Christine Ray – Composition of a Woman Like no Other

“The world needs strong women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.” – Amy Tenney

I don’t know who Amy Tenney is, have never heard of her, nor read anything other than the above quote, (that I know of), that can be traced back to her, but after reading that very quote, I think Amy Tenney may know Christine Ray.

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If the heart of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is the impressive collection of writers and their work, editors and their passion, readers and their appreciation, then surely Christine Ray has been a potent infusion of life for us all.

For the past two years, Christine Ray has been a valued, and much loved, member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. As a writer, Christine is nothing short of impressive. As a poet, Christine is nothing short of phenomenal. With her vivid imagery and the unfiltered passion she leaves on her page, it was no surprise when Christine developed a large following of fans and a rock solid appreciation and respect from her collective, and the writers who run tight in influential social media circles, none of which are an easy feat.

Always the first to read, comment, and share the work featured on SD onto her own sites, Christine played a huge role in bringing all of our work to people who wouldn’t normally see it, and then bringing devoted fans and readers back to SD.

It wasn’t long before Christine became an editor at SD, working closely with the writers to produce the very best content, all the while writing for, and maintaining her own growing site, Brave and Reckless, but she was also quickly tapped to become the managing editor of not only The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, but its sister site Whisper and The Roar as well.

Over the past two years Christine has given her all to this collective, and at times that has been a thankless and an exhausting job, yet she has continued to do it all just as she does everything she sets her mind and her heart to, with grace and determination. We, as a collective, have been fortunate to have spent these years under her ever-watchful eyes and her guiding light, and it is with our deepest thanks and our greatest appreciation that we bid farewell to her as editor of SD, and stand behind her as the biggest champions of her bright new future endeavours.

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Lost Voice – Christine Ray

siren’s golden voice
once dropped confident syllables
into air
as naturally as breathing
now stifled in constricted throat
that struggles to swallow
six-sided anxiety
hot, sour bile
college ruled notebooks
once full
of manic scribblings
compulsively captured in black ink
before inspiration could swirl down the floor drain
collect dust
sigh from disuse
pen now held in death grip
fingers have lost their grace
their nerve
fertile mind now an empty room
where silence rings
torturous tinnitus
blindfolded by fear
weight pressing down on shoulders
by the weight of giant
unseen inquisitor’s voice barks
Have you reached the bottom of yourself
are you so shallow
so barren?!
Or is truth so deeply hidden
that you must dive inside
hand to elbow buried into slippery entails
to reach it?
surgical implements laid out
with precision on a stainless tray
slide into view
no hesitation picking up sharp scalpel
with shaking fingers
a writer’s way is
always to bleed

“She was an angel that burst into my life and shone her brilliant light right into the eyes of my demons”

Christine is a wonderful writer & editor & it was through our shared love of poetry that our friendship was birthed. She is one of the strongest, most patient & inspiring women I know and it has been a pleasure to work alongside her often.
– Rachel Finch, author of A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings

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“Christine Ray. I told her once I knew with a name like that, she’d go places. What I didn’t mention was she already has and does every day, she takes us with her too. What I didn’t mention was even if she was called Erma F. Sluggs, she’d go places, that’s just how bright her electric mind is.
Christine Ray came into my life as a writer, with a flash and from the moment I heard of her, she didn’t stop spitting electricity and fire. Routinely we over-use descriptors, the irony being Christine is often the source of those descriptors. She actually IS unstoppable. She actually IS the real deal. She actually IS on fire. (Okay so the last one is a slight exaggeration, but seriously, have you looked at the sky lately?).

Christine Ray has left an impact on my life already, as if she had resided there for its entirety. She doesn’t demand attention, she earns it, with every hard effort she makes to be basically the bad ass best at everything she does. Is this a Type A Personality? Hell, she invented the term.

