Hello, blog readers! Welcome to another installment of our pick-a-poem series, in which we feature a new poem here on the blog every single Wednesday. Today’s poem came, as these poems generally do, from Poetry Daily. This is a great website that offers a new poem to discover every single day. Check them out! This week we feature Lexington Avenue Line by Jayne Benjulian.

According to his bio page, Jayne Benjulian has had her poetry published in a variety of places. These include AGNI, Poet Lore, Women’s Review of Books, and Nimrod International. Her essays have been published in HowlRound and the California Journal of Women Writers. She obtained an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

Lexington Avenue Line by Jayne Benjulian

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Very rarely does a movie affect me so much that I find myself continuously thinking about it even several days after having seen it. The Gift is one of those movies. It’s the eerily ominous antagonist who continuously stalks the protagonists that won’t get out of my head. It’s the superb acting from the three leads who all show tremendous versatility. It’s the incredible, hauntingly ambiguous ending that I keep going back to, wracking my brain for what I believe may or may not have actually happened. The Gift isn’t perfect, but it is an original, surprising take on the suspense thriller genre from first time writer/director Joel Edgerton.

The Gift centers around married couple Simon and Robyn, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall respectively, who have recently moved into a new home in the suburbs of Los Angeles for Simon’s job. Things seem to be going just fine for the couple early on. Simon has a great job, they just bought this beautiful new home, and the love between Simon and Robyn feels genuine. Then Gordo shows up.

Gordo (Joel Edgerton) approaches the couple at a housewares store claiming to know Simon. It’s clear that Simon has no recollection of Gordo until he gives up his name, and the two catch up a bit. It isn’t long before you’ll start to feel uneasy whenever Gordo is on screen, as even this introduction scene is a little off-putting. Although he seemed like a nice, normal guy in their first encounter, Gordo increasingly feels “off” as he begins to leave gifts outside the front door of Simon and Robyn’s house. Neither of them ever gave Gordo their address. Then, he begins to show up unannounced while Simon is at work and Robyn is home alone. On the surface, he looks and seems like a nice enough guy, but there’s always something a little off-putting about his character whenever he’s around.

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So, I haven’t written a single word in the month of August. And no, blog posts do not count.

In fact, writing has been very spotty for me in 2015. In the beginning half of the year, I managed to finish my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel, even if I did start to hate it near the end. Since then I’ve worked on small projects, all leading up to the latest novel idea I’ve come up with. I like this idea and I do feel good about it, but that hasn’t been enough to get my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. Somehow, other things have continued to take precedence all month. These are mostly silly things that take the form of entertainment rather than responsibilities, but I’ve been more interested in them than I have been in writing.

This writer’s block has gotten so bad in the past month that I’ve found it difficult to sit down each week and write these advice posts. After all, if I’m not actually writing, then what kind of advice can I possibly impart to you?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the only advice I can offer you at the moment is to sometimes take a break from writing. Read things, watch things, go on vacation, have weekend outings, play games on your smartphone. That’s what I’ve been doing! And yes, I do feel immensely guilty, but I’ve been fighting against that feeling and I suggest that you do as well. Sometimes we deserve a break, even it’s from the thing we claim to love the most. When you’ve finished all these frivolous or not-so-frivolous activities, your writing will be here waiting for you. Writing is good at waiting.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Editor’s Notes #167

Posted: August 23, 2015 in Editor's Notes
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Good evening, blog readers! As the summer draws to a close and a new semester begins at Lewis University, the locale of the Jet Fuel Review’s founding, it’s time for another round-up. Although the summer has been slow here at the blog, I’m confident that things will pick up as a new crop of editors joins the Review and begins adding their input to the blog. For now, let’s take a look at what was posted in the last few weeks of this summer.

On the writing advice front, we have three new suggestions for you budding writers. First, I posted about the intriguing suggestion that you try writing garbage. If you’re feeling blocked and want to get back into a project, check out this post. Next, I wrote a post all about having no writing routine. Most of us find it hard to stick to a writing schedule. If you’re among those “most,” check out the post! And finally, I wrote a post that discussed character depth and how you must explore it but cut most of it out of your final draft.

In terms of featured poetry, we’ve posted Richard Siken’s Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One, When There Were Ghosts by Alberto Rios, and Oystercatchers in Flight by Eamon Grennan. If you’re looking for some new poetry to check out, visit these posts and come to the blog every Wednesday for a new featured poem!

