Monday, December 31, 2018

On the Cusp of the New Beginnings

Just as Friday was the time for recapping last year’s goals (and how I did on them), today is the time for setting new goals for the year ahead.

This year’s goals started out as a list I made in my writing journal. When I was done I looked them over and then grouped them into categories, each category having several goals. Call me crazy, but I think presenting them this way will make it easier for me to follow – I can pick and choose and do a bit at a time at different things instead of doing the whole goal at once.

The one goal that is not included here is to set up a workable writing routine. This is something that’s been my goal for several years now, and every year it’s a fail. A regular routine would be a lovely thing, but it never lasts for more than a week or two, maybe a month, before something comes along and upsets the applecart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that planning on something invariably leads to disappointment, if not outright disaster.

Without further ado, my goals for 2019:

Wandering Wizards should have been out two Christmases ago. That’s the first on my list to get done. And for Christmas 2019 I want to have an anthology of my short stories finished. Also under this category is sending out my short fiction and/or poetry to be published. Friends and fellow writers tell me they enjoy my work, let’s see if magazines do too.

Organizing and indexing
Both my poetry and my fiction files are scattered hither and yon between different computers, USB sticks, and hard copy files. I want to set up a searchable database for my poetry, complete with cross indexing, and have only one hard copy and one electronic copy of each poem. I probably won’t do hard copies of my short fiction (or maybe I’ll do a hard copy when I consider a story finished), but I do need to gather up all my electronic copies of various stories and start deleting the repeats that occurred during my “when in doubt, save every draft” phase. Perhaps I might dedicate a writing journal just for story notes. It wouldn’t hurt to finish moving my files off my old computer and organize my photos too.

More writing – kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it? Previously I’ve set myself word goals, anywhere from 250 to 1,000 words a day. This year I’m setting myself a time goal of a minimum 30 minutes a day. It’s surprising how much you can do in 30 minutes – or even two sets of 15 minutes. As well as finishing Wandering Wizards and getting an anthology together, I also want to finish at least the first draft of my NaNo novel, Shattered, and I really need to make a start on the final elemental book, An Elemental Spirit.

Here’s where I remind myself to do more reading and less mindless surfing/socializing/gaming. To spend some time doing things that don’t involve the computer. And to give my health more of a priority. This last one is especially important. I started out last year with my weight down by 10 pounds and my A1C (diabetic glucose level) down a whole point. 2019 is starting out with that 10 pounds back and my A1C back up. My eating habits aren’t to blame, it’s the lack of exercise, which I think is a problem most writer’s face.

So there you have it, my list of goals for the coming year. The betting is now open as to how many of these will be wins. ;-)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Almost the End

2018 was a pretty up and down year, mostly down, and I can’t say as I’m unhappy to have it almost over with.

Now’s the time I take a look at my goals for year and how close I came to reaching them. And just so you know, I’m not feeling very optimistic. ;-)

The goals for 2018 and how I did on them:

1. Write every day - at least 500 words
Not only did I not write 500 words a day, there were many days when I wrote 0 words.

2. Less time gaming and checking social media
Both gaming and social media still take up a large part of my time – mostly doing online jigsaw puzzles and checking email and Facebook. It’s like an addiction.

3. Shut down by 11 p.m., 12 at the latest
Easy win
I went to visit my sister in New Brunswick in the spring and ever since I got back I’ve been going to bed earlier. So not only do I shut down by 11 p.m., I also go to bed around then.

4. Spend more time doing crafts
The idea here was to spend more time doing crafts in the evening instead of playing games and this just didn’t happen.

5. Make better use of my Neo
I forget, at times, now much quicker the writing goes on the Neo, but I used it a lot more over the course of the year and I credit the use of it for my NaNo win.

6. Organize my poetry
I did, somewhere along the way, make a half-hearted attempt, but there’s so much of it and it’s so disorganized that I didn’t get very far.

7. Journal more often
I’m very pleased with the amount of journaling I did last year, and it should be even better this year because my last Speculative Fiction class was all about keeping a journal.

So there you have it, the goals for 2018 and how I did. There were more fails than wins, but the nice part about the new year is it’s a good time to reset and start again.

Join me Monday when I lay out the goals for 2019.

Monday, December 24, 2018

It’s the Night Before Christmas … Literally

In keeping with my personal holiday tradition, today I’m posting Christmas videos from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If you’ve never seen them before then you’re in for a treat.

