Blooming in the Dark is a collection of emotionally charged and expressive poetry that explores love, friendship, identity and healing. What inspires you to write poetry?
Jennifer: Inspiration comes to me from a little bit of everything: music, movies, other books, conversations with friends and family, personal experiences, past traumas, as well as other forms of art. I like writing things that can connect with people on a deep level and draw out emotions from readers to create a meaningful experience for them.
Kirsten: The expression of ideas and the goal to connect with the reader in a powerful way. With poetry, you have to be so careful with your word choices to make the most impact. It’s not like a novel where you have paragraphs and paragraphs to get the point across. Poetry requires instant impact and that’s an interesting challenge for a creative mind.
What was the writing collaboration process like with author Kirsten McNeill?
Jennifer: Working with Kirsten was such a great experience and I don’t think this project could have come out any better than it did because her and I think so much alike in terms of the theme for this book. She’s very easy to work with and it made getting to the finish line that much more exciting. When I ran out of things to write she was there to help me get some inspiration back or to help keep the flow going. We were essentially each other’s accountability partners as well as sounding boards and I think that was one thing that contributed to how well this poetry collection came together.
What was the writing collaboration process like with author Jennifer LeBlanc?
Kirsten: Reading the completed product of our book, sometimes I couldn’t remember which poem was written by me and which was Jennifer. We have a similar style and we were very clear on the goals and themes we wanted to include in the book. It was fun to collaborate and share ideas on what did or didn’t work in a poem. We’re both talented writers and being able to combine our skills and experience helped us create something incredible for readers. It helps working with someone who can align so well with your thoughts and writing style!
What themes do you find your poetry often drifts towards?
Jennifer: A lot of things I write tend to stem from past or personal experiences with love, family or trauma, but occasionally I get inspired by instances I simply observe and am completely outside of. I like exploring deep emotion and trying to bring that out in others. More often than not I write what I feel, but there are instances that I don’t and I try to explore new ways to put certain thoughts into poetry. It’s almost like telling a story and whether it relates to me or not I always lean towards thinking there might be someone out there who could relate to it and connect with it no matter what it is.
Kirsten: I love exploring the darkness in people. The struggles they go through that aren’t always on display for the world. It tends to be a “taboo” to talk about your dark thoughts or the negativity. We’re meant to put on a pretty smile and go about our day. Exploring the darkness helps me find a way to see the good, to connect with others who may be going through the same thing. To let readers know that whatever they are feeling is valid whether in love, friendship, or life in general. It’s all about the balance of light and dark.
Did you write these poems slowly over time or did you write them specifically for this collection?
Jennifer: Some of the poems I contributed to this project were extra ones that didn’t make it into my previous poetry collection Paper Heart. The rest were all written just for this book. The theme really inspired us to dive deep into what being human means. Both the good and the bad and how no matter what darkness you face, you can always find a way to rise within it and become stronger from your darkest days.
Kirsten: All the poems were specifically meant for this collection. We had the title Blooming in the Dark as our inspiration to show the journey of our struggles and how we can find our way to the light. There were a handful of poems that didn’t make it in because they didn’t quite fit, but we may use those for other poetry collections.
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Blooming in the Dark is a beautiful poetry book by Jennifer LeBlanc and Kristen McNeill. The poems contained within it are relatable and tug at the heartstrings. At their core, they are representations of different aspects of the human condition. They address issues such as love, friendship, identity, and healing.
They particularly delve into the intricacies of love – the intensity of it, the toxicity that can be created when this emotion is manipulated and the damage it can do when provoked. It tells of the depression of those left by loved ones, the loss of identity by those that were manipulated by lovers, and the healing required to reach a semblance of peace.
Interestingly, this book also thoroughly explores the love between friends and how a toxic friendship can leave someone withered and low. However, not everything is sad and depressing in this book. Some poems talk about overcoming imposter syndrome and the need to be perfect.
They talk of embracing the present and moving into new chapters of our lives without regret or remorse, of fighting our demons and winning, and of forgiving and letting go. In many ways, this book celebrates healing and the realization of the authentic self. It makes you remember your pain, your joy, and how they interweave – it feels like a love letter to your soul. It makes you feel seen, all of you – the intense and the laid back. Clearly, the authors poured their heart and soul into this project, ensuring that it was an accurate description of what it means to be alive.
