Featured

A Pep Talk to Writers and Poets

My fellow writers and poets.

WordPress has become saturated, positively inundated, with overnight blogs with one main point of discussion: COVID-19.

Meanwhile, I have noticed a sharp decline in your releases. I’m not calling anyone out, I am merely pointing out.

You guys, I’m begging you, do not stop creating. Do stop from releasing. What you have to say is still relevant now IF NOT MORE SO. Think about it from a reader’s perspective. Would you want your regular readers saturated in the despair of the current state, or would you offer them some respite?

I know. I know. Who coaches the coach? Who counsels the counselor? Many of you are down, uncertain, and frankly, uninspired. I get it. But those, too, are your words to claim and express. Let people know they aren’t the only ones.

I’m bummed out by the lack of engagement. I’m bummed out by the lack of work from such an inspiring group of folks…please continue to release. Even if what you have to say is down and uncertain. That’s part of the human experience too.

I recently made the decision to discontinue all submissions for publication as, from a business and a productivity standpoint, it would be a waste of time as so many publishers are deferring or withdrawing all publication efforts. But I tell you what, I’ll still be posting my nonsense. I need to. I have to.

If I read one more startup blog about COVID-19 I’m going to Hulk-out and start throwing things. I need the work of my fellows to keep me inspired.

Please keep going.

PS – I recently placed “The Kiss” back on AWC. Talk about Hulking out (I was pissed). I got a nod from a publisher and boom, f*cking COVID-19. “Intuition” is still pending. I’m certain I know the outcome of that one too but until I’m given official word, “Intuition” will remain off AWC.

With Love,
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com

Featured

I am a Tarot Reader…

Johnny take a dive
With your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things
You can’t explain
“Mysterious Ways,” by U2


Hello All,
I am writing this blog to let my AWC fam know about the opening of my new YouTube channel, Sassy Scorpion Tarot (SST)! I am a tarot reader and I have taken that skill full-time on YouTube.

I am still a writer. I am still a poet. I am still a blogger. Always.

I have many interests in this life and have been blessed with the energy to pursue them all.

Click here to Subscribe to my channel. The first five subscribers from ArmedWithCoffee will earn a free reading!

All likes and subscribes are valued and appreciated. Please enjoy this Love Reading for Scorpio. To see your zodiac sign, please visit Sassy Scorpion Tarot.

I will have an online store at sassyscorpiontarot.com (launching in a month) where viewers will be able to purchase private readings with me. Eventually, I will sell SST merch 😀

As always, thank you for your support.

Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com
SassyScorpionTarot

Featured

Book of the Month, April 2020

Welcome to Book of the Month!

My pick for April: The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Book of the Month is a monthly book recommendation, and vlog, series.

Cheers,
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com

Writer’s Lift Wednesday #8

This is a writersliftwednesday blog, sharing the works of fellow writers, poets and persons random. All re-blogs will be linked appropriately to their authors.

Writing is no easy calling and nothing easy was ever worth doing.

Support each other. Share and reshare.

Cheers,
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com


 

1. “Poem” by M. Taggart via blog, mtaggartwriter

To live with the memory
of a child’s voice
is one thing.
To remember
it’s yours
is another.

2. PAUL IWAN – Double Single Review: “Returning (Red)” & “Returning (Blue)” by EclecticMusicLover via blog, EclecticMusicLover

I’ve recently been revisiting a lot of artists that I’ve previously featured on this blog, as so many of them are putting out new music. One of my personal favorites is British artist Paul Iwan, a gracious and talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Liverpool. Last October, I reviewed his outstanding single “Reward”, which was a cover of the song originally recorded by Liverpool new wave band The Teardrop Explodes. I liked it so much, it spent four months on my Weekly Top 30. Now Paul is back with a new single “Returning”, for which he recorded two different versions – “Returning (Red)” and “Returning (Blue)”.

