April 15, 2021

“Botticelli’s Oranges,” The Poetry of Reed Venrick

“Botticelli’s Oranges,” The Poetry of Reed Venrick

Botticelli’s Oranges In an Italian port village near where the boy called “Allessandro” grew up, some thought his circles drawn must be made with a mechanical compass, so round, so fine, there in the Mediterranean sand, where Botticelli grew into youth, wandering through the orange and lemon groves of the Italian littoral; even then sketching lines of muscular trunks and extending arms branching into fingers of leaves, mixing into colors of rinds of reds and yellows. But when youthful fingers grew long enough to put a brush to canvas, he tinted the precious fruit In Madonna with Child and Angels, where she sat under blooming orange trees in spring, for the artist used orange trees to symbolize the virgin, because as he said: among fruits, only oranges are evergreen, “if one sees the mean.” So…

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April 12, 2021

“Kali,” A Short Story by Emily Chaff

“Kali,” A Short Story by Emily Chaff

“Is everything okay here?” “Well, it’s fine. But, can I ask you, I mean, I don’t know if you can do anything about it, but—” Kali waited beside the table, her fist tightening around the handle of the coffee pot she held. She couldn’t care less what the problem was. She wondered if her customers realized she was contractually obligated to ask them if they were enjoying their meal and if she could get them anything else. And with this guy, it was always something. He came in every morning the second the door was open. Breakfast started at 7am and she dreaded seeing his face peering through the glass, without fail, at 6:55. He sat himself at the same four-top table, table 32, and set himself up like a king holding court. Extra napkins….

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April 10, 2021

“A Most Clever Girl,” by Jasmine A. Stirling, A Book Review

“A Most Clever Girl,” by Jasmine A. Stirling, A Book Review

In Jasmine A. Stirling’s debut children’s book, A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, she paints a kid-friendly portrait of the literary life of Jane Austen. As a rule-breaking and imaginative child, young Jane was to become one of the first female novelists—and a massively successful one at that. A Most Clever Girl highlights Austen’s determination in the face of adversity in a time when a woman writing books was simply preposterous and the only roles women had in literature (“fluff” she calls it) were one-dimensional. Focusing on Austen’s childhood, Stirling implores children to see themselves in the character enthralled in a world of writing stories in her study, performing plays with her large family in their barn and staging dramatic readings of her work. Young readers also learn about finding their…

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April 9, 2021

“Shadows of Tyranny” by Ruby Fink and Sebastian Prooth

“Shadows of Tyranny” by Ruby Fink and Sebastian Prooth

Welcome Fictional Café listeners to Shadows of Tyranny, an audio drama by Ruby Fink and Sebastian Prooth and one of the first shows this audio barista ever wrote. As a blooming sci-fi nerd at the tender age of twenty, this was my first sojourn—as it were—into the world of audio dramas and podcasting. The journey towards writing the one and only episode of the anticipated 7-part series was arduous, the hours long and frustrating, and by the end of it neither of us had the heart to continue with the rest of the story. But the process wasn’t without merit. In researching the world that Gene Roddenberry had created in 1966 I was introduced to a universe that I fell in love with and continued to learn about for the next . . . well,…

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April 7, 2021

Webinar for Writers Live on FC! Hosted by Dan Blank

Webinar for Writers Live on FC! Hosted by Dan Blank

We at the Café are excited to announce that on April 30th we will be hosting a webinar for writers who want to learn how to create an author platform and market their books. Dan Blank will be presenting on various topics. Check out the details below and mark your calendars! An Introduction to Author Platform and Finding Your Ideal Readers Dan Blank has helped thousands of writers develop their author platforms, launch their books, and create marketing strategies that work. In this 1-hour webinar, he will share his methodology for how to develop your author platform, market your writing, and find a sense of joy and fulfillment in the process. He will discuss social media, finding your ideal readers, how to present yourself online, and the key elements of book launches. A Q&A session will…