And just to save you the trouble of checking out my other blog, I’m posting this to both of them so no one misses out. :-D

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wizards of Winter

Christmas Canon

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo

Friday, December 21, 2018

Counting Down

It’s the Friday before Christmas and all through the house . . .

People were watching Christmas videos!

Today we have a few not as humorous Christmas songs, and come back Monday for my all time favourites.

Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas

Carol of the Bells – Celtic Woman

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Bing Crosby and Doris Day (couldn’t resist!)

The Little Drummer Boy – Bowie and Crosby (one of my all time favourite Christmas videos)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Almost There…

It’s not quite the night before Christmas, but we’re getting close. So what better poem to offer today than the most famous Christmas poem of all? But that’s not all. Right after the original version is the one I came up with about ten years ago. Plus I’ve provided a link to more parodies.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Visit From the Computer Tech

By Carol R. Ward

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, just the optical mouse;
The cords were all strung to the PC with care
In hopes the technician soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of interwebs danced in their heads;
The wife couldn’t take any more of this crap
So she went to bed while I took a nap.
When there on the screen there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the keyboard I flew like a flash,
Grabbed up the mouse and gave it a bash.
The monitor gleamed with a brilliant blue glow
Seeming to mock me as I loudly moaned, “No!”
And what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a security warning that made my eyes tear.
With an attack on my drivers, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment my computer was sick.
More rapid than eagles the popups they came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now Trojan, now Wormy, now BankerFox vixen!
A technician’s coming, my computer he’s fixin’
By installing protection, a router, a wall!
And then he’ll delete you, delete one and all!”
And then, in a twinkling, as I thought to despair,
A van entered my driveway and parked with a flair.
I opened the door with a feeling profound,
And into the house came the tech with a bound.
He was dressed all in blue from his head to his toe
And his jacket was covered with a sprinkling of snow.
A box full of tools was grasped in his hand
And he looked like an angel, come down to land.
His eyes, they were bloodshot, his face was unshaven
From his pocket he pulled a business card graven.
He was balding and old, and he started to sneeze,
Then, spotting the cat said, “I’ve got allergies.”
The stump of a cigar he held tight in his teeth
And he caught his hat on the door, in the wreath.
A squint of his eye and a shake of his head
Soon gave me to know the bill I would dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
And in a few moments pulled the plug with a jerk.
“The mother board’s fried,” he said, shaking his head.
“And the rest of your hard drive looks like it’s dead.”
Then he packed up the tower and picked up his tools
“Gotta watch these old ‘puters, they’re stubborn as mules.”
He walked to his van, my computer in hand
I had to admit, this did not go as planned.
And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, no more surfing to-night.”

If you love a good parody as much as I do, then you’ll want to check out the poems found HERE.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ho Ho Humbug!

It’s really hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s so warm you’re forced to wear a tee-shirt instead of a flannel shirt, and you look outside and see rain instead of snow.

The tree is up and decorated, the presents have been bought and wrapped and the out of town ones were sent out last week. All that’s left is the baking, which I have procrastinated against doing by writing instead. LOL

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been using the writing as an excuse not to get any baking done, although Christmas is coming fast so I don’t know how much actual writing I’ll get done this week. The big bag of baking supplies I keep tripping over in my kitchen says it’s time to take off the writing hat and put on the chef’s hat, at least temporarily.

I can’t even use my sinus cold as an excuse because the antibiotics the doctor gave me are finally starting to kick in.

However, I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead, and I’ve got a few ideas percolating. Plus I have something that promises to be fun (I hope!) coming up near the end of February, but I’m keeping it a secret for now. So there’s your incentive to come back in the new year even though I’m all doom and gloom right now. :-D

So in an effort to keep things merry and bright, I have a couple of funny Christmas videos for you today. Wednesday I’ll once again have a couple of Christmas poems, and Friday I’ll be switching to some more traditional Christmas videos.

12 Pains of Christmas

Chimpmunks Roasting on an Open Fire

And one of my personal favorites: I Am Santa Claus

Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas is Coming…

And that means this is the last Fiction Friday post for the year. Next week I’ll be posting Christmas videos and the week after that I’ll be exploring goals for the new year.

So once again, you’re getting an excerpt from my NaNo novel. This scene is about halfway through the book. The hero, Ethan (whom you met last week) has been the reluctant host to Bella, who crashed on the moon where he’d fled to recuperate from his injuries.

This is just after an extremely powerful electrical space storm has passed over the area. The house they’re staying was protected by an energy field, but Bella’s ship was too far away. Now they’re off to check out the damage.

