Friday, August 18, 2017

The Eros Portal

Well here it is another fiction Friday. Is it just me or did this week go by really fast? The good news is my bookcases have been put back together, more or less. The bad news is my office still needs work - a lot of work. But that’s not why I have no new fiction to showcase. My writing this past week consisted emails, blog posts, and notes on things I’d like to work on. Not exactly something you could take an excerpt from.

So once again I’m forced to use something I’ve written previously. But I’m tired of having to dip into the vault and type out something old. This time I’m using something a little more current, namely, an excerpt from my NaNo novel.

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this one - it’s definitely a romance, and probably more science fiction than fantasy, although not really in your face science fiction. In a nut shell, a man in another dimension builds a machine that uses a person’s DNA to open a portal to where they can find their perfect mate. But things aren’t always as they seem, and the course of true love never runs smoothly.

The following scene is from the beginning of the novel, where our heroine Makayla stumbles across the portal in the woods near her home while out looking for the cat she was supposed to be looking after.



The Eros Portal

Everything looked the same in the dark. If she was lucky, she’d be able to retrace her steps. If not, she’d be as lost as Mittens.

“Stupid damn cat,” she muttered under her breath.

A flash of blue light off to the right caught her attention. It flickered, like the light bulb was about to burn out. It couldn’t be from the highway, could it? She’d been walking for a while but it was unlikely she’d walked that far. And she hadn’t been going in that direction, unless she got turned around somehow.

Didn’t most people walk in circles when they had nothing to guide them? That would make the source of the light her own house, which didn’t make sense either because she didn’t have a blue light. Shrugging, she made for the light anyway. Light meant people, so even if it wasn’t her house it was bound to be one of her neighbors, not that she had many of those.

The light was further away than she thought and she was getting dangerously chilled. Her fingers were totally numb. What kind of an idiot took off in the dark in nothing but a sweater? No hat, no gloves ... But the sweater had been right there and she would have lost precious time going back through the house to the back door for her coat. This is what came of being in such a rush. She was probably going to end up frozen to death while Mittens was curled up on her porch having a nap.

The light was still ahead of her, and the woods were growing denser. Had the trees been this close together on her way in? She pushed through some shrubbery that still had a few dead leaves attached to it and stopped to stare. A doorway of iridescent blue light filled the space between two slender trees.

“What the hell?”

Makayla took a single step forward and stopped again. Then she took a couple of steps to the side and the door seemed to disappear. Moving back to her original position, the door shimmered into view again.

As curious as the cat she’d been looking for, Makayla moved forward, one step at a time. A ripple went through the shimmering blue and she paused for a second. The light settled back into a staticky glow, like the snow on the TV when the cable went out.

Another step closer and the snow turned blue again and seemed to clear a bit. It was almost translucent. One more step and she could see vague images in it. It wasn’t the woods in behind it, it was something else altogether. Some place else.

Maybe it was some kid’s science project - holograms or something like that. His parents probably made him set it up out in the woods in case of accidents. Like, if something shorted out and set fire to something. It was pretty advanced looking, if that’s what it was.

One more step and she was able to reach out and touch it. It tingled on her fingertips, a ripple effect spreading out where she touched. It wasn’t until she tried to pull her hand away that she realized what a stupid thing it had been to do. She appeared to be stuck fast.

Makayla yanked her arm back but her fingers remained glued to the shimmer. In fact, it actually seemed like the shimmer was pulling her hand further in.

“Oh, no no no!” She twisted and turned her hand and her fingers turned easily, but they wouldn’t let go. “Hello? Is anybody out here?” What kind of person set something like this up in the middle of the woods and then just abandoned it?

“Hey! I could use some help here,” she yelled. Surely whoever made this couldn’t be too far away. Wouldn’t they need to monitor it or something? “Look, I’m sorry I touched your experiment or whatever, but I need you to shut it off.”

There was no answer. Millimetre by millimetre her hand was being enveloped in the glowing light. No matter how much she pulled it refused to let go of her again. Digging her heels in she tried to wrench free, but slipped on the damp ground and only succeeded in causing her whole arm to become enveloped.

Panting from the effort, she glanced around but she was surrounded by darkness. It was getting really cold out. It was starting to hurt to breathe. She didn’t bother calling out again, if there really was someone out there it was obvious they were only going to watch, not help.

