2020-03-30: Virtual Poetry Reading for Soul Picked Clean by Cat Russell!

Today is the one year anniversary of the Book Launch for my first published book, my poetry collection, Soul Picked Clean.

Since an in-person event is obviously not possible now, I wanted to celebrate online! I read a few of my poems, explain the thoughts behind them, and talk about how to keep in touch online. Enjoy!

If you would like to attend my FaceBook LIVE Book Birthday Party tonight, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/rhmzktp


PODCAST LINK: https://authorcatrussell.podbean.com/mf/play/53ujkf/2020_03_30PoetryReading-SPC-CatRussell.mp3

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Living in Limbo”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Living in Limbo


life is lived

in the spaces between


the crook of the elbow

bent to bring the cup to our lips


the devil’s dimple smiling

just before that first warm sip


eternity peeks from behind

the crook of each bony finger


pinky extended toward 

the taste not yet reached



This past week has been challenging for the entire world, so I thought this poem would be both appropriate and cheering. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: “Soul Stuff“

Soul Stuff


Does it weigh 21 grams–

an ethereal power that can be measured,

the good and bad balanced

like angels and demons weighing options

on this celestial seesaw careening through the void of space,

or is it insubstantial as velocity

–the speed of a vehicle no longer active 

after the crash?


The above poem was inspired by Dr. MacDougall, who attempted to measure the weight of a human soul leaving the body by weighing patients before and after death. He thought the soul weighed 21 grams. https://www.historicmysteries.com/the-21-gram-soul-theory/  

*Image courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Shakespeare’s Writing Advice”

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com


Shakespeare’s Writing Advice


nothing will come of nothing

space eternally waits to be filled

we fill ourselves with our surroundings

immerse ourselves in the stuff of life

stuffing ourselves to draw out 

inner worlds sifted through our own lens.


brevity is the soul of wit

so cut what doesn’t add flavor, 

add to the plot, the tone, the gently sloping 

arc of character, retain the essence 

of each point–even if that point is only 

water is wet while air is sweet.


to thine own self be true

for every fiction is a truth disguised

the heart of humor is aggression

the essence of poetry is vulnerability

and courage breathes life into 

the creation of anything worthwhile.


context is not everything:

you must learn to read 

between the lines.



Today’s post comes a little later than usual due to personal reasons, so my next poem will drop next Friday instead of the week after. 

I hope you enjoyed the poem! Thanks for stopping by.

POEM: “Unicorn Passing in the Night”

Unicorn Passing in the Night


She is a study in beauty.


Legend says her mane glistens white

as the moon on a cloudless eve,

but she clothes herself in any color: 

champagne, azure, emerald, lilac,

red as life’s blood, or black as death itself.


Legend says her single snow-white horn

glistening in moonlight cures poison,

plague, fevers, and the madness of rabid dogs,

but nothing of its sharpness,

its keen knife’s edge, its pointed menace,

its ability to pierce not just the veil

of starless nights but truth and flesh.


Legend says she is drawn to virgins and innocence.

but today she inhales pollution from passing cars,

the rot of butchered bodies buried in ruined forests,

and the desolation of urban decay

–yet she cleanses air like trees, exhales

the perfume of springtime flowers misunderstood as weeds.


She leaves, breaks wind with hues of ocean blue, 

the violent violet of freshly pressed grapes,

the crimson flame of a forest fire,

the golden color of sunlight,

and the green of springtime grass

trailing moon gas in her wake.


If you listen closely, you can still hear her laughter.


This poem was a challenge taken from a conversation with the lovely poet, Constance Plumley, to write an unfunny poem about a unicorn that “farts rainbows.” I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Sound”




If a tree falls in the forest

        it makes a sound

even if there’s no  one

            there to hear its fall

even if we’re all

               too deaf to hear its fall

            It impacts the ground

            creates waves of sound

                upon the air we breathe

                          recycles breath of those long gone

of all who ever lived

    filters through the trees

        that sway in the breeze

            The tree lives



            with the same air

            impacts the same earth

                as everyone else


Its sound is the sound of the universe.



