Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shadowed Tears

As I posted here my first poetry book Shadowed Tears received a review from Realistic Poetry International. They titled my review "Dismal" but gave it five stars. I was thrilled with the review, even as I must admit I was a little concerned. Perhaps it was the dismal label, but I am very grateful for an honest review, especially when that review can show five stars.

I dedicated Shadowed Tears to my father who passed away this month on October 4. I chose the purple cover to bring awareness to Alzheimers Disease which he had. The poems I posted in this book where themes that some may find sad, and yet they are themes we deal with on an every day basis or we used to deal with them. Bullying, for one was such a theme that not everyone may deal with, but enough people have. Traumas, in general as my poetry also touched on, and depression. Dark thoughts, and of course there was my father's illness which I wrote about as well. These kind of themes.

Now with my father's unexpected passing (yes despite the Alzheimers it still came quite suddenly) I want to take this moment to remember him, and dedicate the book to him again, and the review I received from Realistic Poetry International. I began the book before a traumatic event in my life would occur (my father would wind up hospitalized the same weekend) and I somehow completed it after it. My father gave me strength to complete it just like he always gave me strength to survive being me even as I was like he always put it "with my head in the clouds."

I love having my head in the clouds. That hasn't changed. And now more than ever I need to be there.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Have you ever read a book and afterward your heart felt numb? Perhaps, weak? Well, the dismal and somber words of Author Torres in her emotive poetry book, ‘Shadowed Tears’, will literally transmit chills down your spine, but it’s not because of horror. For the title of the book in itself precisely describes the theme and mood of this emotional poetic composition in utter perfection.

Torres, portrayed in this collection as a dejected spirit, is seemingly bound to a cold world of solitude and isolation. In the opening, she immediately lets us know this by providing more than one definition for the word, alone, by using key phrases such as,

“To cry and hug yourself”, or to be “be dead on the inside...”

Like any human, heartsick and neglected, the character in this book yearns for a sunny day adorned with colorful bright rainbows, and seeks love to cure the psychological and spiritual sickness she is faced with; yet and still, with each verse you read, it is evident that hope and promise are swiftly slipping from her grasp, as she succumbs to the deception of defeat. Her weary voice, still youthful, indicates a certain degree of fear, but at the same time, an acceptance. Emotions and feelings that she writes about usually don’t make it any further than the pages of a diary, so even considering the incessant misery; it comes off as a bit shocking that she isn’t entirely ashamed to admit the dangerous vulnerability threatening her life and future or her deep sentiments of hopelessness.

Continuing on, you begin to imagine the ‘mental prison’ that the author figuratively and metaphorically describes in several different ways. After reading one of Torres’s poems entitled, ‘The Outsider’, images of this obscure, cold “psychological prison” become more and more real, while her desperate cries for help are disregarded and unnoticed.

This poem reminds you of that classic character we’ve probably all seen on television once before; the rejected introvert who never really fits in, struggling to find a place in society and understand their own identity. And Author Torres does an excellent job at bringing her own individual and distinct voice and person to life through words! She doesn’t just write about ‘the outsider’, she tells you, she actually was the outsider, and it’s more to it than what one may think. And for every person that has never actually had to endure the devastating impact or effects of societal rejection, this book will surely broaden your perception. She uses direct and simplex phrases like,

“Will I ever learn?
There is no place for me,
I have searched too long;
It’s what’s meant to be...” to let you know she is beginning to accept the gloom ensnaring her.

There is another poem which is quite disturbing entitled, ‘What Did They See?’ This poem is written with aching pain and is a story we hear of much too often. The detrimental damage of the harrowing cycle of torment finally weigh in after reading this one. Torres says,

“So many days, I wanted to die
But all I could do was have a good cry,
I reached out to them just needing a friend
But all they had done is laugh with no end.”

