Wednesday, January 17, 2024

It Is What It Is

You know, when I decided to take a writing break for the month of December, I fully expected to start the new year by sliding effortlessly back into the writing groove. As you might have noted, this hasn’t happened . . . yet.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. And one of the things that keeps running through my mind is an incident I witnessed early one morning in Niagara Falls.

The hubby and I went to Niagara to ring in the New Year. I get up much earlier than him, so I would get up and walk to the Tim Hortons about a third of the way down Clifton Hill (the main drag) and have breakfast there before going on a long walk.

Anyway, Tims didn’t open until 7:30 and I got there early, so I stood around with a couple other people, waiting. Off to the side, on the fringes, so to speak, was an old guy with a shopping cart filled with junk. It was pretty obvious he was homeless. He wasn’t bothering anyone, just hanging around waiting for Tims to open like the rest of us.

The woman behind me in the loose line rummaged around in her purse and pulled out a twenty dollar bill, and gave it to the homeless guy. But that’s only part of what made this incident memorable.

By this time there were half a dozen of us lined up. Tims opened and we went inside and placed our orders. I sat down with my breakfast and my Kindle, and I noticed the homeless guy come in. And I also noticed the way the staff were reluctant to serve him. He sat at the table closest to the door and wasn’t bothering anyone, but one Tims worker in particular seemed to give him a hard time. She told him, “I told you before, you can’t be in here.” Which I thought was really weird considering he was a paying customer. Eventually, she called a security guard to roust him out of there.

Now here’s where my writer’s brain kicked in. While I’m sure there was a reasonable explanation for this – maybe they’ve had trouble with him before – I couldn’t help making up my own explanation.

Like, maybe he was the woman’s estranged father who’d fallen on hard times. He’d turned over a new leaf and was trying to get his life back on track. But because of past bad blood between them, she was unwilling to forgive and forget. But he was persistent to the point where she got a restraining order against him, which he was ignoring in his desperation to make amends.

Okay, maybe that was a bit of a stretch, but you can see how a writer’s mind can make a whole story out of a random encounter.

All this is to stay, the writing fire is still burning in me, I just need to fan the flames a little. I might not be ready to dive back into writing yet, but I’m getting closer.

Meanwhile, it is what it is ‘till it’s not then it ain’t.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year!

How was your holiday?

I have to admit I enjoyed my blogging break immensely. I don’t think I realized before how much time I was spending thinking about blogs, coming up with ideas, researching ideas, and then writing about them. It can be incredibly time consuming – no wonder I didn’t have a lot of time for anything else.

So during the break I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to accomplish, and how I could accomplish it. And I decided it was time to take a step back from the blog schedule. To be honest, I’m not sure how I ended up on this strict blog schedule in the first place.

Where did the detailed Wordage Report come from? Sometimes it takes forever to come up with an idea to preface the report, which is time consuming, as is researching the idea and creating a post about it.

Ditto for Poetry Wednesdays. Coming up with a new form a week can be very time consuming – they’re getting harder and harder to find, too. And again, then I have to research the form, create the post, and come up with an example that rarely comes easily to me. And the sad part is, the only poetry I wrote last year were forms or poemwork for my poetry group. I wrote nothing for pleasure.

And where did Fiction Fridays come from? I mean, yeah, it’s nice to share what I’m working on once in a while, but every Friday? I’ve got over a hundred flash stories – some good, some not so good – that are the result of having to post something on Fridays, but because of this “blog schedule” I don’t really have time to do anything with them.

When I started this blog, I had a manifesto that read:

I will not be sticking to a schedule, just updating as the spirit moves me.
I will not be sharing the length of time my writing sessions are.
I will be showing progress bars on my current projects.
I will be talking about said projects.
I will be talking honestly about how the writing's going.

That was it. That’s how it all started, and that’s what I’m going back to.

Starting this week there will be no more Wordage Reports, no more Fiction Fridays, and no more Poetry Wednesdays. I’ll post when I have something to say. If I write a poem, I’ll probably share it. If I come up with the idea for a new serial, I may share that as well. And I’ll periodically share how the writing/editing is going.

But no more distracting schedules. Hopefully, without the burden of the can’t do that I have to write a blog post hanging over my head, I’ll finally get my writing back on track.