*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.


CURRENT EVENTS: Books Read in 2019


Greetings! Welcome to my annual list of books I’ve read the previous year. Pretty exciting and original so far, right?

As an avid reader, I can’t afford to buy all the books I want to read, so I buy from local authors and local (usually independent) bookstores while checking out digital titles or paperbacks. I really recommend you spend whatever book budget you have to support authors you love.

If you are looking for awesome sites to download digital titles in multiple formats, you can’t go wrong with manybooks.net, Project Gutenberg, and Librivox. I’ve used each of these sites for years. Manybooks shows a short excerpt from the book and often features reader comments, before allowing you to download ebooks in whatever format you need. It does require registration, although it is free to register and download books. Project Gutenberg also offers free downloadable ebooks, although no registration or fee is required. Librivox is similar to both sites, except it offers audiobooks instead of ebooks. The audiobooks are read by volunteers, so the audio and reading quality may vary, but they are usually well done.

Many local public libraries offer digital titles for checkout which can be deleted when the loan expires. I use the Overdrive app to download ebooks from multiple libraries onto my phone and/or Tablet. Not only can I download novels and nonfiction, but audiobooks, graphic novels, and periodicals like Poets & Writers. Another useful library app is Hoopla Digital, a subscription service for libraries that allows them to extend their digital selection with additional ebooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and videos; I read almost the entire Walking Dead graphic novel series via Hoopla!

If you are interested in supporting local authors, I urge you to check out your local libraries and bookstores to find out where there are readings and other author events.

2019 Books Read:


Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight (audiobook via Overdrive)

Dodge Tuck Roll by Rikki Santer (poetry collection)


Dragon Avenger by E.E. Knight (audiobook via Overdrive)

Fragile Capacities: School Poems by Sandra Feen (poetry collection)


The Fourth Dimension: Toward a Geometry of Higher Reality by Rudy Rucker (ebook via Barnes & Noble NOOK)


Dragon Outcast by E.E. Knight (audiobook via Overdrive)

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (audiobook via Overdrive)

In Sickness and In Elf by AE Jones (ebook via Barnes & Noble NOOK)

Beowulf translated and read by Seamus Heaney (audiobook via Overdrive)

10 The Second O of Sorrow (poetry collection) by Sean Thomas Dougherty (ebook via Hoopla Digital)

11 The Sharing Knife: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (audiobook via Overdrive)

12 The Walking Dead (vol 30): New World Order by various (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital)

13 The Walking Dead (vol 31): The Rotten Core by various (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital)


14 Where You Are: poems by Jason Irwin

15 Poemaholic by Azriel Johnson

16 The Vigil by Shelley Chernin


17 Naked Toes: poems by Sara Minges


18 Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (ebook via Overdrive)

19 Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman (ebook via Hoopla)

20 The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (audiobook via Overdrive)

21 Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (ebook via NOOK app)


22 Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (audiobook via Overdrive)

23 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (ebook via NOOK)

24 Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy by multiple contributors (ebook via Humble Bundle)


25 Love Poems and A Good Cry by Nikki Giovanni (audiobook via Overdrive)

26 The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time by Douglas Adams (ebook via NOOK)

27 Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams (ebook via NOOK)

28 Raga for What Comes Next by Dianne Borsenik


29 The Trial and the Death of Socrates (Apology and Phaedo) by Plato (audiobook via Overdrive)

30 So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams (ebook via NOOK)

31 Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and Select Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (ebook via manybooks.net)

32 Circe by Madeline Miller (audiobook via Overdrive)

33 The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton (ebook via Overdrive)

34 The Poet X by Elizabeth Alcevedo (ebook via Overdrive)

35 Blackbird by Laura Grace Weldon (paperback)


36 Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach (ebook via Hoopla)

37 Desiree in Paris: Priestess of Magdalene by Elise Renollet & Roselyn Brookes (ebook ARC read on Overdrive app)


38  Shazam! Volume 1 by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

39  Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon (ebook via Overdrive)

