Friday, November 17, 2017

Back on Track



And by back on track I mean I’m behind by about 5,000 words. LOL

But never fear, the weekend is soon to be upon us and I have no doubt I’ll be able to make up at least a few of those words.

So last week’s excerpt was the first meeting of my main characters Nathan and Sara, this one is kind of a continuation of that.


Excerpt

They were surrounded by dense whiteness. It was like walking in the center of a cloud. No up or down, no beginning and no end. It was like they were weightless. An intense feeling of vertigo washed over her and Sara stumbled, nearly dropping her hold on Nathan. He was leaning more and more of his weight on her. If he passed out completely she didn’t know what she’d do.

Time started to lose all meaning. It felt like they’d been scuffling along for hours, even though it was probably only minutes. And was it just her imagination or was it getting lighter up ahead? No, not lighter but the fog was definitely thinning.

“Come on, Nathan, we’re almost out of it.”

It was just barely possible to make out the shapes of trees and brush now. The fog eddied and swirled and soon parted to reveal a path. The path itself was even more frightening than the fog. It was a dirt track, strewn with rubble, cutting a path through the gloom. She and Hannah had walked to town from the house many times and she knew for a fact there was no path like it anywhere around here. So where were they? Had she somehow taken a wrong turn? It just didn’t seem possible.

Sara shivered without realizing it. Her mind kept insisting the fog wasn’t natural. It flowed just beyond the path as though there was an invisible wall keeping it at bay. Where were they? Certainly not in the woods near the causeway. What was happening? Maybe she took a blow to the head when she hit the brakes in her car.

“Left,” Nathan whispered. “The camp.”

Okay, don’t let the fear become paralyzing. She tightened her grip on her victim and they staggered off to the left, following the path. Sara grew more afraid with every passing moment. She kept expecting the fog to break through the invisible barrier and consume them. They’d be lost forever. But the question that kept tormenting her was, where were they?

Just when her own strength began to fail the path opened up into a clearing. There were several tents and a couple of long tables, and every sign that people had been here, but the camp was deserted. Sara dragged Nathan to the nearest tent and eased him down on the cot inside. He never made a sound and she sank to the floor to rest. After several minutes she caught her breath and turned around to get her first good look at Nathan.

“Oh, my!” She all but licked her lips in appreciation.

She estimated he’d top her by several inches when he was standing, instead of leaning on her. His smooth skin was a golden bronze and he wore his jet black hair long, braided in hundreds of tiny braids. High cheekbones graced a strong face and dark lashes swept down from his closed eyes.

“Okay, get a grip girl,” she muttered. “You’ve seen gorgeous men before.”

He didn’t look badly hurt, from what she could tell he looked in damn fine shape. She noticed a smear of blood and gently ran her hands along the sides of his head. Lifting his head slightly she felt the back of it and her hand came away bloody. She frowned. If she didn’t know better, she’d say he’d been hit on the back of the head with something. There was no way she could have done that with her car.

Sara sat back on her heels. Now what? She really should see if there was something she could do for his head wound, but she suddenly felt exhausted. There was another cot in the tent and she sank down onto it gratefully. Maybe all she needed was a good night’s sleep and when she woke in the morning she’d discover this had all been a product of too many margaritas and too much raw cookie dough afterwards.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Just Nanoing Along

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 9397
Poetry - 0
Total Words -
Paragraphs of Notes - 3



Last week’s total included 1600 words I’d written on Wandering Wizards, but this week’s total is all NaNo words. For those of you keeping track, I’m about 3,000 words behind at this point, which really isn’t bad. While I have every confidence I’ll be able to catch up, I’m not going to stress about it if I don’t.

I’m very close to being able to work at my new desk in my reclaimed office. There’s still several boxes scattered around, but they’re mostly empty. Well, except for the stack in the corner that’s waiting for a trip to one of the thrift stores.

One of the most time-consuming parts of working in the office last week was trying to figure out what stuff goes in what drawer of the desk. If I thought figuring out what files to keep close was bad, it was nothing compared to all my little stuff - pens, paperclips, knick knacks, markers, USB keys, and all the other myriad things I kept in my desk drawers and the upper drawers in my filing cabinets.