They do a good job of weaving emotion into the poems without making the language feel heavy – it almost feels like you are reading the words of someone who has lived what you have lived. It also helps that while the authors do some symbolism, it is clear what they are talking about. They manage to create a beautiful balance between veiling and message execution, making this book easy to read, even for poetry beginners.
Once you start reading it you can barely put it down – it could take just a couple of hours to finish. As long as you like deep emotional poetry, Blooming in the Dark will be a breathtaking read for you.
Pages: 181 | ASIN: B08W4P1Q2C
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The Revelations of August Barton sees August taking a dramatic next step in his relationship with Rose while a tornado of other issues surround him. What were some sources that informed this novella’s development?
Bits and pieces came to me for the sequel a little at a time. It was just a matter of figuring out how it all fit together and what would be cohesive in terms of continuing Augie’s story. Majority of the story stems from personal experiences and real life situations I have observed or dealt with myself.
I enjoyed how August continued to grow in this novel. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore with his character in this book that was different from book one?
In book one, I felt it was more of an introductory and lighter read. So to contrast that I went a little darker with book two, because like life there has to be a balance. Things are not good all the time everyday for everyone. Life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect it and it’s how you maneuver past them that determines your strength of character. I really wanted to showcase this with Augie by letting him make mistakes and try to figure out how to fix them on his own.
I appreciated the grounded approach you took to many of the obstacles August faces. Was there anything from your own life that you put into this story?
I like to believe that Augie is and always will be the better version of me that I wish I was at his age. He is the person that we can all become if we are willing to accept our flaws and learn from our mistakes.
Do you have other August Barton novels planned?
I do. I plan on there being four books in this novella series total. Book three will be awhile because I have other projects that need to be finished first, but I am very excited about the next installment. Readers can definitely expect some more shenanigans as well as family drama, love, and possibly a good cry.
The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?
What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.
I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5
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Without Fear of Infamy is an anthology of poetry published by Scurfpea Publishing. What was the collaboration process like on this anthology?
It’s a very competitive submission process and I am very thankful that a few of my poems were chosen for this new anthology. Collaboration has been a great learning experience for me as a writer and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
My favorite poem was Be Every Color of the Sun. What inspired this piece?
IT came from a rare feeling of positive self-esteem I was experiencing at the time. I think this makes it stand out because a lot of us struggle daily to find those moments in our lives.
Besides your own, what is your favorite poem from the collection?
One of my favorites is Tempering Grief by Brit Graham. I really love her vivid descriptors and her overall style of writing. This one stood out to me as one I could personally relate to having experienced heartbreak in the same manner before in my own life.
Each year since 2010, Scurfpea Publishing has produced an anthology of poems. It’s a juried competition with a different editor each year and no entry fee; consequently, each anthology has a distinct flavor all its own. This anthology includes poems by: Charles Luden, Katie Alexander, Steve Boint, Lin Brummels, Raymond Byrnes, Jennifer Carr, Craig Challender, Susan Spaeth Cherry, Kevin Cole, Jason Freeman, Jerome Freeman, Brit Graham, Monica Gulbrandson, Roberta Haar, Carol Hamilton, Constance Hoffman, Brenda K. Johnson, Leone Kayl, Ivanna Kusijanovic, Jennifer LeBlanc, Charles Luden, Mary Ann Marko, Elissa Mittman, Marsha Mittman, Rosemary Dunn Moeller, Marcella Prokop, Larry Person, Marcella Remund, Lisa Rinaldo, Bruce Roseland, Barbara Schmitz, Dan Snethen, Gloria Sofia, Brad Soule, Jennifer Soule, Linda Duede Starbuck, Douglas Starr, G.M.H. Thompson, Norma C. Wilson, June Tuff Witte, and Susan Zueger.
The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.
This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.
Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1
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Paper Heart is a collection of poetry about love, loss and life. When you first started writing poetry did you know you would one day publish a collection?
