Poetry – For Those Who Seek To Rule

For Those Who Seek To Rule

Ruling is not easy. It asks too much,
too often, from us humans full of flaws.
So I offer some tips, not strict as such,
but more a guide, a simple set of laws.

Let’s begin with the most important thing –
know you are the servant not the master.
Rulers who serve themselves alone bring
selfish paranoia followed by disaster.

Guard your integrity.  Do not sell
your soul even if for the greater good.
With humility and grace listen well
to wise counsel as all smart leaders should.

Let your strength be kindness and compassion,
for you will be judged not by words but action.


My poem For Those Who Seek To Rule  will have it’s debut reading at the ‘Queer The Shelves’ Book Festival, 28th/29th May 2022 at Waterstones Nottingham.

Copyright © 2016 – 2022 Anna Larner. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Poetry – Surprise Yourself

Surprise Yourself

Surprise yourself with your courage and resilience.
Be wowed by your gutsiness, not to mention your brilliance.

Surprise yourself with your smartness and clear-sighted vision.
Know that your wisdom shines through with each big decision.

Surprise yourself with your talent and skill.
Take strength from your indomitable spirit and will.

Surprise yourself with your hope and irrepressible joy.
Believe in the power of the goodness you deploy.

Surprise yourself with your compassion and care.
Feel proud of the generosity and love that you share.

Surprise yourself with your energy and your might.
Celebrate your determination and your fight.

Surprise yourself knowing that you will go far.
Because you can’t see what others can – just how awesome you are.


My poem Surprise Yourself  will have it’s debut reading at the ‘Queer The Shelves’ Book Festival, 28th/29th May 2022 at Waterstones Nottingham.

Copyright © 2016 – 2022 Anna Larner. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Poetry – Raft

Raft

I live my life upon a home-made raft.  
Much tested in the doldrum and the storm,  
this bravest of ships, this noblest of craft,  
hewn from wise words, life bent, and battle worn. 

For at the stern is the lesson at hand 
to be forward looking, not to look back.  
For the glow of nostalgia hides quicksand 
where the unwary sink, lost to the black. 

Nor stop to look to the side, where phantom 
islands shimmer to distract and ensnare,  
to depress or inflate us with random 
wild thoughts of what we imagine is there. 

Mid-raft, are the trusted oars of the words 
give your all to that which you can control. 
And let the truth that it’s not what others 
do, it’s what you do that counts, ease life’s toll. 

And at the bow, is the wisdom to fill
my heart with hope, to be grateful each day.  
For my craft is afloat seaworthy still 
and I am its captain finding my way. 


My poem Raft will have it’s debut reading at the ‘Queer The Shelves’ Book Festival, 28th/29th May 2022 at Waterstones Nottingham.

Copyright © 2016 – 2022 Anna Larner. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Highland Whirl – Events and Giveaway


Available from Bold Strokes Books website 01st December 2021.
All other retailers 14th December 2021.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up ahead of the release of Highland Whirl.

The Lesbian Review Sneak Peak of Highland Whirl for Patrons.

Patrons will soon have access to the first two chapters of Highland Whirl before its release date.

Thursday 25th November, 8pm UK GMT
Chuckle & Chat with Nichols ‘n Nyx
Facebook Live Event, with Robyn Nyx, Emma Nichols and guests Anna Larner & T J Dallas

Friday 20th November
BSB UK Newsletter blog & giveaway of Highland Whirl.

Monday 29th November, 7pm UK GMT
Video Chat with authors Anna Larner and Brey Willows posted to BSB UK Facebook.

Saturday 27th November, 10pm UK GMT (5pm Eastern Time USA)

BSB Preview of December 2021 titles plus flash sale Facebook Live Event, with Amanda Radley, Brey Willows, Kathleen Knowles, Ana Hartnett Reichardt and Anna Larner

Tuesday 14th December

University of Leicester, Creative Writing blog site feature of Highland Whirl.

Tuesday 14th December
All Stars Book Club

Anna Larner interview with Zara Wood.

Book Announcement: Highland Whirl

September 01st 2021 Announcement: 

New Title from Anna Larner

I am pleased to announce my third novel, Highland Whirl, is scheduled for release in December 2021 from Bold Strokes Books and is now available to pre-order.

“When city girl about town Roxanne Barns reluctantly accepts a holiday invite to her best friend Eve’s birthday party in the Scottish Highlands, the last thing she expects is to fall for the very person she’s been dreading seeing again—the feisty Highlander, Alice Campbell.

The moment Alice learns that Roxanne is visiting her home hamlet of Newland, she couldn’t be more suspicious or defensive. A warm welcome is certainly not the plan, let alone falling in love.