Which reminds me...I think I’m still missing a box of “stuff” that needs to be relocated. Specifically, the stuff that was in the bottom drawer of my other desk - a bunch of fancy notebooks and stacks of CDs and DVDs. And didn’t I have a small first aid kit in one of the drawers? Nuts! Guess I’d better take another look around.

Despite ending up with more drawer space, it was still hard to decide what should go in what drawer. Two of the drawers have lift out inserts - one that’s easy to get at, one a little more difficult. So then there was the question of what should go in the upper part and what goes in the lower. And you want to be logical about it so you can find stuff again.

I guess this is something that will be ongoing for awhile. The main thing is to get my desk cleared off so I can use it. And find a new chair to sit in. I was using the secretary’s chair that the hubby was using, but it’s old and squeeky and way too low (you can adjust it, but it will slowly sink down again). So I swapped it for the executive chair from the other room and it’s really too big. Just like Goldilocks, I need one that’s just right. :-D

So...which do you think I’ll finish first? My NaNo novel or the Great Office Shuffle?

Place your bets now.

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaNo Madness!



Well, I’ve got ten days of NaNo under my belt and much to my great surprise I’m only a little off track. Be still my heart! And I only really fell behind last night, but if you knew the kind of day I had yesterday you’d understand. My luck wasn’t just bad, it was abysmal!

But enough of that.

Remember how I said how quickly some people are able to finish the NaNo challenge? Congratulations to C.L. Hannah (aka Kittster), whose had a couple of stories featured here. Not only has she already completed 50,000 words, she’s still going. At the typing at this post, her word count is 54,357 and she’s still going strong.

Wow. I was scrolling back through my last few weeks’ worth of posts and I realize that with all my talk about NaNoWriMo, apparently I haven’t really talked about my novel for this year. My very first NaNo novel was finished at 35,000 words. But while I didn’t complete the challenge with it, it did spawn ideas for two sequels and one prequel. My novel this year is the first sequel.

I got the idea for the original novel, Driving Into Forever, one day when I was driving to pick my daughter up from Queen’s University in Kingston. Despite it being February, there was a heavy fog. I LOVE driving in the fog, it’s like driving into forever (hence the title), and I started thinking, what if the fog was a gateway to another dimension? In my novel, the fog became the Myste, a phenomena that spanned space and time and many worlds. My main character, Hannah, unknowingly entered the Myste and there her adventures began.

She left her best friend Sara behind, and I decided Sara deserved a story of her own. Seeing as Hannah found romance, it was only logical that Sara find it too, and who better to hook her up with than Nathaniel, another minor character who disappears partway through the first book?

Turns out that Sara is a worrier. So when a significant amount of time passes and she doesn’t get a phone call from Hannah telling her she got home safely, she sets off to find her. What she finds instead is Nathaniel, who had met with foul play in the Myste.

Excerpt from Lost and Found

The fog began to thicken as Sara turned off the highway onto the road that wound through the woods to the causeway. Unlike Hannah, she’d never liked being out in the fog, it creeped her out. It was at times like this she appreciated her Cadillac El Dorado. It may be a gas guzzler but it would stand up to anything the fog could throw at her.

She could barely see the road but she was afraid to slow down, you never knew what might be lurking in the fog. Every horror movie Sara had ever seen flashed through her mind. The road was in good repair and she’d been down it often enough to be familiar with it. It led pretty much straight to the causeway, which lead straight to the island Hannah lived on. It was probably just an illusion because of the fog, but it seemed to go on forever.

A dark shape loomed up suddenly in front of her. “Holy crap!” Sara slammed on the brakes and yanked the steering wheel hard to the right. The big car jerked to a halt and she sat there, clutching the steering wheel and gasping.

“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” Did she hit whatever, or whoever that was? She should go check. Really she should. Just as soon as she could make herself let go of the steering wheel. They might be hurt. It might even have been Hannah. That ratty old Jeep she drove might have broken down and she could have been walking along the road, on her way home.

That thought was enough to make her release her death grip on the steering wheel and scramble out of the car. The fog was so thick she could barely see but she had a vague idea of where the road was. She shuffled forward slowly, hands out in front of her to ward off anything she might run into.

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

She’d always thought fog was supposed to amplify sound, this fog was so thick it seemed to muffle it.

