Friday Fiction: Poetry: “Hide, Empty, Lose”

So. This is a poem that I’ve always wanted to share but been too afraid to. But this article written by Foz Meadows about Female Bodies and the strange, contrary messages we constantly send to girls and women has made me pensive. I really recommend you read it. If you grow up fat, if you grow up thin – you still hear the messages. They can still hurt.

I had an eating disorder when I was a teen. It was pretty severe. I have been recovered for years, but to some extent, disordered thinking around food is always going to be with me. Even if I don’t act on it anymore, inside in some ways I am still anorexic. Actually, even saying I’ve been recovered for years is a a lie – I had a brief slipup with bulimia a few months ago, though I am okay now.

As with most types of mental illness, there’s a stigma around it. But here’s a poem I wrote about what it was like for me to deal with anorexia. I have teen readers, and adult readers. I’m sure some have dealt with this, too. Male and female – everyone deals with the messages society puts on us about weight, health, and beauty.  I was lucky – I had a great support network and still do. I recognise what can be dangerous for me and listen to myself and my body. There are lots of ways to get help. If you suffer from this – reach out. People will understand. People will help. You are not alone.

Trigger warnings, I suppose. I also have a picture of me at a low weight at the end.

Running on Empty
Laura Lam

What are you doing? You can’t eat
that. How can you still let it slip
between your lips and teeth and down your throat? “I
can solve it with two fingers,” you say. Hide
the evidence in a porcelain bowl. What do you have to lose?
You’re only running on empty.

You’re full of contradictions. “When empty,
I feel full.” Horseshit. Eat
your words. Are they filling? Lose
your body, lose yourself and slip
into size two or zero. Maybe, just maybe, if you hide,
you won’t have to look anyone in the eye.

Look in the mirror. Hold one hand over your eye,
squint. Tap a rhythm against your clavicle. Hold one hand over an empty
stomach. Use the other to play the xylophone of ribs. Hunch and hide,
but glance behind you to see the scapula wings. Don’t eat
that. Have grapes or carrots instead. Don’t slip.
Where else do you have to lose?

Step on the scale. Try not to cry. You think you must lose
at least a couple more pounds. “If I only did, then I
would be thin enough. Just two more pounds.” Slip
down the slippery slope and empty
yourself again. Reasoning: in another 45 minutes you can eat
miso soup and turkey slices. Count calories to hide

what you don’t want to think about. Hide
memories. Hide fears. Hide worries. Just lose
a bit more. A tiny bit more. You can eat
after 45 minutes of cardio. Eyes
droop, muscles tremor. You’re still running on empty.
After awhile it’s only inevitable that you slip.

Standing there in the kitchen in only your slip,
you guzzle soda, shovel mac and cheese, inhale cookies and hide
from guilt, fear, anxiety, the empti-
ness. Perhaps, if you eat enough, you’ll lose
that feeling. Fill up the square hole with something round. “I
know, I know, ” you say. “I can’t have my cake and eat

it, too.” Eat, don’t eat. Slip further, slip
down, close eyes red from broken blood vessels and hide
deeper within as you lose a little more just to stay empty.
highschool

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Pantomime Nominated for the Bisexual Book Awards! Cranky Ladies Funded!

bisexualflagYesterday, I had one of the nicest days I’d had in a long time. I didn’t oversleep (for once). I tidied up the flat so it looked lovely. Then I received the lovely news that Pantomime has been nominated for the Bisexual Book Awards, announced on Examiner.com:

I seem to be in two categories:

Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror]
1. Angel on the Ropes by Jill Shultz, Jill Shultz
2. The Art of Forgetting: Rider by Joanne Hall, Kristell Ink
3. Bisexual Vegetarian Zombies by Ron Albury and Eric Kilpatrick, CreateSpace
4. The Children of Gavrilek (Volume 1) by Julie Kirtón Chandler, Sly Snake Publishing
5. Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids
6. Cythera by Jo Graham, Supposed Crimes
7. The Devil’s Concubine by Jill Braden, Wayzgoose Press
8. The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books
9. Extraordinary Deviations by Raven Kaldera, Circlet Press
10. House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter, Circlet Press
11. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack Book 2) by Allison Moon, Lunatic Ink
12. Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
13. Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry
14. The Queerling by Austin Gary, Deckle Press
15. Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, Grand Central Publishing
16. The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Circlet Press
17. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual YA Fiction [Teen/Young Adult]
1. Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Gravel Road Series), Saddleback Educational Publishing
2. Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids
3. The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books
4. Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
5. Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.
6. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books
7. Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry
8. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books
9. Tides by Betsy Cornwell, Clarion Books
10. Wonderland by David-Matthew Barnes, Bold Strokes Books

Huge congrats to Emma Trevayne, Joanne Hall, Malinda Lo, and all the other names on the list!