In less time than he expected, Bella joined him.

“This is an EX903,” she said, delight in her voice. “I was reading the technical manual on this last night.”

“You read technical manuals for fun?”

“When I can hide them from my mother.” She ran her hand over the side of the land skimmer and then flashed him a smile. “Technical manuals are not proper reading material for ladies.”

“I take it you were raised to be a lady,” he said. Somehow that didn’t surprise him in the least. Although what was a lady doing flying a star jumper?

“My sister and I both.” She was back to admiring the skimmer.

“No sense putting it off,” he said, gesturing to the passenger seat.

She nodded and climbed aboard. He waited until she was settled in her seat before taking off.

“How far is it to my ship?” she asked over the noise of the engine.

Ethan was only half listening to her; the engine was sounding a little rough. “It’s about 20 minutes out, more or less.”

Thankfully she lapsed into silence after that.

Just in case the ship still had a residual charge from the storm, Ethan took the precaution of parking on the other side of the clearing. They got out of the skimmer and Bella looked at the ship, a look of relief on her face.

“Thank the lords,” she said fervently. “I was almost afraid it wouldn’t be here.” She looked at him a little sheepishly. “This ship means a great deal to me.”

“I can see that,” Ethan said, suddenly filled with misgivings. There was scoring along one side and a large burn mark near the nose of the ship. It was obvious the ship had suffered multiple lightning strikes. And it wasn’t a good sign that the hatch was still open, even if the computer was offline it should have closed automatically.

“How can we tell if it’s safe?”

Ethan looked around and then bent down and picked up a stick. Straightening up again, he tossed it at the ship. It bounced off the side and dropped to the ground. “Seems all right,” he said.

Bella stared at him open mouthed. “What kind of test is that?”

He shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it? There was no shock when the stick hit the ship, that means it’s safe.”

Shaking her head in amusement, she moved forward and headed into the ship. He had to give her credit, she didn’t even hesitate. He followed slowly at her heels. He had a bad feeling about this.

“Computer.” Bella said from just inside. She started up the corridor. “Computer?”

There was no answer. Ethan followed her to the cockpit and almost ran right into her back when she stopped suddenly.

“By all the lords,” she whispered.

He peered over her shoulder and gave a low whistle. The cockpit looked like a fireball had been bouncing around in it.

“By all the lords,” she repeated, a little numbly.

“Maybe it’s not as bad as it looks,” he said, sounding lame even to himself. It wasn’t as bad as he feared, it was worse.

Slowly she moved to the central panel that housed the computer core. Taking a deep breath she opened it up. The unconscious moan she made told him all he needed to know. The computer core was fried. And without a working computer core, the ship was never going to get off the ground again.

“You didn’t have shielding around the computer core?” he asked gently.

She shook her head. “This is an older model star jumper and it wasn’t part of the original specs. I was going to upgrade it but never got around to it.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, sincerely. “I’ll wait outside if you want to take a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” she said.

He was sitting on a fallen tree at the edge of the clearing when she finally exited her ship, surreptitiously wiping her tears away. Noticing him watching, she came over and sat beside him, facing her disabled ship.

“It’s not so bad really,” Ethan told her, trying to be reassuring. “There are a lot of salvageable parts in there. With what you get for the metal alone you could buy a newer, safer ship.”

She was on her feet in an instant, whirling to face him, hands balled up into fists. “I built that ship practically from scratch. I had to sneak away from my family and work in secret and you have no idea what that ship means to me.”

“It’s just a ship,” he protested. “It’s easy enough to replace it.”

“You entitled rich boys are all the same. You think every problem can be solved if you throw enough money at it. Maybe if you actually had to work at something for a change you’d realize there’s more to life than getting your own way.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Just look at yourself, hiding out here on a deserted moon, making your masks and feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Now wait just a minute!”

“So the universe threw something unexpected at you, does that mean your life is over? No! It means you need to take a good look at what you’ve got and then do something with the rest of your life, preferably something meaningful. Just because you’ve had one setback doesn’t mean you can’t have a good life.”

“I don’t have to sit here and take this!” Ethan was on his feet as well, with no real idea how he got there.

“Then don’t. Go hide in your house the way you’ve been hiding from reality.” She turned and stalked away, body stiff with anger.

Ethan couldn’t believe her audacity. Who was she to judge him? She knew nothing of what he’d suffered. Angrily to stalked over to the skimmer and climbed in, pushing the vehicle beyond its safety limits as he took her advice and went back to the house. She could damn well walk.