“Are you all right? Hannah?”

Was that a groan off in that direction? Sara followed the sound. Her foot struck something soft. This time there was definitely a groan.

“Oh jeez!”

She hunkered down and could barely make out a dark form on the ground.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” Frantically she ran her hands over the body, trying to determine if there were any serious injuries.

“I am so sorry! You just appeared out of nowhere. I know I was probably going a little too fast, you know, considering the fog and all, but oh my God what are you doing out here in the middle of the road anyway? Didn’t you have enough sense to move out of the way when you heard my car coming?” She couldn’t seem to stop babbling.

The body started to rise under her questing hands.

“Are you sure you ought to do that? Maybe you should just stay put until we’re sure you’re all right. Is there someone I could call for you?” She patted her pockets. “Oh, damn! I must have left my cell phone at home. Do you have a cell phone? Is there someone I could call for you? Although maybe it’s not such a good idea to have someone else risk coming out in this fog. Oh well, it shouldn’t be too far to my friend Hannah’s house. We can use her phone. Wow, you are a tall one, aren’t you? Let me help you to my car.”

So far her victim hadn’t managed to say a word. Sara couldn’t decide whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. All she could tell through the dense fog was that he was a man, a tall man, and he felt pretty solidly built under her helping hands. He moved slowly, carefully, with her towards the car. Or least towards where she thought the car should be.

After a few minutes she halted them. Sara bit her lower lip and glanced around. “I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but I think we missed the car in this fog.”

The man mumbled something.

“What did you say?”

“Not fog, Myste.” His voice was strained.

“Well, whatever you want to call it it’s as thick as pea soup. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen a fog this thick in all my life.”

“Got to keep moving,” the nameless man told her. She had to strain to hear him. “Not safe.”

“Not safe? I don’t know about that, but I do know that it can’t be far to my friend Hannah’s house.” She carefully turned them around.

“Not there.”

“What’s not there?” Sara asked absently. She tried to concentrate on where they were going. Where was that road?

“Hannah,” he said with a great deal of effort. “Not there, she’s with Kelvin.”

“Kelvin?” Sara stopped and turned to him. “ Who’s Kelvin? You’re a friend of Hannah’s?” She peered closer at him but his features were still indistinct. “Who are you?”

“Nathan,” he answered.

She sighed in frustration. “Okay Nathan. Save your strength. We can talk once we’re out of this damned fog.”

He didn’t answer and she got the feeling he was too busy concentrating on staying upright. She had a bad feeling about this whole situation. There was something unnatural about this fog, it was giving her a real bad case of the heebie-jeebies. Worse than fog usually did.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Always

With Remembrance Day just around the corner, this week’s poem was an easy choice to make. I wrote this several years ago, and while it doesn’t include every member of my family who’s been in the military, I think it gives a nice cross section. And despite a couple of close calls, I’m pleased to say our family has never lost anyone to any military conflict.




Always

I remember my grandfather.
He liked to draw
and when I was very small
he taught me the proper way
to draw a pine tree.
He served
with the St. John's Ambulance
as a driver
in World War I and II.
I will never forget.

I remember my uncle.
He like to read
Louis L'Amour
and to work with
anything mechanical.
He served
as a tail gunner
in a British Lancaster, in World War II before
he became a POW.
I will never forget.

I remember my father.
He liked to work with his hands;
he loved power boats
and used to take me fishing
when I was a child.
He served
with the Canadian Armed Forces
as a Peace Keeper
in Egypt and Korea.
I will never forget.

I remember my brother-in-law.
He had a ready smile
and loved to play pranks.
He carved wood and leather;
he was an amazing artist.
He served
with the American Armed Forces
and fought in Korea.
I will never forget.

These men are my family.
I do not need
a single day
to remember them.
I will remember them
each and every day.
Always.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feast or Famine

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 10933
Poetry - 152
Total Words - 11085
Paragraphs of Notes - 4



If you’re wondering about the sudden jump in my word production, then you obviously haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month, which started at the stroke of November 1st and runs until the end of November 30th. I’m pretty much right on track with my words (you need to write 1667 words a day to complete the challenge) but my story is beginning to flounder so that’s probably going to change.

