Posts by Carol J Forrester

Carol J Forrester is a writer and a history geek. Her debut collection 'It's All In The Blood' came out November 2019. She has a 2:1 BA degree in history from Bath Spa University, enjoys judo at least twice a week, and tries to attend poetry events around the Midlands when she can. Her flash fiction story ‘Glorious Silence’ was named as River Ram Press’ short story of the month for August 2014 and her short story ‘A Visit From The Fortune Teller’ has been showcased on the literary site Ink Pantry. Her poems ‘Sunsets’ and ‘Clear Out‘ were featured on Eyes Plus Words, and two of her poems were included in the DVerse Poets Pub Publication ‘Chiaroscuro’ which is available for purchase on amazon.Her poem ‘Until The Light Gets In‘ was accepted and published at The Drabble and her poem ‘Newborn’ was published by Ink Sweat & Tears. She has been lucky enough to write guest posts for sites such as Inky Tavern and Song of The Forlorn and has hosted a number of guest bloggers on her site Writing and Works.

Short Story Rejections And Manuscript Plans

Last month’s update was all about the heady, heights of getting a poem accepted by Ink Sweat & Tears. This the rejections have been rolling in, and by rolling in, I mean there were two of them. One poetry rejection, and another polite decline for my short story ‘The House on Lime Street.’ The poetry submission was a simultaneous submission, so the poems are out elsewhere and I’m going to let those run their course before attempting any major edits and resubmitting elsewhere. ‘The House on Lime Street’ is another matter. This is rejection number nine for that particular story and it’s been through a number of edits each time. However, since the last redraft, I had a short story professionally edited by the fantastic Debbi Voisey and she passed on some particular hand tips for strengthening my short fiction. Along with a three am wake up, curtsey of my 9 and 1/2 month-old daughter, I’ve cobbled together what I believe to be a reasonable plan to make this piece into a publishable story. Tuesday is the deadline for the Bridport Prize so I’m hoping to have it ready to go out by then, and if it gets thrown back again, I can celebrate having the tenacity and stubbornness to rack up ten rejections on the same story. 

At the moment I seem to be in the middle of a hectic writing phase. Yesterday I hit 15,000 words of my current novel after not working on it for a couple of weeks post holiday. I wrote 20,000 words in March and April but I found that I’d managed to skip from one major event to the next and missed all the connecting bits, so I’ve returned to the start to fill those in. 

Last weekend was the Stafford Literature Festival where I read as part of their poetry event. There were some fantastic networking opportunities, and I had some time to kill before the readings, as I accidently turned up an hour early. I met the director of Fawn Press and found out that they have June submission window for poetry pamphlets. This is fantastic timing as my pamphlet ‘Stone Tongued’ (previously called Water, Witches and Women) is really close to being finished. I now need to polish up the poems and decide what order they should go in, before sending it off for judgement. If you’re wondering where the inspiration for this collection came from, I stumbled across the story of Kathryn Garner who was tried and found innocent of witchcraft in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. She’s not mentioned in my blogpost about the history of Shropshire witchcraft as I wasn’t able to track down any of the source material for myself, but I did write her into a poem which was published by Riverbed Review. I then started looking for other women in history and myth that had been mistreated in an attempt to give their voices a place to be heard. 

Putting together a manuscript has the added bonus of giving me chance to review all the poems that are going into it. I’ve not sent out any poetry submission this month, (I’ve only sent off one submission full stop), so I will be checking the Robin Houghton spreadsheet of poetry journals to see who I can start throwing poems at. I’ve allocating the first two wees of June as poetry weeks, so I don’t run myself into the ground trying to finish this short-story and get poems sent off to journals. 

With two poetry events to attend next week (The Button Warehouse -Wednesday 01/06/2022, and Shrewsbury Poetry – 02/06/2022) I know I need to pace myself. Wonderfully, I’ve actually got a ten minute set at the Shrewsbury’s Poetry zoom so time needs to be allowed to plan which poems I want to read. 

