Saturday, February 28, 2015

Season of Sacrifice


And I know where my happiness lies;
My salvation unfolds before my eyes.
I anticipate feverishly, the morning of evil's demise
Thus my pen shall never run dry until it is realized,
Until I obtain true justification for this sacrifice.

Devastated and cornered though they may be,
Our outcome is tied to their outcome by destiny’s strings.
Our survival is as slim as the vapor of their dying breath.
If we forget them, who we are perishes in their death.
Cause the tragedy is not to die but to be wasted.

Daily, the fate of thousands arrive upon a nightmare,
Spun out like the thread of a graphic horror story.
Day and night their pastime is a game called terror and fear.
Our organs rot and decay and all we do is drag our feet;
They live on the edge of death, blinded by tears.

“The summer has passed
The harvest has ended
But we are not saved.”

Akpan



Friday, February 27, 2015

Why We Can't Wait


I vote for peace
The kind found not in the absence of war.
The peace I root for exists in a calm, collected state of mind.
But we'll hardly attain that pedestal until we give these suicides pause;
Retaliate with lethal repercussions and serve them mayhem in kind.

If freedom is a bell, I say let it ring.
But let the hand of justice be the swing behind the ring.
Cause there will never be peace
Until every grain of sand is purged of this disease.

Now, I've heard folks argue that our fate will be dealt out by the ballots.
But when I ponder the nightmares fools unleash on my compatriots,
I say hand me a gun and toss the ballots.
They picking us out like clay pigeons and it's hard to exhale.
So if you got something to say, I suggest you step to it and not stall
Or they’ll wrench courage from our hearts. That's why we can't wait.

Akpan



Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to Groom Your Voice Through Social Media


Social media has been a more-than-willing accessory to the on-going transformation across the web. And this post is more of a wake-up call to writers of all skill level who are yet to steal a taste of the limitless payoffs of this viable web tool. Believe it or not, social media can amp up your writerly voice and give it a sharp edge.

Let’s look at the high points.

1. KEEP A BLOG.
And if you don't already run a blog, create one right away. A lot of writers who are new to the internet are yet to tap into the reality that blogging is actually a form of social media. Hence, they miss out of one of the most vital aspect of maximizing their presence online. This is an invaluable tool if you must achieve any level of success in writing.

2. CONNECT.
Network, in other words. Reach out to a whole new world of possibilities-new ways of thinking by following, adding friends, adding people to your circle... whatever name your sns calls it. You may downplay the idea, if you've been around the web for a while but connecting with folks on the internet takes a little bit of courage and faith. But hopefully, it takes nothing out of you (besides timidity, of course) but if you really throw yourself into it and make it art, you'll find the rewards are way out of this world.

3. SHARE YOUR BLOG CONTENT.
Keeping a blog is one thing, sharing it with citizens of the cyberverse is another. Sending out your work through social networking is an indispensable step towards toning your writerly muscles. It also builds you up and prepares you for all those rejection slips you'll be receiving when you send out your work to publishers and agents.

4. READ INTENSELY.
Bury yourself deep in reprints (or read off your computer) and do not pause for breath. There's no telling where you might find the ideas which becomes the gift that keeps on giving. Read stuff on your social network-that's why you should follow the right people. Immerse your mind in stuff that appeals to your passion. It pays handsomely.

5. SHARE FROM YOUR NETWORK
They don't exactly call it networking for the fun of it, you know. When you share your connects' work across the web, it's your way of reaching out to them, your way of saying, "I believe in you." It may not be a big deal to you, in the beginning but if you keep at it and more people connect with you for 'sharing,' it builds you up inside. Your good deed comes back to you as a blessing.

You learn how to talk by joining conversations. A similar principle applies to writing online; you learn to write by writing-blogging, connecting, sharing, reading and so on. In other words, your writing voice attains a perfect pitch when you hang around a writerly habitat.

Keep your pens bleeding.

Akpan



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

No Lies


Tell me no lies
Cause I seen delusion playing on the wall of your mind.
Standing here, staring you in the face thru this mirror
It's hard to conceal the tears in the wake of raw gore.
I aim my gaze straight thru the windows of your soul
And access the nitty-gritty of your thoughts like it was my own.
I wonder how you shade your eyes to such gruesome heat;
How you manage to delegate denial to defuse the guilt.

Tell me no lies
That you serve a fatherland almost torn apart by war
When your best shot is folding your arms and letting it slide
While your motherland is brought to her knees and grieves her sons.
You throttle the voices inside and play that feel-good music
And amp the volume to the max in time, you lost sight of the basic.
Take one long hard look at yourself thru the looking glass,
Say to the hypocrite staring back at you: “Shove the lies up your ass.”

