Alan Berecka was the Poet Laureate of Corpus Christi from February 2017 - February 2019. His latest collection, The Hamlet of Stittville, is a collaboration with the New Yorker cartoonist and boyhood friend John Klossner. Berecka earns his keep as a reference librarian at Del Mar College. His work has appeared in such publications as Red River Review, Texas Review, The Christian Century, Windhover, Ruminate, St. Peter’s B-List and Oklahoma Poems…And Their Poets.
How far can a fog lift
before it becomes a cloud?
Whatever it was, it hung
above the causeway,
a few feet above each car
and truck, as we drove
over the shallow end
of the Gulf, consumed
with the needs
of our daily commute.
I noticed how the gulls
and pelicans disappeared
diving up into the thickness
but thought little of it, until
I rounded the long curve
near the final exit,
and there it hung
like a shroud, completely
obscuring the upper two-thirds
of the Harbor Bridge.
While being pulled along
by the constant traffic,
I watched the countless
sets of tail lights
ascending into obscurity,
taking on faith that beyond
it still lies the bridge
into the city of Corpus Christi.
copyright Alan Berecka
Buy The Hamlet of Stittville on Amazon. "There is much ado about monkey in Berecka and Klossner’s poignant and humorous search for meaning in The Hamlet of Stittsville. It’s monkeys all the way down, with Shakespearian commentary on current politicalevents mixed with the deep, personal observation we’ve come to expect in Berecka’s work. Klossner’s art offers both counterpoint and reflection in Berecka’s tongue-in-cheek universe. Together they pack a knock-out punch that will, for an infinite moment, take our minds off the baloney of our political present and give us the comical perspective necessary to enjoy our dawning days. L.A. Times Bestselling Author Stephen Jay Schwartz Alan Berecka starts with a wily premise of infinite monkeys, infinite typewriters, and time. But the monkeys are us and time is running out as sad little monkeys continue to ring the bell, hoping for a banana. And we all know what the definition of insanity is..."
Buy on Amazon. From the cover: Berecka's commedia is not so much divine as it is deeply human-a retrospective poetic, accompanied by a wince and a grin. Scott Cairns Author of Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected Alan Berecka probes his blue collar roots with honesty and insight, depicting, with haunting detail and striking imagery, everything from family members who "smell of cabbage and onions" to the love "that pins us down." Ranging in tone from the elegiac to the hilarious, these impressive poems shimmer with craftsmanship, the work of a poet who takes his art seriously, who works the jagged stones of his poems until they sparkle on the page like faceted gems. Larry D. Thomas 2008 Texas Poet Laureate The hardest task of a serious writer is to be able to write funny, but Alan Berecka not only does this, he does it brilliantly. These are laugh-out-loud funny poems on child abuse and alcoholism, profanity and prayer, via some of the most unlikely subjects: the Pope's T-shirt, the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Carl Yastrezmski, Jiffy Pop popcorn, Playboy magazine. These poems will both break your heart and alter your vision; I guarantee you will never look at the world in quite the same way again. Barbara Crooker Author, Line Dance and Radiance Berecka embraces the "flaw" without a hint of resignation-never hesitating to administer the sacrament of laughter where others might erect a wall of ridicule. This collection is a Eucharist, beginning to end. Bread and wine have their place; but the sacramental elements might just as well be baseball, popcorn, t-shirts, a puzzled Pope responding to a phrasebook reference to lost luggage-or the poet's old man flipping a bird. He has an uncanny ability to sense the presence of God in such acts, and that is a welcome invitation to take our shoes off and get comfortable on this holy ground we share. Steven Schroeder Virtual Artists Collective
“What if?” Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Her best-selling The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic historical fantasy series includes The Redoubt, voted one of 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2016, and The Lost King, awarded the All Authors Certificate of Excellence. She also wrote the historical thriller Detour, co-authored the contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks, with Jed Donellie, contributed to Masters of Time: a SciFi/Fantasy Time Travel Anthology, and Magic Unveiled: An Anthology, and has several Mystery Mini Short Reads to her name.
See her website at DevorahFox.com
See her on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/devorahfox
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges participants to write 50,000 words (about 175 pages) between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. The novel can be any genre in any language. There is no prize for winning except for bragging rights. In fact, you have to buy your own “Winner” T-shirt. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the novel will ever be published.
So why do it? For many people who have always wanted to write a novel, NaNoWriMo is the kick in the pants they need to get going. The community that grows around the effort gives encouragement and the deadline provides motivation to persevere. In 2017 there were 402,142 participants including 95,912 students and educators in the Young Writers Program.