Ten minutes is quite a long time for a poet… I could read so many different poems!

Keep an eye out for a post in the next couple of days, because I’ve been experimenting with poems and visa-print again. This time I’ve taken my poem ‘When The Muse Spits Blood’ and paired it with one of my sketches to make 50 postcards. This will be a limited run, numbered and signed, to accompany copies of my collection that are purchased directly through myself. I’ve been pointed in the direction of a handy shop feature that I might be able to implement on this site so redirecting people to Amazon isn’t my only choice. Alongside the new postcards, I’ve invested in some lovely tissue paper, and branded stickers to make deliveries a bit prettier which I will showcase for you all as soon as it all turns up. 

Until then, I wish you all productive and enjoyable weekends. Please do stop by in the comments below and let me know of your current writing projects and triumphs. If you’ve had a poem or short story published, feel free to share it. For now, I have a hill to go and climb. 

When The Muse Spits Blood

These gums are splinter strewn with pencil shards
from musing on ideas,
chewing the fat,
picking bones from the meat of a thought
until it sits on the page just right
stripped to sinew,
muscles drawn tight
pure power
in a few dangerous words.

Speak No Evil – A #Poem By Carol J Forrester

Temper your tongue with candyfloss static.

Electric
the bite is enough to ward off words,
stop them before the starting gates
in the narrow space 
between crowded molars. 

Use teeth to smile
around calorie free pleasantries. 

Taste patience becoming poison.
Every syllable sharp.
Bitter.  

I’ve started recoding some of my poems and posting them to Tick-Tock. (@caroljforrester) Short and sweet work best, so I’m looking to a lot of my quadrilles as a starting point, and trying very hard not to self-sabotage with worries over how awful I feel I sound in recordings.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day Twenty-Six

My Body Is Like An Envelope

I have the watermarks
from when you steamed my secrets
loose from my skin. 
Boiling,
I felt every inch of you tremble,
kettle-like,
mouth a tight scream of a spout
shrilling for attention,
for answers. 
You left me unstuck, 
spilling words addressed to someone else. 
No one held your tongue accountable,
only mine,
here
see where I taped down the tears
the places that no longer seal. 

Perhaps surprisingly, I always find the harder prompts to be the ones where I’ve done something similar before. I have a poem ready to send out for submission that works an extended simile/metaphor of a shipwreck throughout the whole piece. It can be easy to almost write the same poem again if it fits to the prompt, and I had to go off for a little think before I found a way to work around the old poem still lurking in my head.

#WeekendCoffeeShare – Poetry Acceptances, Redrafts and More Writing

In all honesty, I’ve written very little in the past week. I spent it in the Lake District with friends, so writing was replaced with hiking. On Wednesday we climbed the Pikes, and reached the top of Harrison Stickle; an achievement my knees are still complaining about. When we weren’t somewhere on the side of a hill, I was nose deep in a book, specifically ‘A History of the Universe in 21 Stars (and 3 Imposters)’ by Giles Sparrow. If you have any interest in stars, or the universe, then may I recommend picking up a copy. There are parts that sail right over my head, but it is a very entertaining read all the same. 

So, if I haven’t been writing this week, why have I decided to jump on WordPress and write a #CoffeeShareWeekend post? 

Simple. Procrastination. The deadline for the Bristol Short Story Prize is approaching (04/05/2022) and I have managed the great sum total of one sentence. I like that sentence quite a lot, but a short story it does not make. So, instead of adding a second, or perhaps even a third sentence to make some headway with the problem, I decided to do something else. 

Plus, I’ve also been procrastinating when it comes to writing a blog post. So, let me offer you a coffee, a seat in this imaginary receiving room furnished with regency style furniture, and I will tell you what has happened so far this year. 

