Poetry Reading: Devotion and a Cold, Hard, Stone

By Baylie Karperien

Rain pools in cracks and crevices and pounds against the rock

Chants a rhythmic battle song and bends the slender stalk,

Of every blade of grass that dares to grow in all this gloom

And swallows any trace of life which stands against its doom

As if it could survive where lives are born just meant to die

You’re the sun, ‘round whom the earth is fated to revolve

And dance in twirling ecstasy, unfailing her resolve

Or maybe we were meant to laugh at how the earth was tied

To always and forever chase and never by your side,

As if she could have overcome the force that holds her in the sky

Clouds black out the sun as if disgusted by her cheer

And roar with hungry mouths in hope we’ll cower in our fear

And swallow up our souls and flock to suffocate our skin

Devouring our hope ‘till we forget how to begin

As if we could begin again when dug into the ground

You’re the one who holds me back and twists all of my words

And shatters all my dreams the moment you know what they are,

But you’re the sun and I the earth and maybe it was wrong

But I’ll admit I may have hoped you’d listen to my song

As if you would listened, would have heard what I had found

The thorns that creep along the ground are matted, twisted shells

The cracks are spider’s webs that coat the rusty aged bells,

That sing a lonely song inside the rotting, musty ghost

Of pews and hymnals, candles, all abandoned by their host

And you seemed so very lonely sitting there all by yourself

But you never listen, do you, no, that’s not your way

And you never really cared to hear the things I had to say

So maybe it’d be better if I left you far behind,

For though you’ve never hurt me, even treated me unkind,

As if your stone-cold heart could have ever loved beyond its cell

Shadows grow and stretch and lengthen, devouring the light

Like a thousand tiny mouthfuls that they swallow with delight

And the darkness dreams of times it might remain until the day

Instead of every sunrise sneaking, creeping, tucked away

As if the two could battle and the sun could fall that far

The iron gate was warning that I should have stayed away

And left you to tend yourself in your own lonely, empty way,

But now that I have found you, can I ever let you go?

Abandon you to sit alone through rain and sleet and snow

As if you’re but a lump of rock in an abandoned, lonely yard

The moment I laid eyes on you I knew it was eternal,

The fire burning in my heart a blazing, wild inferno

I felt my heart begin to shake the moment that we met,

You gave me such a stomach-ache that by your side I set,

As if we could drink tea and laugh at things that I had said.

The cemetery cold, abandoned, roses stripped of life

Like everything within it fallen to the price of strife,

My own faint glow a murmur in an emptiness of gray,

I felt myself a loneliness then realized it out of place,

As if my love and I are separate simply since my love is dead!

Your face is etched with letters that have crumbled and decayed,

Your head is cold to touch and makes me wonder how you payed

For such a lovely grave, if you were perhaps a wealthy man

Or your origins dictated fate, begot from noble clan,

As if your life was but another branch upon the family tree

Perhaps I should have listened when they told me I was mad,

But sitting here with you, can I be anything but glad?

Our love will last the ages when I’m buried by your side

And Shakespeare, when he heard of me, would certainly have cried

As if my love were nothing but another lover’s dream!

For your death came fifty years ago, long before I was born,

But my love for you is burning bright and I keep your graveside warm,

And will never love another, never dare to move away,

I devote myself to you, my love, my stone, and here I’ll stay

As if we are a couple, you the groom, and I the bride

You are my sun and I your earth and our love will never die

For you’re already dead, and I myself, will soon oblige,

This stone that I have fallen for will never be alone,

For soon beside will be a headstone of my very own,

As if my love could be less true because you’ve already died.


This poem is a reminder that emotion is not always what it seems, and we often fall in love with things that are not real. We become attached to a fantasy, we become devoted to one who is incapable of loving us back. We are human, and this is our reality. Our deep capacity to love is our greatest gift. But it is also a great danger.