It is both sad and wonderful that whilst Christine has long battled with exhaustion and illness, she is one of the most energetic minds I have had the privilege to meet, and she has a gift of putting intelligent and creative people together in ways that creative incredible happenings. Despite any set-back she has experienced or any trauma in her past, that would give her ample reason to bow out, Christine never does, she keeps going and she takes you with her.
On a bad day, Christine’s infectious energy and passion for writing and poetry, equals that of most of the rest of us. She has taught me to be more, do more, expect more. She has taught me that you can be broken and mangled and still find no excuse not to do your absolute best. Christine is an unwilling role-model in that she doesn’t seem to see her own shine, whilst everyone who ever meets her, sees it instantly. Her talents don’t know boundaries they defy even her own expectations.

I have been so honored to work with Christine over the years I’ve known her, and see her rise in our literary publishing and poetry circle to become one thing; Irreplaceable.

I wouldn’t bet on many people because you really don’t know, but I would bet on Christine. She’s a warrior, she’s a fighter, she’s a demon mind that doesn’t rest until she’s accomplished goals far beyond her reach and you know what? She succeeds. And nothing, not even herself, stops her from getting up the next day and doing the same thing. I admire the hell out of her, I also genuinely LIKE her as a human being and this is pretty rare because many passionate people can drive you crazy, but in Christine’s case, she only reminds us, to be more of what we can be, never less.

Christine has galvanized a huge group of people into a collective that has radically changed the quiet, detached safe world of poetry writing that hitherto existed on WordPress and beyond. She’s brought all of us together, she is a lightning rod and a fucking incredible human being and her poetry is devastatingly beautiful. I adore her. I applaud her. I will never feel anything ordinary about her.” – Candice Daquin, author of Pinch The Lock

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During her time at Sudden Denouement, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, Christine Ray has worked closely with dozens of today’s most impressive writers to bring their most impressive work to print. Christine was key in helping to establish Sudden Denouement Publishing and single-handedly compiled, designed, and edited ‘Anthology Volume I: Writings From The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective’ which was published in the summer of 2018 and remains one of SD’s proudest achievements.

As editor-in-chief, Christine helped bring not only two of Sudden Denouement’s most anticipated collections of 2018 to press: Rachel Finch’s debut collection, ‘A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings’ and Nicole Lyons’ third collection ‘Blossom and Bone’, but has also edited and added Eric Syrdal’s brilliant novel ‘Pantheon’ to SDP’s catalogue.

Never one to claim the spotlight for herself (though it shines for her) Christine has been the backbone, the kickstart, to each and every brilliant collaboration we have featured on SD.

“I’ve always been in awe of Christine. Not only in terms of her output as a poet, but in how much energy she puts into so many projects. Her level of commitment is like nothing else I have ever seen, and every time I’ve worked with her, she’s given 100%, even with so much on the go. From my early days in Sudden Denouement up to our recent collaboration, Christine has been supportive of me in so many ways, and without that support, and guidance, the last eighteen months wouldn’t have been as satisfying as they have. I’d like to thank her for everything she’s done, not only for me, but for so many others, and I hope she continues to shine her light as brightly as she’s done for a long time coming.” – S.K. Nicholas, author of The Journal For Damned Lovers Volumes I-III

FAITH DON’T LIE – Christine Ray & S.K. Nicholas

It was with great pleasure, and one of SDP’s shining accomplishments, that we were lucky enough to bring Christine’s own debut collection ‘Composition of a Woman’ to press. It is pure Christine Ray – amplified – and we couldn’t be any more proud to feature such a stunning work.

Though Christine has stepped down from SD as editor, all is not lost; she is still a much loved and valued member of the collective and we will continue to publish her work while we promote her exciting new adventures like Indie Blu(e) and Indie Blu(e) Publishing.