Despite Eve’s warnings that Roxanne is not relationship material, Alice can’t ignore her growing attraction. She absolutely trusts Eve’s judgment, but taking her advice just might break Alice’s heart.

Highland Whirl reunites readers with the characters and landscape of Highland Fling in an emotionally enthralling story of trust, friendship, family, and love.”

“Any emotional border that had been briefly opened was now closed, and guards likely patrolled its perimeter. The country of Alice was once again an island with sharks in its seas and canons aimed at those who dared to trespass”. Highland Whirl by Anna Larner

Highland Whirl  – December, 2021

Publisher: BOLD STROKES BOOKS, Inc.

eBook ISBN-13  978-1-63555-893-7

Paperback ISBN-13  978-1-63555-892-0

Pre-order https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/highland-whirl-by-anna-larner-3745-b

Information for UK booksellers: Distribution though PGUK.

© 2016 All rights reserved.

LesFic Eclectic Volume Two

Book Cover

 

Worry-Free Windows

“Make no mistake, this was in every way a late night hold up as she robbed me of my breath and wounded my heart with her smile.”

 

 

My story Worry-Free Windows, is all about chance encounters and the chemistry and sparks of connection that can happen when strangers chat over the phone, as they discover not only a mutual rapport but eventually love.

This gem of a book is available for free on bookfunnel.

(And while you’re at it why not check out LesFic Eclectic Volume One.)


Copyright © 2016 – 2022 Anna Larner. All rights reserved.

Literary Crush – Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver – What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

The most disturbing of reads I find are not the supernatural tales or horror stories or even crime thrillers but those works that meticulously describe the human condition in a state of poverty.

By ‘poverty’ I not only mean financial strain but in particular the all-pervading poverty of spirit which has a soul crushing bleakness that blows through the reader as the coldest of winds. Raymond Carver is a master of conveying this state and the characters that inhabit it.

The short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a perfect example of the form of writing known as ‘dirty realism’ or ‘literary minimalism’. Carver explores the lives of predominately working class Americans living or perhaps more correctly struggling to survive in the Pacific Northwest region. Prevalent themes across the collection include the breakdown of marriage through boredom and or infidelity, the devastation of grief, and the futility of both aspirational ambition and love in a world diminished by financial and social pressure.

Images resonate long after the stories finish of claustrophobic lives only tolerable with the short-lived relief provided by alcohol, cigarettes, and or sex. Given this, unsurprisingly, there is also a palpable sense of violence barely restrained within the wafer-thin constraints and facade of a ‘civilised life’.

The closing story ‘One More Thing’ for example, is haunting in its depiction of the anger and desperation of a husband forced out of his home by his wife and child following his own deplorable behaviour of drink and aggression. There is so much pain and so much futility.

‘L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm and picked up his suitcase.

He said, “I just want to say one more thing.”

But then he could not think what it could possibly be.’

Carver employs a stripped-back language as the stories unfold through the naturalistic observations and conversations of his characters. This minimalist technique gets the reader right inside the head of the character. We feel what the character feels and see what the character sees and fully inhabit their world. The detail of the writing is visually striking and in just a line of text he crafts the landscape and sets the mood of the moment. In the story ‘The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off’ Carver writes,

‘It was a warm, drifty day. You could see the dust hanging in the air.’

Beyond setting, Carver keenly captures the physical traits that succinctly depict a character.  In the tragic and powerful story ‘The Bath’ about a child knocked over by a car on his birthday, Carver observes of the mother staring lost and anxious at her son lying in the hospital bed,

‘The woman stood there a while longer, working her lip with her teeth.’

With each story you get the sense of arriving into the narrative where something has happened outside of it, with the effect that the drama builds and lives on in your imagination from what is implicit as much as what is explicitly described.  In the opening story ‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ a man’s possessions, the entirety of his belongings, sit in the driveway for sale. The question is why? We are never given the answer, just the careful detail of each object that spoke of a life now changed or ended.

But the most disturbing story of the collection for me is its title namesake ‘What We Talk about When We Talk about Love ’. In this penultimate story two couples in love sit around a dinner table slowly getting drunk. They discuss in a rambling way what they think love is. One suggests even violence and suicide is forgivable in the name of love. Another ends their discussion by suggesting to his horrified lover and friends that love simply doesn’t last, even true love is only true for a limited time. In the context of the whole collection it is a message which is devastating, after all the only thing that doesn’t rely on money is love. The only thing that perhaps can lift a life from poverty is love. The loss of love is the loss of the purpose for life itself. This devastation is embodied by the narrator’s final observation,

‘I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.’