In this very statement, the contempt from humiliation and ridicule voiced in this poem illustrate a rather maleficent representation of an unfortunate reality. Nonetheless, the Author is fearless enough to acknowledge and confess her hazardous contemplations of ending her life. Even so, we believe that the individual overcomes the idea of defeat by continuing to go on, even if she fails to realize it, for she still lives to share her testimony today.
In conclusion, aside from the actual theme and message of the book, this was a well-written concrete ensemble that reminds us all of why poetry is so influential. Whether the emotion be sadness, happiness, anger, or love; the authenticity delivered in every single poem of this book is purely undeniable. It was real, poignant, and strikingly candid; and we believe with confidence that Author Torres’s voice speaks volumes for an entire audience of exhausted souls. Though one may say to themselves, the contents of this book is merely just words on paper, we will say, that once you have truly taken the time to experience the void blackness of her night and inconsolable pain of her heart; the key to her freedom could only exists within the shadows of her tears.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why I love being an Indie Author #PoweredByIndie

Why I love Being an Indie Author

I have been an indie author since 2010 after the publication of my first novel Love Child. Love Child is the first book of my Child series which I have been writing since that publication. Child No More, and Child Scorned are books that followed, and I am currently working on Child Game which will be the next edition. Since working on this series I have experienced the love of being an indie author.

As someone who has loved writing for most of my life I shared the dreams of being published professionally. I hoped to submit my manuscripts to traditional publishers hoping someone would love my book enough to offer me a contract to publish it. I never expected to have the opportunity to self publish, and now that I have I have come to love it.

There is a lot of hard work that a self published author must take care of him or herself. There's the promotion, the editing, just to name a few things. However, there is also a sense of freedom one can enjoy for a while. With self publishing despite the hard work, you are allowed a sense of freedom to make most decisions yourself. You can choose your own cover, and since you have no contract, you have no deadline either. This has to be one of the things I love about being an indie author. The author who has to be responsible for his or her promotions, is also the one to have the final say in a lot of the work as well.

I love it despite the hard work, and there are pros and cons to these things, but for me just having the opportunity to live my dream is good enough right now. I've published the Child Series, and I've also published a yearly Christmas themed poetry book J and K Christmas since 2012. This book has Christmas poetry and short stories. This year I will only be publishing Christmas poetry, and I have one small all poetry book titled Shadowed Tears. All of these titles are available in the Amazon Kindle Store. Living this dream of publishing even as an indie author has been quite the experience.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Therapy Heartbreak

Last September twelve, I woke up feeling tired like I always did from going to bed at four a.m. I have called myself a hopeless insomniac for some time now, so it's gotten to the point I don't even try to go to sleep early anymore. But I must digress from my sleeping problem for now. On this Monday I got up and dressed quickly for I was due for my therapy session at nine a.m with Dr. Michael Hy Rein at Bailey Seaton Hospital. I'd been seeing Dr. Rein who I called Mike by this point, for four years, this year becoming the fourth year.

I was tired, but I was ready as I was most Mondays when I went to see Mike. We didn't have a session the previous Monday since it was Labor Day, and the clinic was closed. I didn't see him for the rest of that week because he was on vacation.

"We're closed next Monday," he had told me. "But I'll be off for the rest of that week too."
"You'll be on vacation?" I asked.
"Yes," he confirmed. "I'll be back on the twelfth.
And with those words I was done with my session that day. Now on this Monday I was only half way down the block when my partner Walter Lewis called me from the house. The moment I heard him I knew my session had been cancelled. It happened sometimes. The tired part of me was relieved for now I could catch up on some sleep. Then there was the other part who couldn't help feel a bit disappointed for I was looking forward to my session with Mike. Mike was an easy going man, who handled my sessions with so much patience. The last two sessions we discussed an old traumatic experience I had decided to share with him, and I was somewhat eager to get back to that. But there were other things on my mind too. In the end there was nothing I could do, but turn back to the house.

I was not ready for the phone call I received two hours later. Or in reality the phone call I returned two hours later. Mike's supervisor Myra Marks had left me a message asking me to please call her. I did feeling some anxiety for Mike's supervisor wouldn't be calling me unless it was urgent. Was she calling to tell me that Mike wouldn't be returning? I knew that was possible, and I dreaded it, but whatever it was I knew I had to find out, and fast. Little did I know how right I was only not the way I expected. Mike would not be returning, but not because he chose it that way. According to Myra he had died the night before. I was on my way to Shoprite when she gave me this horrible news. Dead? Mike Ryne? I didn't want to believe that was true. But it was. Myra offered her condolences, sounding devastated herself. We briefly discussed getting me another therapist, but we both agreed that could wait. Right then we were both in shock to learn of Mike's sudden passing.