So after having that lovely bit of news, I went out into the actual sunshine (a relative rarity in Aberdeen) and went shopping for a dress to wear to the three weddings I’m attending this year. Mission accomplished. I then went to the cafe to get some writing done and by coincidence, there was a live jazz festival directly outside of the cafe, so I had live music while I wrote. I then met the lovely Foz Meadows to catch up and also celebrate the fact that The Cranky Ladies of History anthology funded, and we’re both on the line up! We ate food, drank cocktails, and went back to mine to hang out with my cats.

All in all, yesterday was wonderful.

And now it’s Monday. 😛

The Robin Hobb Birthday Scavenger Hunt Clue – With Pictures

Last week, fantasy author Robin Hobb had a worldwide birthday scavenger hunt, and I was the hider in Aberdeen, Scotland. I came up with a poem for my clue, and while I hid it that morning, I took photos on my phone along the way, and thought that I’d share them now that all the presents have been found.

Before: Mowgli helped me wrap.

mowg

The present, a signed copy of Renegade’s Magic and Pantomime, were found by Louise Keating.

Location: Victoria Park, Rosemount, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

I’m going to lead you down the rabbit hole.
The place you are meant to go is named after a queen.
She perhaps didn’t scream “Off with their heads!” but she
led an empire. That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
It’s a place of greenery and trees. Perhaps you played there as a child.
Got it? Start at the entrance.

20140305_075040On your right there will be a gatehouse, looking like something out of a fairy tale.
Perhaps smoke curls from the chimney. Perhaps you wonder who lives in it.

20140305_075121Continue down the promenade, under the trees, bare in the winter chill.
There may be people there, walking dogs, urging bundled children to run about.

20140305_075327 Stop at the fountain. It is made of fourteen different types of granite.
No water runs from it. It stands tall and imposing.

20140305_075353 Look to your left. There’s a little brick gate. Go through it.

20140305_075437
A little further along, there will be the remnants of a chess board on the asphalt,
nearly erased by time, its pieces long missing.
Around you are slumbering rose bushes.
When they bloom, no one paints the white blooms red.
They’re already crimson.
You’re almost there.

20140305_075516 There are two pillars of greenery right in front of you.
Between them is a black flower box.
Dig carefully.

20140305_075859 The treasure is against the wall closest to you, just hidden beneath the new soil.
There it is.
Take it home. Unwrap it. Read the letters.
Open the cover, run your fingertips along the pages.
Fall down the rabbit hole.

Bonus picture: Spring

20140305_080037

Robin Hobb’s Birthday Scavenger Hunt!

scavengerhunt

It’s Robin Hobb’s birthday! She is 62 today. One of my very favourite authors for over a decade now, it’s been lovely to be able to get to know her a bit better since I started my writing journey – I sent her Pantomime and she read it (and gave a blurb!) and I met her in person at WFC last year. I was very pleased when she approached me to help celebrate her birthday.

The post has gone live here. The shorter version here is that Robin Hobb and OfficeKat have been very sneaky the last few months, finding minions around the world to help plant gifts for readers all around the world, spanning from the UK, the US, New Zealand, Italy, and France. I hid my prize this morning, and I also added a little something of my own – a signed copy of Pantomime! I liked the idea of a book of mine and a book of Robin’s hiding out together. I’m not sure which book I had (it’s wrapped up), but if it’s a book with the Fitz and Fool, I can imagine Drystan and the Fool whispering ribald jokes to each other, with Micah and Fitz rolling their eyes at their antics.

Below is my clue. If you find it, take a photo! Also, please be a bit careful with the dirt and put it back in place, if you’d be so kind.