While the point of contact with the light tingled, the rest of her arm didn’t seem to be affected at all. She tried wiggling her fingers, but the rippling effect made it impossible to see through the door. Looking at the ground where the light made it easier to see, she looked for an electrical cord or whatever was powering the thing. There was nothing that she could see.

There weren’t many options here. Maybe she should just get it over with. Steeling herself, Makayla took a deep breath and then stepped through the doorway. She was aware of light and heat and then nothing at all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Twofer

I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell writing wise lately, even when it comes to poetry. So once again I’m digging in the vaults for my post. Good thing I’ve got a lot of poems to choose from, eh? And because today’s poems are a little on the short side, you’re getting a two for one special.

You’re welcome. LOL

This first poem was part of the Writer’s Digest PAD challenge I partook of several years ago. The idea was to write a poem a day, to their prompts, over the month of April. If nothing else, the challenge was interesting, and it introduced me to the Sestina, which set me on an exploration of other forms.

I believe the prompt I had to follow for this one was something to do with being dead, or things you'd like to say to people after you're dead, or something along those lines.


Now That I’m Dead
Now that I’m dead I can finally say
all the things burning inside me.
None to prevent me having my way,
to speak serious or blithely.
I can speak of my love without any fear
of derision of my choices.
I can speak all the words you never could hear
in a chorus of many voices.
Did you think with me gone my words would be too?
You don’t really have to answer.
Words, like money, often accrue.
My words will be here forever.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

For my second poem I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. This poem is a parody. It may surprise you to learn, considering most of my poetry is rather dark, that I love parodies. I love taking a classic poem, twisting it around, and making someone chuckle over the results.

Unless you slept through English class, you should recognize what poem I used for this particular parody. For those of you who did sleep through English class, the original poem was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal How Do I Love thee. If you’d like to read the original, check this out. And now, my version:


How Do I Procrastinate?

How do I procrastinate? Let me count the ways.
I procrastinate to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling lethargic
For the ends of Boredom and ideal Laziness.
I procrastinate to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by neon and halogen-light.
I procrastinate freely, as men strive for Progress;
I procrastinate purely, as they turn from Television.
I procrastinate with a passion put to use
In my old excuses, and with my childhood’s justification.
I procrastinate with an energy I seemed to lose
When faced with work, – I procrastinate with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if the Muse choose,
I shall continue to procrastinate until death.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Maybe It Is My Fault

It started with the idea that there was too much space on the landing at the halfway point going up to our second floor. It was the perfect place for a bookcase or two, or so I thought. Part one of the story can be found HERE , part two can be found HERE  and part three can be found HERE.

In a nutshell, the six foot high bookcases we bought did not work on the landing, which resulted in a massive shakeup of the bookcases throughout the house. The transition pretty much sucked up my whole vacation and I still have to put my office back together.



The thing is, I really have only myself to blame. It was my idea in the first place, I talked the hubby into buying the bookcases. All the measuring in the world can’t beat seeing the real thing in place, so we had no clue those bookcases just weren’t going to work. The rest of it just kind of snowballed from there.

I suppose there wasn’t a rush to get everything put back together again, but for some reason it brought out my inner OCD and I not only wanted stuff back on the shelves, I wanted some kind of order to it. No more books stacked up, no more double rows of books, no dust covered knick knacks blocking access to the books...

And while using the tall, square bookcase for DVDs made sense, it didn’t really have to be switched over right away. It held an eclectic mix of books - hardback, paperback, really old cloth bound - and knick knacks, all of which needed to find new homes.

When all is said and done, it looks like in the long line of reasons for putting off my writing, I pretty much came up with the ultimate one. All that’s left is putting my office back together and that’s something I can peck away at over the coming week. It’s not like I get a lot of writing done in there anyway.

But once that is done, no more excuses!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Firebrand and Stormbringer

Once again I’ve made it my fiction Friday with a zero word count for the week. If you read Monday’s post you’ll know why. I am STILL sorting out those darned bookcases. The ones in my office are just about done, but there’s still a lot of “stuff” laying around and as I type this I can’t help but notice the shelf I have my CD player on seems to be ...um... bending in the middle under the weight of the books I have between the player and the speaker. They’re pretty big books. I might move them to the bottom shelf of the last bookcase (which currently has nothing on it) and put something lighter there instead.

In any case, not only do I have no fresh words for you, I have no pearls of wisdom to send your way. Other than if you ever decide to swap out bookcases in your own office - don’t! ;-)

So today I’ve revisited the vault and came up with the fantasy novel I started when the creative well ran dry on the Saturn story. It started with a dream... The landscape was rolling hills. Tucked away amongst the hills was small pond of crystal clear water. Beneath the water there was a warrior, dressed all in black - he even had a mask concealing his face.

When I woke up I knew the warrior’s name was Brand, short for Firebrand, and he was the son of a sorceress from the mysterious Witch Hills and the warlord who captured her. He carries the sword of blood and amber, and if he recites the spell the sword becomes a living flame. His mask is part of a curse put on him by an evil sorceress name Giselle.

Early in his travels he hooks up with a witch who becomes known as Stormbringer. The thing about Storm is, technically she’s blind. She has no sight of her own, but she can “borrow” the vision of the birds and animals around her. In the beginning it’s just a platonic relationship, he rescues her, then she rescues him, and that’s where it all falls apart.

This was real early in my writing days and I had no clue as to what I was doing. Rather than write a cohesive story, I wrote a series of kind of mini-stories. But not really stories, more unconnected scenes, if you will. Of the longer stories we have one that begins with Storm being awakened from a spell that put her to sleep until certain conditions were met, whereupon she goes off to rescue Brand from his enchanted sleep in the pool which is now in a cave of crystal. The other one has Brand rescuing some random girl from a cult of wizard priests as the price to have her mother remove his mask.

Some day I will sit down and use index cards to organize all this information and then tell the tale of Firebrand and Stormbringer. Some day....

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from where Storm rescues Brand from the pool. Storm was awakened by Hess, her sorcerous father’s apprentice (and a young girl when she last saw her), who told her where to find Brand and how to save him. She’s made her way past several obstacles to inside the crystal shrine. And yes, I know I said she was blind, but she must have got her vision back at some point:


Storm drew on a pair of thick, leather gloves and picked up the sword. Her mouth was dry and the cavern suddenly seemed colder. Saying a quick prayer to the goddess Shima, she grasped the sword firmly by the hilt and pulled the scabbard away.

In a clear, ringing voice, she said, "By the magic arcane that forged stone, in the name of the twin gods Fell and Mo-Rel, I command the power of blood and amber to come forth!"

For long, breathless seconds, nothing happened. Then, like a storm gathering, power began to build. Storm's breath caught in her throat. A flicker from the red core of the sword travelled outward. Power flowed, making the amber sword glow. A beam of white light shot from the tip of the sword straight into the air.

Storm cried out, ducking her head and closing her eyes.

"Who dares to call forth the flame without our leave?" The booming voice echoed through the chamber.

"I, Bringer of the Storm, do so dare," Storm called out in a shaky voice, still holding tight to the sword. She opened her eyes to mere slits. "He who serves the flame lies helpless. The power of the sword is needed to free him."

The beam of light began to spin. It moved until it touched the man in the pool, then expanded until it enveloped him. It pulsed, almost a living thing. The body levitated to the surface, then gently settled to the bottom again. The light moved away until it spun over the altar.

"Know you not the price the one who wields the amber blade pays?" a second voice boomed out.

"Who will wield the blade for you if this man dies? You spent centuries waiting for him."

The two voices began overlapping. "She has a point . . . her point is weak . . . she can be of assistance . . . he is near to death . . . she makes him stronger . . . he has served us well . . . the land cries out again . . ."

The column of light began to spin faster.

"We will help," the first voice boomed out. "But know you there lies a price ahead for you both."

"Agreed," Storm said.

The column of light vanished. Again the red core of the sword flickered and power flowed. Storm's hands tightened but she was still unprepared when the sword burst into flame. Quickly she moved to the side of the pool and plunged the point of the sword downwards.

The water hissed, steam billowing upwards in a great, shimmering cloud. A hot wind raced through the cavern, but Storm stood fast. It swirled around her, plucking at her hair and clothing; then suddenly it was gone, taking the water from the pool with it. Even the warrior's clothing was dry.

"Flame shall conquer water." Hess' voice seemed to echo in the chamber.

With trembling arms, Storm raised the sword high above her head. Locking her arms in place, she called out a single word in an ancient tongue. She was trembling, not so much from the weight of the weapon as from the pain in her hands. Every nerve felt like it was on fire.

A streak of blue, as from a lightning strike, shot from the tip of the sword into the body below. Storm's head was thrown back, her mouth open in a silent scream.

"Pain shall free the lost."

Her arms shook and sweat beaded her brow as she slowly lowered the sword again. The warrior's body convulsed, then arched upwards. Storm stepped into the empty pool, knelt beside him, and carefully placed the hilt of the still flaming sword into his open hand. His fingers closed around the hilt. His eyes opened. Storm backed quickly away as he surged upwards.

"Flame shall feed the fire of life."

He did not know her. She could see that in the instant before he swung the sword. He yelled something in the language of Witch Hills as she ducked beneath the fiery arc.

"Brand, no! It's me, Storm!"

She was forced to dance out of the way as he swung again. Frantically she tried to think of a spell that would calm him, but her mind refused to cooperate. She was forced to give way again and again until the backs of her legs struck the altar.

Storm stood tall and proud, her calm gaze meeting the madness in his eyes. "Firebrand of Witch Hills, if my life is what is needed to make you whole again, then so be it. I offer it gladly to know you will live once more."

Brand raised the sword. Storm held his gaze fearlessly and something flickered in his eyes. He faltered, the sword wavered. He shook his head slightly and swayed in place. He looked at her in confusion and slowly sank to his knees. The flame enveloping the sword vanished and it became once more a sword made of amber.

"Love shall conquer madness."

"Storm? What happened? Where are we?"

Tears started from her eyes as she knelt beside him. "That, my love, is a tale and a half. Let us leave this place, quickly. It is a tale best heard where the air is clear and the stars can shine down on us."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last Dragonflight

This poem is an oldie but a goodie. In fact it’s one of my earliest poems, probably inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. I wrote it for no particular reason other than the desire to write a poem that told a story.




Last Dragonflight

Slowly dawns the red sun
To mark a dragon’s birth -
Once master of the heavens,
Now master of the Earth

You found your beginning
In smoke, ash and flame -
Creature born of legend
Like the phoenix rise again.

Awake unfurl your wings,
Your time has come this night
Uncoil, cry out your challenge,
Then launch, at last take flight.

Wheeling silent skyward
Exhaling smoke and fire
Phosphor rains but still you’re
Soaring ever higher.

Silence marks your passing,
Envious eyes will stare.
Man would subjugate you
Creature of the air.

Cloaked in rage and silence
They’ve watched you on your flight
Blind with superstition.
Against your will you fight.

Belief dies too easily;
Myths vanish without care.
Rear up once in protest -
Death’s not always fair.

Slowly dies the red sun -
The dragon seeks his den.
Slowly dies the legend
Never to rise again.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It’s Not My Fault!

My master plan for this long weekend (at least if you’re Canadian it’s a long one) was to get myself all organized, writing-wise, for the week. This was to include making some cosmetic changes to my blogs, make a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and come up with a workable writing schedule that would take me beyond my week of holidays.

What happened was not entirely my fault. The hubby has to shoulder some of the blame for agreeing.

For a long time now I’ve felt that the landing at the halfway point going upstairs needed something. It just looked so empty.



I thought it would be the perfect spot for a bookcase, maybe two, and the hubby agreed. The result of this brilliant idea is why neither of us got anything we’d planned on doing during our long weekend. You can read about the first part of the story HERE. In fact, I suggest you do because this is really the second part of the story.

Swapping out bookcases is a pain in the butt at the best of times, and of course five shelves are not enough. Even if you only buy hardback books you still need at least six shelves. And a lot of my tree books are paperback, which take up even less space. So my old bookcases had extra shelves. Unfortunately, they were in the wrong colour.

So off the hubby went to the lumber store to pick up a couple of shelves. Except they don’t sell shelving in the colour we needed, the best they could do was real wood that would have to be cut and finished and still wouldn’t match exactly. And it would be expensive.

Then it was the hubby’s turn to get a brilliant idea. It wouldn’t cost that much more to just buy another bookcase and cannibalize it for parts. So we went to Walmart, again, and bought a third bookcase. But wait!

The bookcase that was already in my office was just a slightly different shade than the two new ones, so the hubby thought why not put together the third bookcase and swap it out with the mismatched one?

One of the things I don’t like about the new bookcases is the fact their permanent shelf is in a different place than the old ones, so I can’t adjust the shelves the way I had them. But this is the only reason I was willing to swap out the last bookcase, so the permanent shelves would line up.

Anyway, by the end of the day the bookcase wall of my office looked like this:



I have run out of both energy and extra shelves. It wasn’t until I tried to use one of the shelves from the old bookcase that I discovered the new bookcases are close to an inch wider than the old one, making the old shelves useless.

The good (?) news is that Walmart also sells a much shorter version of this bookcase which has shelves exactly the same size. The bad news is I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get one. And then, of course, I’ll have to take the time to finish re-stocking the bookcase.

And that, my friends, is why I not only didn’t get any writing done, I didn’t get organized for writing either.

Maybe once I get my books organized. ;-)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Prompt Me - Forest Angel

Would you look at that, it’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another picture prompt. :-D



This is the picture I couldn’t find for last month. You know, the one I already had the story idea for? Unfortunately, I never thought to write my idea down so I’ll be starting from scratch. Just like you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem, story, or non-fiction article inspired by the above picture. You have until the last Friday of the month, and if you email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com I’ll post it here. And just an FYI, the end of the month is a Thursday, so the last Friday is actually the 25th.

Now get writing!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Blitz Poetry Form

Even if you’re not into poetry, you really need to give The Blitz a try. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have with a poetry form.

The form was invented by Robert Keim. The lines are super short - just a couple of words each. There’s no punctuation and it doesn’t rhyme. The first two lines both start with the same word. Lines 3 and 4 begin with the last word of line 2. Lines 5 and 6 start with the last word of line 4, and so on until you’ve written 48 lines. Line 49 is the last word of line 48, and line 50 is the last word of line 47. The title is only three words - the first word from the 3rd line joined to the first word from the 47th line by a preposition.

When writing a Blitz poem, it helps if you write it as quickly as possible. It’s a lot like one of those word association tests psychiatrists are reported to use, only faster. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll have lots of fun.


Red With Clouds

Rose in bloom
Rose red
Red queen
Red and white
White as snow
White wine
Wine in a glass
Wine and cheese
Cheese whiz
Cheese log
Log on
Log off
Off and on
Off and running
Running amok
Running late
Late for work
Late in life
Life mate
Life and death
Death comes
Death mask
Mask your feelings
Mask the man
Man and woman
Man alive
Alive and dead
Alive for now
Now and then
Now and again
Again with this
Again with that
This and that
This and the other
Other than that
Other wise
Wise man
Wise woman
Woman rights
Woman power
Power up
Power down
Down town
Down below
Below zero
Below the clouds
Clouds of white
Clouds of blue
Blue
White

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bucket Lists

Do you have a bucket list?

No, I’m not avoiding the Monday subject, which is supposed to be a report on how my writing week went. It’s just I don’t have a lot to report and bucket lists have been on my mind lately.

But just to get the writing stuff out of the way first...the week did not start out well, writing-wise. The hubby was on vacation, although he spent most of his time working around the house. But just having him home all day kind of threw me off my game and I spent more time reading than writing.

I really struggled to write something for this month’s picture prompt, and when I didn’t have anything to post on Friday I ended up writing both a poem and a story for the weekly Brazen Snake Books prompts. You can find my story HERE, and you can see both my poem and Jamie’s HERE. It’s kind of freaky how we had similar ideas, although we didn’t see each other’s poems until they were done.

Saturday I spent pretty much the whole day agonizing over my picture prompt before deciding my idea would work better as a poem. I really wanted to do a story for that picture, but it just wasn’t happening.

Sunday I spent the first half of the day shopping and the second half entertaining the in-laws for dinner. I was lucky to get the post done for my regular blog, let alone anything else. As it was, I was up past my bedtime doing it. Hopefully I’ll do better this week. :-D

Back to the bucket list.



A bucket list, for those of you totally out of the loop, is a list of things you want to do before you die, or “kick the bucket.” It could be travelling to places, getting married, getting divorced, getting that dream job, running a marathon, making a million dollars ... you get the idea.

I don’t have a bucket list, although there are oodles of things I’d like to do before I die. But as I said, I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, and then I started making a list. I say a list, because I think it’ll have to be refined before it’s my official bucket list.

I started listing random “stuff” and realized making a bucket list is harder than it looks. It’s not like there are any rules to it - no set number of items to include, no guidelines as to what kinds of things should be included...

In my case, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to need three lists: things I want to read; places I want to visit; and miscellaneous. And I’m putting a self-imposed limit of the top ten in each category. This will still give me a total of thirty items to work on.

I did a Google search for ‘bucket list’ and wow, there was 115,000,000 results in 0.61 seconds! Unique Bucket List Ideas; 101 Things To Do Before You Die; 10,000 Things To Do Before You Die; 10,000+ Bucket List Ideas ... However, I only did the search for fun, I’m not going to waste time clicking on any of those likes. I figure if I can’t think of it myself, it doesn’t deserve to go on the list.

Limiting myself to a total of thirty items on my list means I’m going to be thinking long and hard about what goes on there. Ideally they’ll be things I can actually do, and I’m not going to be including namby pamby things like losing 20 pounds or getting a tattoo (which I already have). I think the hard part will be limiting myself to just ten places I want to visit - I’ve always wanted to travel - and coming up with ten books I want to read - I’m a prolific reader so I’ve already read a lot.

This might actually turn out to be a lot of fun!

So... what’s on your bucket list?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chaos Land

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!"

Yes, I know. This is the last Saturday of the month instead of the last Friday, but though I conceived the idea for the story earlier in the week, it just did not want to be written. First, a reminder of the picture prompt:



It seemed pretty simple - order on one side of the wall, disorder on the other. I had wanted to give it a bit of a twist so instead of the disorder encroaching on the order, I wanted the order to be the bad guy, so to speak. But try as I might I just could not make it work.

So I started doing some research on chaos versus order. Most of what I found was regarding chaos and I began to play around with a few ideas just using chaos as a theme, but none of those really panned out either.

And then I remembered my own caveat with these prompts - the result could be anything, as long as it was creative. For some reason my default seems to be prose, but since that wasn’t working I figured it was time to try something else.

I almost did a non-fiction piece on chaos, but then I began writing this poem:


Chaos Land

I was here in the beginning
before there was anything else.
I existed before the creation of the universe -
a formless void, the gap between heaven and earth.

I am disorder and confusion,
my behavior unpredictable
so as to appear random.
I am indefinite and indeterminate.

I am the spirit of God
moving upon the face of the waters.
From me all else originated -
the primordial state before creation.

I am the merging of opposites -
the darkness and the light together -
all of the elements twisted together.
I am the belief that is a magical force.

Who are you to try and tame me,
to wall me in with your discipline and orderliness?
Do you not know that without chaos
there can be no harmony.


Join me here again on Friday for a new picture prompt. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some inspiration as well.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shepherds and Nymphs

If you take a look at some of my favourite poems written by other people, it’s easy to see how I ended up with such a strong sense of rhyme and rhythm. I cut my poetry teeth on the classics. To be honest, while most kids in my English classes struggled to understand classic poetry, I struggled to understand modern poetry.

This week I’d like to share one of my very first favourite poems. I love the rhyme and rhythm of it, as well as the story it tells.


The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd's swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

~ Christopher Marlowe
1599




And of course what would the shepherd’s plea be without his lady love’s reply?

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complain of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

~ Sir Walter Raleigh
1600

Monday, July 24, 2017

Miscellaneous Miscellany



The fact that I managed to get my blog posts done and up on time last week was a miracle in itself. The daughter was away for a conference followed by a mini vacation last week. This meant my part time babysitting hours were extended to full time - from 4 hours a day to 9 ½ hours a day. This didn’t leave a lot of time (or energy) for writing.

I had some serious flashbacks to when my daughter was little and I was struggling to find my way as a writer, and found myself comparing then and now. I wrote a long, whiny blog post about it but in the course of writing realized it was like comparing apples to oranges. Maybe someday I’ll write that blog post, but don’t worry, this is not that day.

You’re welcome. :-D

Lest you think I was a total writing slacker last week, I did keep up my journal - both my personal one and my writing one - and I wrote a couple of poems which I finished up over the weekend. The excerpt I posted on Friday was from a story I came up with in high school, and in the course of looking for it I stumbled across several other potential stories from that era.

I vaguely remember the first story I ever wrote in high school. It was science fiction (of course, because I thought I was going to be a writer of science fiction stories) and it had something to do with a group of people in cryo-stasis on a rocket ship. No idea where they were going or why, nothing of it remains (which is probably for the best).

The first book in my Moonstone Chronicles series, Magical Misfire came from a story I started in high school. I’d written the first twelve chapters and then abandoned it because I had no clue what to do with my main character once I got her to the magical realm. Come to think about it... I’m pretty sure the original idea for my Elemental series came from something I wrote in high school. It just goes to show you that maybe your mother wasn’t crazy after all, saving all your old high school compositions. You never know what might spark an idea for a story.

I think I’ve strayed off topic. ;-)

So. While I didn’t get much writing done last week, as I said in my Friday post I’d like to change that. I’m setting myself a daily goal of 250 words minimum - that’s like one double-spaced page - of fiction. If I can’t manage at least that then it’s time to turn in my typewriter. Or lap top. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

Once I’ve proven to myself I can be consistent with 250 words I’ll up it until I find a number I’m comfortable with. And then I’m going to start posting my proper wordage reports again.

Wish me luck - I’m gonna need it!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

So here we are again on a Friday. And it’s an in between Friday - not the first one where I post a picture prompt, nor the last one where I post my results, but one of the ones in between where I’m in a kind of limbo.

Originally I was supposed to post an excerpt from what I’ve been working on lately. Unfortunately, other than blog posts I haven’t been working on much besides poetry lately.

While I’m hoping to change that in the days to come, that doesn’t help me today. So after thinking about it for a while, I decided to give you an excerpt from one of my earlier works. And by early I mean one of my very first (if not the first) novel-length ideas I ever had. So early it was typed on a manual typewriter, which means I had to retype it on the computer.

It was a convoluted mix of fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction because it was set on Saturn and there were aliens and some technology involved, fantasy because of the magic and magical creatures. Most of what I have is notes on characters and creatures and cities, there’s a crude map, a brief history, and the beginning of a crude outline.

It seems to be part quest, part coming of age, part a hero’s tale. There’s not a lot to go on other than back ground information. All I really remember is that most of the action took place on Saturn, and Stonehenge was a link between Earth and Saturn. And the rings of Saturn are what keeps Earth from realizing there’s a whole civilization below. Yes, seriously!

There seemed to be two beginnings to this tale. One was in first person, the main character being a woman, and the other was in third person with the main character being a male. Since that’s the one that bore the title “Original Plot” that’s the one I’m posting here.


Untitled Novel

Tazrak stood and gazed at the distant hills as the sun turned the clouds from white to blood red. The sun sank below the horizon, yet still he stood watching. His hard, yet handsome features gave little indication of his thoughts. His sun-bronzed shoulders were tight with tension, and his brow was creased with lines of concentration.

It was the fifth day, of the fifth month, of the fifth year of waiting. It was the night that could bring despair - or hope. It was the first time in almost five thousand years that the ceremony of summoning was to be performed at the Circle of Stones.

“Tazrak,” called one of the guards, not daring to approach. “It is almost time.”

Tazrak nodded and turned from the darkness. He strode with long sure strides towards a large, green and gold tent. Lifting the flap he peered inside and saw that the Wizard Priests were ready for him. The priests had been sent all the way from the Great Temple. It was a great honour, and they had borne with them the ceremonial robe of the High Priest.

The moons started to rise as Tazrak donned the flowing white robe and placed the emerald pendant around his neck. A char howled in the distance - neither a hunting call nor a call to a kill but an eerie lament to the gods. A sudden wind arose as Tazrak, flanked by the two Wizard Priests, moved towards the Circle of Stones.

Tarzak turned and addressed the crowd below. “My people, tonight is the night we have awaited for five long years. We have awaited in fear and in hope. It is the night decreed by Zor that we may bury the past and for this night only once again perform the Ceremony of Summoning. Our need is great, my people. Let us hope that the gods are merciful on t his night.”


After that it skips to Earth where a young man gets lost in a cave system that opens up to a large chamber with a replica of Stonehenge in it. He finds a similar robe and pendant and on impulse puts them both on and steps to the middle of the circle. The date is May 5 and the time is 5 p.m.

Some day I may revisit this story - as cheesy as it seems, I think it has potential. All I have to figure out is the end game for the hero. ;-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bingo Blues

One of my jobs when I worked in the Municipal Office of our town (many years ago) was to record the bingo results from the weekend games. I was pretty surprised by the number of charities that ran bingos to raise funds. And even more surprising was how little they actually made from it.

But bingo was big business in our town, especially with the seniors. I can’t remember exactly when I visited one of the bingo halls one night - taking a message to someone, picking someone up, I have no idea. I know I wasn’t there long and I wasn’t there to play. The one thing I do remember is walking into the pervading cloud of smoke.

