeakEasy – a night of poetry hosted by Maggie Doyle.

SpeakEasy

Naked Lungs -They have booked me to perform next month so I thought I would go along and check it out. Glad I did, great night. Performers included Ian Bowkett and Ben Norris.

 

My writing life/ The Poet Within

August has been a funny month – action packed but also dippy in emotional stakes, belief in my writing, confidence drooping in my ability to perform, inner gremlins getting a look in. I suppose the more seriously I take myself the more this may happen or it could have been some of the subject matter covered by this month’s writing. Or the pressure I placed on myself to complete this month’s submissions and performances. It doesn’t look more than usual but considering I took about 10 days off completely, it is a LOT! August has produced many new poems and some still have slightly rough edges. My writing spirit is high!

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

August

Full Diary – Be Careful what you Wish For!

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I am joking – I love wishes coming true…. but it does make for a busy life!

I cannot believe the summer break is over and I am back to work next week – as well as watching a show on Monday, performing a set in Ludlow on Tuesday (which will possibly be after a day at work), resting Wednesday and Thursday and then heading on a road trip – back to where I used to live to stay with poetry friends I met at the 52 picnic this summer and then performing at a festival in Stafford on Saturday then heading back to Birmingham to watch Ben Norris in his one man show at the MAC! Followed by 2 day rest and then Mouth & Music, a Dance Workshop, SpeakEasy, Stanza, Writing West Midlands Writer jobs and finally my One Year A Poet Party*.

ZZ Worcester Music Fest - my first named Bill

The end of August brings a very busy weekend. I am performing at the Worcester Music Festival later and tomorrow having an evening event Words and Sounds – which happens every 12 – 18 months – I wasnt on the circuit last time.

42

This week I performed at 42 on Wednesday night and Thursday night I went along to Naked Lungs – who have booked me to perform next month – both were great nights.

As far as reviewing my events I plan to wrap these 4 events up in one post (early Sept) and probably will have to post my review of August then too… as I havent been keeping an up to date draft this month.

This afternoon – before going off to the festival I am DESPERATELY trying to write poetry for submission – all deadlined for tomorrow – tomorrow morning Mr G and I have to sort out the allotment (we have had it for 5 years but it is time to let it go) we are homegrowing in the garden at home and even then we sometimes dont pick the stuff fast enough! Then there is a joint family meal – my younger brother is getting married (excited) and it is the Groom/Bride Sunday Lunch as his fiancee’s family live in a different County and she thought it would be good to meet everyone before the wedding.

Then I have a small window to send submissions I need to write today before performing and somewhere in between I need to practise my sets!

An enjoyable but hectic time ….

* One Year A Poet – In addition I am organising (and have been since end of July) a poetry night to celebrate one year back in my poetry skin. So far it is very much concept and I have just a fortnight to make it a reality – more on that soon.

So for now go and enjoy some archive posts!

speak

Happy writing x

 

My Life as A Writer

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I realise that my blog is becoming reviews of events I have been to or books I have read. Although this is still part of my journey, I feel I am hiding the honest, personal posts that you like to read.

I enjoy reviewing the wonderful experiences I have, but these posts take hours to compose and in ‘blog terms’ attract very little traffic. Not that I am all about the stats! Data, smata – I am here so you can see and read all about the unlocking of this creative life I have ignored for years.

BL me Universe poemCopyright 2014 Rangzeb Hussain

Nearly a year back in on a previously (teenage) 10 year writing and publishing career, 3 years of which I also performed poetry on stage and a year of which I worked as a freelance writer – it is okay. It still feels right and good, somedays (as with any job) are tougher than others.

There are times I lose confidence in my work. There are times (I know we shouldn’t) I compare myself to others and end up lost in some harshly negative conclusion. There are performances that flop, poems that don’t quite make it. Don’t throw them away, snippets for another day.

I have always said that my talent for poetry lies in the fact that it drips out of me, a poetic stream of consciousness – this is not a talent you can spot in a book or on the stage… my work has to stand up to that which has been crafted over days, weeks, months & years. I have learnt about editing – mainly from the wonderful STANZA group I attend, I am putting editing and redrafting into practise, but even then the whole process can happen quickly.