I’m going to lead you down the rabbit hole.
The place you are meant to go is named after a queen.
She perhaps didn’t scream “Off with their heads!” but she
led an empire. That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
It’s a place of greenery and trees. Perhaps you played there as a child.
Got it? Start at the entrance.
On your right there will be a gatehouse, looking like something out of a fairy tale.
Perhaps smoke curls from the chimney. Perhaps you wonder who lives in it.
Continue down the promenade, under the trees, bare in the winter chill.
There may be people there, walking dogs, urging bundled children to run about.
Stop at the fountain. It is made of fourteen different types of granite.
No water runs from it. It stands tall and imposing.
Look to your left. There’s a little brick gate. Go through it.
A little further along, there will be the remnants of a chess board on the asphalt,
nearly erased by time, its pieces long missing.
Around you are slumbering rose bushes.
When they bloom, no one paints the white blooms red.
They’re already crimson.
You’re almost there.
There are two pillars of greenery right in front of you.
Between them is a black flower box.
Dig carefully.
The treasure is against the wall closest to you, just hidden beneath the new soil.
There it is.
Take it home. Unwrap it. Read the letters.
Open the cover, run your fingertips along the pages.
Fall down the rabbit hole.

Happy hunting!

Cranky Ladies of History: The Lioness of Brittany

Cranky Ladies logo

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s also the month that the Australian publisher Fablecroft are running a fundraiser for their new anthology Cranky Ladies of History. Some familiar names are in the line-up: Juliet Marillier, Lauren Beukes, Garth Nix, Jane Yolen. There’s also some newer names like, well, me, and also Foz Meadows, and many more. They will be writing about the cranky women of history from all over the world. The funding page has been up for a few days and it’s already over a third funded, so I’m hoping it’ll make it the rest of the way there.

Here is the funding page. Please consider supporting if the anthology appeals to you! Fablecroft is also running a blog tour, and this is the roundup page.

I’ve been invited to participate, and if it’s funded, I’ll be able to write about the Lioness of Brittany, Jeanne de Clisson.

A brief summary of her life: she was a French noblewoman born in 1300. At the age of 12 she was married to her first husband, a 19-year-old nobleman, and they had two kids but then he died. Her second husband was Olivier de Clisson III, and they loved each other dearly. They went on to have five children. According to BBC, “Olivier came under suspicion and criticism from Charles de Blois for failing to hold Vannes against the English forces, and so Clisson defected to the English side. In the summer, 1343, while he was attending a tourney in French territory, Olivier was arrested and taken to Paris for trial. Fifteen of his peers, including his friend Charles de Blois, found him guilty of treason and on the 2 August, 1343, he was executed by beheading at Les Halles, on the orders of King Philip VI. Olivier’s head was then sent to Nantes and displayed on a pole outside the castle of Bouffay.”

This broke Jeanne’s heart.

Then she was pissed.

She swore revenge against the King and his noblemen, especially Charles de Blois. She sold her lands, raised money, and some sources say she sold her body to raise more funds. Then she bought three ships, which she painted black and gave red sails.

And then she became a pirate. She attacked the King’s ships and killed almost everyone, but left one or two alive so that the stories of the Lioness of Brittany could spread. BCC also says, “Jeanne and her fleet also assisted in keeping the English Channel free of French warships, and it is very likely that as a privateer she had a hand in keeping supplies available to the English forces for the Battle of Crécy in 1346. When King Philip VI died in 1350, it was not the end to Jeanne’s revenge. She continued to wreak havoc among French shipping, and it was reported that she took particular joy in hunting down and capturing the ships of French noblemen, as long as they were aboard. She would then personally behead the aristocrats with an axe, tossing their lifeless bodies overboard.”

After 13 years, piracy began to get a little old, so she retired to England and married again, this time to Sir Walter Bentley. Eventually she returned to France, and after she died, her ghost has been said to have been seen haunting Clisson Castle.

Source: BBC, Jeanne de Clisson – the ‘Lioness of Brittany’

So I thought she definitely fit the billing of the prompt of the anthology, which was to pick women who bucked the trends of their time. I’ll be adding some fantasy elements, and hopefully it’ll have the sort of atmosphere of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Naomi Novik’s work. I originally learned about the Lionness when I was researching badass lady pirates for this post I wrote last year.

I’m really looking forward to it and hope it funds!