Tell me the flames of the first civil war engaged the south
Alas! Its twin confronts us, if you'd dare open your mouth
But tell me no lies.

Tell me devastation steers its course northward at least, for the time,
And you figure you ain't in harm's way so you kick back and unwind.
Just tell me no lies.

Tell me you ain't got no brother, no sister, not one single friend
Among the thousands dead or the 100 thousands displaced;
That I can handle just fine. But please, spare me the lies.

Akpan



Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to Make Culture a Driving Force in Your Fantasy Story


When a fantasy buff curls up for a good read he is geared up above all else, for an inventory of unfamiliar customs and practices which—new ways of using the bathroom may make the list—will definitely break the back of convention. And that’s because the plot is more often than not, set in a parallel universe. Many of these yarns brim over with strange creatures which are totally alien to the knowledge we possess on this planet.

In most cases, writers of the fantasy genre do not beat themselves up about culture when creating their stuff as they do say, world-building, original language, and of course, plot and character development. When you add it all together, what most writers really do is ‘allow’ the ‘way of life’ in their created world shape itself as the events in their story unfolds.

You know, I looked up the word, Culture in the dictionary. Here’s what my little research churned up:
G The taste in art and manner that are favored by a particular group;
A All knowledge and values shared by a society;
B The attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group or organization
According to the definitions above, all the practices, customs, rituals, language, in point of fact, all the peculiarities which draw the line between a fantastical universe and the one in which we live are all really one thing, ‘culture.’ It’s amazing when you consider hundreds of stories have been written just by imagining “The taste in art and manner; knowledge, values, attitudes and behavior operating within a particular society totally different than ours.”

1. Use Culture to Create Story Resonance
Often when a writer considers establishing cohesion in his setting the word that most easily comes to mind might be ‘world-building’ rather than moderating ‘the characters’ way of life.’ I think that a wealth of resources is cast away if culture is treated as a passive reaction to story. Observing the way the folks in your story behave and making it trigger the tension—causing the actions in the plot to arise out of their habits and superstitions and inconsistencies in keeping up with rituals—gives you a better shot at sustaining a viable streak.

2. Use Culture to Address Real Life Issues… in a Different Light
When your story people adhere strictly—too strictly, if I may add—to a set of rules and get boxed into awkward situations, you can exploit it for your own benefit by turning it around and making it deal with real life crisis. It may throw light either on a positive or negative subject and your character may stick out his neck for a set of principles and get it ripped off his body in the process. What matters is to get the message across with a little bit more force by consciously making the ‘tastes and behavior’ of your character drive the plot.
3. Use Culture to Explain Paranormal Activities/Magic
There’s a scene in Wolves of the Calla(Book 5 of the Dark Tower fantasy series by Stephen King) where Roland Deschain pours gold and silver coins out of a sack he called a ‘grow-bag.’ The catch is the leather sack was otherwise ‘empty’ before and after he tipped it and poured out the stuff.
            Roland explained it as a gift from his father (the sack, that is) and claimed, “Most of the magic I once knew or had access to is gone, but you see a little lingers.” This comment is significant when we contemplate culture as knowledge shared by a society’ and without it, that leather sack would be nothing but a deus ex machina and we’ll be forced to regard Roland as a gunslinger-turned-sorcerer. The story would barely hold together after that scene.

4. Use Culture to Distinguish Peoples/Societies
This one is a little bit obvious, you will agree. Culture can be really helpful. You can exploit it to create and sustain suspense if you weave it seamlessly into the fabric of your entire plot.
            Creating a fantastical setting is like you telling the reader, ‘it’s a different world from where you come from.’ But when there is another universe or community of people within the same story, culture presents itself a vital material for inventing unique identities. The separate peoples might still share similar values but fiddling with the cultural background might be the perfect way to bring in stunning peculiarities and of course, create conflict.

5. Use Culture to Enhance Character Traits
Sometimes, a setting might invite characters to react in not-so-agreeable ways; situations in your story might evolve and make demands for your story people to act queer. If you’ve been listening to yourself read all along then you know exactly how to get out of a rut. Let culture do the talking.
            You can make almost any odd situation sound plausible. Just call it ‘the old ways’ and have it done with. Better yet, make one of the characters explain how and why it came to be that way. You can use narrative as well or employ flashbacks. But when you need to insert an otherwise inexplicable trait or peculiarity into a character’s profile… think culture.

This unique article of fantasy writing has what it takes to hold a complex plot together and render the characters and plot genuinely legit.

Keep your pens bleeding!

Akpan