Commentators note that Carver’s own life carries the themes within it that his writing explores. This makes perfect sense and explains that the power in his work comes from personal experience, adding fuel if it is needed to the writing adage ‘write from your heart’ even if perhaps the end result is hard to read.

Anna Larner – Author of Highland FlingHooper Street, Love’s Portrait and Highland Whirl.

Finalist in the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of The Year, 2019 Rainbow Awards and 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards.

Featured in women.com, DIVA magazine, Gscene magazine, and Publishers Weekly.

Copyright © 2016 – 2022 Anna Larner. All rights reserved.

Literary Crush – Kirsty Logan

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I first came across Kirsty Logan at a special event, marking the 40th anniversary of Gay’s The Word, at the British Library.

She read from ‘Underskirts’, a short story from her collection The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales and I  was immediately struck by the sensuality of the evocative language, the vivid images, and thought-provoking premise so much so that I bought her collection, curious to read and learn more of this story and the many others.

‘Underskirts’, I discovered, is about the indiscretions of an aristocratic Lady with a not-so-private passion for her maids.

“They love love as I do. They see the straight line of my jaw along the length of their thighs and they see how it fits, the geometry of bodies…I know how to fill the gaps in a girl.”

The best short stories grip the reader with a tension inherent within them and ‘Underskirts’ exemplifies this as every word is heady with sexuality and power, fizzing with the peril of transgression. The reader senses that it is only a matter of time before the Lady’s behaviour is challenged by one of the many onlookers we hear from.

It is perversely fitting that it is her daughter and the thought of her mother’s ‘‘sins’’ that is the Lady’s undoing. The daughter ‘‘tells’’ her father, blind to his wife’s actions by his arrogance, of her mother’s ‘‘wickedness’’.  The Lady’s banishment to isolated confinement for the rest of her days does not shake the Lady’s deep belief that her passions are not needing of repentance but are rather the very essence of ‘‘grace” and “glory’’.

A striking feature of this collection is the scope of storytelling, sweeping from artificial hearts as the answer to broken ones, to coin operated rent boys and to tiger palaces.  Themes blend and contrast together. The notions of “grace” and “glory” explored in ‘Underskirts’ for example are in stark contrast with the unsettling brutal tale of two young men’s search for their brother, amongst the hard-edged drinkers in the bars in the story ‘The Broken West’.

The reader follows the brothers from bar to bar as they desperately seek the intimacy of the blood bond of their brother, so much so the pressure of it bleeds out from an emotional need to a physical one. Sex with men becomes blurred with the search for the physically familiar, the consolation of the same. Every man and no man they meet have at first-glimpse the potential to meet that need, so their search, their “Investigation” seems endless in all its damaging futility.

“Faces look different close up, and the only way to get that close to a stranger is to kiss them or choke them.”

Throughout the tale the one brother Daniel is desperate for the sexual and physical connection of the other brother Jack. Gay love is entwined with incest in a tortured knot of need.  The twist comes in the final paragraph when Daniel encounters a random man who has all the features of their lost brother. Daniel says nothing. The reader is left knowing that finding what they both seek will lose what one brother wants most.

The theme of longing for something runs through the collection, with all the desperation and emptiness that accompanies it. It is a theme mastered and explored in all its forms, notably the search for love, for identity, for freedom and for home. Arguably, the worst longing perhaps is for that which is gone for good – the longing that accompanies grief.

The story ‘Feeding’, for example, is truly haunting in its vivid depiction of a mother’s loss of a baby. The parched earth of the garden the bereaved tries to nurture into life symbolises the hopelessness of bereavement. The emotional toll is embodied in the stark unravelling of the mother starving herself to death. When the relief of the rain comes it is too late.

“Shelley lies among the tomato plants…Her cheeks are concave, her collarbones so sharp they seem about to pierce her chest. Her belly is famine-swollen, tight and round in the cup of her hip bones. The rain falls into her eyes.”

Kirsty Logan is a writer’s writer. By that I mean she inspires a creative vision which is expansive and borderless. She reminds the writer that your work is only limited by the courage to write down the idea, the vision conjured in your head.

I am excited by the further work of hers I will read and excited by the prospect of the work she has inspired in me to write.


Kirsty Logan is a professional daydreamer. She is the author of two novels, The Gloaming and The Gracekeepers, and two story collections, A Portable Shelter and The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales. She lives in Glasgow with her wife and their rescue dog. She has tattooed toes. www.kirstylogan.com

Anna Larner – Author of Highland FlingHooper Street, Love’s Portrait and Highland Whirl.

Finalist in the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of The Year, 2019 Rainbow Awards and 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards.

Featured in women.com, DIVA magazine, Gscene magazine, and Publishers Weekly.

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.