Teaser: A First Look at Unsettled, Chapter 1

Tons of water pound against my chest. My face is drenched. My eyes become useless blobs of stinging flesh, unable to see, unable to understand. Pressure is consuming me. Again I try to see, I turn my head to look down, but blackness counters me. I am tossed, thrown, falling, flying. Blackness eats me whole. I can’t see, I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe—

I’m falling, I’m suffocating. I try to gasp, I can’t, I can’t, my lungs are burning. White lights explode in my face. Then they flicker out. That’s when I become the most afraid. That’s when I finally understand.

I’m alone in the dark.

I’m going to die.

My thoughts are a swarm, all taking off in different directions, escaping me. I can’t think. My mind is on fire. I am encompassed by nothingness. It’s so dark, it’s like the world no longer exists. It’s just me now, me and the darkness. And pressure. My lungs burn. I move to quickly fill them with air, but breath has ceased to be an option. The chaos overtakes me. I can’t. I stop struggling. I can’t survive. Fear is all that’s left of me.

I’m tingling all over.

“Wake up.” His voice catches in my ears. “Come on Phe, get up!” Hue shakes me, his hand firm on my shoulder. I gasp for breath. I’m awake. “You have to get ready. We leave in an hour,” he whispers. His dark hair glistens in the low morning light. My heart jumps. A surge of panic trickles through me as I remember. It’s today. I want to go back to bed. I want to close my eyes and roll over and sleep. I want to throw my arms around my tattered pillow and clutch it to my chest until the pressure dies away. I can’t. I don’t want to do this. They have no right to make me.

I have to. It’s almost funny. They tell us we’re worthless right up until the moment that they need our help.

It’s time.


Excerpt from Unsettled, chapter 1

Available September 13, 2015

Click here for preorder.

Love you all!
Baylie

How to Make Your Supporting Characters Come to Life

You may have a great story. You may have a great protagonist, great antagonist, fantastic setting, all the sup-plots and conflict in the world, but if you don’t have good supporting characters, your book is going to fall flat. On its face. In the mud. With everyone watching.

Supporting characters are the life of your novel. If they are neglected, it will certainly be noticeable. A character who is but a shell, a hollow name attached to a few lines of dialogue who serves no other function than to allow your hero to be awesome, or your villain to be villainous, will not only keep from adding to the depth of your novel, but will also detract from it. This is not to say that every single being mentioned in your text must have an elaborate backstory. It would be ridiculous to spend any time working on the profile of every pedestrian your protagonist passes on the street. However, the characters your protagonist will be interacting with on a regular basis must have depth, well-rounded personalities, and most importantly, a unique character voice.

But how can you write these characters into your story? How can you keep them from being stale, robotic, stick figures that carry your hero to the climax? It may be more simple than you imagine. By crafting your supporting characters outside of your novel and then allowing their unique beings to seep through into your writing, you will find that these characters will suddenly come to life.

  1. Giving Characters Depth

First of all, get to know your character. You don’t need to spend much time on this. You don’t need to fill out a form of likes and dislikes, name all of their siblings, childhood pets, their first love, or their favourite food. But you should get an idea of their history—a basic knowledge of who they are, what they stand for, and why they get up in the morning. I find it particularly useful to keep a Pinterest board with images I’ve chosen to represent each of my supporting characters. This gives me a feel for who they are and what they look like that I can come back to in my writing. A short backstory, if only a couple of sentences long, will give your character depth, even if you never come out and explain that story in the novel. Your readers don’t need to know everything about every character, they just need to know that more exists than what is written on the pages. Aragorn, from Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, is a good example of a character whose backstory is crucial to the plot.

  1. Giving Characters Personality

Sometimes it is tempting to write every character as a simple carbon copy of yourself. However, it is important to make each character unique. I find it useful to assign each of my more important supporting characters a Myers-Briggs personality type. This helps me to shape their actions and dialogue in a manner according to their personality. It keeps every character from being too much like and other, and makes them more interesting to readers. Bringing in the people you know from everyday life is very useful here. Many of the characters in my writing will be loosely based off multiple people that I know, a sort of mish-mash of real life experiences. This not only makes them more realistic, but more personal as well. Effie Trinket, a very unique character from the Hunger Games series, is quite memorable because of her rather flamboyant personality~and style, of course.

