Tag Archives: cherries

A Wood Thrush is Waiting for You!

Memory_Ashley_COV_EMA little wood thrush has just taken flight! See the official cover of my new poetry book to your left. Waiting for the Wood Thrush is currently available for presale at Finishing Line Press.

Advance sales help the author and the publisher, and I’d be so very grateful if you ordered early. Click here to order Waiting for the Wood Thrush online. 

Waiting for the Wood Thrush includes 23 poems united by the themes of love and longing, through the lens of nature.

A handful of the poems have been previously published through the years, and they’re happily united under one cover with many new ones, including “Eulogy of the Northern Red Oak,” a long-form poem that was named a finalist for the N.C. Poet Laureate Award by the N.C. Poetry Society earlier in the year, along with “Lost and Found of the Dead,” another long-form poem that offers a surrealistic journey through the intangible things we often leave behind.

“Memory’s poems are fully human, and therefore fully real; they are moral poems, in that they lift the reader to a higher level of appreciation for the human world and the world of nature.”

Joyce S. Brown, author of the poetry collection Vital Signs, Orchard Street Press and former instructor, Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars

“Ashley Memory’s poems take matters of the soul and make them breathable. She does what a poet must—she takes what hurts in life and makes us laugh, sigh, think, then turn the page. The hurting, of course, doesn’t go away, but Waiting for the Wood Thrush reminds us of the whole brilliant spectrum of emotion that poetry brings us.” – Matt Swain, Co-founder and Poetry Editor of Turnpike Magazine

“Witty, wise, overflowing with life and color, grace, and the goodness in our lives.  You go from the natural world, to how to see a ghost to an antiques fair to sin town. What joy! What word pleasure! Read and remember, then read again.” – Ruth Moose, Pushcart Prize-winning author of two novels, four collections of short stories and six collections of poetry, including Tea and The Librarian.

Waiting for the Wood Thrush is available for pre-order through September 13, with publication on November 8, 2019. My pressrun (the number of copies printed) is determined by advance sales, and it would help me tremendously if purchases are made during this time.  Thank you so very much for your support!

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Enhance your writing with cherries

cherries.jpgJust today I learned that my flash fiction “Aunt Zelia’s Untested Wild Cherry Love Potion” earned honorable mention in the Fall 2018 Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest!

In this tale of “love gone wrong-maybe gone right-with a little magic”  I tried my best to infuse the language with highly sensuous details. It helps that the story includes cherries, my favorite fruit.

When you want to enhance your own writing with lush details from all five senses, try to include references to things that already inspire you. And when you need to add emotional tension, draw from circumstances that stir up your own angst. It’s easy for me to write about young love because I remember those times so vividly and it’s cathartic (at least now!) to return to that highly charged state of passion and bewilderment.

It’s a little early for fruit, but my fledgling cherry trees are getting ready to unfurl new leaves, which hopefully bodes well for this year’s crop. As they fortify themselves, I’ve been planning an exciting lineup of new workshops this spring and summer. With offerings from poetry to flash essays, I’m hoping you’ll find something to stoke your own imagination. Each workshop is designed to help you cull sensory details from your own lives.

Friday, March 15 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Jumpstart Your Poetic Imagination at The Joyful Jewel in downtown Pittsboro, N.C. You can find inspiration for poetry everywhere—from the news to artwork to your daily life and memory. We’ll study sample poems and then participate in fun exercises meant to spark your own imagination. Not only will you end up with three new poems of your own, you’ll leave with an inventory of ideas for future works. You may even pen a poem inspired by the stimulating art work on display in The Joyful Jewel and participate in the Visions and Voices Reading on April 14! To register, call The Joyful Jewel, 833-2775, 10:30am-5:30pm Monday through Saturday or Sunday 12pm-4pm. Cost: $50.

Saturday, April 13 from 9.a.m – 3 p.m. – Flash Fiction Bootcamp II. Think you don’t have time to write? Anybody has time for flash fiction, and by the end of this workshop, you’ll have five finished stories. (This workshop is a continuation of the popular Flash Fiction Bootcamp I) but is open to new as well as returning students and features entirely new prompts and readings. Atten-hut! Central Carolina Community College Creative Writing Program in Pittsboro, N.C. Register here. or by calling (919) 545-8044. Cost $50.

Friday, July 12 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Flash Fiction Bootcamp I. The Joyful Jewel in downtown Pittsboro, N.C. Think you don’t have time to write? Anybody has time for flash fiction, and by the end of this abbreviated workshop, you’ll have at least two finished stories. Bring your favorite writing gear (notebook and pen/pencil or laptop) and get ready for new prompts, new inspiration, and instant feedback. Atten-hut! To register, call The Joyful Jewel, 833-2775, 10:30am-5:30pm Monday through Saturday or Sunday 12pm-4pm. Cost: $50.