One can only hope. 😊


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Happy Yule

As promised, here are a few of my favourite Christmas videos to help make the season bright.

I'm Climbing Up the Christmas Tree

Imperial March/Carol of the Bells

Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire

Little Drummer boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby

Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas

TSO – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo

TSO – Christmas Cannon

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Happy Holiday Blogging Break

First, let me start by saying (in case you haven’t noticed) I finish the NaNo challenge with a few hundred words to spare. I did not enjoy it. In fact, I haven’t been enjoying writing anything lately, particularly blog posts, so I’ve decided to take the month of December off.

Yeah, it seems like a long break, but I have a lot to do this month, and a lot to think about. Even before NaNo began I was starting to feel stressed out, especially with the blogging, and I need to take a break before I burn out completely.

I’ll still be posting my traditional Christmas music videos, but that won’t be until closer to Christmas.

So have a Happy Holiday everyone, and see you in the New Year.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Forgotten – NaNo Novel 4th Excerpt

As you can see, I finally found a better name for my novel. It came to me a couple of nights ago and it fits the story much better. And yes, I was in bed at the time, and yes, I had to get up and forage for a pen and paper to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. 😊

In this, my final excerpt from my story, we have Sabella reaching some ruins where she’s taken shelter for the night. Aaban is on his way back to extend the village’s invitation to join them, but he’s not there quite yet and Sabella is trying to figure out what her next move is.

Sabella woke to a rustling sound in the bushes outside of her shelter. She looked up in time to see one of the monkey-like creatures make off with the scanner, which she’d left on top of the packs.

“Hey!” she shouted, getting to her feet. “Come back here with that!”

The monkey made a chittering noise that sounded suspiciously like laughter and scurried up the nearest tree. From there he leaped to another, then another, and was soon lost to view.

“Great start,” she said in disgust. “I lose the one thing from the ship that was of some real use.”

With a sigh she turned back to her shelter, having taken several steps outside of it to chase the thief. Rooting around in the pack, she took three of the water bottles down to the river. Kneeling at the edge, she filled the bottles, then set them aside to splash the cold water on her face.

“What I wouldn’t give for a hot caffeine,” she said with a sigh, turning back to her shelter.

No sense thinking about things like that now. Her chances of ever having a coffee again were pretty slim. There were a lot of things she was never going to see again and she would do best not to dwell on them. She needed to focus on survival.

But suddenly the thought of all those long years ahead of her, all alone, were almost too much to contemplate. What had she done? She sank down until she was sitting on the ground. A tear slid down her cheek, followed by a torrent of others.

She didn’t want to be alone on this world. She especially didn’t want to die alone here. Sniffling, she swiped the tears away with her hand. But she’d certainly would die here if she didn’t get ahold of herself.

“Okay. First things first,” she said, feeling marginally better after her little outburst. “Time to take stock of what I’ve got.”

She pulled the packs towards her and opened them up. Her cursory look the night before had left her puzzled as to some of the contents. The blankets and empty bottles she understood, but she held up several metal objects, one after another. Tools, maybe? But tools for what purpose?

There were twenty-two of the foil pouches left. She’d have to be careful not to go through them too quickly. It would be a shame to have made it this far, only to starve to death. Of course there was always the fruit. She’d suffered no ill effects from it so far, but she doubted it would be a viable diet in the long term.

“Oh! This might be handy.” ‘This’ was small, metal box that held several barbed hooks. “Fish hooks, I think,” she said.

Or maybe not so happy. She’d read historical books that talked about fishing, but she had no idea how to do it herself. Hopefully she could learn. A sudden though struck her, sending her to her feet. This building she was in was not natural. Someone had to have built it. There had to be people somewhere, hopefully not too far away.

Stepping outside of the shelter, she considered it for a moment. She couldn’t climb the surrounding trees, but she’d bet she could climb up to the roof. And maybe once she was up there she could climb one of the trees that pressed against it.

It wasn’t easy. Her legs were a little shaky from all that walking over the last two days, and her upper body strength was pretty much average. But she managed to hoist herself up onto the rubble strewn roof.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t high enough to give her much more of a view than she’d had before. She could see down to the river, and a few feet along it in both directions, but in the grand scheme of things there wasn’t much else to see but trees.