  1. Giving Characters a Chance to Change

Always remember that not all “good” characters have to be likable, and not all “bad” characters have to be unlikable. A character’s personality does not always define where they stand or their situation. In addition, allow your supporting characters to grow and change throughout the story, as does the protagonist. Or allow their true nature to be revealed slowly, over time, so that they turn out to be not at all what the readers expected. This can be done particularly well through the redemption of a character. These are the characters readers will become the most attached to, the ones who are most transformed, whether for better or for worse. Take for example, Boromir in Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, who redeems himself by dying a heroic death to save the lives of his companions.

  1. Giving Characters a Unique Voice

Use your character’s depth and personality to get inside their brain and discover how they think, speak, and act. Rather than merely shaping their actions to benefit your plot line, allow them to have opinions and beliefs of their own. Discover how your characters speak, whether influenced by accent or dialect, vocabulary, education, social status, etc. Give them filler words such as “like”, “um”, “I mean”, etc. Putting these small aspects of individuality into their speech will remind readers who they’re listening to.


To conclude, let your supporting characters be important. Let them have hopes and dreams and desires. Let them be guided by conflicting loyalties and complex motivations and wild emotions. Let them be unique, let them stand out. Let them be memorable. Let them make mistakes. Let them be human. But most importantly, as a writer, you have to know them. Know them, and understand them, because if you don’t, no one will—seeing as they only exist inside your head.

Good luck with your writing. Hopefully you’ll grow to love your supporting characters, and your readers will too.

May your fingers fly!

Love to all,

Baylie

What’s it’s Like to Publish Your First Book? A.K.A. Available for Pre-Order!

Hurrah! Hooray! The day has come. My book is going to be available four weeks from today. First of all, let me say that it has been quite an adventure getting to this point! When I began writing Unsettled, I never dreamt of coming this far. I thought that within a few weeks, my novel plans would have died a slow and rather disappointing death. But instead, I learned how to write a novel. And I became rather addicted to it. I now have plans for my next four novels…although it may take me a while to get to them. However, the second book in the Reset series, which is actually titled “Reset”, is coming along nicely and should be available some time in 2016. You see, I simply can’t help myself. I’ve gotten hooked on writing, I suppose.

Ten months ago, I couldn’t have dreamt of ever publishing my book. Five months ago, I couldn’t even dream of letting a single soul ever read my book! Three months ago, I had finished the first draft of my first real book. One month ago, I decided that I was never going to stop writing books. So I might as well start getting them out into the big wide world now. Getting to this point has been quite a journey. I have scaled the cliffs of Writer’s Block, battled the demons of Insecurity, crossed the raging river of the Self-Publishing Industry, and now I am here, lost in the desert of Un-Read Books, where I am but one more home-made piece of cover art sitting on the e-shelves, collecting e-dust. It is, to be honest, somewhat depressing. To know that Phoenix and Hue and all of my characters are going to just sit there, waiting for someone to read them back to life, but they may be waiting for a long, long time. While the self-publishing industry has paved the way for authors to publish outside of the traditional system, it has also filled the world with a lot of unknown novels written by authors such as myself, desperate to get what they’ve written out there, regardless of whether or not people will actually read it.

So on the one hand, there is this sense of doom. This rather depressing knowledge that my book could be a total flop and sell two copies~one to my mother, and one to me. And then, on the other hand, there is so much hope and excitement and nervousness and elation and discovery and happiness and radiant, radiant joy! Because I wrote a book! I cleaned it up and polished it off! I created a cover for it! I freaking published it! I have a published book! Wohooo!

This is what is going on inside my brain most days. One moment I am thrilled, elated, walking on sunshine in the happy meadow of rainbow cloud-ponies, and then I am in the depths of despair, served a cold helping of harsh reality. This is what it’s like to publish your first book. Allow me to draw on my imagination for the sake of an illustration. Although I’ve never actually had a child, I imagine that if I were to, it would be something similar to publishing a book. For nine or so months, this book has been sitting inside of me, growing, maturing, developing into something bright and beautiful, and now I know that this book is about to come into the world and interact with people and be loved and despised and live a life of its own. I am utterly amazed by the fact that I’ve actually created a book. However, I am also utterly terrified at the thought of my book being tossed around, blown about, and possibly ripped to shreds. I want to see my book rise to great heights and be loved by many…but I’m also keenly aware that my book may never amount to much. This doesn’t mean I stop loving my book~it just means I’m more than a little bit nervous about what’s going to happen on Sunday, September 13th.