My usual pattern with NaNo (as it’s affectionately known) is to start out strong, fall behind, fall way behind, catch up a little, fall behind again, catch up, fall behind to the point where you’d think there’s no way I can finish on time, and then have a burst of words at the end that sends me across the finish line. The fact that we’re six days in and I’m still on target is a little disconcerting.

What was also disconcerting was the conversation I had with a writer friend of mine a couple of weeks ago. During the course of our lunch she informed me she was retiring from writing. I didn’t even know that was possible.

This is a woman who’s written twenty novelettes and created her own micro-press so she had total creative control over them. She even went so far as to print them and bind them herself. They’re not available electronically, you had to buy the print version, but she found a niche market that paid her very well.

But not only is she no longer interested in writing any more, she doesn’t even want to print up the books she has to sell them. I suggested maybe she should give electronic publishing a try, but she isn’t interested in that either. It just boggles my mind.

But it also raises an interesting question. What happens to the books you’ve written when you die? I would hate the thought of them dying with me. Can you leave the copyrights to your works to someone in your will so they can continue to profit by them? Would they even want to?

Something to think about.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Na No, Na No, It’s Off to Write I Go...

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I am not posting a prompt picture for the month of November. I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this month, and I hope you will be too.

One of the super exciting things about NaNo for me this year is I finally get to change my user name. I first heard about the challenge through a writer’s message board I’m a member of, so when I first signed up for it I just used the name I went by on that site, which was Lady Cat. The novelty of being Lady Cat wore off rather quickly but there was nothing I could do about it unless I wanted to lose all my stats. And considering I had several wins under my belt by then this was unacceptable. However, this year I finally got to change my name. Yay!

With only a couple of days worth of writing under my belt, an excerpt really didn't seem feasible. However, I received a belated story for last month’s prompt and I thought I’d share it with you today. Better late than never, eh?


Shadows

by C.L. Hannah


You know how people tell you that you’re seeing things when they fail to see what you are pointing at?

Well I’ve been listening to people tell me there is nothing out there for as long as I can remember. Yet, my eyes are always drawn to that same strange light, surrounded by a dark patch of land, every night.

I wonder if I’ll see that glow again, I wondered as I watched the light outside my window morph from the grey of twilight to the black of night.

“Ahh…there you are.” Pushing my nose to the window I stared at the blurry yellow glow in the distance. “I wasn’t sure you were going to show tonight.”

My words fogged the glass and I rubbed at the window with the sleeve of my nightgown. But all that accomplished was a blurring of the barely distinguishable yellow glow. Suddenly I felt bereft.

“Some night I’m going to go out there and find you,” I said to my empty bedroom, without breathing on the window glass.

Nodding my head, in agreement with my words, I whacked my forehead against the glass. Jerking back from the window in frustration, I rubbed my forehead and snickered quietly at myself.

“You goof. You knew the window was there,” I whispered, to my reflection.

“Yes. You did know the window was there. Yet you still leaned into it my Queen. Why?”

Freezing in place I peered out from under my hand that was still rubbing my forehead and stared into the yellow eyes of the black cat sitting on my window ledge, outside.

“Where did you come from?”

The cat rolled its eyes, smoothed its whiskers back then shook its head at me.

“Why are you rolling your eyes at me? I only asked where you came from?”

“I know you only asked that, but it’s such a silly question that I’d hoped you’d drop it,” replied the cat, wrapping its tail around its body and sitting up regally.

“Why are you talking to me? No wait…how can I understand you?

“Ahh…” said the cat, standing and stretching with its head low and butt high. “Now we’re getting somewhere my liege.”

“No really! What’s going on? Is this some Halloween prank?”

“So you don’t want to know where I came from then?”

“What? No. I mean yes. I want to know that.”

“First off, you know where I come from, think about it. Secondly, I’m not some Halloween prank, that’s just rude and thirdly, it’s time you were back on the throne. ‘Tis time to go. So to speak.”

I suddenly remembered that a head bump could cause confusion and that confusion could make people do funny things and wondered briefly if I’d given myself a concussion when my forehead hit the window.

Opening the window, I stared into the black cat’s eyes and noticed a fog swirling within them.

Standing up the cat lowered its head, as if bowing, then sniffed me. Next it ran a paw over its nose, stared at me with wide eyes and sneezed like I smelt badly or something.