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April 5, 2021

National Poetry Month: A Potpourri of Poems

National Poetry Month: A Potpourri of Poems

Editor’s Note: What goes better with a piping-hot cuppa java than a great poem that whisks you away to another world or makes you contemplate the eccentricities of modern life? If you agree, you’re in luck, because it’s National Poetry Month and we’ll be celebrating here at the Café all month long! To kick it off, here are a few words from our Poetry Barista, Yong Takahashi, followed by a biscuit of poetry from six different poets for you to dunk into your favorite brew. Enjoy!     A Little History In April 1996, the Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry. It was inspired by the success of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March). Since its inception, it has become one of the…

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April 1, 2021

Ann Privateer — Photography from Near and Far

Ann Privateer — Photography from Near and Far

Artist Statement: I took these photographs because they caught my eye. The vivid colors and my closeup technique make me stop and take a second look: blood orange, surprise clover–searching for a four leaf, shoes that sparkle, a fetal pistachio nut, and a pink pansy. From pin-hole cameras in elementary school to my very own Brownie camera for Christmas, I have been fascinated with taking photographs practically my entire life. So many cameras later, I now most often shoot with my Sony phone. Some of these photographs were taken in Paris, France and one in my kitchen after cracking open a pistachio nut which, to me, resembled a fetus. *** Ann Privateer is a poet, artist, and photographer. She grew up in the Midwest and now resides in California. Some of her recent work has…

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March 30, 2021

March Edition of “The Break from HOKAIC”

March Edition of “The Break from HOKAIC”

Happy end of March! This month has been really, really busy. I’ve been up to a lot of things, some of which will show up lately in pretty cool ways. For now, with y’all, I wanted to share the five most important things I learned (or was reminded of) this month. Do some little marketing task every day. If you’re self-published, there’s lots of options. If you’re going traditional, build inroads with editors and agents.  Perfectionism might be our greatest enemy.  Sprizzy and Social Growth Engine are two services that help promote videos. SGE seems to work much better, even if they feel much sketchier to the user.  It’s amazing how far people are willing to go to help you if you just ask them for help.  Our second greatest enemy is probably working on…

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March 29, 2021

“Tress Theory, A Lesson,” by Kathryn Kopple

“Tress Theory, A Lesson,” by Kathryn Kopple

Charles gazed at the night sky and smiled. It appeared filmy, as if a giant sheet of wax paper hovered between him and the heavens. The hotel balcony, where he stood, gave him a sweeping view of the Gran Vía, the large boulevard that ran through the center of Madrid. Pulsing red, twinkling blue and violet, blinking yellow, speeding white high beams—the street swam with electric intensity below while above all was murky. Nothing shone or twinkled up there. Even the moon was less visible, something he noticed back in New York over a year ago. He didn’t make much of it, not at first, assuming that the moon’s disappearance was an effect of light pollution. Astronomers had long issued warnings: too much artificial outdoor lighting was responsible for transforming pristine darkness into an unsightly wash of cloudy denim. Charles experienced a sense of loss…

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March 25, 2021

“Amor Fati,” The Poetry of Vincent St. Clare

“Amor Fati,” The Poetry of Vincent St. Clare

Caption: Darvaza gas crater in the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, said to be the Doorway to Hell. Amor Fati    I’d like to be happy in Hell  I’d like to wear my drill-on dunce cap  Stuffed to the brim with snakes and diarrhea  And all the same I could laugh all the while    Yes, I could smile  Like the Indian prince on his deathbed  Of stone covered in dysentery and then   Silence,     Despite it    But it won’t be by divine mandate   That I wash these walls  Or scrub the floors with a toothbrush  That’s got nails for bristles  Or a sponge saturated with  Brine and boiling metal    It won’t be by right or choice that I  Cross the fire and into the light  Or wander circle to circle all the way  To the big, bright gangbang in the sky    Surmounted…

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