So, that’s what it’s been like publishing my first book. Have you recently become a published author? Let me know what the experience has been like for you! Leave a comment below, like my facebook page, or follow me on twitter for more news on writing and my book journey! And if you’re interested…click here (or here, for U.S.) to purchase Unsettled, book one of the Reset series!

Love you all!

Baylie

All Girls are Beautiful: Social Media and the Self Love Trend

Here’s an essay I wrote a while ago about an issue that I believe is extremely important and relevant to our society today. We must, must, must stop telling women that they are nothing more than their looks. We must stop dehumanizing ourselves. Instead of learning to love our curves, or our curls, or whatever the next campaign comes up with, we should learn to love ourselves-for the human beings that we are.

Let’s stop making it all about that body.

All Girls are Beautiful: Social Media and the Self Love Trend

By Baylie Karperien

Over the past year, the internet has been blooming with articles, videos, blogs, and ad campaigns telling women to love their bodies, because their bodies are beautiful. On the surface, it would appear that this encouragement is a positive thing, a step forward for society, a sort of emancipation for women from the body-image issues which plague so many of us. So why is it that we still need to buy brand name lingerie and apply Dove’s special “Nourishing Curls” mousse to our hair? Why is it that to be beautiful, we have to dress up our faces, smooth our hair, and take off our clothes? There are also messages telling us to ditch the help, to be proud of our “natural beauty”. Song lyrics tell women everywhere that they “don’t have to try” to look beautiful. Because according to them, all girls are beautiful. But what if we didn’t have to be beautiful? What if we tried to actually solve the problem instead of diluting the pain with metaphorical painkillers? What if instead of lying to ourselves, filling ourselves up with illusions, we started being beautiful, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the way that we looked?

Websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are all forms of social media that, while they are not responsible for this trend, spread and promote it, powered by the true perpetrator: our society. On the one hand, western culture strongly sexualizes women and girls, and on the other hand, tells them that they should feel good about the bodies they have. However, I believe that these two messages, which almost appear conflicting, are one and the same. Telling girls that they can be overweight and still “hot” does not promote a positive body image, rather, it further distorts and convolutes that image, and ratifies the message our society consistently dishes out that women are little more than sexual objects to exist solely for their beauty. The sexualisation of women is prevalent not only in social media, but television, advertising, magazines, popular music, and even products such as the Barbie and Bratz dolls that line the shelves of children’s toy stores, dressed in provocative clothing and thick, heavy makeup.

This issue of sexualisation is deeply rooted in our history, in the world of our past, when under a British common law of 1876, “women were eligible for pains and penalties, but not rights and privileges.” It took Canada until 1929 to decide that women could be considered full persons by law. Less than a century later, we are still not considered full persons by society. Social media reflects this view of woman and serves to promote it, yet also promotes the idea of self-love specifically aimed at the women it objectifies. There has been not one, not even one, body-image campaign featuring eighty year old women with bald patches and faded features that tries to promote the idea that all women are beautiful—however, there have been many featuring young, specially selected models with radiant facial features and smooth skin. This is simply because if the audience were to take one look at the elderly models featured in the advertisement/campaign/blog/social media post, they would instantly realize that the concept is false. Not all women are beautiful. This is hard for us to accept, because we think that if we do not proclaim someone to be beautiful, we ourselves are cruel, hating, anti-feminist judges. The idea that women are expected to be, must be, have to be physically beautiful has been pounded into our brains until we have lost the ability to think anything but.