Finally, our film blogger Michael Lane finished up his series reviewing the HBO series, “Tales from the Crypt.” If you want to know what he thought about season 6 and season 7, be sure to check out those posts! Then stay tuned to see what else Michael will review in the future.

That’s all, folks! I hope your summers are all ending well. See you in future blog posts!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of our sometimes-weekly feature, “Pick-a-Poem.” On most Wednesdays here at the blog, we pick a poem to feature for your reading pleasure. These poems come from the very helpful website, Poetry Daily, which features a new poem every day without fail. This week we’re featuring Oystercatchers in Flight by Eamon Grennan. Grennan does some interesting things with language in this featured poem, so I hope you all enjoy reading it.

According to his bio page, Eamon Grennan has published ten collections of his work, all of them with The Gallery Press. These collections include Still Life with Waterfall and Out of Breath, which was shortlisted for The Irish Times Poetry Now Award. He has also translated the poems of Leopardi, for which he won the PEN award in translation. He’s a Dublin-born poet who taught at Vassar College for many years.

Oystercatchers in Flight by Eamon Grennan

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Your story is a finite thing. At some point, one assumes, you will reach an ending. The time before that is spent in character study, plot development, and language manipulation. Along the way, you’ll let your readers in on many characters’ secrets. Those characters will most likely be the main ones you’re focusing on, but those aren’t the only characters that populate your story. There are probably background characters moving about behind the scenes, somewhere between the star of the show and the extras in a movie. They may be as close as the best friend of your main character or as far away as the man she runs into on the street one morning. There isn’t time to explore all of these characters to their deepest depths. But your goal should be to write them as if you could.

In a recent post on his Terrible Minds blog, the inimitable Chuck Wendig imparted 100 Random Storytelling Thoughts and Tips. One of those tips just happened to catch my eye. For number 21 on his list, Chuck writes, “Every character is a rabbit hole. Every character goes all the way down if you let them. Not every character demands falling down that hole — but every character should feel like it’s possible. Every character should feel like they possess hidden depths and secret motivations and a great big history all their own.”

It would be so easy to fall down all those rabbit holes, wouldn’t it? But, as I stated several sentences ago, your story is a finite thing. If you want to keep the plot within reasonable limits, you have to curtail the rabbit holes. And yet, you must make it clear that there is a rabbit hole for everyone who populates your story. This is a fine line to walk, but it’s important for the realness of your characters and the perceived vastness of your story’s universe. If you want the world and the story to seem like they contain real people, you have to imply that everyone has a storied past and everyone has unexplored depths just waiting to be explored.

This is the type of thing that allows readers to go hog wild with fanfiction. For example, J.K. Rowling may not say as much as she possibly could about the character known as Hannh Abbott, but I guarantee you that several fanfiction websites feature a tag for Hannah Abbott. With a few well-placed details, Rowling gave readers just enough info on Ms. Abbott to allow them to imagine her on their own. Rowling hinted at Hannah’s depths — and the depths of many other background characters — thus adding depth to her overall story.

The best way to do this? Write up character sheets. No one has to see those, but if you know what your character’s backgrounds and pasts contain, then you can imbue that into your writing of them. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Oh, boy. After the travesty that was the sixth season of “Tales from the Crypt,” you could only hope that things wouldn’t get worse. Unfortunately, the seventh and final season of the beloved HBO anthology show hits an entirely new low you never could have imagined.

In a last-ditch effort to save money on production and perhaps spice things up, the final season of “Tales from the Crypt” jumped production across the pond. The final season was made in England with English actors, directors, and what have you. On paper this sounds like an interesting change of pace, and a decision that could result in some fine television. However, believe me when I say that it was hard for me to even pick five “good” episodes out of the thirteen-episode season to focus on here.

I’ve noticed that most of the seasons of “Tales from the Crypt” start off with an episode that’s better than the others, and that’s the case here. “Fatal Caper” focuses on an old man named Mycroft who doesn’t have much time left to live. Mycroft’s will states that if his two remaining sons can’t finish the task of finding their other brother, who left home years before never to be heard from again, then Mycroft’s money will just be given to charity. This leads to the brothers coming up with their own plans for getting the money, and these plans aren’t the least bit legal. This episode was directed by Bob Hoskins and is a tight, suspenseful little story that features some fine character work. The twist ending is incredibly ridiculous too, but also pretty fantastic, making this one of the best episodes of the season.

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