NaNoWriMo 2018 was my 8th marathon. I chip away at writing projects all year long, squeezing that in between running a business and the day-to-day challenges that we all face. However, in November I make writing Job #1 and put everything aside until I achieve my daily word-count: 1667 words, every day, including Saturdays, Sundays, and Thanksgiving Day.
I’ve met the 50K-word goal every year. I won’t say they were great words. I even skipped entire chapters, leaving myself virtual sticky notes that read “something happens here” and went on to write what I did know was going to happen. That was perfectly OK. After all, NaNoWriMo’s slogan is “No Plot? No Problem!” The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to arrive at the finish line with a fully fashioned, perfectly crafted novel. Most NaNoWriMo writers end up what they consider to be a very robust outline. Many go on to polish it throughout the months that follow, as do I.
I’m already musing about a project for 2019.
For more information about National Novel Writing Month and related activities, visit nanowrimo.org. To learn about my works, many of which began as NaNoWriMo projects, check out my author page at https://www.amazon.com/Devorah-Fox/e/B006L9BJAO.
She unlocked the door to the business office, housed in an old, wood-framed cabin separate from the main resort building. The inn’s owner felt that there was no point in wasting expensive showy real estate on mere staff so no highly polished wood floors, no roaring fireplaces, or sparkling crystal chandeliers for them. Instead, Candy's storm boots squeaked on a worn linoleum floor. A balky fluorescent light sputtered overhead and the steam radiator clanked and wheezed.
That wasn't right. The lights should be off, the heat turned down. Normally Candy was the first one in. She turned everything on. Someone else must have gotten here first. Certainly, it wasn't any other member of the staff. No one but she ever came in early, ever spent a single minute more than necessary here.
The door to her boss's office was ajar. Sleink himself in early? Incredible, Candy thought.
“Good morning, Sir,” Candy called. No response, but that didn't surprise her. It was appropriate for her to greet him but he wouldn't lower himself to return the gesture.
Candy sat at her old desk in the reception area, pulled off her boots, and slipped her heels on. She stuffed her gloves into the pocket of her winter coat and hung it on the back of her chair. There was coffee in the pot by the door. Noticing the lack of aroma, she touched the pot and found it cold. Leftover from last night, she decided. Heaven forbid Sleink should make a fresh pot. After all, that was her job, along with handling the phone, typing, and filing, if that all didn't get in the way of her primary duties, like fetching ink from Greenfield.
“I'm going to get some water for coffee,” Candy called. She took the pot down the hall to the ladies room. As she rinsed it out in the sink, she made a face at herself in the mirror. “You gutless wonder, Candy Wadsen,” she scolded herself. “If you had any spine at all you'd tell Sleink to make his own coffee. Shouldn't be beyond his talents.”
The face in the mirror frowned back at her with anger in its brown eyes. Oh, but it might interfere with his precious work was the retort. Or to be more precise, his precious hobbies. Sleink was a collector. First it was pocket knives. Next it was scissors. Then it was letter openers. Lately, he was into fountain pens. Just yesterday he had almost giggled with something approaching glee when a new catalog had arrived with the office mail.
“Hold my calls,” he had told Candy then retreated into his office to revel in glossy photos of deluxe writing instruments.
“Coffee's on, Mr. Sleink. Can I get you a cup?” Candy poked her head into his office. “Mr. Sleink?”
He was slumped face down on his elegant mahogany desk.
FROM Book One in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam
Moo? King Bewilliam frowned. What was a cow doing in the throne room?
King Bewilliam no sooner had set his gaze on the Bell Castle’s richly-veined marble floors, the opulent woven tapestries, the straight lines of courtiers resplendent in their gold-braided uniforms than it all vanished.
His heart jolted and he felt a pervasive icy chill.
I’m asleep, the King thought. I’m dreaming. I need to wake up. He opened one eye. He had been dreaming but what vanished was not the cow but the throne room. Instead, the sight that greeted him was another eye: big, brown, and deep.
King Bewilliam opened his other eye and found himself face-to-face with a large Guernsey regarding him with mild curiosity.
"Moo, moo," said the cow although to the king it sounded distinctly like “Who, you?” which, it seemed to him, was an excellent question given the circumstances. Was he not King Bewilliam, ruler of the Chalklands, master of Bell Castle? So what was he doing here staring down a cow? He shook his head to clear the fog of slumber...
Read the rest of this chapter in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology