Friday, October 20, 2017

A Place of Your Own

First of all, I’d like to remind you that you’ve only got a week left to come up with a story for this month’s picture prompt. And in case you also need a reminder of what the picture was, you can find it HERE. I’m hoping to get my story done this know, in all my spare time. ;-)

As you know, or maybe if you’re new here you don’t, I’m in the midst of The Great Office Shuffle - I’m moving my office to the smaller room across the hall. Pretty much everything from my old desk and the filing cabinets is in boxes stacked in corners or in the small storage closet. I moved the hubby’s electronic equipment over onto the desk and dismantled his old work space. And that’s pretty much where things stand at the moment. I can’t do much else until my new desk is in place.

I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have to wait until this weekend to set up my new desk. Apparently I was wrong.

I had just started getting into the habit of writing at my desk before I started the Shuffle. But not only was I unable to use my new desk this past week, I also couldn’t use my old desk - it’s covered in “stuff” that won’t have a home until I get my new office set up. I was actually kind of surprised at how much I missed it.

It’s important for a writer to have a space of their own in which to write. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a room of my own, but not everyone is that lucky. So what do you do if you don’t have that kind of space?

A desk in a corner of the living room or basement would work. The bedroom is a good choice because you can close the door to keep interruptions to a minimum. A screened in porch could be winterized so it can be used year round. I know one writer who turned a large closet into their work space. If space is an issue you can use the kitchen or dining room table. And there’s always the option of writing in a coffee shop.

Roald Dahl, George Bernard Shaw, and Dylan Thomas wrote in a sheds. Agatha Christie came up with her plots while in the bathtub. Gertrude Stein wrote in her car. Maya Angelou liked to rent a hotel room to write in. Truman Capote, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, and Marcel Proust all wrote in the comfort of their beds. Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up at their desks.

The important part about having a space of your own is that once you start using it on a regular basis, your brain will realize that when you’re sitting there it’s time to write. And that can only lead to being a more productive writer.

This week’s excerpt is from Wandering Wizards, the third installment in my Moonstone Chronicles series. There have been a few signs that there’s trouble brewing, and this scene, taking place during a class in divination, only confirms it.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

“Try again, Horace,” Paranithel encouraged gently.

Dutifully Horace scooped up the stones and placed them back in the velvet bag. Paran was pleased to note the boy remembered the cleansing spell, to alleviate any negative energy, before he started gain.

“Remember to focus on the question you wish answered.”

“Maybe you should focus on whether or not you’ll pass this class,” one of the other boys snickered.

Paranithel rapped his cane sharply on the ground. “That will be quite enough of that!” His voice gentled as he gave Horace an encouraging nod. “Go ahead.”

Face fierce with concentration, Horace slowly dipped his hand into the bag and stirred. He pulled five stones out at random and cast them onto the table in front of him. All five fell with the symbol marking them facing down towards the table.

There were murmurs from the boys and tears filled Horace’s eyes. “I focused, I really did!”

“I’m sure you did, boy.” Paranithel patted his shoulder. “These things happen when the stones have no answer to give. Garnet, why don’t you have a try?”

A little nervously, Garnet approached the table. She took the bag of stones Horace offered her, smiling slightly in thanks. Taking a deep breath, she cast the cleansing spell and then focused on her question. Dipping into the bag, she pulled out five stones and cast them on the table. One again they all landed face down.

“Most curious,” Paranithel murmured, looking over her shoulder. Rather than have Garnet try again he nodded to the next student. “Warner, you give a try.”

Warner swaggered up to the table and took the bag from Garnet. “Let me show you how it’s done,” he boasted. He made an elaborate show of the cleansing spell, shaking the bag and casting the spell again for good measure. Finally he reached in and cast his stones. For all his theatrics, his also fell face down.

Paranithel had to bite back a chuckle at the boy’s crestfallen face. Warner was one of those students who sometimes needed to be taken down a peg or two.

“Maybe the stones need to be re-energized,” one of the students suggested.

“Perhaps, perhaps,” Paranithel agreed, although that was not how the stones worked. “But it is plain we’ll get no answers from them today. Class dismissed.”

Murmuring amongst themselves, the students picked up their notebooks and filed out of the room. When the last student was gone, Paranithel reached into his pocket and pulled out the small box that held his Tarot cards.

Lifting them from their silk wrapping, he did his own cleansing spell and began to shuffle. While the cards were capable of being more specific than the stones, he focused on the future and what it held. Done shuffling, he laid the cards out in a spread.

For a long moment he stared at the cards in front of him. Too many reversals, too many swords, all leading to an uncertain future. With a sigh he gathered them up again. He needed to talk to Thackery again. But before he did that, perhaps he would have a chat with Aracelia to see if the elves were experiencing similar problems.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


The idea for this poem came from a prompt from Brazen Snake Books. If you’re looking for inspiration, you really should check them out. There are new prompts, both poetry and prose, each Monday. And if you don’t see one you like off the bat, scroll down for heaven’s sake! There’s sure to be one in an earlier post.

This one was from October 9 and said: Write a poem from the perspective of a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. How cute is that? I just couldn’t resist. :-D

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *


Here’s a nut, there’s a nut,
what’s under this big leaf?
Watch out it might be a trap -
it’s not, to my relief.

I’ll put it here, I’ll put it there
then look around for more.
Winter’s coming - hurry, hurry
build up the winter store.

Run and pause, run and pause,
nose twitching in the breeze -
chitter at the cat below -
he’s such fun to tease.

Careful, careful, have a care
upon the wire high -
a better way to cross the street
if you’re brave enough to try.

A trap, a trap, look out a trap!
In that garden there -
that human’s out to get you
though there’s plenty there to share.

Scurry, hurry, careful now
to the feeder just in reach
I see it’s filled with seeds today
oh, won’t those blue jays screech!

Jump and climb, climb and jump
move from tree to tree -
race through leaves and branches,
chirp out loud in glee.

Home again, home again
my nuts are safe inside
the hollow tree I call my home -
this stash a source of pride.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Writer’s Brain and the Great Debate

Short Fiction - 250
Long Fiction - 1443
Poetry - 302
Total Words - 1995
Editing Hours -0
Paragraphs of Notes - 7

Here’s where that “honest about my writing, or lack thereof” comes back to bite me in the ass. As you can see, my numbers weren’t all that great last week, although I did manage to produce a brand new poem. However, you may have also noticed I skipped both blog posts on Friday.

This give and take of words pretty much sums up the rest of the week. There are things I need to add to Wandering Wizards in order to move forward with it, but I keep changing my mind about what and where to add them. I’ll write out a scene and then change it and change it and change it and then delete it. I’m starting to see the benefits of plotting things out ahead of time.

At the very least there’s one scene that needs to be added to the end of the last chapter I wrote, but every time I think I’ve nailed it I get writer’s brain. You know, where this little voice in your brain tells you that something doesn’t sound quite right, but if you make this change it would be perfect, even though it means having to go back and change a bunch of other stuff leading up to it? And the worst part about writer’s brain is, it’s usually right.

And it doesn’t help that it’s that time of year again. November is fast approaching and I’m caught up in the debate of will I won’t I do NaNoWriMo. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month, go HERE - it’ll save me a really long-winded explanation.

I’ve been doing NaNo for many years now. I have 9 unfinished novels to prove it. Actually, make that 8 of them - Lucky Dog started out as a NaNo novel and I actually finished that one. I skipped it a couple of years ago, breaking my streak of seven years in a row, and I really missed it. And I noticed the NaNo widget to the right (that I was too lazy to remove) has reset itself, all ready for this year. I didn’t even know it could do that.

There are two things I wanted to have happen before I threw my hat into the NaNo ring. One, I wanted to have the draft of Wandering Wizards finished, and two, I wanted to be able to write at my new desk in my new office.

While I’m confident I’ll be able to write at my new desk by November 1, I know for certain I won’t have Wandering Wizards finished. If I’m going to even consider doing NaNo this year, I need to at least knock off a big chunk of it. Therefore, my goal is to do 5,000 words this week. Let’s face it, if I can’t do 5,000 in one week, there’s no way I’ll be able to manage almost 12,000 words a week (1,667 a day) during NaNo.

So let’s meet back here next week to see how I did, shall we? If this doesn’t motivate me to write, I don’t know what will!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

To NaNo, Or Not to NaNo

Okay, for those of you who don't know any better, NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month which takes place all over the world for the month of November. You can find out more about it HERE.

This is actually a new poem for a change, written in the form of a parody. And in case you flunked high school English, it's a parody of the famous soliloquy from Hamlet, To Be, Or Not to Be. :-D

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

To NaNo or Not to NaNo

To NaNo, or not to NaNo--that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to write
For thirty days without stopping for breath
Or to just not bother trying at all
So as to avoid failure. To write, to sleep
No more--and by a sleep we say pass out
From utter exhaustion, pen and paper in hand
Unable to let go. ‘Tis a decision
Not to be taken lightly. To think, to write--
To write--perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that writing what great ideas may come
When we write without looking back,
It gives one pause. There’s the website
That makes a community of strangers.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of this experience
Where there are no judges, just writing
And struggles with the muse, the word counts,
The de-railing of thoughts with LOL cats and
The society of write-ins, and the frenzy
Of word wars that weed out the unworthy,
When all you want is a quiet hour
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a heavy pen,
But that the dread of some weird plot twist,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, screws up your story line,
If not your word count so that you start padding
Your prose and your novel becomes you know not what?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And you start to edit even though
Time is running out and you should be adding words
Not deleting them and your plot has disappeared
Under the stroke of the red pen. But persistence
Is key here -- Keep writing -- For in the end
You will have written an entire novel in thirty days,
And you and your book shall be remembered.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hey, Wagon, Wait Up!

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 1596
Poetry - 322
Total Words - 1918
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

I may have written a few more words, but I didn’t keep track of them. But yeah, I pretty much fell off the writing every day wagon last week. And I don’t even have a good excuse lined up, other than I’m still fighting my sinus cold.

Now as to why I got no writing done over the weekend, I have excuses coming out the wazoo. Saturday I had a pile of errands to run, many of which took me out of town, and Sunday I was re-organizing closets plus I had the family dinner for Thanksgiving.

And then there was this:

This is what I’ll be dealing with today instead of writing. One of these days this is going to be my new office. That day will not be today, nor will it be tomorrow. If I’m real lucky, maybe by the end of next weekend.

That whole desk like area has to be cleaned off and the stuff on it and in it relocated. That big sheet covered thing is my desk, and I’m not quite sure where I want it. Facing the window for sure, but right under the window? Halfway back from the window? Turned so it’s edgewise to the window? I have no idea.

Then of course there’s the stuff from my old desk to bring over, which I can’t really do until my new desk is in its place. And most of the stuff from the desk area in the work room will be going on the old desk, which needs to be cleaned off first. You see my problem?

Oh, yeah, and I’ll be bringing the narrow book case over from the current office to replace the white one. And don’t forget that futon needs to be dismantled. And that white blanket? Yeah, you can’t tell from the picture, but it’s not really white any more. It’s mostly dark grey. I put the blanket on the futon to keep the cat hair off it, but the cat likes to sleep under the blanket. Needless to say, add cleaning the cat hair off the futon to my list.

All I have to keep in mind is the big picture - which is the satisfaction of sitting behind my dream desk in my new writing space.

Then all that will be left is the writing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Prompt Me - Cat

Someone requested a "happy picture" for the prompt for a change, but seeing as it's October, it's not going to happen this month. ;-)

There's a lot going on in this picture - you've got a full moon, geese in flight, lots of atmosphere, and of course a black cat. But maybe there's something else, something you can't see. Who, or what, is the cat looking at? With Halloween fast approaching, this is the perfect chance to let your imagination run wild.

The challenge is to come up with something creative inspired by the above picture - a story, a poem, or even a non-fiction article. I'd love to see what you come up with, and if you send it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com by Thursday, October 26, I'll post it here on the 27th. Please try to keep it to 1,000 words or less and if I get more pieces than will fit comfortably in a single blog post, I'll post them over a couple of days.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


This is exciting for me. It’s not often I come across a new form these days but during a somewhat fruitless search for a different form I stumbled across this one. The Dinggedicht is a German form that means literally: poem of things. Points if you’re able to pronounce it. LOL

It’s similar to the Ekphrasis, which is a poem based on another work of art, but in this case it’s the mood, or inner being of the object that’s being written about. And it is not restricted to works of art, the poem is formed by observation of images in the world around you, expressed symbolically; the subject can be drawn from everyday life or current events.

You’d think, considering there’s no rhyme or syllable count, this would be any easy poem to craft. It’s not. It can be very difficult to capture the mood or inner essence of something, which made settling on a subject even more difficult. I’m hoping the subject of my poem would have been obvious even without the title.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Global Warming
The wind scatters your denials
flinging them back at you
ripping your objections up by the roots
only to crush them into splinters.

The siren call of the sea
becomes strident, irritated,
hurling epithets as it slams the shore,
not stopping there but crawling inward
to reclaim the already saturated land
while ignoring the parched earth elsewhere.
The land shudders, heaves, rips apart -
reconfigures itself with no rhyme nor reason.

Fueled by the hot, dry wind
the inferno devours everything in its path
scouring the surface
abrading the skin of the land
until all that is left is ash.

Deny it though you may
the truth is out there
staring you in the face.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

If you’d like to learn more about the Dinggedicht I suggest one of the following links:
Ada's Poetry Alcove
The Collagist
All Poetry

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to No Schedule

Short Fiction - 495
Long Fiction - 2724
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 3219
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 3

Not bad, not bad, but I could have done much better. I have to be honest here and admit that most of those words happened on Saturday.

I had great plans to finish my bridge story on Friday during nap time (the grandbaby’s, not mine), but although I took my lap top with me to the daughter’s house and remembered the power cord, I forgot the mouse. And seeing as the first thing I did with that lap top was disable the track pad, it didn’t exactly help me access anything.

But Saturday was a good day to write. It started at the local library where I finished my story then went on to write about 1,000 words (two different scenes) on Wandering Wizards. Got some more words in when I went home but then I had to go to Wal-Mart to get some rolls for dinner and came back with the new Lynsay Sands book.

I tried not to read it, I really did, but I figured I deserved a reward after all that writing I did so I cracked it open Saturday night and finished it late Sunday afternoon. And by cracked I mean opened. I would never crack the spine on a book!

When I first started this blog I said I wasn’t going to stick to a schedule. I think that was about the time I just finished serializing Elemental Earth so I was feeling a little jaded about the whole thing. Take my advice, if you have the desire to serialize a novel, write it first then serialize it. You’ll save yourself a whole lot of time and trouble.

At one point I think I was serializing two novels at the same time, plus doing a flash fiction each Friday, plus a new poetry form each week (can’t remember what day), and a series of non-fiction pieces on another day. It gets wearing after a while. I remember with the flash fiction I’d spend almost as much time trying to come up with an idea as I did working on the actual story. And I started to hate those poetry forms. It was just too much.

At any rate, what I’ve learned over the past few years is that as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, I actually like schedules. Maybe not quite the strict schedules I was following before, but something a little looser.

I stopped posting writing updates on my regular blog because it’s for, well, regular stuff. Although I do post the repeat of my poetry there on Fridays because people seem to like my poetry. I do an update of what’s going on in my life on Mondays, and because health has become such a big issue with me lately, I’m thinking of adding some kind of health/fitness post on Wednesdays. Probably not until the new year though.

Over here I’ve been doing the wordage report on Mondays, to keep me honest about my writing progress (or lack thereof), something poetic on Wednesdays (the first Wednesday of the month is always a poetry form), and fiction on Fridays - sometimes a prompt (always on the first Friday of the month), sometimes a flash story (or two), and sometimes an excerpt.

If that’s not a schedule, I don’t know what is. :-D

So it looks like I have to change my little manifesto on the side bar, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for a new poetry form and on Friday for October’s picture prompt.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

One More Bridge

Okay, I know I said I was going to make you wait for two weeks for my story, but it kind of felt like cheating. I guess for future reference, if I'm lucky enough to get more than one story for my picture prompt, if I feel they'll take up too much space on a single post, I'll post stories on consecutive days. i.e. A story a day until I run out. So, without further ado, here's my bridge story:

The Bridge of Lost Tomorrows

By Carol R. Ward

When Corrine was nine years old she went looking for a magical bridge. She searched the woods behind her granny’s house, sure that if the bridge was anywhere it would be there. When she failed to find it, she went further afield. Which is how she got lost.

“The bridge of lost tomorrows don’t just appear for anybody,” her granny had told her. “It’s one of the lost magics of the world. It only appears to those with the need.”

Young Corrine figured she had the need sure enough. Her granny had gone, left this life for the next, and more importantly, she’d left Corrine behind. Corrine felt lost without her granny.

“If I had a dollar for every fool who got lost chasing down dreams in the woods...” the ranger who found her told her mother. He’d meant it kindly, like it was no big deal, but it had been a big deal to her mother.

“I just wanted to say goodbye,” Corrine had told her. Her mother said almost reluctantly that she understood - Corrine had been very close to her granny - but it didn’t stop her from confining her to the house for the rest of the summer.

But that had been a long time ago. They’d moved away from the woods at the end of the summer and as far as Corrine’s mother was concerned that was the end of it. She’d never paid much attention to Granny’s stories and soon forgot all about them, even the ones about the bridge. But Corrine never did.

Now her need was even greater, her love stronger. An accident took her Jared from her too soon, too soon. It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair.

She parked at the side of the road and just sat there for a moment.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked, looking at herself in the rear view mirror.

After the accident well meaning friends told her. “You won’t always feel like this, it’ll get better. Just give it time.”

Well she’d given it time, she’d given it five long years, and it hadn’t gotten better. If anything, the emptiness inside her had grown worse.

“Yes,” she decided. “I’m sure I want to do this.”

Leaving the car in the shade of a towering oak tree, Corrine stepped into the woods. It was cool and somehow soothing under the trees, the air full of the smell of green, growing things. A long time ago she knew the names of all the trees - oak, pine, maple, beech, birch, ash. Granny had taught her.

There was no trail, but then she hadn’t expected one. What was it Granny said? “It’s not a path you follow with your feet, it’s one you follow with your heart.”

A few birds twittered up in the canopy, squirrels jumped from branch to branch chasing each other, stopping occasionally to chitter angrily at her intrusion. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves overhead while the ones under her feet crunched as she walked.

Corrine plodded forward. She had no idea where she was but that didn’t matter. This time there’d be no one to come looking for her. This time she wasn’t going to fail.

Squinting up at the sun, diffused through the trees, she tried to judge the time. It was still high in the sky and she figured it was early afternoon.

“What’s the best time to see the bridge?” she’d asked.

“Best time to see it is when it appears. Might be morning, might be evening. The bridge is timeless.”

Corrine paused to take a drink from her water bottle and used the back of her hand to wipe the dampness from her brow. Everything looked the same. For all she knew she was going around in circles. She blinked back tears of frustration.

“This is never going to work,” she muttered.

She glanced around and then stepped into a patch of sunlight. Lifting her face up to the sun she closed her eyes and let the warmth fill her. Corrine cleared her mind.

“Did you ever see the bridge?”

“Yes I did,” her granny said softly. “Just once.”

“But you’re still here.”

“That’s because I was too scared to cross it. It’s the biggest regret of my life.”

Her mind pictured Jared - Jared laughing, Jared frowning, Jared happy, Jared sad - Jared in all of his moods. She remembered the warmth of his touch, how safe she felt in his arms. Corrine opened her eyes and began to move forward. This time with confidence.

The sky had begun to darken but the trees started to thin out so there was still plenty of light. Then suddenly there it was. The bridge of lost tomorrows. She knew it immediately.

It was made of wood, held together with rope, and spanned a great chasm. She couldn’t tell how deep the chasm was because of the mist that started to form. It swirled below the bridge and shrouded the far side. There seemed to be a shape on the other side, almost like a person waiting, but Corrine couldn’t be sure.

“The most important thing with the bridge,” Granny said, “Is that it’s an act of faith.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one knows for sure what’s on the other side - no one who’s crossed has ever come back.”

“Then how do they know the bridge takes them to where or when they want to be?”

“A body has to believe that it will.”

The shape in the mist grew more distinct, the form almost familiar.

Corrine stepped forward.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Bridge

I have a fabulous Fiction Friday in store for you. Being the last Friday of the month it’s time for the writing results from the picture prompt posted at the beginning of the month. I have not one, but two stories inspired by my bridge picture. Okay, technically there’s three of them, but you’re only getting two of them today. I didn’t want to overwhelm you. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It has nothing to do with the fact I haven’t quite finished my own yet. ;-)

As always, we begin with a repeat of the picture:

First up we have a flash story by Jamie DeBree. It’s been sitting in my inbox for weeks now because I refused to read it before I finished my own. Trust me, it was well worth the wait.

Darkness & Light

by Jamie DeBree

The rope felt rough and splintery in my tight grip as I stood at the edge of the rickety wooden bridge. It was one of those defining moments in life - the ones where you know that once you make the decision to move, you can never go back. Nothing will ever be the same.

I could still see them in the mist, but barely. If I ran, I might be able to catch up. Or I might fall through one of the rotted out boards and find out just exactly how deep this cursed ravine really was. Probably right before I died.

"Go big or go home," I muttered, taking one last look at my rickety fate. Took a deep breath, and then ran, a kind of zig-zag-jog as I tried to keep my feet on the outer edges of the bridge, where it was still mostly supported by those old, fraying vines. My hands slid across the vibrating ropes, collecting splinters and I used the pain to fuel my sprint. My pulse was pounding in my ears, adrenaline pulling me forward even when chips and chunks of wood fell out from under my feet.

The fog engulfed me and I could no longer see my prey, but still I ran, knowing I couldn't give up, couldn't let them win.

Darkness materialized beside me, like he'd been there all along. He grimaced, knowing I had to stop Light from leaving, though I'd embraced Darkness not so long ago. Our exclusive dalliance had been just that, but it was over. I couldn't commit to just one of them, as he wished me to do.

My second target shined through the mist, and I pushed harder, running faster, knowing the Light couldn't hurt me like it could Darkness. I had to catch him. Had to keep him from leaving us.

Darkness fell behind as I continued on, the burning in my lungs not so bad anymore. The shine grew brighter, and hurt my eyes as the mist began to fall away.

"Stop, please!" I called to Light. "You can't go! We need you!" I couldn't see him, but I felt his warmth. Knew he could hear me where he was.

"You freed Darkness from his dungeon," he said, his voice smooth and calm. "We each need our own space - you know that. If he's allowed to run free, I must leave. 'Tis the way of all things."

I nodded. "I know. And I'm sorry. I never should have opened that lock. But I did, and now I need your help. Please don't leave me."

Light hesitated. "You'll get rid of the Darkness?"

I thought about that for a long moment. "No," I replied. "I don't think you can exist without each other, and I can't go on without you both. But I will put him back in his place, and make sure he stays there, with your help."

The mist seemed to flicker, and then slowly dissipated. The bridge swayed slightly, the ropes rasping my palms yet again as Light's figure finally appeared, his brilliance toned down so I could see his visage. I looked back, and Darkness was there too, waiting.

My heartbeat slowed, my tension drained, and I took a long breath into my lungs. Everything would be okay now.

Until Darkness enticed me to let him out again.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Next I received this story by C.L. Hannah. One of the things I love about these prompt stories is that we work from the same picture but come up with totally different stories. I hope these ladies take up the challenge for October as well.

Never Gone

by C. L. Hannah

Misty air dances over my face as I sit on a tree stump. Above, mosquitoes buzz around my head like angry bees yet the birds are mysteriously silent. My stomach growls; I haven’t eaten since before the funeral yesterday.

Pushing to my feet, I wipe the dampness from my pants and think about all the empty platitudes that were pressed on me as people made their ways out of the church. She’s in a better place. There’s a reason for everything. You can still have another child. I know how you feel. And of course the easily said, be strong.

They have no idea, I think, rolling my eyes. No understanding of the gut wrenching pain that entered my soul the moment my darling daughter left me. No understanding of how difficult it is to just get out of bed in the mornings nor how draining it is just remembering how to breathe.

No. No one understands. Shifting my weight from foot to foot, I wonder if I’ll ever be whole again. Will I ever stop hurting?

The drone of a distant plane momentarily distracts me and I look heavenward, searching for the offender that dares to interrupt my mourning.

The plane is probably off to some sunny location with a cabin full of happy, excited people, I think, grinding my teeth. I bet if they knew what I do, they’d not have chosen to be on that plane but rather to be at home with their loved ones safely tucked behind locked doors.

Lowering my eyes, I stare across the bridge and wonder for the millionth time, why? Why did this happen? Why did Sydney insist on showing me her dance moves here?

This is all my fault. I’m the adult. I should have known better. But Sydney’s smile melted my reluctance and I wanted her to be happy, so I just stood there and watched as she danced her way off the side of the bridge, to her death in the gorge below.

Sitting back down on the stump, I dig my heels into the damp ground making a hole. I wonder if I can make a big enough one so I can crawl into it and die.

“Don’t think like that Momma.”

Snapping my head up, I search for the source of the words. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me Momma. Don’t you recognize your own daughter?”

“You can’t be.” My heart races as my eyes flick through the shifting, fog shadows. “My Sydney died two weeks ago.”

“No I didn’t Momma. I just changed forms, that’s all. Come. Come to me and you’ll see.”

Squinting into the fog I think I see something take shape about half way across the bridge. Could it be? Is it true?

Jumping to my feet I rush toward the bridge then pause. Am I losing it? This can’t be happening and yet, I heard her, so it must be.

Taking a deep breath, I start across the bridge. The fog gets thicker the further out I go, until I can barely make out the wooden slats beneath my feet.

“Where are you?”

“You’re almost to me Momma. Keep coming, you’re almost here.”

I feel like I’m pushing through a door with my next step. The fog is now so thick that even the bugs have been silenced.

“Almost Momma. Almost.”

Taking another step I reach out my hand and hold onto the railing for support.

“That’s it Momma, now turn and look at the beautiful scenery below.”

Turning as directed, I feel my foot start to slip, but the scenery below, suddenly clear of fog, catches my attention. It’s not until my foot is dangling in mid air that I realize the voice isn’t my daughter’s but an evil imitation of it. I try to pull my foot back but as I do the other one slips and I find myself hanging off the side of the bridge. Only my grip on the railing stands between me and death.

“What are you waiting for Momma?” the evil imitation voice, sing songs. “Don’t you want to see me?”

“You are not my daughter,” I say, struggling to hold onto the railing. “You’re nothing. My daughter is dead. Gone.”

“Yes she is.” The imitation voice, now a loud hiss, agrees. “But you keep blaming yourself so I thought I’d help you out and have you join her. All you need to do is let go. Free yourself Momma. Let go and join your daughter.”

I think about the suggestion for a nano second before it hits me that if I do let go then I’ll never see another sunrise or sunset. I’ll never again hear birds singing or coyotes calling and I’ll never have the chance of being a Momma again.

“No!” I struggle to pull myself back onto the bridge. “This is not how it ends.” Pulling up with my arms, I wiggle my hips back onto the bridge and shimmy backwards until I’m safely in the middle. “This however, ends here, now. I miss my angel with my whole heart but it is not time for me to join her.”

Standing, I run off the bridge and slide through the fallen leaves to my car. Turning the ignition on, I slam the car into reverse and look in the rear view mirror. Sitting there, where her car seat used to be, is Sydney. She’s smiling.

“I told the devil you wouldn’t fall for it Momma. I told him that you’re stronger then he thinks and that you have more to live for then he can imagine. I’m proud of you Momma.”

My tears distort Sydney’s appearance but I know in my heart that it’s truly her this time.

“I love you so much baby girl. I’m so sorry I didn’t reach you in time.”

“You weren’t supposed to reach me Momma. It was my time to go to heaven. Please don’t be sad. There is still so much for you to do here. We will be together one day but until that day arrives, live Momma, live. You have so many opportunities coming your way, don’t miss them because you’re sad. I’m still part of you, not like before but still, part of you. I promise.”

“Thank you baby girl. I’ll make you proud of me. I promise.”

Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and feel the pain that has held me hostage for the past two weeks suddenly shatter. A lightness seeps into my chest and I feel warm. Looking at my own image in the mirror, I wipe the dampness from my cheeks and smile. I’m going to be OK.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Don’t forget to check back next Friday for October’s picture prompt. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired as well. And the Friday after that I’ll be posting my own story - I hope it’ll be worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

High School High Jinks

You know, just because I haven’t been posting recently written poems in my passion for poetry posts doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing anything new. I’ve been writing a least a poem a week for the Brazen Snake Books prompts and I somehow think it’s cheating to use them here as well. That’s not to say the poetry muse doesn’t strike at other times as well, but these poems are either too personal or too unfinished to use.

Which means once again I’m dipping into the poetry vault, this time coming up with a couple of poems I wrote in high school. Oh, the memories . . .

Between Classes

I’m sitting alone
on the stairs
basking in the silence.
Suddenly, the sharp
ring of a bell
and the thunder begins.
Doors open and
people begin to pour out.
Lockers bang and
feet assault the floors.
Voices chatter and
people jostle on another
on their way
to heaven-knows-where.
Less than ten minutes
have passed.
Then once again,
As I sit alone
on the stairs
basking in the silence.

Goodbye Teens

Slips of paper
with parts of poems
tear stained pillows
fights on the phone
pictures of people
whose names have been lost
drawings of summer
or winter’s bright frost
what’s left of the tickets
of movies you seen
sad secret smiles
for the dreams you once dreamed
old faded blue jeans
hung up for good
saddened goodbyes
to your lost teen-hood.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Flashing My Stuff

Short Fiction - 593
Long Fiction - 2295
Poetry - 324
Total Words - 3212
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

Well, if there’s one good thing about the heat wave we’re under right now, it’s that it makes it easier to work in my office. Not the new one, the old one. It’s on the north side of the house with a big tree in front of the window, which means it’s nice and cool in the morning. And I actually am finding it easier to get into the routine of writing in my office first thing in the morning.

Except this morning. Being cooler also means the office is dimmer, and this morning I needed some light to energize myself. So here I am in the living room with the view of the deck, and a fan oscillating in my direction. However, the downside of using the fan is that it tends to make my throat sore and exacerbate the cold I came down with at the end of last week. And though I started taking my magical herbal cure at the first sniffle, this cold quickly surpassed the herbs’ ability to combat it. This has been one heck of a year for colds for me

I spent a lot of time on poetry last week. If you’ve ever written poetry, then you should know it can be every bit as time consuming as a short story. The poem I wrote for the Brazen Snake Books prompt was easily twice as long as the finished product. I kept creating and discarding verses, and changed the focus of the woman’s ire. Click on the Brazen Snakes link above if you’re curious about the completed poem.

I did not, however, finish the story I’m writing for my picture prompt. Finding the balance for flash fiction can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you want to tell a complete story, but on the other hand, you want to keep it short. While I really like my story idea, it keeps spiralling out of control. Typically, anything under 2,000 words is considered flash fiction, although it’s more often under 1,500 words. I try to keep mine around 1,000 words.

I read a lot of flash fiction, and in fact I get a flash story delivered to my in-box every week day morning. It’s usually the perfect length to read while I’m having breakfast. And while I’ve read some great stories, I’ve also read some disappointing ones. Some people just don’t seem to get the concept of flash fiction and I have to wonder who they know that they’re able to get published.

A list is not flash fiction. An extended paragraph to set up a punch line is not flash fiction. An article, sermon, or obituary-like report on someone’s life is not flash fiction. And whenever I receive one of these in my in-box, I think I should try submitting a few stories to them because obviously they’re hard up to fill their space.

So what is flash fiction? Good flash should follow the same rules as any other fiction, whether it be long or short. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a point, a reason for it having been written. The best flash should linger in the mind long after the story has been read.

Flash is a great way to hone your craft. It teaches you to be succinct, to the point. Every word must have a purpose. You strip off the flesh and get to the bones of the matter. Out of necessity, the cast of characters will be limited and there will be no space to go into a lot of detail about them, their nature will be shown by what they say or do.

And there are many benefits to writing flash fiction. Your longer writing will become tighter. It will help establish a regular writing habit - it can feed your soul when you don’t know what to write about. Because it’s brief you can indulge in different genres or aspects you’ve never thought of trying before - romance, suspense, humour - without having to worry about keeping it up for pages and pages. It gives you the opportunity to let your imagination out for a stroll.

And as an added bonus, there’s a growing market for flash fiction. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little extra money? ;-)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fiction Friday
Wandering Wizards, At Last!

I finally got back to work on Wandering Wizards, the third installment of the Moonstone Chronicles. In fact, I wrote this whole chapter that needs to be inserted a few chapters ahead of where I actually left off in the book. Unfortunately, it needs a bunch of changes because it needs to agree with information in the other two books.

I actually had two separate things going on, but when I wrote it I had it as just one thing. Or maybe it’s not. I have to rethink at least half of that whole chapter. This is one of the drawbacks of being a pantser and publishing a series as you go along - you can’t go back and change stuff. Well, I guess you could, but it wouldn’t be fair to the people who’ve bought the first two books in paperback.

At any rate, that’s not the scene I’m going to share today. The scene I'm actually going to share is sort of the ripple effect result of the scene I’m still working on. Which is why it’s important I fix the other one.

To set this up ... Jessica and her friends are trapped in the sanctuary inside of one of the elven realms, surrounded by dark elves who don’t know they’re there. Howard and the others were investigating the reason why all communication appeared to have been cut off from this realm and were supposed to report back to Aracelia (Jessica’s elven grandmother). Jessica and Dominic ended up there when Howard nearly died from a dose of elf bane and needed Jessica’s magic to cure him.

(not the actual cover I’ll be using, just one I came up with for NaNoWriMo)

From chapter twenty...

“We need to get a message to Aracelia,” Ellen said. “She needs to know what’s going on, to warn the other elves.”

“I tried to summon a wind imp yesterday, but was unsuccessful,” Kaelan admitted. “Perhaps someone with more power...”

“No problem,” Jessica said, turning to root around in her pack. “I can contact her with my mirror.”

Once she had the mirror in her lap, however, she just sat there looking at it.

“What’s the matter?” Dominic asked.

She looked over at him. “It’s just...” she bit her lip as she hesitated. “This will be the first time I’ve spoken to her since our blood relationship has come to light.”

“You nit,” Howard chided her. “She’s thrilled about you being her granddaughter. And we could tell she was really unhappy about keeping the truth from you.”

“If you say so,” Jessica said dubiously. Deciding it was best to just get it over with, she held the mirror a little more firmly and chanted the activation incantation, then waved her free hand in front of it.

She frowned when nothing happened and tried again.

“Shouldn’t something be happening?” Ellen asked.

“Yes something should be happening, it just isn’t,” Jessica snapped. She tried a third time with no better luck. “Maybe I’m getting the incantation wrong. Here, you try.” She thrust the mirror towards Dominic who snatched it out of her hand to avoid being jabbed in the midsection.

“What makes you think I’d have better luck than you?” he asked. “You’re the one with all the power, I’m just the muscle.”

“But you know more about magic than I do, and I just worked a major healing,” she said, gesturing towards Howard.

Dominic sighed, but did as she asked, unsurprised when he had no better luck that she had.

“This can’t be good,” Ellen said. “Maybe it’s broken.”

“Or maybe something’s interfering with its magic,” Kaelan said slowly. “Perhaps the changes the dark elves have made to the barrier are blocking your magic.”

“Like a jamming signal,” Howard suggested. “It makes sense. If there were any stray elves hiding out, they wouldn’t want them to be able to tell anyone on the outside what’s going on.”

“Okay, so how do we get in touch with Aracelia?”

“You need to boost the signal,” Ellen said. “Like on Star Trek.”

Jessica rolled her eyes. “That is so not helpful. This isn’t a T.V. show - I can’t just tell Scottie to give me more power.”

“What about this?” Howard asked, pulling the moonstone pendant from his shirt.

“What about it?”

“It was made by the elves, and it has ties to Aracelia. What if you used it with the mirror? I don’t know, wrap it around the handle or something. Maybe it would help boost the signal.”

Jessica looked at Dominic. “What do you think?”

He shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt to try.”

She took the chain from Howard and wrapped it around the handle of the mirror with the actual pendant resting on the back of it. Taking a deep breath, she tried the incantation again. This time there was a ripple in the glass.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Shadow On The Stone
by Thomas Hardy

While I really enjoy Thomas Hardy’s poetry, I have to admit I’ve never read any of his novels and I don’t believe I’ve read any of his shorter fiction either. Maybe one of these days I’ll look him up on Project Gutenberg . That site has everything. ;-)

In the meantime, for today’s passion for poetry I’d like to share my favourite Thomas Hardy poem. It was written shortly after the death of his first wife, Emma. He wrote a whole series of love poems for her, regretting how much they had grown apart in the later years of their marriage.

The Shadow On The Stone

I went by the Druid stone
That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
That at some moments fall thereon
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
Threw there when she was gardening.

I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
Though how do you get into this old track?’
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Readin’ and Writin’

Short Fiction - 762
Long Fiction - 2043
Poetry - 152
Total Words - 2957
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 3

Despite the fact my numbers are higher than they’ve been previously, I have to admit to being a little disappointed. Granted I had a few health issues going on last week, but there were several times when I had a choice between reading and writing and I chose reading. Yeah, I know. Bad author!

But there were a couple of steamy shifter books on the e-reader that were really hard to put down, and I started to really get into Stephen King’s The Dark Half. I love when his characters are writers. And if you’re writing under a pseudonym you really need to read this one.

The good news is, I’ve started a collection of military based romances on my Kindle that aren’t quite as riveting, and I finished The Dark Half and needed something a little more ordinary in the tree book department, so I’m reading a Regency Christmas anthology. Don’t judge. :-p

I surprised myself by not only writing a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt, but coming up with it early. The deadline is Friday at midnight and you can usually find me hard at work on it at 11 p.m. But this one was finished on Thursday! If you’re curious, you can read it HERE. And I thought it was pretty ironic that the day it was posted it was hazy in the morning, got hotter by lunch, and then some clouds started to roll in. Of course these clouds just rolled on by and it never cooled down, but still ...

I often get together with a writing friend on Saturday mornings for coffee and a thrift store run, but this weekend we brought our coffee in thermoses and packed a couple of lawn chairs in the car. We parked on the pier and sat in our chairs facing the harbour and pulled out our notebooks to write. I should clarify - Catherine wrote; I kept getting distracted. This is the view I had:

The water was so calm it looked like you could walk on it. There wasn’t even a hint of breeze. It was beautiful. There was a flock of seagulls on the other side of the barrier that keeps pedestrians from walking out to the lighthouse and even they were quiet. Then all of a sudden there was this loud splash as a huge fish leaped out of the water and smacked down again. He did this three times and then moved on to a different spot. He seemed to be making a circuit of the harbour - always leaping three times before moving on - and I couldn’t help but wonder what his deal was.

This was one of those times when I tried to bend the writing to my will, which never works and I really should have known better. I had my heart set on doing a story for the BSB prose prompt, but I could not for the life of me come up with a reason why someone would send hate mail to a weatherman when the weather was good and fan mail when the weather was bad. Of course now I have about three different ideas that would work, but it’s too late. LOL

Anyway, after spending way too much time getting nothing done on that I turned to my own prompt, the picture of the month. And started re-writing the story I’d already started from the beginning. A page or two into that I got a couple of ideas that I had to write down, so I abandoned my story and didn’t get back to it. And then it started getting freakishly hot so we packed it in.

So while I didn’t get the 12 pages written that Catherine did, I got enough accomplished that I don’t feel like I wasted my time. Next time I’d like to be better prepared - maybe with a clearer idea of what I want to work on. I kept thinking I should have taken my Neo with me and next time I will.

And sun screen. Lots of sun screen. ;-)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fiction Friday - The Wishing Stone

By the time I’m ready to write my wordage report on Monday, I should have a significant number of new words added to my current WIP, Wandering Wizards, just not yet. I have added a few hundred so far this week, but there’s not really enough for an excerpt. Instead of working on my WIP I got a jump start on the story for my picture prompt, and then I wrote a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt.

So once again I dipped into the vault, this time pulling out a story that is the first in a planned series of five stories revolving around a crystal necklace. I’m not sure why I abandoned it - I like what I have of it and I think I’ll be moving it up on my list of stories to return to in the future. And though it’s a series, each story is a stand-alone. While some of the characters know each other, the only real connection is the necklace.

At any rate, our heroine, Annalise, has had an incredible run of bad luck so her grandmother gives her the wishing crystal (without telling her what it is) and sends her off to the cabin no one in the family knows she has where she is supposed to fulfill her dream of becoming an author. Only the magic in the necklace manifests itself in ... unusual ways.

The Wishing Stone

The shriek of some animal dying rent the night. Like a switch being thrown, the night was suddenly still. The quiet lasted for several seconds and then the crickets began chirping again followed by the bull frogs.

All at once the night lost its magic. Annalise scrambled to her feet, suddenly chilled to the bone. She stumbled on the path back to the cabin. The moon was behind her now, casting ominous shadows. There was a rustling in the woods beside her. She halted, staring blindly into the underbrush.

The brush rustled again but she couldn’t tell which side of the path. She had the strangest feeling of being watched.

“Hello? Is someone there?”

A bird shot out of the brush, right across the path in front of her. Annalise gave a shaky laugh. Just a bird, nothing to get nervous about. She took another step up the path, stopping when she heard a growl.

“Whoever this is, this isn’t funny!”

Glowing, yellow eyes stared at her from the underbrush.

Annalise backed away a step, then another. Again she heard a low growl. The breeze shifted and the growl became something else. A cloud slid across the face of the moon, taking what little light there was with it.

More movement in the brush, coming closer. Almost before she realized what she was doing, Annalise turned and fled up the path towards the cabin. She could hear something behind her but was too terrified to look back to see what it was.

Sobbing with relief, she saw the cabin, just ahead. She was almost there when she tripped on a protruding root. Before she could scramble to her feet, whatever had been chasing her caught up to her. It landed on her back, planting her face in the dirt again. Her breath left her in a whoosh. Whatever it was it was large and heavy. It snuffled the side of her face and neck.

Rapid fire thoughts shot through her as she lay there, waiting to be torn apart. This was it, she was going to die. They’d find what was left of her body eventually and Grams would blame herself for sending her up here in the first place when really it was her own stupid fault for not being more careful. Or maybe the creature was going to drag her off and they’d never find her body and they’d always wonder what happened to her.

The creature, however, did not tear her apart but continued to snuffle the side of her face, her hair. Its breath blew out in harsh huffs. Her knees and hands started to sting where she’d tried to break her fall, she shifted minutely. The creature growled, low in its throat, but shifted as well.

Any relief she felt when its weight left her was short-lived as she felt herself being flipped over onto her back. No sooner had it done this than it was on her again. Though she struggled, he held her down easily. She could tell it was a man now, laying his full length on her to keep her still.

“What do you want?” she sobbed. “Why are you doing this?”

The moon slipped from behind the cloud and in that instant she could see the glowing yellow eyes and the long, furry muzzle with sharp, white fangs reaching for her. Annalise opened her mouth to scream.

She woke with a start, heart still pounding as though she really had been chased through the woods.

“I can’t believe I fell asleep at the typewriter.” She took a deep breath and let it out again.

Covering the typewriter for the night, she glanced at the pages she’d typed out earlier. Gathering them up, she tossed them into the fireplace.

“I’m thinking werewolves are just a little too paranormal for my taste,” she said. With a yawn she headed up the stairs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Poet Tree

About four years ago I was invited to join a group of poets who were giving eulogies to a tree. Yes, that’s right, a tree. This wasn’t a protest, this was saying goodbye to the last elm tree in Victoria Park before it was cut down. The occasion was even videoed and uploaded to YouTube. Good luck finding it. ;-)

Afterwards we tucked our poems beneath a string wound around the tree so that passersby could read them. I just recently saw in our local news that the first of several benches made from the wood of the tree are ready to be placed in the park. Apparently the wood needed to season before it could be used.

At any rate, this is the poem I came up with for the occasion:

The Poet Tree's Tale

Hear my tale that you may see
The dream I dreamed beneath this tree
Whose rich enchantment captured me;
While I was sitting in its lee.

There was a sweet tranquility
Of visions that were sent to me
By this majestic poet tree
Whose life is filled with history.

Ages of serenity
Years passed by in harmony
Such innocence and purity
It caught me up, then set me free.

"But peace no more," alleged the tree,
"The world has changed, and so have we.
Life is just uncertainty -
A storm is coming, wait and see."

"Earthquakes leave behind debris,
Earth and fire, wind and sea,
The heavens weep unnaturally,
For what is past and still to be."

"The warnings come by two and three
Ignored by those too blind to see.
And you, the guardians, meant to be
Abandoned us, ignore our plea."

And when I woke, beneath the tree
I wept for what would come to be
I wept for all life's frailty
And the dream I dreamed beneath this tree.

Monday, September 11, 2017

An Embarrassment of WIPs

New Words - 557 + 1051 + 617 + 397
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 2622
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 4

So ... despite last Monday being a holiday, I finally started to ease into that much needed writing schedule I’ve been yearning for. I wrote 500+ words on Monday, twice that on Tuesday, nothing except updating my journal (a week’s worth) on Wednesday, and Thursday ... Okay, Thursday I did park my butt in my office at the appointed hour, but that was it. And no poetry at all last week.

I did print out some stuff to work on during nap time (which didn’t happen - the writing, not nap time). I just kind of ground to a halt. The mind was willing but the fingers were weak. I got hit by a dose of writer’s apathy and I’m still struggling with it. And while I did lose three days to the writer’s apathy, I did start to rally on the weekend and get a few more words in.

But there’s another reason I didn’t get as much done as I could have last week and I can’t for the life of me decide if this is a good excuse or a really stupid excuse, but here goes. You be the judge:

I have too many projects to choose from.

I have a folder on the desktop of my computer that’s labeled Working On. In this folder is 28 document files - all stories that are in various stages of being done. Some just need a little tweeking, some need a lot of work. A couple are stories I started for the weekly BSB prompt and never got off the ground, but I want to finish anyway.

But wait! There’s more. There are also 8 sub-folders that contain a total of 143 files of stuff I’ve been working on. That’s a lot of WIPs to choose from, don’t you think? And that’s not even dipping into the folders on my desktop marked Books, Short Stories, or Poetry.

The Books folder, for instance, holds all of my NaNo efforts as well as folders for several different series I have plans for. Not just novels, but series of novels. I’ve completed the NaNoWriMo challenge 10 times and only 1 of those novels have seen the light of day. Shame on me! But it’s no wonder I’m not getting anything done, I have so many irons in the fire you can’t even see the fire.

So, what am I to do?

I’m going to change the name of the Working On folder to To Be Worked On and maybe even store it on a USB stick to remove temptation. I will create a new folder called Currently Working On for my desktop, and in it I will limit myself to no more than six WIPs, including the novel I’m hoping to have done in time for Christmas. And if I’m going to have a prayer of that happening, I’m going to have to seriously up my game.

Expect to see the New Words at the top of this post divided between Short Fiction and Novel next week. And it would really help if Book Bub would stop offering me so many good books to read. And maybe the new season of television could be put off for a couple of months.

And at this point I really have to wonder, what was I doing with all my time over the last few months?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fiction Friday - Forever and For Always

Though I have been getting back into my writing groove, it’s been short stories and bits and pieces, nothing I can really post an excerpt from. So today I’m offering a snippet from my first complete NaNo novel. And by complete I mean I completed the NaNo challenge with it, not that the novel itself is complete. There’s a couple of plot holes to fill and a massive amount of editing. But one of these days ...

In the meantime, this excerpt is from near the beginning. Our heroine has crashed on a planet and decided to do a bit of exploring a bit of exploring while her ship’s energy stores re-charge. In this scene she meets the man who will be the hero of the story. I was going to post a picture of my inspiration for his character, but it was NSFW, so you’re getting the cover I came up with instead. ;-)

The water fell from a height of about twenty feet, hitting the rocks framing it before tumbling into the river, which had widened into a pool at this point. A flat, stone slab formed part of the bank and Trez knelt on it to test the water. It was cool, but not as cold as she expected.

Sitting back on her haunches, she debated about going for a swim. Unlike most spacers, she knew how to swim and enjoyed it whenever she got the chance. She glanced around the sunlit glade. It seemed harmless enough.

Colourful butterflies flitted from one exotic bloom to the next. There was just a hint of a warm breeze causing the leafy fronds above to sway gently. The water was clear enough to see a handful of small, silvery fish darting after each other. The pond beckoned and she couldn’t resist any longer.

Standing up, she peeled off the ship suit and folded it neatly of the rock. Completely naked she eased herself into the water, gasping at the cool temperature. Taking a deep breath, she ducked under and swam out into the center of the pond.

Her head broke above water with a gasp. This was wonderful! Trez swam a few laps and then floated on her back, letting the current carry her away from the waterfall and the sun warm her up. Somersaulting in the water, she swam back over to the waterfall and climbed up on the rocks.

The rocks were a bit slippery, but she managed to find a fairly flat surface. She stood up and held her arms out, letting the water pound into her. Laughing, she turned in a circle. It was like getting a water massage.

When she grew tired of being pummeled by the waterfall she turned and took a running leap off the rocks. With a loud whoop that startled the nearby birds from the trees she landed with a splash in the center of the pond. She broke the surface with a laugh; she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had this much fun.

Trez started swimming laps again and when she grew tired she pulled herself out onto the sun drenched rock. She lay on her back and dozed, letting the sun dry her off. After about an hour she started to get an itchy feeling, like she was being watched.

She sighed, and stretched, then sat up and reluctantly pulled on her clothing. Taking her time, she surreptitiously glanced around, trying to locate the source of her feeling. Whatever was watching her, she didn’t think it was an animal. An animal would have attacked by now or moved on. It was probably some kind of humanoid, hopefully not an aggressive one.

“Okay,” she said in a loud voice. “You’ve had your fun. I know you’re out there, you might as well come out and show yourself.”

Turning, she faced the jungle. A rustling came from the place she was watching. It was lower to the ground than she expected, as though it was either a small person or someone low to the ground.

“It’s all right,” she said, crouching down. “I’m not going to hurt you. I enjoy making friends on new worlds.”


The voice came from the direction of the rustling and was definitely male. And if she was reading the nuances right, he was a very frightened male.

“It’s okay, really,” she cajoled. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The brush parted and slowly the creature approached. He was hunched over and moved with a shuffling gait, using both hands and feet, allowing him to stay close to the ground. Definitely humanoid, he was naked except for a thick collar around his neck. His long, blonde hair was matted and filthy, but the face he raised to her was the face of an angel.

“Do you have a name?” she asked gently.

He ducked his head. “Ape,” he said. “Me Ape.”

“It’s nice to meet you Ape. My name is Trez.”

“Friend Trez.”

“Close enough,” she smiled. “Are you all alone here Ape?”

Shaking his head vigorously, he didn’t answer. He darted a look at her, then hesitantly held out his hand. His offering was a large red blossom.

Trez smiled and took the flower from him. “Thank you, Ape. It’s beautiful.” She brought it up to her nose and gave a sniff. “Oh! The scent is–” she smelled it again. “I’ve never smelled anything like it in my life. It’s amazing.”

There was a flash of white teeth as Ape grinned at her before ducking his head again. Trez studied him curiously. She’d bet her last cargo he was human, but what happened to him? Had he been stranded here? Hurt? How long had he been like this?

Suddenly, he tensed as a woman’s voice was heard calling his name.

“Ape! Damn your worthless hide, where are you hiding?”

“Friend go. Friend hide,” he said emphatically, pointing away from the voice.

“Who’s that calling?” Trez asked. He seemed frightened; perhaps he’d strayed away and was afraid of getting into trouble. If that were the case she should stay to smooth things over. “Is she your friend too?”

If anything, he seemed even more agitated. “No friend. Bad!” He rocked back and forth in place. “Friend go!”

With that he pushed off with his hands and vanished back into the jungle moving surprisingly fast for someone who kept so close to the ground.

Trez rose to her feet. “Well that was – bizarre.” She gave the flower one last sniff and then tucked it in her hair. Gazing thoughtfully at the spot Ape had disappeared, she finally shrugged and turned away to put her shoes on.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Wednesday kind of snuck up on me. There I was making excellent progress on a story I was working on, when all of a sudden I realized I was supposed to be posting a poem.

And I was actually going to try to write something new for a change, only, well, it was midnight when I started this post and my brain was not fully in gear. In fact, it took several tries before I rooted out even an old poem to use.

I’m pretty sure I was around thirty when I wrote this poem, which is kind of funny when you consider the subject matter. But just to give you a little perspective on the way my mind works ... I have a sister who’s ten years older than me, so when she turned thirty I was only twenty and I thought thirty was positively ancient. She has never forgiven me for the hard time I gave her. LOL


If I could live another’s life, my world their point of view
Oh, how happy I could be to do the things they do.
Instead of drab existence, a life more richly led
A wish fulfillment fantasy - another’s path to tred.

If I could have the romance that others seem to find,
The passion everlasting, the closeness so divine
The happiness I would derive from such a life as this
Seems to me the best that I could ever hope to wish.

If I could find adventure, the kind others seem to find
How exciting life would be - a mystery to unwind
Flights of fancy lead me to far exotic lands
Filled with wondrous peoples and vistas ever grand.

If I could see the dreams I dream come to life at last
The way that others seem to do then when the dreaming’s passed
I could look back upon a life and see what others see
And feel the satisfaction, that dreaming caused to be.

If I could live my life once more now that I’m at the end
I’d live a life that’s real this time instead of one pretend.
I’d do the things I dream about and when my life is gone
There’d be no regrets, as there is now, for things I’ve never done.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Things and Stuff

New Words - 1052
Poetry - 177
Total Words - 1229
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes- 3

Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another. Last week was another week that was not conducive to writing, and I can’t even blame the hubby being on vacation. Actually, hubby being at home was a bonus because he was determined to barbeque every night, which meant he was doing half the cooking for dinners.

No, the culprit last week was all the extra babysitting so the son-in-law could spend time visiting his mother, who was in the hospital. I love my grandbaby, but she can be pretty exhausting. She may only be 2 ½ but she’s already a force of nature.

What surprised me the most about last week was I was able to get my blog posts done. Especially the Friday ones. Thursday I babysat from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and then Friday the hubby and I took the day off to go to the CNE, which you can read about HERE if you like.

Thank goodness for the prompts from Brazen Snake Books last week or I might not have anything to show for my week except a few paragraphs of notes for a story idea. The poetry prompt was to write a poem about something (anything) going bad, which came just at the right time for me.

I’d like to move my office across the hall to a sunnier room in the house, but in doing so I also need a smaller desk. I’ve always dreamed of one of those small, roll top desks with all the pigeon holes and secret drawers and such. So on a whim I did an online search and to my surprise I found one I could afford within driving distance. I emailed the seller and yes, it was still available. It was going to be a couple of days before I could get to it and in the mean time someone else, with cash in hand, swooped in and bought it. You can read my poem about it HERE.

And anyone who knows me knows I love all things mystical, so it was impossible to resist last week’s story prompt: A character went to get his/her fortune read six years ago. Today, that fortune is coming true in the most unexpected way. Tell us about it… You can check out the resulting stories HERE. I really love that Jamie’s story (it comes first) is light in contrast to the darkness of mine.

The new PROMPTS for the week are up at Brazen Snake Books, you should really pop over and give them a try. And once you’re done with your story and/or poem for BSB, check out my picture prompt of the month HERE. Last month's prompt inspired someone other than me to write a story, I'd love if that happened again.

Needless to say, I made no progress on a writing routine last week but this week things are back to normal, despite the long weekend. So cross your fingers for me.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Prompt Me - The Bridge

Hard to believe it's September already, isn't it? Where did the summer go??

For a change, I actually started thinking about the monthly prompt early and I had three very different pictures sitting on my desk top for the last week. It was hard to choose between them, but I kept coming back to this one so this one it is:

Who built this bridge? What does it span? Who, or what, is the shadowy figure on the other side? Are the trees dead, or just dormant? Just think of the possibilities!

As always, the idea is to write a fiction story (any genre), a non-fiction story, or a poem inspired by the above picture. You have until the end of the month, in this case, September 28 (which is a Thursday) to send me what you've come up with and I'll post it here on the 29th. Just send what you've written to crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


This form is a little ... shall we say ... challenging. It was invented by Lewis Turco in 1965, and for those of somewhat familiar with poetry forms, it combines the villanelle’s refrain with the terza rima’s end line patterning. What truly makes it challenging is the number rules for it:

1. It is a fixed form of 19 lines - five triplets and a quatrain.
2. The body is comprised of tercets that each refrain the second line of the preceding tercet for its third line.
3. The first line of each of these tercets is rhymed with its refrained line.
4. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are refrained as the second and fourth lines of the closing quatrain.
5. The closing quatrain refrains the second line of the last tercet as its third line and rhymes its first line with that refrain.
6. Lines may be in any length or meter within reason.
7. Terzanelles may be written on any subject.

Got that now? There’ll be a test later. ;-)


The wind is sighing through the trees,
The warmth of summer shimmers ‘round;
Magic‘s found in days like these.

A forest pool, a wild playground,
Where water lilies are abloom,
The warmth of summer shimmers ‘round.

A wafting scent of rare perfume;
The air is soft with ambient light
Where water lilies are abloom.

Who directs your soaring flight,
Free spirit wandering where it will.
The air is soft with ambient light.

You dip and weave and fly with skill -
I’d follow if I only could,
Free spirit wandering where it will

I watch you flitter through the wood;
The wind is sighing through the trees.
I’d follow if I only could -
Magic is found in days like these.

If you’d like to learn more about the Terzanelle, try one of the following links:
Shadow Poetry 
Writer's Digest 
The Poet's Garret  
Popular Poetry Forms 

If you give it a try, I’d love to see what you come up with. If you email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com, I’ll post it here next Wednesday. And if you don’t, then you’re going to be stuck reading a couple of poems that survived junior high school.

How’s that for incentive? :-D

Monday, August 28, 2017

Paving the Road

New Words - 583
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 583
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 4

I added Notes to my list this week because sometimes even when I’m not actually editing I’ll come up with ideas for a WIP and if I’m lucky I’m smart enough to write them down.

Well . . . crappy doodles! Last week was a real bust as far as writing went, and I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in my office. No good writing habits were formed. And I only have myself to blame. I had such good intentions, but we all know they’re only good for paving the road to hell. Or maybe that should be roads, plural. I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough good intentions over the years to pave several roads.

I did get some work done on Wandering Wizards, but seeing as I didn’t think to keep track of the new words I have no idea how many it was. I know it wasn’t much. And I recycled some old poems for Wednesdays poetry feature, so they don’t really count as “new” words. My story took a painfully long time to write, I was up pretty late finishing it, considering how short it is. You can read it HERE  along with a story my friend Catherine sent me. I hope you’ll see more stories from her in the future.

Anyone who has trouble finding ideas, here’s a perfect example of how you don’t find ideas, ideas find you. Thursday morning I was writing my inspiration quotes email to best bud Jamie and I was whining moaning telling her about the trouble I was having coming up with an idea that would pan out for my picture prompt of the stone angel. I was going to be flippant and add something about how she looks like one of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who and I should write about that when it clicked. Maybe I should write about a Weeping Angel.

There were so many ways this story could have gone, but after doing copious amounts of research on the Weeping Angels, I was really crunched for time. Seventeen pages of research, and very little of it was useful from a story point of view. I really should have just done a non-fiction piece, but it didn’t occur to me until just now. :-D

I thought you had to be a fan of Doctor Who to properly ‘get’ my story, but the same friend who sent me a story and her hubby read it and thought it was great - and they’ve never watched Dr. Who. I admit to taking a couple of liberties with the facts at the beginning of the story, but the rest of the information in it is pretty much true, at least according to my research.

At the beginning of last week I sent an email out to four of my old writing friends, begging for a story or poem, or whatever. One of them replied with a full story, and a second one replied with a partial story (that I really hope she finishes - I want to know what happens next!) but too late for me to post it. And two never replied at all.

I figure part of it is my own fault. When I post the prompt I give people a whole month to come up with something. These ladies barely had a week. This Friday is the first of September, which means a new picture prompt, and I’ll be sure to send it to them in a timely fashion.

You know, just as soon as I find a picture to post. ;-)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Forest Angel

You’re in for a treat today, I have not just one but two stories inspired by the picture prompt for August:

As a point of interest, when I was trying to come up with an idea for my own story, I decided to do a little research on the picture itself. It’s called, Forest Angel of the Ozarks, Missouri. Pretty much every hit on the Google search led me to another version of the same picture. There doesn’t seem to be any other information, other than it truly does exist.

With that in mind, I’d like to first share a story by a friend of mine. I actually sent an email out to several writer friends, begging for a story, and she’s the only one who responded. :-D

I’m not sure if enjoy is the proper word to use for this story, but it’s certainly very appropriate based on current events, and even though we’re both Canadians, the scary part for me is I could actually picture something like this happening.

Hate Lives
by C.L. Hannah

“Virginia was just the start of it Malcolm. Now that someone’s opened Pandora’s box and let hate escape, it’s only going to get worse. Tell me you’ve taken the steps we discussed, that everyone is in motion.”

Malcolm stared across the breakfast table at his father and shook his head. Popping the end of his scone into his mouth he chewed thoughtfully. “You know Dad, just because Hitler raised an army doesn’t mean history will repeat itself and the Confederates will this time.”

Running a hand over his face, Stuart sighed heavily. “You don’t know that son. You weren’t around when Hitler ran over countries taking what he wanted and exterminating what he didn’t.” Resting his elbows on the table he leaned forward and stared hard at the boy-man sitting before him. “How you’re my son and refuse to understand that history always repeats itself is beyond me.”

Standing, Malcolm walked to the sink with his dishes. Staring out the window at the beautifully sunny day he spoke without turning around. “Can’t you see the beautiful day Dad? Things aren’t as dire as you’re making them out to be. Please, just this once, enjoy what we have and look forward to our future.”

Stuart slammed his hand on the table, making Malcolm jump. “Look at me when you speak to me boy. I’m not one of your rat pack. I’m your father and you will address me with respect.”

“Respect is earned Dad,” said Malcolm, turning and leaning back against the sink. “You always told me that.”

“So what are you trying to tell me? That you haven’t made the calls? That everyone isn’t making their ways to the bunker as we speak? You’re playing a dangerous game son.”

“Game? You call this a game? This is life Dad, real life.”

“That’s right. This is life and if we’re going to survive it we have to take action. Now. If we don’t call no one will know it’s time. And one of us must be there to let them in son, you know that. Only one of our eye scans will open the door.”

“I’m not retreating to the bunker Dad. There is too much I want to do above ground.”

Stuart stared hard at his son and shook his head. “Have it your way boy. But remember once the door is locked it can only be opened from the inside and no one will be able to hear you knocking through the steel door. Especially after all hell breaks loose. No one. Think long and hard before you turn your back on what you know is the only safe way to survive the coming war.”

“Yah, sure, gotta go, Steve is waiting for me down by the creek.”

“Let him wait,” said Stuart, to his son’s retreating back. Knowing he had an obligation to those trusting him to protect them, he picked up the file from the table, walked into his office and started to make the calls.

Four hours later everyone on the list was safely inside the bunker. Before securing the heavy steel door, Stuart looked around, praying his son had come to his senses and would arrive. The sound of gunfire startled him and he took a step inside but still held the door open.

“It’s time Stuart,” said Lloyd, his best friend. “I’m sorry but it’s time.”

“Just give him five more minutes. I’ll close the door before anyone else tries to get in, I promise.”

Lloyd stood at his friend’s shoulder helping to scan the forest. A bomb blew up some factories in town shaking the ground under their feet. The smell of gunpowder floated through the trees, sticking to their clothing but still, they watched and hoped.

“It’s time,” said Stuart, pulling on the door.

“Let me,” said Lloyd, reaching to help.

“No. This is on me. I’ll do it.”

Five hours later the news reported more rioting in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. The National Guard had been called out but the army the Confederates had miraculously pulled together wasn’t being contained. The race wars had returned.

“I’m sorry Stuart,” said Lloyd. “I know you’d hoped your son would listen and understand. It must be brutal to know he’s out there when we’re safe in here.”

“It is, what it is,” said Stuart, his eyes tearing up. “I brought him into this world and did my best to keep him it but he refused to listen. He thought he knew better. But I suppose we all thought we knew more than our parents, so it really shouldn’t surprise me. I just wish he’d listened. I feel like I’ve failed. Maybe if I’d stayed up top, I could have gotten him to believe?”

The bunker shook as another bomb detonated near by but other than a few of the ceiling lamps swaying everyone was safe inside. Outside the landscape was being pock marked by bombs and riddled with dead bodies as the two sides fought for dominance. History was repeating itself.

When things finally calmed down on the surface, Stuart led the people from the bunker out into the sunshine. They stood silently, taking in all the carnage and wasted lives of those who hadn’t believed that history would repeat itself.

“What a waste,” said Stuart, turning a body over with his toe. “Oh My God, Malcolm.”

“See Stuart,” said Lloyd, supporting him by the arm. “In the end he did believe. He understood. You didn't fail, you did your job.”

Over the following weeks the people from the bunker rebuilt their homes and lives. They accepted strangers into their small town and helped each other heal. None of them forgot the sacrifice Stuart had made and on the day that would have been Malcolm’s birthday, they all gathered and erected a stone angel on the spot he’d died.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

My own story (as you might expect) is a little more out there. The idea for it came when I was sending my buddy Jamie her daily quote email. I was talking about coming up short for ideas and I was going to facetiously suggest I write one based on the villains from one of my favourite television shows and suddenly it clicked - and I had my idea.

If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’ll probably recognize what show this “character” is from. If you’re not, well....I think I’ll just keep you guessing. :-D

Hey! I guess technically this is my very first piece of fan fiction.

Even Monsters Need to Feed

by Carol R. Ward

I have been here for a thousand years, and if I must I will be here for a thousand more. Waiting. Longing. Dormant. It has been too long since I fed.

Some called us the lonely assassins. Most called us monsters. I suppose this is true for we were born of the union between the medusas and the basilisks. But I tell you plainly, we are not evil. We are not motivated by cruelty or greed, the evil that we are accused of is merely our desire to survive. To feed.

We have been here since the dawn of time and we will still be here when time runs down. We are everywhere, maybe even in your own back yard. For we are cunning and patient. But we have no conscience and no emotions. We have no need of them.

You will never see us in our true form. When you glance our way we assume the form you see me in now, that of a stone angel. This is the form we take our prey in. A single touch is all we need to extract the life essence of our food.

Our form was not always that of an angel, but it is the one we are most comfortable in. It seems soothing to our prey, at least until we are ready to attack and our claws and fangs appear. Their fear adds flavour to our sustenance.

Unobserved we can move with incredible speed. It is only when our prey is looking that we take on the appearance of harmless stone. As long as they are looking we cannot move. It’s only once they look away that we are free to act.

Our prey does not die, as such. With a touch we send them back to a time before their birth and then feed on the energy that remains of what would have been their life. Our prey is helpless in our presence. Weapons cannot kill us and we possess the ability to reform if we are destroyed.

When hunting in groups we must take care. Should we accidentally look at each other we would become locked in place forever. I have even heard of instances where a group of us on a hunt accidentally exchanged glances and remained frozen in place until they starved to death. For this reason when we are in groups we often cover our faces with our hands, giving the appearance that we are weeping.

Our numbers do not change much. We do not procreate in the sense humans do. First of all, we have no emotions so there is no love or desire, and though we look human we are not. We are unable to perform the physical act of love. Should the need to procreate arise, we can use our magic to give life to other, lesser statues.

I am the sole survivor of this place. We came here eons ago, and fed until there was nothing left. A glance towards one of my fellows was all it took and we were frozen in place. The others moved on, leaving us behind. As the ages passed my companion starved to death, and I was left too weak to move.

Should you come across me in the woods my exile will end. I give this advice freely:

Don’t blink.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Creative Writing

What follows is some of the few poems that survived my high school days. The original title of this series was: Creative Writing Across the Street From the School in Front of the Mansion.

In its early years, there was a ferry that went from Rochester, New York to our little harbour, allowing several rich American families to summer here. These Americans built beautiful, sprawling mansions only three of which (that I know of) still survive to this day. And one of them, to the shame of our town, is being allowed to fall into ruin so it can be pulled down and replaced with condos.

Anyway, while I was in high school one of these mansions was still across the street from the school but I can’t remember if it was still occupied at the time. But I do recall the English teacher sent us outside to find inspiration for our creative writing class and this is what I came up with:

The spider crawled carefully
up one blade of grass and
down again, only to discover
a forest of others.

The gentle breeze
Touched the fuzz
On the leaves
And invited them
to play.

The once green leaf
Is now old and faded
Changed in colour
And cracked with age.
Its edges are curled
As if with distaste
At the thought of
The coming winter.

Where did you come from
Little spider who scurries
Along the length of my page?
Wherever it is
I’ll put you back there
With the edge of the leaf
In my hand.

The helicopter passed
Eggbeaters at both ends
An intruder in the sky.