I didn't ask her what he died of right then. I'd been too stunned to get the news. How was this possible? I was devastated. In no time I broke down in tears. I couldn't believe I was never going to have another session with Mike again. No more Monday mornings, no more sessions.
Like any death my mind cluttered with memories. I thought back to our last session the same one he told me he'd be back on the twelfth. We discussed a few things during that session including my father's deteriorating health from Alzheimer's Disease. We discussed the traumatic experience I shared, and he told me he was sorry it happened. He assured me it was natural to think of traumas even old ones once they came to the surface. We discussed my writings as Mike knew I was a writer. In past sessions I shared some poems with him, but it'd been a long time since I'd done so, and I'd been planning to do so again. I quietly thought of that, and decided I would select a poem or two to share with him again. He'd read my poetry, and we'd discuss its content for as he said my writings helped him understand my state of mind whenever he read them.

I'd been in a terribly dark place when I began to see Mike. I had gone through a terrible ordeal, he didn't judge me for. I'd been in a deep depression with suicidal tendencies, and those first sessions didn't bring much progress. My suicide thoughts worsened to the point I made plans, and small acts so Mike arranged to have me hospitalized for evaluation. I was a little angry at him for it, but he'd been concerned at what he called my dark demeanor, and he told me point blank that he couldn't allow me to continue as I was. He came to see me in the hospital (he was the social worker on the floor, that day) and spoke with me for more than one hour. He felt he had failed me as my therapist, and admitted it would devastate him if I succeeded with any suicide attempt. It surprised me to hear him say that, for I'd seen other therapists in the past, and though they showed some concern none ever told me they failed me or how they'd feel if I died. He came to see me again before my release, and offered me the chance to choose a different therapist, if I didn't want to see him anymore. Perhaps I wanted to try with someone else. Otherwise if I wanted to continue on with him then he was more than willing to continue as my therapist.

There was no way I would start over with someone else. Mike had become more than a therapist to me, he had become my friend too. Unfortunately, we couldn't be friends outside our sessions, but he humanized himself to me, and I opened up to him more when I was released from the hospital. In nearly all our sessions I would go in with so many thoughts, but never knowing where to start so he'd patiently wait for me even when my thoughts became scattered (You're not finishing your thoughts he told me during one session)

Today, only three days since his passing, I returned to Bailey Seaton wanting to pay my respects for him in some way. I'd done nothing but cry since I got the news. My depression has been growing again, and I'm fighting not to sink back to that dark place. That's been hard for who did I turn to now to help me come out of that place? I know it's up to me yes, but its not easy when you feel devastated and alone. I met another doctor who will become my new therapist as of next Friday. I admit I am not sure if I'm ready to start therapy with someone else. I have to start over, and I'm not sure I can. I'm relieved I met the new therapist today. We shared our shock over Mike's death, and I am going to need someone to help me pick up the pieces of his sudden passing. This woman was nice, and being one of Mike's colleagues will help me make the transition easier when I begin to see her next week.

It won't be the same. Given my choice I would prefer to stay home from now on. I'd continue my writing, and treasure all my sessions with Mike, and try to heal my depression from that. But I can't do that. Like some have pointed out to me, Mike wouldn't want me to throw away the four years we worked together out the window. He'd want me to continue working on our progress, and that shouldn't stop because he's no longer here. I must give a new therapist a chance. For my sake as well as Mike's. We worked too hard for me to quit on myself now. I'd try my new therapy, and I continue my writing. In fact I decided to dedicate the poetry book I've been working on to him. We had discussed the book, and the poems I was working on, and he expressed interest in reading them once the book was ready.