First up, (though not really), is a poetry acceptance from Ink Sweat & Tears. On May 13th, they will be publishing one of my poems on their site, and I’m fizzing with joy. 2022 had started to look like the year of rejections, with the red ink of my poetry submissions spreadsheet steadily spreading down the page. Getting a poem picked up was a much needed break from the monotony of ‘not this time, thank yous’ that I seemed to be slogging my way through. I now feel a little less delusional when it comes to redrafting and sending out the rest of my unpublished poems. Ink Sweat & Tears also published my poem ‘Newborn’ in 2019, so the acceptance feels like even more of a reaffirmation. 

In poetry performance news, there has been a significant up-tick in the number of in-person events that I’ve been able to get to. In March I read at Coppenhall Open Mic (Crewe) and The Button Warehouse (Macclesfield). This month I’ve returned to the Coppenhall Open Mic and attended a poetry evening at Queens Park (Crewe again). On Thursday I’m going along to Treacle Coffee Shop poetry night (Newcastle-under-Lyme) featuring Nick Deg to hopefully join the open mic section, then on Saturday I’ll be competing in the Hereford Poetry Slam. There is a smattering of things for May, June time as well. 

With the acceptance of one poem by Ink Sweat & Tears, and a slew of rejections, I’ve got plenty of poems to redraft. The work of the next few weeks will be to try and get these sent out again.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day One & Fifteen

I Could Not Care Less About The Light Switch - NaPoWriMo Day Fifteen Prompt

intermediate, mediate, or whatever,
I do not need its technical portrait 
imprinted on my retinas.
As if you scored those wires on my eyelids
instead of crumpled fists of paper
our bedroom littered, yes, yes, our bedroom
where I am so desperate to be sleeping,
duvet to forehead, clawed over the ears,
this unbidden seminar of light switch electronics
threatening to blow a fuse in our marriage--
I DO NOT CARE!
I do not need to know why 
the switches won't match when the lights are out.
And we have tried every combination
every puzzle box of on and off
to make them fall in to a uniformed march. 
It was never a why question, but a general annoyance
of a thing seeming out of place,
like unmatched salt and pepper pots!
Not purposeful, but one being oh-so-slightly shorter?
Thinner? More rounded on the corners?
Not a, "this is salt, and this is pepper difference"
just difference you can't quite pin down
or turn off,
like the bloody light switches 
you won't stop explaining,
or drawing 
at two a.m. 
when I mistakenly say 
'I'm still not getting it?'
Which I admit was really my fault
so I'll take the next round of circuitry analysis in stride
but gods above, will someone smite me,
and while you're at it, 
hit the lights.  
With The Other Mums In The Park - NaPoWriMo Day One Prompt

discussing our bodies, like sharp beaked harpies
picking clean the carcass 
of what was once a woman we recognised in mirrors.
In the reflective surfaces of car doors, and shop windows
with a matching stride, strut, stance, shape. 
We all have new shapes we do not know how to fit
or dress,
so we press ourselves into old clothes and old ways,
pretend the chafing is our imagination
or temporary discomfort,
like the first run back, after a week on the beach
we are picking sand out of our hair
and baby vomit from our clothes. 
It is all fine we say, and it is all not,
the taste of carrion on our tongues like an iron bit
we gnash between our teeth
when anyone suggests we are not already beyond
anything we thought we could manage. 

I’ve veered away from the optional prompt with my Day One poem. I took the ‘body’ idea and ran with that, so I might have to circle back to writing a prose poem. I did have some debate about posting my NaPoWriMo responses online, as it means I can’t submit them to various journals who only accept entirely unpublished work, but since I’m currently wading through rejections from those journals I decided to go ahead and just post. I’m probably going to tweak and polish the day fifteen poem for the Ledbury Poetry Slam at the end of the month, and I’m really quite fond of my Day One poem. Thoughts and feedback are also welcome in the comments, so if you enjoyed either poem I would love to hear from you. Otherwise it can feel a little like shouting into the void.

“Hello void, how very nice to chat with you again. How’s the wife?”