Going over to one of the trees abutting the building, she put a hand on the trunk and looked up at the crown. The trunk was smooth, and there were no branches sticking out. There was no way she’d be able to climb that, even with the boost the building gave her.

With a sigh she turned away to look out at the river again. Didn’t people usually settle near rivers, or some other source of water? What would happen if she kept following the river. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it would have to do.

Now all she had to do is get down from this roof.

“Well this isn’t good,” she muttered, surveying the tumbled down wall she’d climbed up.

Grumbling under her breath, she sat down on the edge, dangling her feet over the side. Then, thinking better of it, she turned around so she was facing inwards instead, backing towards the edge on her hands and knees. Carefully, she eased her legs downwards, holding onto the roof for support. Her feet made contact with the ruined wall, and she spared a glance downwards before moving her hands from the edge of the roof to the top of the wall.

She was a little off of where she’d climbed up, but this way there were some sturdy looking vines she could grab onto, which was a good thing. She was only halfway down when one of her feet slipped.

A man’s voice called out as she grabbed for a smooth brown vine. Startled, she looked up as her hand connected with the vine. As she watched in amazement, a man dropped onto the roof of the building. There was a frantic look on his face as he kept talking, and she realized the vine under her hand was moving. She transferred her look to her hand, just as the snake she’d grabbed onto bit her.

Fire shot up her arm. Sabella screamed and fell the rest of the way to the ground, snake still attached to the back of her hand. The man, moving faster than she’d ever seen anyone move, was beside her in seconds. An enormous knife appeared in his hand, and with one swipe he cut the head off the snake. Even then, he had to pry the snake’s jaws open to get her hand free.

Tossing it aside, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her back into the shelter of the building. Sabella was in no shape to protest. The fire continued up her arm and she was starting to feel dizzy. Obviously the snake was poisonous – the man had probably yelled to warn her of the danger. She was too dazed to even wonder where he’d come from.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Espinela Verse Form

This Spanish form was named for Vencinente Espinela, and is often referred to as “the little sonnet.” Being a musician, he designed his form to be pleasing to the ear when recited. Here’s where it can get a little confusing.

It is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Décima, which is a Spanish term for any ten-line stanza. However, there is also a popular song form from 15th century Spain called the Décima which consists of forty-four lines (an introductory stanza followed by four ten-line stanzas).

The Espinela has only two stanzas, with four lines in the first and six in the second for a total of ten lines. Each line has eight syllables, and it follows a strict rhyme scheme of abba/accddc.




I think the nickname of “little sonnet” is an apt one, it is very much like writing a sonnet. And like a sonnet, the Espinela can be written on any subject.

Evening Song

Skin still warm from the summer sun
Glimmering in the fading light
Waiting until the moment’s right
Waiting until the day is done

Waiting for that special someone
The touch, the taste, the feel of him
The bending to another’s whim
Anticipation building slow
Reach the peak and then overflow
The moment caught, too soon to dim.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Writersfest Wrap-up

A creative writing workshop will contain students whose ambitions and abilities, whose conceptions of literature itself, are so diverse that what they have in common - the desire to write - could almost be considered meaningless.
— Rachel Cusk

I think that, in principle, a workshop is such a beautiful idea - an environment in which writers who are collectively apprenticed to the craft of writing can come together in order to collectively improve.
— Eleanor Catton

Being part of the Workshop is like being part of a really big family. Everyone is so close. Everyone feels the success of others who go on to do well. Whatever happens, I will still be part of the Workshop.
— Lucy Carless

This was my fourth foray in the world of Writersfest, and I have to say that each time it’s been a little bit different.

The first time was on a package that included the workshop tickets and the hotel room. I really enjoyed the workshops and learned a lot. Unfortunately, I went with a friend and came home without one (figuratively, not literally). To this day I have no idea what happened. She wasn’t talking, and I didn’t push her to. Que sera, sera.

Then we had COVID and the lockdowns, so I didn’t go back until 2022 (in 2021 I went to a different writing retreat). I still sprang for the festival pass, but this time I went for all four days. Technically it was five, but I opted out of staying the extra night just for the one workshop (which I wasn’t really interested in anyway). Instead I paid extra to hear Guy Gavriel Kay read from his newest work (and got a signed copy for the daughter).