Friday, July 26 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Flash Creative Nonfiction and Essay. The Joyful Jewel in downtown Pittsboro, N.C. Interested in turning your life experiences into flash memoirs or short essays? Explore this exciting  new creative form that brings your experiences to life in a variety of dynamic formats. By the end of this workshop, you’ll have two finished short essays. To register, call The Joyful Jewel, 833-2775, 10:30am-5:30pm Monday through Saturday or Sunday 12pm-4pm. Cost: $50.

Keep checking my events page as I add to this list throughout the season with even more workshops. In the meantime, surround yourself with the things that inspire you the most. Life is short so go ahead and pluck that cherry off the top of your sundae!

 

First cherries, first lines

cherriesOut of our four young cherry trees, we ended up with just a handful of tart cherries this year. Our Montmorency tree (left), the first one we planted three years ago, yielded the most fruit.

The first line of a story should be as memorable as the taste of a tart cherry–tangy, sweet, then tangy again. It’s almost lemony, but there’s something else–the flavor of early summer, morning breezes, balmy nights, the eerie song of the wood thrush in the hollow.

“One fine evening the no less fine office manager Ivan Dmitrich Cherviakov was sitting in the second row of the stalls, watching The Bells of Corneville through opera glasses.” (Anton Chekhov, The Death of a Clerk)

“Miss Matt was at least partially conscious that she looked like the teacher everyone has had for English in first-year high school; she was small and pretty, in a rice-powder fashion, with a great mass of soft dark hair that tried to stay on top of her head and straggled instead down over her ears; her voice was low and turned pleading instead of sharp; any presentable fourteen-year-old bully could pass her course easily.” (Shirley Jackson, The Sorceror’s Apprentice)

“Hazel Morse was a large, fair woman of the type that incites some men when they use the word ‘blonde’ to click their tongues and wag their heads roguishly.” (Dorothy Parker, Big Blonde)

Does your first sentence sing with vivid language? Mystery and intrigue? Does it draw your reader deeper? As I revise the stories I drafted this past month, I’ll be cognizant of the work of the masters in the first sentences of their stories, as quoted above. There’s a trick here, and these authors do it. That first sentence must hint at the plot and the universal truth (or unique vision) that caused the author to write the story in the first place.

As we approach the end of my story-drafting blitz this month, (three more to go!) I was delighted to receive a note from the editors of  The Birds We Piled Loosely, a hip online literary magazine, that they accepted two of my short humor flashes: “Etymology in the Neighborhood” and “We Are So Very Sorry” for their July issue.

Come to think of it, submitting work for publication is also a bit like growing cherries in the south. It’s unpredictable, a little scary, (will a late frost hurt those flower buds?) but the scarcity makes the few cherries you do harvest that much more delicious. So keep it up…both the cherry growing and submitting!

 

Life is Just a Bowl of … Tart Cherries

Today I attended a meeting of the Sisters in Crime writers’ club where the speaker was none other than my fellow novelist Rick Bylina. His talk on social media was both informative, and, as always, entertaining. He stressed the importance of blogging, which inspired a great lunch discussion. All writers, myself included, sometimes struggle with this. You’re already a writer, so you have your book(s). So what do you write about in your blog?

Rick wisely advised us to just be ourselves. Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you have to blog about the dangers of dangling   participles or how the comma is provoking civil unrest in Denmark. It’s perfectly fine to blog about your cat, the dogwoods you’ve just planted, or even just the kind of day you’re having. There is always a connection to your inner world, the most precious domain of the writer. It was to Rick’s credit that we all left the meeting newly inspired about our blogs.

On that note, yesterday I travelled to a cherry orchard just north of the state border. The purpose was cherry-picking, more precisely, to take advantage of the two-week window in early June when you can pluck those delicious garnets of the cherry world: Montmorency cherries. Unlike sweet Bing or black cherries, Montmorencies are tantalizing tangy; small but nearly perfectly round and so glossy that they look as if each one had been polished by the cherry fairies. Imagine a tree filled with marachino cherries and you’re there! Cocktail time. Pie time. Cobbler time.

Having baked with my share of sweet cherries, which are delicious in their own right, I had always wondered what makes tart cherries so coveted for the pie. Well, just a few hours later, after taking two crumb-topped cherry pies out of the oven, I knew. The piquant, mouth-watering flavor of the Montmorency gives your pie an irresistible kick. It’s the conflict in your novel. The menace in your plot. The poignancy in your happy ending.

Such reflections are the benefit of taking a day away from the writing. You’re also rewarded with a host of new sensory experiences and characters galore, from hippies to cherry rustlers to the two men who nearly came to blows in the parking lot about a little bump-up.

Then there was the wise-cracking orchardess (orchardatrix?) who was pushing the weary cherry pickers to the scale and then on to the cash register. When asked if it was okay to eat the cherries without washing them first (even though we’d been sneaking them all day), she said: “Ain’t nothing wrong with them cherries. If there were, I’d be dead by now.”