“Christine is a tough and tender wild thing, a brilliant writer and editor, and a ferocious friend. She has talent, an eye for it, and a gift for bringing it out in others. She especially has a gift for turning trauma into triumph and encouraging others to do the same. I am proud to call Christine a friend, and invigorated to know that this friendship will last a lifetime. On all levels, Christine is an amazing person. It is a privilege to know her and read her work. I am excited to see where her ambitions will lead her next!”

-Georgia Park, Private Bad Thoughts

We look forward to reading and promoting the brilliant artists and the work Christine and her team at Indie Blu(e) are set to publish very soon.

Here’s a little sneak peek of Christine’s second book of poetry, ‘The Myths Of Girlhood’ slated for publication with IB very soon:

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The Myths of Girlhood – Christine Ray

we were spoiled

for reality

by milk chocolate-coated fairy tales

force fed us as girls

made to swallow

not spit

myths about beauty

love

sex

taught that only pretty, pretty princesses

would be awoken by

true love’s first kiss

impossible standards of beauty

femininity

made for

bitter cherry centers

that left us empty

starving

hollow

how old were we

when we learned

that mere mortal girls

like us

would never be beautiful enough

thin enough

kind enough

pure enough

to win Prince Charming’s gold enrobed heart?

we ate up the lessons that with the right make-up

the right clothes

shoes

if we took enough quizzes

in Seventeen magazine

about how to be popular

how to catch his eye

contorted ourselves into pretzels

we might almost be enough

to be invited to dance at the ball

drink a brief taste of the pink champagne dream

before the clock struck midnight

and we turned back

into pumpkins

 

From all of us at Sudden Denouement, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, thank you Christine, for all you have done for us and for all you have given of yourself. You are irreplaceable, unforgettable, and we hold you in the highest esteem.

Faith Don’t Lie- Christine Ray & S.K. Nicholas

Before you, the days blended one into another, each one as empty as the day before. Hell on earth.  A month of Sundays forced to my bare bloody knees to the cold, hard stone floor by a congregation of pious sleepwalkers, of judgmental sheep. You’ve met their kind. The ones who can’t see. The ones who can’t feel. The ones who worship their shiny toys like idols and pray at the twins altars of willful ignorance and empty contentment. They pointed their fingers at me, sewed a red letter on my chest, called me a heretic for wanting more. For declaring you a true prophet.

My faith don’t lie, so why should yours? At times like these I feel both dead and alive, and this is how I get my kicks. The knife I twist brings with it the lips of those I wish to kiss above all else. May they kiss me under and may the blade take me to another plateau so I can be at one with God, far from those who resemble what I wish never to resemble. Too many days pissed away. Too many hours left hanging by a thread. Just too much time pretending those wrapped in flesh and sin were like me, but they never were, and neither are you. You know it. I can see it in your eyes. Can feel it when you cry as your world comes tumbling down because the faith you seek is in them and not within.

You baptized me in the woods with the wine and the words of burning truth that bled from your mouth. Told me to dig my fingers deep in the rich earth, feel the hum of life all around us. As the bonfire blazed, you molded the shadows and revealed the secrets of your death and resurrection to my open eyes. I could hear the copper sing in your blood. Taste your holiness on my tongue.  I was filled with the crimson gold light of the spirit deep in my marrow.  I knew the excruciating glory of rebirth.

My faith don’t lie, so why should yours? They spit at the sky and claim the rain falls only on them. Them and their desperate need for affection never giving so much as a thoughtful ear in return. They see shapes while we observe miracles. They hear noise while we hear songs as old as the universe. Yet all they do is try convincing us the magic in our bones is mere illusion. That what we’ve got to give don’t mean shit. But we know that’s not true. We’ve known right from the start. It’s in our hearts and these visions that push us further away, but if we’ve got each other, the more adrift we become the better. So take my hand. Take it now and let’s find a beautiful place to get lost.

We turn our backs to the unbelievers, with their deaf ears and eyes that choose not see.  It is not our work to proselytize to the masses.  We will minister to ones like us, who cannot settle for the stale, tasteless bread, the white picket fences.  Those with fire in their blood, those who hunger.