ZZ Worcester Music Fest - my first named Bill

I am one of a small group of chosen poets who will be performing in between the music acts at a local festival this weekend, I had one suitable poem, I have just spent an hour (less than) writing another 4. I know I am not alone in this way of working.

I am also trying to make collections of poems in the hope of publishing a pamphlet – this can take people years, my only attempt this year was to Offa Press, I have made a note of dates for 2015 and there are still some places I may try this year. People keep asking me where they can find my work, asking if am I published, it would be great to produce a pamphlet from my bag and sell them a little bit of me, right there on the spot.

This writing journey is only in its infancy (nearly a year), already there have been lots of successes, both in terms of published work, projects & performances I am working on and getting paid for, job roles created for /offered to me and perhaps most importantly a network of beautiful writers and poets – many of whom I also consider friends.

I am fine, I am happy.

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I am off to write!

 

Book Launch – Restless Bones Poetry Anthology for Born Free Foundation

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Restless Bones – The History Behind the Project

Elaine Christie is a local poet and also works hard to protect animal rights. The story behind the conception of this project/idea is touching, last year Elaine’s best friend, Pat Clarke passed away. Elaine was left some money …. I leave the rest of the explanation to Elaine Christie, who came to the Book Launch with decorative balloons and a cat wreath;

© 2014 Elaine Christie

© 2014 Elaine Christie

“This lovely cat wreath was to remember my best friend Pat Clarke, who died last August. She left some money to me and when I read about China skinning animals alive, I had an uncontrollable urge to do something. Something more than signing petitions and writing letters and emails, powerful they may be, seeing dogs piled on top of each other almost crushed and tigers anxious and angry crammed in cages awaiting their fate, I thought of all the superb poetry I had heard over the years and the idea came, wouldn’t it be ideal if I could bottle that, as a message to the world to wake up, this kind of cruelty is not acceptable. The final push came when leaving The Barber Institute after a workshop with Jacqui Rowe. Saleha Begum and I went for a coffee and she gave me the final push! Thank you Saleha xx
There are many to thank, firstly the poets, each of you were picked for your talent and I’m as passionate about your poems as you are! I know you have looked into these cruelty issues and I hope I haven’t scarred you all for life! Jacqui’s poems have stayed with me for years, such rich language and the stories behind the poems are marvellous, and you do have a magic eye! I wish I was half as intelligent! Thank you for editing our book, it has made all the difference and has wings to fly!”

© 2014 Rangzeb Hussain

Elaine with the Cat wreath in memory of Pat Clarke © 2014 Rangzeb Hussain

And so began some VERY hard work for Elaine to realise her vision!
Restless Bones The Anthology
Is packed full of poetry from the past and the present, the work of; WILLIAM BLAKE, ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, LORD BYRON, EMILY DICKINSON, WILLIAM WORDSWORTH amongst others.
As well as including many poems the book showcases the wonderful art of Josephine Wall. It is a beautiful book to enjoy time and time again.
Contributors
VIRGINIA MCKENNA
RICHARD BONFIELD
JANINE ALLEN
MIKE ALMA
JUDE ASHWORTH
DAVID BARBER
WILLIAM BLAKE
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
LORD BYRON
DAVID CALCUTT
HELEN CALCUTT
G. K. CHESTERTON
CHYI YU
ELAINE CATHERINE CHRISTIE
EMILY DICKINSON
DES – LONE WOLF
EUGENE EGAN
GIOVANNI ‘SPOZ’ ESPOSITO
CHRIS FEWINGS
CAROLINE GILL
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
RANGZEB HUSSAIN
SARAH JAMES
JANET JENKINS
NINA LEWIS
TESSA LOWE
CHARLOTTE MEW
MATT NUNN
ANTONY OWEN
MALINI PATEL
JADE PHIPPS
CLARE POWERS
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
JACQUI ROWE
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
CLAIRE WALKER
JAN WATTS
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
TOM WYRE
An incredible amount of work went into producing this book. Elaine worked closely with Jacqui Rowe (Writer in Residence at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Editor at Flarestack and host of Poetry Bites) who kindly edited Restless Bones. We are all grateful for the opportunity to be involved and appreciate the amount of work that has gone into this project.
Art of Josephine Wall
Buy the book to see it all – it is worth it!
BL Josephine wall