Because I was late calling for my hotel reservation, I couldn’t get the discount rate at the Holiday Inn, and ended up staying at the Delta (which was only a block away). The workshops were interesting and I learned a lot. The weather was beautiful and I took a lot of early morning walks along the waterfront.

My third Writersfest was in March of this year. This time it was being held at the Delta, and I did call in time for the discount on my reservation. Wow! What a difference it made in the price! The weather was a little cold and crappy, which made staying at the same place where the workshops were taking place even better.

That being said, I enjoyed a couple of the workshops but was disappointed in a couple. The rest were kind of so-so, but I still learned a lot. There were a handful of us who paid for the four-day pass, and we kind of got to know each other a bit.

October’s Writersfest was held at the Holiday Inn, and even though there was no discount offered, I booked my room there. Can we say pricy? And the room wasn’t all that great. Although I did have a tiny balcony that overlooked the water. AND it’s right at the end of Princess Street, which is a mecca for shopping magpies like me.

Like many organizations, Writersfest is having a hard time getting volunteers. One noticeable difference was they no longer did the land acknowledgement at the beginning of the workshops, and sometimes there wasn’t even anyone to introduce the facilitators.

I found a couple of workshops were more seminars than actual workshops, but they were still okay. Three of them I really enjoyed and learned from them. I skipped the Travel Writing workshop to go to a reading called Folklore, Fable, and Fantastical Females. The most disappointing workshop of them all was something called Creative Collaborations – Combining Imagery and Words. It was nothing more than a sales pitch for an independent small press who sold very pricy boxed sets of stories.

Will I be going back in the spring? Maybe, maybe not. There’s a stitching retreat which I missed last year because it was the same date, but this year I’ve already got it paid for, so it’ll depend on when the spring writersfest is.

But I’ll probably go to the fall one again. And since they’re no longer offering a hotel discount as an incentive to buy the festival pass, I will probably take a better look at the workshops being offered and pick and choose what I think will be worth my while. And if that means I have more time to sit and write in my favorite coffee shop, so be it.

There are worse things I could do with my time.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *


Honestly, I don’t have a word for last week. Yo-yo maybe, because it was weirdly up and down.

Monday we finally got our new fridge delivered. While it takes up the same amount of space as the loaner, it seems smaller inside. And I still don’t have room for my big stock pot in it, which means I’ll need to make my soups earlier in the day so they’ll be cool enough to bag up for the freezer later that same day. No more putting it off for a couple of days. 😊

Tuesday was a very uninspiring rainy day, with a stitch in at the library (which was the bright spot). When I got home I realized I had a poetry gathering the next night, so I spent the afternoon writing a poemwork poem.

Wednesday I started out making a big pot of chicken chowder for the father-in-law, and yes, it was cool enough to bag up for the freezer before bed. The poetry gathering ran a little long, but lots of good poetry was shared.

Thursday was a rather quiet day, perfect for indulging in some online shopping, and Friday involved a lot of in store shopping, followed by me making my Death By Chocolate cake to take with me to a small get-together to say goodbye to one of stitchers, who’s moving to Toronto.

Saturday the daughter, granddaughter, and I went on a shopping road trip, which was followed by the hubby and I doing some shopping, which was followed by another social event, this time at the father-in-law’s.

But in between all of that, I managed to catch up on my NaNo words.

2636+466+210+1201=4513 words

Once again, a lot of time was saved by having part, if not all of my posts done ahead of time. And also once again, Monday’s post was rather heavily photo dependent. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to take a lot of photos during the crafting process.

Goals For Next Week:
Keep up the good work, blog posting-wise.

Day 19 – 2617
Day 20 – 1930
Day 21 – 2977
Day 22 – 1788
Day 23 – 2087
Day 24 – 1936
Day 25 – 2559
Total for week 4 – 15,894
Total for month – 41,729

Slowly but surely I managed to catch up my words and as of yesterday I was back on track to the 50,000 word goal.