I came to learn that his office had already been emptied of his personal belongings by his daughter. I stood by his door, and reflected on our sessions. What Mike gave me I will carry on forever. I will cling to his memory when I am in need or feel alone. Though I am still fighting these feelings of abandonment, I know I will always be able to lean on his words, to get me through for his memory will live on. I am grateful to have known him, for the time I did. I am a better person for it. We will be moving from Bailey in two weeks, and I'm sure he was looking forward to telling me since we'd been waiting for that moving date for months. It's going to be hard making that move knowing he won't be there. But then again he will be. In spirit.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

In the midst of my writing I have taken the time to finish reading Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar a book she had written under the pen name Victoria Lucas back in 1963. It was released a month before her suicide. This book brought me to tears for it has hit home on so many levels. As a fellow writer, and poet who suffers from depression, I can relate with everything the protagonist Esther Greenwood experiences (Esther who is Plath's fiction self)  and I certainly feel for her. Her isolation, her sadness, loneliness, all these things. On a personal level I cried reading this book.. But it's still a good read, and I recommend it unless a depression story is not for you. But then my own novel Love Child was criticized by some for being to depressing to read, but here's the thing about depression. It's an issue a real one, and it does exist. Millions are affected. Not everyone ends up committing suicide, but more than enough do. Many make attempts. Unfortunately, we live in a society that prefers to deal with suicide and depression by not dealing with the issue. By pretending it doesn't exist. This is often caused by the stigma of depression, and the wrongful belief of many that depression can be controlled, or simply something one could get rid of if they want too. I wish this was true. Yes, it takes a person's effort to fight this sickness, but that is what depression is more than anything. A sickness. An illness. And like every illness it needs to be treated. And like every illness it affects people differently. Depression needs more understanding to put it mildly. It's a lonely illness to deal with especially when no one understands or wants to bother with you. In many ways you can understand why, but it doesn't take away the pain that leaves you. 

So while some readers may prefer to keep depression out of fiction or whether they prefer to avoid reading stories about it, I must say that I feel fiction is a great place to bring attention to the problem. Books like The Bell Jar are very enlightening even if disturbing to learn of mental illness, and how someone could succumb or slowly deteriorate. In my novel Love Child it's protagonist Tommy Hulette's mother who suffers from depression to the point she ends her life. A horrible reality that disturbed some readers. Others found it disturbing, but still enjoyed the story overall, as they wanted to see where Tommy would wind up after his mother committed the act. It wasn't easy for him, but he had to deal with the repercussions of his mother's actions. I can understand why reading about such a character may be disturbing to some. Why a character like Esther Greenwood would freak people out. Even in fiction people get depressed or sad just to read about a depressed character. As one reader once put it to me "Reading is an escape. This is why many readers choose fiction. They love its unreal stories, and happy endings. As a reader you have the option to stick to these kind of stories while avoiding the dreaded sad ones. Lord knows there are more than enough books to choose from when looking for a book to read these days. Different genres. However always remember too that aside from entertaining ourselves with reading, we should become informed with it too. And stories with depressed characters can be very revealing. You can learn a lot of things from reading about them. After all there are  a lot of Esther Greenwood's and Sandra Hulette's out there. (Tommy Hulette's mother) And like most people even depressed people can overcome things. And if they don't the people around them can. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I am proud to announce that I once again participated in the poetry marathon this year. As I stated last year the marathon lasts for 24 hours- 24 hours of posting poetry, but there is the option to do the half marathon which is the 12 hours. This is the option I chose last year, and decided to choose once again this year. Twelve poems in twelve hours. It still wasn't easy. It took some hard work, but I'm proud and grateful at completing it. I'm more grateful for the opportunity to do it again. Better yet I may have a chance to get two of my poems in a poetry anthology they are putting out this year. There is no guarantee that all poems will be accepted, but I am excited at the chance and possibility of getting two poems published there. This has been a wonderful experience.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Podcast Interviews.

Hello readers. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post, but if I'm honest it's been a struggle in learning what a writer should post about in her blog.

This column I posted on Steemit is based on my hope to get back on podcast interviews. First of all I need to get to finding them again, even as I need to begin with the local media here in New York city. Being an author since 2011 I was very nervous during the interviews I did manage to land. I thought I sounded nervous as well which is what I discuss in this column.

I think it's fair to say that anyone can get nervous before doing any interview even on podcast so it's not unusual to admit being nervous. And these interviews were about five years ago. But if I'm to promote my series of books I need to get back into fully promoting them and that will include planning interviews again at some point. Well at least I can hope to land some again. I believe I wouldn't sound so nervous this time. I feel more confident now. I hope lol. If anyone out there can offer some pointers (authors who've done their share of interviews especially) I really would appreciate it. I appreciate any feedback for the article as well.

Thank you

A.M. Torres