© 2014 Josephine Wall

The Book Launch at Akamba – 21st August
Copyright 2014 R. Hussain Copyright 2014 R. Huusain
The venue was Akamba – an incredible place and perfect setting for the subject of the anthology
Tessa Lowe was the host and Rangzeb Hussain the official photographer, a selection of contributors gathered to perform their poem, undercover and outside. In a place that I have been assured is very authentically African. Tessa not only hosted the evening but also arranged for Ansumana Drammeh, a djembe drummer from The Gambia to accompany some of the Poets. David Barber had spent a while in rehearsals with Ansumana before the event and Reuben Woolley (a poet who just toured events in the UK for a fortnight, who lives in Spain) had some time to rehearse with him too.
I arrived an hour early in the hope that I would also have time to work with Ansumana – who was the person who talked to me about the setting reminding him of places he had camped. He listened to the poem and then drummed away, a short dialogue between us and we tried for something slightly quieter. Then 3rd time we did it was the opening of my performance/ set. It worked wonderfully well, a talented musician who knows how to find rhythm in words.
BL RH A © 2014 RH
Wrapped in blankets and by the warmth of candle light we enjoyed the evening under the thatched hut roof. The rain didn’t get us and the blankets added to the atmosphere of the evening, particularly in the photos. The staff at Akamba were brilliant and supportive.
The evening was an incredible experience – hours of poetry and wonderful conversation – a gathering of poets and friends. As Elaine chose poets from the local circuit I knew most of the people but I hadn’t read their poems, I cannot wait to sit down and read my way through the collection, I know it will be a book I read time and time again.
Here are some photographs of the evening – the full collection is too big to post. All copyright belongs to Rangzeb Hussain, a talented poet and photographer!
© 2014 Rangzeb Hussain – thanks for the permission to use your photographs.
BL RH Tom
Tom Wyre
BL RH Jude Ashford
Jude Ashworth
 BL RH Antony
Antony Owen
BL RH Tessa
Tessa Lowe Hosting &   Ansumana Drammeh enjoying a quick break before drumming.
 BL RH Elaine
Elaine Christie
 BL rh jan
Jan Watts
BL RH DB
David Barber
BL RH Spoz BL spoz RH
Spoz – GIOVANNI ESPOSITO
BL RH jACQUI
Jacqui Rowe
 BL RH me 2
Nina Lewis (me)
BL RH David Calcutt
David Calcutt
BL RH Claire
Claire Walker
Mike Alma also performed his poetry – although I am not sure there is any photographic evidence of his set.
BL RH 1BL RH Zeb
The night was finished by Open Mic spot poets –
Sammy Joe
BL RH Sammy Joe
Reuben Woolley
BL RH Reuben Woolley Ansumana Drammeh
BL aKAMBA
A Poetry Anthology about the natural world and how it is declining.
All funds go to Born Free Foundation, to fight the Fur Trade.
A Limited Edition Poetry Anthology about the Natural World and how it is declining. Poems from Born Free’s Poet in Residence Richard Bonfield and Virginia McKenna. Poetry From- Antony Owen, Caroline Gill, Chris Fewings, Claire Walker, Clare Power, David Barber, David Calcutt, Elaine Catherine Christie,Eugene Egan, Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito, Helen Calcutt, Jade Phipps, Jan Watts, Janet Jenkins, Janine Allen, Jude Ashworth, Matt Nunn, Mike Alma, Nina Lewis, Rangzeb Hussain, Sarah James, Tessa Lowe, Tom Wyre. Poems from Animal Liberation Front, Famous Quotations and poems from Wordsworth, Blake, Dickinson, Browning. Fantasy Art from Josephine Wall! This is a collection not to be missed, all funds go to fight the fur trade.
BUY IT! 
Restless Bones will be available to buy soon £9.99 from The Born Free Website – links to follow.
4 of my poems feature, written especially for the anthology;
Nerve Endings
At the Hands of Humans
the other two were chosen by Elaine Christie;
Night Sky
Universe
ALL MONEY WILL BE DONATED TO THE BORN FREE FOUNDATION – you get to help animals and enjoy incredible poetry! (You won’t even have to tip a bucket of water over your head!)