While I’m still a little apathetic about the whole thing, I’m liking the story better. However, it has become glaringly apparent to me that if I’m going to try and do anything with this novel in the future, I’m going to have to do a great deal of world building.

It would have been super helpful to have done all that before NaNo started, but I didn’t. So now I’m stumbling around trying to figure out the flora and fauna as I go along, what the customs and traditions of the people are, and what exactly they do with themselves all day.

Also, a better idea of what the layout of the land is would come in handy. So far I’ve got lots of jungle, some cliffs, and a river that is no where near where the people are, which makes no sense because wouldn’t they need a source of water close by?

Yeah. So there’s a lot of work ahead of me if I’m going to whip this up into any kind of shape to be readable. And honestly? I’m not even at the halfway point of the story itself, so it’ll be continued well beyond the end of NaNo.

You know, eventually.

Goal For Next Week:
Finish NaNo.

There was a poetry gathering last Wednesday night, and seeing as I skipped it the month before, I figured I pretty much had to show up. Plus I needed to pay my yearly dues 😉

So Tuesday afternoon had me trying to come up with a metaphysical poem (the poemwork for the month). In the end I did a black out poem. Actually, I did two of them. I looked up articles on metaphysics on Google copy/pasted a page of text from two different articles, and picked out the words and phrases to craft my poems.

I have to admit, I’m getting a little tired of all these forms. It doesn’t really leave me much time to write a poem just because I have something poetical to say. And while it’s all well and good to be able to learn a new form, the forms themselves don’t always lend themselves to creating an anthology.

Goal For Next Week:
Think about my future in poetry.

Tuesday was our library stitching, where I worked a bit on my kit. I really wanted to work more on my crafting this past week, but I didn’t have time because I was busy catching up on NaNo. I was a little jealous of one of my writing buddies, who was able to get some quality crafting done for Christmas last week.

But while I didn’t have time for crafting last week, I did find time to shop for crafting supplies. I got about $50 worth of beads and charms from Wish, and then I went to another site to buy an engraving tool and a bunch of engraving bits.

Oh! And there was a request for Christmas prints for a project with the stitchery group, so I donated all the Christmas prints (mostly fat quarters) in my stash, that I’ve had for years and didn’t know what to do with. Well, as any hoarder knows, as soon as you get rid of something, you’ll find a use for it.

It was just after I gave away my prints that I did the class in the folded stars. I could have used that Christmas fabric to do more stars. *sigh* As I recall, I got a lot of those fat quarters at Walmart, who was completely out of the ones with Christmas prints. So, instead I had to go all the way to Fabricland where I bought some off the bolt.

Also last week, I finally got around to stiffening my crocheted snowflakes. I used watered down mod podge and staked them all out on waxed paper covered cardboard. Worked really well too. Now all they need are strings.

Goal For Next Week:
Make some fabric stars; work on kit; work on zentangle.

I finished The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman, and I really hope she’s going to write a sequel to it because I really want to know what happens next. Now I’ve started The Hike, by Lucy Clarke.

On the Kindle I finished The Psychic Cat Mysteries by S.M Reine, which was a series of five mystery stories from a cat’s point of view.

Goal For Next Week:
Keep up the moderate reading habits.


I swear, that new leaf of mine is off in space somewhere.

The weather has been as variable as my mood. I’m still a little tired and lethargic, so this grey, dismal November is not helping things any.

I don’t know what I’m going to be writing about for Monday, maybe something about Christmas crafts. ‘Tis the season, don’t you know.

Tuesday is a regular meeting with the stitchery group. There aren’t any classes, it’s just a regular stitch in, which means a lot of talking and a little stitching.

Unless inspiration strikes me like a bolt of lightning, I’ll be using the last of pre-written poetry posts on Wednesday. And because December’s poetry gathering is early, I really should try to start working on the poemwork.

I did do a little of my indoor gardening last week. I dumped the dead plants (five of them!) and rearranged several others. So this week I’d like get my coleus clippings planted, and repot my money tree into a bigger pot.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blogging schedule, and my writing in general. Brace yourself – I’m taking the month of December off from writing, and that includes blog posts. I’ll be putting up an official notice next weekend, and then I’ll use my month to make some decisions . . . and some changes.

Starting in January, things are going to be very different around here.