Christine Ray is a writing, editing tornado who touches down at Brave and RecklessSudden DenouementSudden Denouement PublishingWhisper and the RoarBlood Into Ink, the Go Dog Go Cafe, FVR Publishing, and Indie Blu(e).

S.K. Nicholas is the creator of Myredabyss.comas well as author of two novels A Journal for Damned Lovers Vol 1 & 2. Both of these books are availableon AmazonAdditionally, Nicholas is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective.

 

Now Available for Kindle: A Sparrow Stirs its Wings, Composition of a Woman, and Anthology Version I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Sudden Denouement Publishing is thrilled to announce that three of our recent releases are now available for Kindle.

Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is a thoughtfully curated compendium of the best writing published online by the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective from its launch in August of 2016 through April 2018. It includes 138 pieces of cutting-edge poetry, prose and short fiction written by 29 diverse writers from England, Romania, Japan, India, Finland, the United States and Canada. Thirty-one of the 138 pieces were written exclusively for the Anthology. This volume captures the astonishing raw power of these individual and united poetic voices.

“Sudden Denouement’s Anthology exposes and breaks many of the taboos of being truly and unashamedly human, giving us permission to look at and embrace them in the moment of reading. I was allowed a glimpse into the writers’ souls; comprehending their words was an exercise in the development of understanding human nature. This is a world in which the heaviness of life weights everything down until it is distilled—frustration and hate, love and unfiltered sex, bodily urges, addictions, the complexity of human interactions. Descriptions are brightly painful in some cases, transparently critical in others, but always smack of truth. Divergent work demands that there are no holds barred; the writer reveals everything, and cuts close to the bone, even his or her own, in order to create a pulsating, living amalgamation of words.”

Mariah Voutilainen

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A Sparrow Stirs its Wings by Rachel Finch

“Every now and then, when the world seems to be rocked in chaos and people are screaming without listening – vile words and cries for help climbing on top of and over each other – a single voice stands out, and that voice is pure in its truth and stunning in its wisdom.

Rachel Finch, and her debut book, A Sparrow Stirs its Wings, is that voice right now. Turning her heartbreaking abuse into heart wrenching prose, Finch writes her truth and gives her strength to every unnamed victim turned survivor.”
Nicole Lyons, I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl

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Composition of a Woman by Christine E. Ray

Christine Ray’s debut poetry collection ‘Composition of a Woman’ is an extraordinary glimpse into the essence of what it takes to make, and sometimes simultaneously break, a woman as strikingly powerful as she is beautiful. Split into five sections (Nerve, Brain, Breast, Rib, and Blood), Ray writes about chronic illness, depression, love, loss, and identity.

“Poet Christine Ray’s first printed collection of poetry, Composition of a Woman (Sudden Denouement Press, 2018) is a striking, fearless foray into the psyche of womanhood, both highly relatable and intensely personal for female readers and achingly candid and fascinating for male.”
Candice Louisa Daquin, Pinch the Lock

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Interview: Composition of a Woman by Christine Ray

 

You started you journey in the past two years. In that time you have made enormous strides as a writer and a publisher. Is there validation in getting a book to press?

My life has changed a great deal in the last two years, hasn’t it? I knew nothing about blogging when I started Brave and Reckless, let alone publishing. It has been quite an education as I have learned how to negotiate the blogging world and then the world of small press publishing. I think my writing has improved dramatically over the last two years as I have found my voice and been exposed to some really incredible writing. Joining Sudden Denouement has really challenged me to refine my writing and take more risks.

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be publishing my first book of poetry this month, I would have laughed at the idea. Even a year ago I would have scoffed at the idea- I was still too new and too raw a writer. The idea that getting a book to press was an actual possibility grew very slowly. Even in early 2018 I was really struggling with the questions of “Is this the right time?” and “Is my writing really good enough to warrant a standalone book?”

