Tighten your lips
Tighten your belt

Tighten your stitches-

But don’t bleed.


Beg for your wants

Beg for your hopes

Beg on your knees-

But don’t need.


Heighten your goals

Heighten your dreams

Heighten your ambitions-

but don’t fall.


So we sew,

And we staple,

And we burn when we’re able,

And it cauterizes into scars we are sure no one can see.


One more layer,

A lying smile,

A lying laugh to hide a thought

That hides the track lines from a past we never get to leave.


But we all have them

Running up our arms,

Buried beneath skin,

Under sleeves of lovely silk.


The Winners have their losses.

The Triumphs have their falls.

The Saviors have their sacrifice

The Survivors have their guilt.




The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing




I’ll Close My Eyes

Found a way around the Hanging Tree

Cover up your colors,the hanging tree poem

Cover up your past.

Leaving you behind was the hardest thing.

I’ll never tell you,

You’ll never ask.

Burn it down, that’s what was said to me,

But hope is a bird

So fragile she flies.

That’s the part of us escaping me.

A prayer for the better

Riding voices of lies.

But you’ve got a draw that always was a magnet

to this hard heart made of steel and stone.

I’m nothing more than broken little pieces

and needles can’t sew through these bones.

Footsteps echo as I walk along

Telling me you’re following,shadow hallway

Telling me you’re here.

Conscious thought says not to look behind,

Hearts are always traitors

Hearts are too sincere.

Sun is rising through these tattered halls

Throwing down your shadow

Whispering the truth.

Racing toward that next falling night.

I can outrun anything,

Anything but you.

I know the sun is safer for a reason,

But light still shines into your little cracks.

I see skin and I want to taste it,

So now I need my shadows back.

Lies can be stronger if you feed them

Hearts can be silenced if lies will eat them.closed eye

But I can’t hand over my tattered little ties

Locked onto parts of you that never died.

So I’ll close my eyes, I’ll shut my mouth,

and pretend this all away.