 

Bridge the Gap – an Intergenerational Tea Party

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Last Wednesday (20th) I went out for a morning on the canal in Birmingham as part of an event organised by Beatfreeks and Aysha Begum (OXJAM Slam Poet winner). The plan is to roll out monthly evening events with poetry that bring different generations together. The whole concept of the event was Aysha Begum’s and Jaden Larker and Matt Windle were particularly excited to see the idea come to fruition, having both been around at the conception.

I didn’t know what to expect other than my ticket included a 3 hour canal journey, workshop, poetry, a chance of performing and free tea/coffee and cakes. A perfect morning if you ask me. I love getting involved with performance and projects that are a little outside the box of a café or pub open mic, events outside that remit challenge you with new experiences and you get to see how your work/ writing can work on different levels.

aysha begum bridge the gap

I managed to get to the meeting point and was happy to see some familiar faces, including Beatfreek poets, Matt Windle, Jordan Ashley Ann Garvey and Jasmine Gardosi. We all boarded the boat and were greeted with a story from Jaden Larker (Seasick Fist), a Beatfreek poet. He then encouraged us to use the workshop time to mingle with people we didn’t know and the older people. Many people moved seats and as Matt, Jordan and I had sat near the top end by the time we were able to get up to move – there was nowhere to move to. Part of me felt guilty about not taking this opportunity to share stories with the older generation. I think I became the older generation for Jordan and Matt.

It was great though because Jordan and I hardly knew each other and although I have seen Matt perform often and he always has time for a chat, there is still limited time and topics at a poetry event – whereas on this boat we were being encouraged to raid our own past for stories.

The ticket cost covered refreshments and during this part of the voyage the team waited sandwiches, wraps, samosas and other nibbles to each table. We had tea and coffee from the bar (alcohol was available) and thoroughly enjoyed a good natter.

Later on we were treated to performances by Aysha Begum and Amerah Saleh – both poets I have seen in action at various events, both are Beatfreeks and both did well to raise their voices over the engine of the canal boat.

Then after some more cake and nibbles the Open Mic started – I bet we were all glad of the organisational decision to split the boat/ audience in half as the engine was still hard to hear over.

I enjoyed being exposed to poetry from poets who had joined the academy a week beforehand, there were performers I hadn’t seen before and some I had. It was great fun joining in. There was also time after the performances before the poets swapped over for a quick Q & A …. it is all too easy to forget how magical our world is to people who don’t write.

It was a fantastic event – if you are local enough to the Midlands, UK – look out for more of these!

 

 

Publishing Kitt: You don’t have to be alone.

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Last Wednesday I attended an event called Bridge the Gap – an intergenerational tea party. I had previously met Jordan in passing, again at the Maya Angelou event which she organised and made it possible for me to attend. During the mingle story-tell we realised there was nowhere new to sit and as we didn’t know each other (and if I am honest with myself – was ALMOST intergenerational) we decided to stay put and I am glad we did (although I am aware that this mingling part was the main point of the event). I read this when it was posted on her blog and am touched, not so long ago it was me talking to others and gleaning the pearls of wisdom. It is also an important idea to keep hold of – writing itself is solitary – but the life of a writer needn’t be. In fact your work may end up richer and more successful from outside support, just ask. It is still your work – you don’t have to take advice offered.

Authors pay a great deal for these services – and although I wouldn’t wish anyone to be bombarded with piles of manuscripts, helping a little along the way when you have the time can mean the world to the fledging writer – or the experienced writer – there is no point in your writing career where you will be without the need of another pair of eyes.
Ask – you don’t have to use it!