He wrote the song last year for submission to the Liverpool Acoustic 24 hour Songwriting Challenge at Threshold Festival 2019, and he won! Like many singer-songwriters, Paul’s lyrics often reflect his own life experiences. The theme of the 2019 Challenge was ‘Returning’, which inspired Paul to contemplate his own personal struggles with PTSD and addiction, and explore the concept of returning as it relates to his experiences with relapse and regression. The competition also pushed him to venture outside of his usual comfort zone and into a more acoustic setting, where the song could speak for itself.

Now, a year later he has released two newly recorded versions of the song to coincide with what would have been the first day of Threshold 2020 (unfortunately sidelined by the damned COVID-19 pandemic). The Red version of “Returning” is in Paul’s more typical exuberant alt-rock style, with layered synths, loops and electric guitars, whereas the Blue version is stripped back to a simple arrangement with acoustic guitar, piano, vibraphone and subtle percussion. The songs were performed and produced by Paul at Studio 45 in Liverpool, and mixed and mastered by Andy Fernihough at 3rd Planet Studios Liverpool.

So I lean into my darkness
I touch the trauma with the tips of my fingers
Under this light how can I see?
The shadows are shifting; inviting me in.

You are there
You are there
Suffocating and suffering
I hold my hands
I’ll be watching
And I’ll be waiting for you
I’m returning to my fear, its all I know
I’m returning to my tears, it’s all I know.

I know my storm is coming in
Whatever I’ve taken
You hold my soul my memories
This face in the mirror
The face of my nightmare
Lost and corrupted

I’m returning from a distance
But my reflection is all I see
I’m yearning for the past
The one I thought I’d lost forever
So much pain within

I’m returning to my fear
It’s all I know

I like both versions a lot, but I think I prefer the Blue version if I had to choose one over the other. I like the higher clarity of sound in the Blue version, where the lovely piano keys and acoustic guitar really stand out. Also, Paul has a distinctive and vibrant tenor singing voice, and with the more subdued instrumentals, the power of his vocals and lyrics are allowed to shine through. Take a listen to each version, and decide for yourself.

For the audio portion, please visit the blog directly here.

3. “Mining for Ether” by GrumpyGorman via Hands in the Garden

let’s meet-

twilight, this
beach,

don’t forget your
cups and tiny
shovels,

i’ll bring the snacks
and extra water

you string the wick,
i’ll just flick my
lighter,

deeper we dig’s where the
glow feels brighter,

closing in on the end now
runnin’ out of snacks
n’ time, no more
extra water,

scratchin’ the surface
for last drops
of ether.

Music…

That’s Currently F*cking With My Brain.

I think is the name of my new weekly segment. MTCFWMYB? That’s going to require some more thought but the concept is there.

So much music is dismissive to my ears. Literally a case of in one ear and out the other. But when a sound does catch me it seems to totally wreck my brain, usually for the better. I can think of a few songs that always set me to tears or anger, at least it’s reactionary. I’d prefer those negative but real emotions to neutral. Nothing is so awful in artistic experience as indifference.

For me, being caught by a sound or song is typically positive just immediate and all-consuming.

What’s currently caught my brain:
Nocturama by Nicolas Boscovic, Tom Hillock. Album – Electrorama II.

I have no words for this sound save the creation of entire worlds are being made by it.

Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com

Eyes (a poem)

The eyes behind your eyes
those are the eyes
i wanted to see
i’ve never met
but know exist
i sensed them watching.

Everything never said
by the mouth behind the mouth
i could forgive
i could let go
words are
…ironically
meaningless.

Your eyes,
shielded
relentless
in their guard.
Did you ever let them down?
Did you ever let them down
with me?

If you did, i missed it
when it comes to you
i screw up
i hate my eyes
i can’t control them.
Without my permission
they give everything away
honest to a fault.

I never meant
to give so much away.
At least one of us
knew the truth.
In retrospect
that’s why i never saw
the eyes behind your eyes.

Eyes (a poem) by
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com

Writer’s Lift Wednesday #7

This is a writersliftwednesday blog, sharing the works of fellow writers, poets and persons random. All re-blogs will be linked appropriately to their authors.