Many steps along this journey have been incredibly validating. Winning the Sudden Denouement Writing Contest, having Brave and Reckless designated a Discover Blog by the WordPress editors, getting published in a e-Zine for the first time, getting published in Nicholas Gagnier’s Swear To Me, editing Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective have all validated my sense that this is what I am meant to be doing. I can’t tell you how tickled I am that I have a Goodreads Author page and an Amazon author page! It’s crazy. Publishing Composition of a Woman is both validating and surreal, exciting and a little terrifying.

My experience tells me that a great deal of writers stop within a year. What suggestion would you give to new writers about seeing their dreams through?

Keep reading, keep writing, keep networking, give support to other writers as generously as you can, and find your tribe. What has happened in my writing life over the last two years is truly astonishing. But it wasn’t part of a master plan that I carefully developed. I just kept walking through the open doors when opportunity presented itself. And when there wasn’t an opportunity for something I believed in passionately, I asked myself if I could make it happen. Blood Into Ink, Go Dog Go Café, and Indie Blu(e) all grew out of that place.

At the core of your first book, what message do you want to articulate? What do you want the reader to take away from the book?

Writing is really my therapy, my diary, and my confessional. Composition of a Woman covers a wide range of themes: chronic illness, depression, love, loss, and identity. These are issues that many of us will wrestle with in our lifetimes. These pieces are both deeply personal and highly relatable. I want readers to feel less alone when they read Composition of a Woman. I want them to know I get it, that I’ve lived it. Perhaps I will be able to articulate their lived experience in a way they have never been able to.

You have done an amazing job communicating with other writers. How important is that your journey?

I didn’t start Brave and Reckless because of the writing community, but I have definitely stayed because of it. I honestly did not realize how much I needed those connections with other writers until I started to develop them. It was like some small, starved part of my soul woke up when I met other writers who create from some place that I do. I hadn’t written in 12 years when I started my blog. My family and many of my real-world friends had never seen this part of me before and many of them just didn’t know what to do with it! Some of them treat reading my writing like a guilty secret while others find my candor in my writing very unsettling.

In addition to it being deeply important to my emotional health, the power of networking has had a profound impact on my writing life. I was always the kid who hated group projects but I love to write collaboratively. I love the way synergy occurs between writers and how organically something amazing develops. I have started other blogs with writers I have met on WordPress that continue to grow and thrive. It is really an honor to work with other editors and writers who I know have my back and who know that I have theirs.

Sudden Denouement is truly my literary home and I have made deep soul-satisfying friendships there, but my writing circles continue to grow. I have finally started to connect with my local writer’s community and thanks to the incredibly generous and talented Alfa (Silent Squall), I have started to connect with a large group of passionate poets on Facebook and Instagram.

I benefit every day from the support, generosity, friendship, and creative inspiration offered by these writing communities. It is not unusual for me to have four chat windows open while I communicate with writers all over the world- they are my friends, my comrades-in-arms, and my support system. I often hear people complain on social media about how jealous and petty some writers can be. I have been blessed to meet and connect with a writing community that really supports, encourages, and lifts each other up.

S.K. Nicholas stated that it is important to write every day. How did you balance life and writing in a way that provided you the opportunity to make this book happen?

Oh, how I miss writing every day! I used to write every day. I believe that I should be writing every day. I used to get up at 4 am daily just to have two quiet hours to myself to write. I have really been struggling with balance the last seven months. Some days I manage Fibromyalgia and frequent migraine headaches and some days they manage me. I love all the projects I am involved with but my writing and maintenance of Brave and Reckless often get pushed to bottom of my to-do list because of other, more time-sensitive tasks. I had to be pretty ruthless some days and close my email, mute my phone, put on my headphones, and just ignore everything else so I could have a chunk of time to work on the book.