The answer lies not in how we judge beauty, but in how we judge ourselves. Instead of trying to make our ideas of beauty expand to include all women, or outright lying to ourselves about our own beauty, which only leads to further body image issues down the road, our society should simply stop trying to tell women that their beauty is all that matters. And we, as individuals, should stop evaluating a person’s worth, including our own, based on physical appearance. This is not to say that there is something wrong or evil about appreciating physical beauty, indeed, God gave us the very marvelous gift of appreciating wondrous sights and sounds and tastes. However, it is when we expect women to be beautiful, when we care about their beauty instead of their thoughts and inputs, their talents and unique personalities, in short, the persons that they really are, that we are establishing false and convoluted perceptions detrimental to not only ourselves, but our society as a whole. Social media’s role in promoting this perception will only diminish when the perception itself diminishes—and although the Famous Five were able to obtain a finite ruling on the status of women as persons from the Supreme Court of Canada, obtaining such a status from society will not come quickly, nor will it come definitively, tangibly, or perhaps even visibly. But when it does come, the day when women can say, “I’m not beautiful”, and care about it no more than they would if they had just said, “I’m not a porcupine”, then the world will indeed be changed.

How to Get Yourself Out of a Writing Rut

We’ve all been there. There are those days where your fingers are flying, your brain is pumping out words faster than your fingers can type them, your mind is swimming with ideas and plots and character development and words, words, words just seem to flow from you endlessly. And then, there are those days when you stare at the screen. And you stare. And you type a sentence. And delete all three words. And stare.

Now, I’m not talking about writer’s block, because that’s a whole other issue. This is more for the writer who has lost their fire, their passion, their inspiration, their will to live…okay, maybe an exaggeration, but still. Those finger-flying days are so few and far between, and the blank staring days are all too abundant. As I’m beginning the sequel to my first novel, Unsettled, I’m having a lot of difficulty getting started. Perhaps the problem is that I already wrote the first third of the novel— but I hated it, so I deleted the whole thing and started over, taking a whole different path. And even though I’m excited to see where Reset is going to take Phoenix, and exactly how I’m going to handle building a whole new world for her, somewhere along the way, I lost my spark.

I got bored.

Crazy as it sounds.

So, once you’ve gotten sick of your project, how do you keep yourself from giving up? How do you reignite that spark? How do you pull yourself out of the rut, and get your fingers flying once more?

  1. Leave it alone.

This may be a good time to take a two-day vacation. Getting away from your writing desk, out into the big, wide world, may be just the thing you need to get your creative juices flowing, and make you fall in love once more with the imaginary world you’ve created inside your head. However, be careful that you don’t leave it for too long. Leaving it for so long that you forget your love for it won’t do you any good. Set aside a few days, or a week, to rejuvenate. Don’t just think about this as a time to get away, think about it as a time to fall in love, sort of like a couple’s retreat, except instead of bonding with the love of your life, you’ll be bonding with the non-existent, fictional worlds inside your brain.

I wonder how that conversation would go…

“Hello, Honeymoon Haven? Yes, this is Jane Doe. I’d like to make a reservation for myself and a boatload of fictional teenage rebels. I can assure you, they won’t cause any trouble. And if they accidentally blow up the building, you can put it on my bill.”

  1. Work on something else.

Taking a break to write something else might just be the change you need to reignite that spark. Writing a couple pages of one of the many story ideas you probably have floating around inside your brain could just do it. If you have any stories you’re dying to tell, but keep reminding yourself that you can’t because you have to finish this project first, it might be a good idea to just let yourself go for it. Write until you’re sick of it, and see if your passion has been reawakened. This is probably my favorite method, because it really helps me to remember why I loved writing so much in the first place.

  1. Plow through it.

Believe it or not, if you keep on going, the inspiration will come. Sometimes you have to fight for it. But you can’t just sit around forever, waiting for the golden moment when your mind suddenly decides that it wants to write this book. You just have to write it.

Reading other people’s books is a very good way to get yourself writing. But nothing beats just doing the work. Because, as much as you may love it, writing is work, plain and simple, and sometimes, we get lazy. We want to skip to the exciting parts, when instead, we should be making the entire book the exciting part.

So, basically, just do whatever works best for you. Odds are, you know what will make you write, you just want someone to tell you to do it. So now that I’ve told you, it’s up to you to do something about it.

Happy writing.

Love to all,

Baylie