“Nice. Not,” I said, raising an eyebrow. “Well lead on then.”

Climbing out the window wasn’t difficult, I’d been doing it for a long as I could remember. The climbing down the Maple tree beside the house however, was another thing all together.

I watched as the cat jumped limberly from branch to branch and thought why not? Following suit, perhaps not as gracefully, I managed to get to the ground without killing myself.

“Score one for me,” I said, looking back up at my open window and shivering. “I can’t believe I just did that.”

“Coming or what?” said the cat, flicking its tail impatiently.

“Coming, coming, coming,” I said, still looking up at my bedroom window but moving forward into the shadows. “Is it far?”

“Too far for most but obviously not for you.” Trotting off into the darkness, the cat didn’t look back to see if I was keeping up.

I kept the cat in sight as we trudged through a dark field and dodged around some cows. I marvelled at all the new scents filling my nose and wondered why I could smell so many different things all of a sudden. Finally I pushed through a dense line of bushes that I’d spied the cat sliding under and stepped into a clearing.

“You’re welcome,” said the cat, squinting one eye closed and glaring at me with the other.

“Welcome? For what?”

“You’re here aren’t you?”

“Here? Where? And you still haven’t told me why I can talk with you.”

The cat sighed heavily.

“I didn’t know cats did that,” I said, the corners of my lips quirking up into a smile.

“Who says I’m a cat?”

“Aren’t you? You look like a cat so therefore you must be.” Crossing my arms over my chest, I stared down at the animal and smirked.

“And yet, you can talk with me. Sometimes things are not as they seem to be. But let’s get on with it. Since it’s All Hallow’s Eve, it has been decided that you should be brought back home, tonight.”

I stared around the clearing and tensed. All I saw was a lamp post giving off a weak, yellow glow, the talking cat, a bench and some geese. “Home? This is home for you?”

“Yes and now, for you.”

I jumped as the geese suddenly took flight. My head felt like it was spinning and my body shrinking - getting longer and the ground closer.

I spied a goose feather floating down and reached out to grab it. But instead of a hand, I saw a furry black paw in front of my face.

“Welcome home Queen Keket,” said my cat guide. “We’ve been waiting a long time for your return.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Balassi Stanza

It wasn’t enough that I wanted to do a rhyming form for this month’s poetry form, but because I’d be posting in on November, first I wanted to do a poem revolving around All Saints’ Day. Jeez I’m not very bright sometimes.

So the form I decided on was the Balassi stanza. I forgot how much I dislike the Balassi stanza. It was created by a Hungarian poet named Balint Balassi who was lauded for his new use of rhymes. This stanza consists of nine lines and it might be easier just to show you the rhyme scheme: AABCCBDDB

But wait! That’s not all! There’s also a strict syllable count. Lines three, six, and nine have seven syllables and all the rest have six. The result is a somewhat choppy rhythm that really bugs the crap out of me. Okay, maybe it’s the syllable count that bugs me. Could be the restrictive syllable count is what makes it choppy.

At any rate, while researching All Saints’ Day I came across the term Allhallowtide. Also known as the Triduum of Death, it spans October 1 through November 2 and consists of All Saints’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day (Hallowmas), and All Souls’ Day. Awesome - three days, three stanzas.

I have to admit, I’m not happy with the way this poem turned out. Like I said, the form makes it choppy and I found the syllable counts very limiting. However, it is what it is. Maybe some day I’ll re-do the poem and forget about the form.


Allhallowtide

Fires of bone light the night -
year’s dark half now in sight -
end of harvest, feast with kin;
watch mummers in the streets
in disguise - give them treats.
Fortunes are told, fate to win.
Deter the spirits ill,
draw the good and we will
survive Samhain with our skin.

Hallowmas is when we
honor saints faithfully,
their lives and deaths, famed or not -
and give God solemn due
for all He’s done for you.
Honor too those who have brought
the light to other souls
sharing the Christian goals -
give thanks for all you have got.

All Soul’s Day is the last
for honoring the vast
list of purgatory souls.
You dress in black and roam,
peal out a mournful tone
and hope to fill up your bowl.
For each soul cake you eat
a soul’s released to seek
its way - heaven is its goal.