40  Wonder Woman volume 6: Children of the Gods by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

41 Wonder Woman volume 7: Amazons Attacked by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

42 Wonder Woman volume 8: Dark Gods  by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)


43 The Walking Dead volume 32: Rest in Peace  by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

44 How to eat a poem by various (ebook via Hoopla)

45 Wonder Woman volume 9: The Enemy of Both Sides by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

46 Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

47 Hail to the King: a DenCom Thriller by S.T. Hoover (ebook ARC read on Overdrive app)


48 In Pearl Broth: Poems New and Selected by Rikki Santer


49 John Constantine, HellBlazer vol 1: Original Sins (via Hoopla)

50 John Constantine, HellBlazer 30th Anniversary Celebration (via Hoopla)

51 Paradise Lost by John Milton (ABRIDGED audiobook read by Anton Lesser via Overdrive)

52 Vending Machine: Poetry for Change volume five (poetry anthology via The Poet’s Haven

53 Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley (audiobook via Overdrive)

54 The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe (ebook via Hoopla)

55 Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (audiobook via Overdrive)

56 Dark Purple Intersections (inside my Black Doll Head Irises) by Juliet Cook


57 Rattle & Numb: Selected and New Poems, 1992-2019 by John Burroughs


58 Romance of la Pucelle by Elise Renollet and Roselyn Brookes (ebook ARC read via Overdrive app)


59 LibriVox’s Most Wanted Poetry Collection by various (audiobook via Librivox)

60 Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (ebook via manybooks.net)

61 The Raven and the Philosophy of Composition by Edgar Allan Poe (ebook via manybooks.net)

62 Eighteenth Century Poetry and Prose Collection by various authors (audiobook via Librivox.org)

63 Gypsy Queen by Nicole Hennessy


64 Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (ebook via Overdrive)

65 The Tradition (poetry collection) by Jericho Brown (ebook via Overdrive)

66 A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (NOOK ebook)


From my list, you can see I’ve read an eclectic selection of books in the past year: contemporary and classic poetry, graphic novels, mythology, literature, humor, and nonfiction. I think it’s important to expose yourself to as many different types of things as possible, because we learn from everything we do. It’s not just true that we are what we eat; we are what we consume–whether that’s books or television or any other media.

I also partially read many other books, but I did not list them here because I never finished reading them. I make no apologies for that. If a book doesn’t interest me by a certain point, if I don’t feel I’m getting anything from reading it, I don’t hesitate to put it down. After all, I’ll never get to read every book I want to in my limited lifespan, so why waste time reading something I’m not benefitting from?

Also, because my list of books read is so long, I’ve broken down the list into several blog posts on my Patreon as well: the difference is that those posts explain what I liked or didn’t about each selection. No pressure, but if you’d like to sponsor me for $1 a month this year, you can read all my Patreon blog posts! For less than a cup of tea, you can get weekly posts about books, my writing process, nonfiction, or flash stories. If not, I’m happy that you visited my blog and read this far.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!


*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.


CURRENT EVENTS: New Year’s and the New (and Past) Decade!


In honor of the decade’s end, as well as the new year, I’m posting my reflections on the past ten years as well as my resolutions for the next year. I’m obviously thankful for a loving family that I’m proud of, so this post is going to concentrate on professional accomplishments and goals.

2010-2019 REFLECTIONS:

I started submitting short fiction ten years ago, and my first publication credit appeared in Flash Me online magazine July of 2010, followed by my first print credit, the anthology The Best of Friday Flash: Volume One, and later The Best of Friday Flash: Volume Two. Over the years, I improved as a writer by participating weekly in Friday Flash and other online challenges like 52/250 A Year of Flash.

I’ve also blogged consistently and completed several rough draft novels via Nanowrimo. One of the novels, Pinholes, I edited over the course of a year into a serial, then revised into a single document and began subbing to different publishers. About four years ago, I began concentrating on poetry more than short fiction and sold a few poems to online publications. In 2017, I was honored to be invited as a guest author and speaker at the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair; I was surprised, because I didn’t actually have a book, but they asked me as a blogger. That was my first scheduled public reading.