It took an enormous amount of time just to assemble everything I had written since October of 2016 (over 450 pieces!) and start rereading and sorting through the pieces, making decisions whether to include or discard writing, and then organize the original manuscript. There were days that piles of my writing were on every flat surface in my house. My family ate meals amid tentative book sections on more than one occasion. I worked on Composition of a Woman and its sister manuscript, The Myths of Girlhood for months while also working on the Sudden Denouement Anthology and Rachel Finch’s A Sparrow Stirs its Wings. Some days I never thought Composition would never be finished but, here we are!

You have been inspiration to so many. What advice do you have for the poets who have not found their voice, who are looking to become a writer of your caliber?

I still giggle when people say things like “a writer of your caliber.” I want to look around me to see who they are talking to, because they can’t possibly be talking about me!

It helped me to read good writing. Lots of it, as much as I had time for. Not just technically good writing but writing that impacted me—made me feel, made me think, challenged me. It was profound when I stopped worrying so much about pleasing an invisible audience and started writing for me. When I write poetry, it is a selfish act. I am writing what needs to get out, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. I need to express my truth. Truth isn’t always easy or pretty. It just needs to be authentic.

This sounds like a weird thing to say, but it really made a difference when I stopped thinking of myself as another middle-age woman who wrote some stuff and started thinking of myself as a writer. I had to take myself seriously and see it as part of my identity. It made it easier to justify carving out time for my writing and helped me see this as a marathon, not a sprint. The more you write, the better your writing gets.

Collaborate! It really encouraged me to up my writing game when I started writing with other people. At first I was really shy about asking people to write with me. I have gotten bolder and rarely has anyone say no.

I also took a college-level Creative Writing class that involved workshopping. It both helped reassure me that I had potential and also forced me to look more critically at my writing. I won’t say that it was always a good experience for my ego, but my writing voice evolved significantly during those 12 weeks. I left the class much more willing to take risks and much more confident. I also had a lot of fun! If you do not have easy access to a college writing program, there are lots of good online courses available, including many that are free.

Christine Ray is the author of the Composition of a Woman, as well as being managing editor of Sudden Denouement.

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Sudden Denouement Publishing Releases Composition of a Woman By Christine E. Ray

Sudden Denouement Publishing is proud to announce the release of Christine E. Ray’s book Composition of a Woman.

“Poet Christine Ray’s first printed collection of poetry, Composition of a Woman (Sudden Denouement Press, 2018) is a striking, fearless foray into the psyche of womanhood, both highly relatable and intensely personal for female readers and achingly candid and fascinating for male.”
Candice Louisa Daquin, Pinch the Lock

Composition of a Woman is now available at Amazon.comAmazon CanadaAmazon Australia, Amazon Europe ( Amazon.co.ukAmazon.deAmazon.frAmazon.it, and Amazon.es,) as well as other major retailers.  Signed copies are available in the Sudden Denouement Etsy Store

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Excerpt from Composition of a Woman: Raven – Christine Ray

It starts as tightness
tingling
across bare shoulder blades
becomes an itch
I can’t quite reach
stretch my spine sinuous
slow
vertebrae by vertebrae
long for a shot of whiskey
or three
liquid gold disinhibition I can blame
for the reckless choice
I am about to make
I finally let go
tightly coiled control
gasp with relief
as I finally unleash the darkness
onyx feathers rip
sharp and true through the flesh of my back
talons shoot from fingertips
toes
bones burned hollow
by demon fire dwelling in my belly
exquisite pain of rebirth
brings me briefly to my knees
I arise something new
wipe the blood from my mouth
spread fledgling wings
and with the lift of the north wind
I claim the night sky
mine

Composition of a Woman will be released by Sudden Denouement Publishing on Tuesday, July 31st.  It will be available on Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe and other major retailers.


When not running around pretending she is Wonder Woman, Christine Ray can be found writing for Brave and Reckless. You can also find her at Blood Into Ink, Whisper and the Roar, Indie Blu(e) and Go Dog Go Cafe. ]