Thanks Jordan for this mention and the sweet reminder that we are not alone.

Jo's Blogatory

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And you’re not alone!

Yesterday I attended an inter-generation event called ‘Bridge the Gap’ and a poet/writer that I have recently met was there also. We had a fantastic conversation about the road to getting published and just by talking to Nina I realised something, publishing is not something you have to be alone in and you are not alone! Just like any new journey the path can be daunting, unexpected and long; throw in a mass of rejection letters and emails and it becomes very harrowing. But,  not only is there hope at the end of the tunnel but there there is help, support and an array of understanding people there every step of the way.

So talk to fellow authors and writers. Even bloggers have to submit their work to get it published on a reputable site. The point is that those who are also on the same…

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Just Stanza

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I have missed the past couple of Stanza meetings, due to events in Birmingham. This month the Stanza meeting also clashed with an event in Birmingham, however I have missed not going to the poetry society meetings, so I turned down the opportunity to perform in the city and stayed local instead.

It was just 2 days before my birthday – so I bought a cake to take to the meeting and made STANZA (much to the amusement of others) my first BIRTHDAY event!

I had a really enjoyable evening and felt right at home editing and taking criticism on board. It is good to be back. I already have my poem ready for our next meeting!

stanza scrabble

SpeakEasy – 14th August – Homegrown Talent

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SpeakEasy this month was packed, much to the relief of Maggie Doyle who was hosting whilst Fergus McGonigal (current Worcester Poet Laureate) is away over the summer. It had never crossed my mind that Maggie would panic about attendance.

There were no open mic spots left, so I settled back to enjoy an evening of poetry. I went with Claire Walker who was performing, I love her work. There were many other talented poets as well as some first timers.

It is unusual for me not to take part, sometimes it is refreshing to just breathe and listen. The flipside is the adrenalin doesn’t kick in and you go straight to bed, when you get home.

speakeasy

The headline act was Ben Parker, an Oxfordshire poet who comes from Worcester. Fantastic poetry and a refreshing set that was enjoyed by everybody.

When words come to life

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JV Birch is one of my oldest friends, we have known each other since school, probably before that (no memory) it does not surprise me that we are both writing now, we were readers back then!

This is fabulous news – and a great way of promoting her work too. Great cause – had to share! Cannot wait to see the film!

J V Birch

After a lull in creativity, I was thrilled to learn that I am one of eight category winners in the above competition recently run by Mindshare. The prize is turning your poem into a digital film (you may recall I won something similar with Mindshare last year so they must like my style!).

When words come to life

So last weekend I attended a workshop working with a small production team to storyboard my poem and develop it into a short film. We explored elements of image, music, breath and movement, and the place you have to get to when reading your piece aloud. This was new to me as ‘speaking’ my work is not something I often do (and when I do it’s to myself), but it made me focus on exactly what I wanted to convey. Something else new was working on an Apple Mac! Being a Windows-based girl this required quite…

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A to Z Reading Challenge: My Answers

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I am trying to catch up with some Blog reading – after months off the Reader… I came across this little gem, if I hadn’t so much catching up to do today I would leave you the answers right now – feel free to reblog or leave links to a post with your answers, I think I will unwrap this again in the run up to the INKSPILL writing retreat.

A Small Press Life: Books. Art. Writing. Life. Tea.

I ran across this on Not a Punk Rocker. I enjoyed reading her answers, so I thought I would participate, too. It’s not as if I am working against a deadline today. Nope, I am not shirking my professional duties to write this post. Okay, so maybe I am taking a slight break. Yes, that is it. A break.

If you’re a long-time reader of A Small Press Life (and if you are, thank you!), you’ve probably wondered what happened to our own reader questionnaire series, [R]evolving Incarnations. Never fear. It returns this Friday.

Until then, there’s this.

Oh, and I’ve decided to do it backwards. Z to A, which is how my books are organized.

ZZZ-SNATCHER BOOK (LAST BOOK THAT KEPT YOU UP WAY LATE): I am a late-night reader, so this is a pretty normal occurrence. It helps that I work from home and set my own…

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