A couple years ago, I was finally able to attend writing events on a regular basis, so I’ve gone to writing cons and workshops ever since. Every month I go to Latitudes Poetry Night and The Write Stuff Writers’ Group. At Latitudes, I started participating in their open mic, because I planned to self-publish and hoped it would help me get over my stage fright.

A friend convinced me to try submitting to a press before I self-published. As a result, in March 2019, my first book, Soul Picked Clean, was published by Crisis Chronicles Press! At my book launch on March 30th, I gave my first scheduled reading as a published author. I spent the rest of the year promoting my book, scheduling reading events, and working on my next two books as well as my blog. I also began my Patreon page, renewed my podcast, My Writing Niche, and starting volunteering more of my time to help the writing community in general.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in northeast Ohio, a place blessed with two of the best library systems in the country–Cuyahoga County Library and Cleveland Library. And last, but certainly not least, I’ve been fortunate enough to know many lovely and creative people who inspire me both professionally and personally. This decade, and especially this past year, have been incredible. I’ll never forget it.


Next, I’ll share my New Year’s Resolutions with you; the point of this is twofold. One reason is to set them down so I’ll see them as something solid to work toward, and the second is to publicly declare them so I’ll pressure myself to complete them. If I make a big deal about them online, I’ll be too embarrassed to not do them (or at least work heavily towards them)!


  1. Submit my short story collection to a publisher.
  2. Submit another poetry collection to a publisher.
  3. Publish my short story collection.
  4. Publish my poetry collection.
  5. Market and promote my work.
  6. Volunteer more.
  7. Do things that frighten me.

This may seem like a long list–most people have one or two resolutions, but they are mostly variations of the same thing. Namely, I want to continue to get my work out there, put myself out there, and not let fear keep me from opportunities. Maybe admitting to that fear isn’t a good idea, maybe articulating it gives it power, but I don’t think so. I know I’m not the only person who gets scared of new things and new experiences, but if the past year–no, the past decade has taught me anything, it’s that facing my fears has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I want to continue to grow, both as a person and a writer.

If you’ve read this far, I know this is much different than my usual poetry posts. I don’t know if sharing this helps you at all, but I hope it does. I know it helps me to read about other people’s experiences. If you would like to share your resolutions or have any polite feedback, I’d love to hear it! Thank you for visiting my blog, and I wish you the very best for the next year–and decade!

Happy New Year!


*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License

POEM: “Achilles, the Heel”


Achilles, the Heel


Greatest of Greek warriors that fought

upon the soil surrounding distant Troy,

you fought with the strength of a demigod,

yet what you are most famous for is your

weakest part.






As always, I will post here again in two weeks, and my Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great couple weeks!

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.


POEM: “Clean Slate?”



Clean Slate?


once the day’s scratched

across its surface

no matter how you rub

a trace always remains


you cannot rewrite your past

only print the present

over what came before


I hope you’ve had a happy November! And if you participated in National Novel Writing Month this year, great work! Most people don’t even make the attempt, so if you wrote anything more than what you would have, you’ve won. Congratulations! 

Since this is the last post for November, before we get into the holiday season and are inundated with Christmas carols, stale fruit cakes, and other assorted fare, I wanted to assure you that I will NOT be posting Christmas-centric posts. There is enough of that sort of thing without my contributing. 

It’s not that I’m against people enjoying the holidays–in fact, I often celebrate obscure holidays like Towel Day and Free Comic Book Day!–but it’s just not my thing. So, maybe I’m a Grinch, but the only holiday I’ll be discussing in December will be New Years! I’m looking forward to my annual Resolution post, both for accountability and to declare my new goals for the new year of 2020! And I’d love to hear what you have done this year or plan to do in the next!

As always, I will post here again in two weeks, and my Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great couple weeks!



*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.