Dark Water – writing to a plan

Progress on draft #1 of ‘Dark Water has been slow and steady but most importanntly, according to plan. Yesterday, it officially reached the halfway stage. 50,000 words at 7.5 chapters. Here is a little extract to whet your appetites.

Visibility inside the workshop was worse than outside because of the smoke and heat of the charcoal fire that was needed to fabricate the new jewellery. Soot and the dry air made Precious Flower cough. Arrow One was stooped under a low section at the back of the building, deep in conversation with a pot-bellied man with unruly hair and a filthy leather apron that was the only thing he was wearing other than his loincloth. Arrow One was bare-chested having dispensed with his cloak and the short skirt he was wearing was more appropriate for the suffocating heat in the workshop than Precious Flower’s long dress. He caught sight of Precious Flower and introduced her to the craftsman who bobbed and nodded enthusiastically in response to Arrow One’s request for him to demonstrate the process.

‘Yes, yes! You do good timing,’ he spluttered through gums inadequately populated with teeth. ‘New piece ready to try.’ His Nahuatl was poor, the accent sounding Huastec. ‘You two!’ He shouted suddenly at a stocky lad of no more than twelve and a severe-looking youth. ‘What are you gawking at? Pumping bellows or copper will never melt!’

Precious Flower watched in amazement as the craftsman took the carved wax figure and held it upside down in an earthenware pot of damp sand which he proceeded to pack very gently around it until it was entirely hidden, all save a tiny section at the base. All the while, his indentured labourer and the sullen apprentice worked a pair of leather bags in the scorching confines of the new room. Precious Flower didn’t believe she’d ever seen anyone sweat as much as these two lads. When he was finished poking at the sand, the craftsman then took to examining the pot nestling at the centre of the fire that was now sending so many sparks whirling up into the rafters of the workshop that Precious Flower was convinced the whole place would soon be alight. The heat was so intense it seared her throat and made her fear for her newborn child. She stroked the child’s cheek briefly through the folds of fabric, relived to see it make attempts to suckle.

After a good deal of squinting and muttering at his assistants, the toothless man reached into a bucket of water and pulled out what appeared to be two long fire-blackened sticks, joined at one end with hemp. He gingerly clamped them around the tiny pot and then slowly upended the contents into the urn full of sand where he had made a conical indentation over the wax figure. Precious Flower was entranced by the fiery orange liquid that smoked and burped as it sank into the sand. If the gods bled, she thought, this is what their blood would look like.

Goodreads Blog Blitz – CJ Heck

Today AztecElements is delighted to present a post by CJ Heck as part of the massive Goodreads ‘Blog Blitz’ organised by Y. Correa.

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“There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken; a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable; a sorrow beyond all grief, which leads to joy, and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength. There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.”

~ Bri Maya Tiwari

“Where can we go
that death does not exist?
But should I live in tears because of that?
Your heart might as well make itself at home;
no one will live forever here.
Even great lords go down to death,
their worldly possessions put to the torch.
Your heart might as well make itself at home;
no one will live forever here.”

~King Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco

The writings of Ms. Tiwari and wise King Nezahualcoyotl astutely describe not only my life, but the poetry in my newest book, Anatomy of a Poet, which was written over the past forty years.

One of six children, I grew up in a small Ohio town and married my high school sweetheart at nineteen. A Vietnam War widow at only twenty, I went on to marry and then divorce twice during the next thirty-five years.

I made a lot of choices, some good, some not so good, but like the ending says in one of the poems in my book, “…at least I made choices. How sad for those who merely hitchhike along, never daring to choose at all.”

Enter to Win 1 of 10 Free Autographed Copies of Anatomy of a Poet:
Goodreads Book Giveaway: June 1 to June 30, 2013:


To Read a Preview of Anatomy of a Poet:

Buy at Amazon:

Autographed Books:

Website: Barking Spiders Poetry:

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Poetry to touch the soul: Amazon.com: 5 Stars
I love this book. I often find poetry frustrating, sometimes inaccessible. Not so with CJ Heck’s offerings. I haven’t read through the whole book: poetry is not something to be rushed at, but something to be savored. Each poem evokes a different mood, a different response, so I like to read one occasionally, almost as a thought for the day.

Many of the poems are love songs with no need of music: they create their own in my heart. They resonate with me as a long-married lover.

If asked before if I liked reading poetry, I’d have pulled a face and said, ‘Mmm, sometimes, if it rhymes, if it has rhythm.” But it doesn’t seem to matter whether CJ Heck’s poems have rhythm or rhyme, they are beautiful.

I would recommend this book to all lovers of poetry and, most especially, to all who think they are not.”
~Christine Campbell

Poetry that will stir the feelings of all who read it: Amazon.com: 5 Stars
“CJ Heck has a way of looking into your very soul and describing the passion and feelings that we experience but yet are afraid to or cannot express in words for ourselves. In the pages of this book you will find powerful, thought provoking, sensual, and beautifully written poetry from the heart.”
~Susan L. Parkins

A Great Read: Amazon.com: 5 Stars
“I purchased Anatomy of a Poet today and couldn’t put it down. It is filled with a pleasant mixture of emotions that kept me reading and reading. I can’t wait to use some of the poetry with my sixth grade students. A truly wonderful book that I recommend highly! You won’t be disappointed.”
~Joyce Bowling

CJ Heck

CJ Heck – Poet

I have been published, and I have also self-published. It’s been an interesting, difficult, grueling, and, at times, even a little exhilarating, journey for me. But to be honest, I feel the worst part about self-publishing is promoting and marketing the book, once it is published.

We, as Indie Authors, don’t have the staffing, financial resources, nor the many useful contacts that publishing houses have with which to do that easily. Also, our time is very limited, if we are serious writers and still writing.

While there are definite pluses and minuses to each way, the end result is the same — you have a book ‘out there’ and, in a very small way you are immortal – your words will live on, long after you’re gone. It is a kiss of satisfaction on the cheek of your heart and soul.

Since its release in April by Createspace, I have been actively promoting/marketing Anatomy of a Poet to the best of my ability.

*** CJ (Parrish, Kempf, O’Brien) Heck is a published poet, writer, blogger, and the author of three children’s books, a collection of short stories, and a new book of poetry. She is also a Vietnam War widow.
Her second children’s book, Barking Spiders 2, was a 2011 Nominee for the Cybils Children’s Book Award in the Poetry Category.