When I first started writing it at ten years old, it wasn’t something I really thought about. Essentially I was already doing that by writing a poem on a legal pad, tearing off the page, and then handing it to my mother to read. So it didn’t really cross my mind at that time. It wasn’t until I later started reading it more, in books from the library, that I thought to myself “I want to do this. I want my words in a book like this.” Because I loved reading and I loved reading poetry and anything lyrical that spoke to my soul. It was a lot like music to me and music is something I have an undying love for.
I felt that the poems all explored very emotional topics. What were some ideas you often explored in your poetry?
A little bit of everything, but all of them stem from personal experiences. So depending on the emotions the experience evoked, the tone and feeling would reflect what I felt at the time or what I was thinking. A lot of my personal experiences are things that were hard to overcome or hurtful. Which is why those poems are dominant in the collection and not the brighter happier ones, because that’s not what this collection is about. It’s about each little piece of my heart being put on paper whether good or bad, no matter which outweighs the other. It may not be something every reader can relate to, because these are my thoughts and my emotions. Some may interpret these poems differently than others and for some it won’t evoke much, but that is because this is about me and what I went through. That being the case, it’s very subjective. If someone reading it didn’t have the same experiences they won’t understand it or be able to relate to it. I basically wrote it as a form of therapy for myself. If others can relate and really enjoy it great, but if others don’t that’s okay too.
My favorite poem is ‘Be Every Color of the Sun’. Do you have a favorite poem from the collection?
I actually don’t have a favorite because I like them all for different reasons. One that stands out though, that I had a very emotional experience writing is Scream Aim Fire. That poem pulled from a very dark place and stems from a broken relationship with a family member that I truly care for, but we have grown apart because of arguments and constant misunderstandings of each other. I honestly wasn’t sure putting it in the book was a good idea at the time, but it may speak to someone else going through the same thing with someone in their family. Finishing it and actually getting the words down helped me release a lot of pent up resentment towards that person and it was how I was able to move on and let that dark cloud inside me drift away.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am currently working on my second poetry collection titled Lotus & Fury which will be released hopefully in February of 2019. I also have a few other projects that I am outlining for fictional stories that will be released later next year.
It is crinkled, torn and frayed,
but it’s still a heart all the same…
Paper Heart is a collection of poetry stemming from the places where light and darkness have shaped who Jennifer LeBlanc is as a writer. Written over years of introspection, love, pain, and hope, each poem is a placeholder for something that held her mind for either a bright moment or a dark hour.
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Paper Heart by Jennifer LeBlanc is a book of poetry that includes ninety poems. Many of the poems are about finding love and have a very uplifting message. Other poems are about lost love (whether through death or the end of a relationship), or loving someone who only brings you pain. The title of the book (Paper Heart) is appropriate because many of the poems are about how fragile love is, both precious and painful. Some of the poems the author included were very personal, especially the ones about the author’s mother. Other poems could speak to almost everyone, with universal messages. Most of the poems are about the past, some about living in the past. There were not as many about living in and enjoying the present or looking toward the future. Many of the poems were about darker topics, like addiction and loss and death. Other poems featured themes of regrets for things wished undone and things that can’t be undone, whether to self or others.
I liked the range in the various poems, covering many different emotions (from sadness to great joy), and the dichotomy of themes of darkness and light. There are varying structures to a number of the poems, and I liked the different styles, that they weren’t all the same.
My favorite poems were the ones with inspirational messages, like Be Every Color of the Sun. I liked how the title of several poems were spelled out as the first letter of each line of the poem. But these titles weren’t just random words, they were appropriate to the poem, as well.
Some of the poems were very short (only a few lines long). A few of these poems almost felt unfinished, and they left me wanting more. They felt as though they ended too soon and could have been expanded upon. Some of the poems were very similar in theme to other poems, seeming like a continuation of earlier poems (though not the shorter ones).
One poem, Vicious Cycles, had dialogue in the middle of the verses, which was unique and unexpected in a book of poetry.
Many of the poems reminded me of my favorite songs or a line from the lyrics because they had the same feeling, and I enjoyed that aspect of the author’s writing.
Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07KDPCV4N
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