Writing is no easy calling and nothing easy was ever worth doing.

Support each other. Share and reshare.

C. D. Anders, I don’t know if publication is a goal of yours but if it is I hope you are pursuing publication for “Clumsy,” just my opinion. Incredibly balanced and beautiful.

Cheers,
Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee.com


1. The Best Book for Each Zodiac to Read in April 2020 by January Nelson

Aries
Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore

“It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.”

Taurus
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

“Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.”

Gemini
The House Keeper by Natalie Barelli

“She’s a liar. She’s a stalker. She’s in your house.

When Claire sees Hannah Wilson at an exclusive Manhattan hair salon, it’s like a knife slicing through barely healed scars. It may have been ten years since Claire last saw Hannah, but she has thought of her every day, and not in a good way. So Claire does what anyone would do in her position—she stalks her.

Hannah is now Mrs. Carter, living the charmed life that should have been Claire’s. It’s the life Claire used to have, before Hannah came along and took it all away from her.

Back then, Claire was a happy teenager with porcelain skin and long, wavy blond hair. Now she’s an overweight, lazy drunk with hair the color of compost and skin to match. Which is why when Hannah advertises for a housekeeper, Claire is confident she can apply and not be recognized. And since she has time on her hands, revenge on her mind, and a talent for acting…

Because what better way to seek retribution—and redress—than from within the beautiful Mrs. Hannah Carter’s own home?

Except that it’s not just Claire who has secrets. Everyone in that house seems to have something to hide.

And now, there’s no way out.”

Cancer
A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

“Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.”

Leo
The Institute by Stephen King

“In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.”

Virgo
Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen

“Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.”

Libra
Open Book by Jessica Simpson

“This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her readers if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.

Now America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality tv pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites readers on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others, but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.”

Scorpio
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

“In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.”

Sagittarius
All The Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

“It’s 2016, and in Tom Barren’s world, technology has solved all of humanity’s problems—there’s no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn’t happy. He’s lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you’re heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid.

Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality—which we immediately recognize as our 2016—Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life.

Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.”

Capricorn
The Library Of The Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

“Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.”

Aquarius
One Of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

“Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe’s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.”

Pisces
Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith

“Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing , the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into —and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.”

2. Quiet, Woman by Chey the Poet

They don’t want me to speak

These words I have would fly like

Bullets

And I am forced into putting on the safety

My words would speed down a highway,

But they want me to shift my lips into park

My words contain information to crucify,

And instead, they nailed my tongue to a cross

And asked me to answer for myself

They don’t want me to speak

3. Clumsy by C. D. Anders via The Unnecessary Blog

I caught myself today,

caught in a strange predicament,

a strange predicament of old feelings,

old feelings that felt new,

new things on my mind,

my mind on my heart,

my heart trying not to stumble,

to stumble down familiar paths,

paths often taken,

taken with no regard for reason,

reason held captive to longing,

longing to tread new paths,

paths I’ve stumbled on before,

before I could stand up

I up and started falling,

falling for you

Publication & COVID-19 (continuing to f*ck things up)

The simplest way I can say this, I am considering altering my remaining submission plans for this spring session and quite possibly for the remaining year.

Some of you, like me, put submissions out in the spring and are already receiving feedback. Thanks to COVID, things are uncertain in all areas of business and that includes the world of publishing.

It was brought to my attention that many publication determinations will be delayed if not cancelled outright. This is not an absolute, but it is a possibility to be expected. A possibility, I’m sure, many of you have already figured out for yourselves.

I am considering refraining from additional submissions until later in the year, or possibly pick up where I left off until spring of 2021. I would love to know what others are experiencing and what your thoughts are regarding your submission plans during this time.

I have a hard time digesting rejection based on a business decision steeped in uncertainty. As a writer, I’m prepared for “it’s crap,” but I’m not comfortable with, “we love it, only now’s not the time.” A lot goes into submissions. Let me know your thoughts, please.

Hope all is well,
Christina

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