It was shortly after that that legislation was passed banning smoking in public places. It caused a pretty big stir at the time, but despite the artistic license in my poem, nothing stops a die-hard bingo player.


Bingo Blues

The room’s filled with fog
From the chain smoking grannies
Don’t mess with their luck
Or you’ll find yourself
Out on your ear

The concentration is fierce
Daubers flying furiously
Hearing aides at the max
Canes within reach
To snag a new card

It’s Saturday night
At the Bingo Hall
Truck on over
And don’t forget
Your pension cheque.

Then the hammer falls
In the form of a by-law
Banning the cancer sticks
Causing an uprising
Of the blue hair set.

Now it’s Saturday night
And they meet at Timmie’s
Walkers parked outside
While they reminisce
Over a cup of joe.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Albatross

You're writing, you're coasting, and you're thinking, 'This is the best thing I've ever written, and it's coming so easily, and these characters are so great.' You put it aside for whatever reason, and you open it up a week later and the characters have turned to cardboard and the book has completely fallen apart. That's the moment of truth for every writer: Can I go on from here and make this book into something? I think it separates the writers from the nonwriters. And I think it's the reason a lot of people have that unfinished manuscript around the house, that albatross.
― Jacqueline Woodson



Don’t you hate when that happens? It starts out being the best story you’ve ever written, but eventually off come the rose coloured glasses and it’s not quite as great as you thought it was. In fact, it needs a lot of work. That’s where revision and editing come in.

And to me, that’s what really separates the writers from the non-writers - the willingness to revise and edit. Nowadays it’s so easy to self publish a book that literally anyone can do it. But should they? Definitely not!

Like most avid readers, I have an e-reader. In the beginning you just had to slap a FREE sticker on an e-book and I’d download it, but once I hit the 1,000 mark I became slightly more discriminating. I joined Book Bub and Amazon sends me a daily email offering several books for free or sale prices. Which is why I’m now at over 1700 unread electronic books.

Tree books are guaranteed to be professionally done. They’ve been edited (and revised and edited some more) and formatted and printed via a traditional publisher. With e-books there’s no such guarantee. It’s so easy to self publish these days that many eager new writers (and a few that have been around long enough they should know better) jump the gun and publish the book before it’s ready. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve had to delete from my Kindle because what starts out as a promising story gets bogged down with poor formatting, lack of editing, and sloppy writing.

It’s not enough to finish that manuscript, writing is the easy part. It’s the revising and editing and polishing that is the real work. If you think you’re done after one draft, you’re seriously kidding yourself. I don’t care what your great Aunt Gertrude says. You need to set it aside and then revise and edit until that book is polished until it shines.

And after setting it aside for a couple of weeks you realize maybe this book doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s no shame in having an albatross or two on your hard drive. They don’t take up a lot of space, and maybe someday you’ll figure out a way to fix it. Or maybe you know how to fix it, and yeah, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run both in terms of sales and readership.

Just please, don’t let that albatross fly before it’s ready.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Caffeinated Dreams

This is a fairly new poem, written just a few weeks ago. I got the idea for it while, you guessed it, sitting on the pier sipping an iced coffee with a friend. The car was facing towards the beach and I made a comment about how nice it would be to sit under one of those trees to write.

The reality is that it wouldn’t be that all that conducive to writing. It was a weekend and there were hoards of screaming kids everywhere. Plus I’d probably do more people watching and looking at the scenery than actual writing.

But I came home and wrote the following poem:


Caffeinated Dreams

I sit on the pier
sipping my iced coffee
and I have a vision:
I sit in the park
under a tree
back against the rough bark
big floppy hat on my head
doodling, scribbling, writing in
a notebook propped up on my knees
words spilling over
right off of the page
racing away
with a shout of laughter
but I am unaware
that my story is escaping
and I keep writing
until it’s too dark
to see.
Anchored in reality
I take the last sip of my coffee
and with a wistful sigh
go home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Persistence

Have you ever woken up knowing it’s not going to be a good day? Yeah, that was me this morning, even before I stepped in a pile of cat barf as I came downstairs. It doesn’t happen to me often - the knowing part, not the bad day thing. I get more than my fair share of bad days, but I don’t always know right off that’s the way the wind is going to blow.



I may have mentioned once or twice (or a couple of dozen times by now) that the writing hasn’t been going so good lately. While once again I got all my blog posts done last week, once again that was pretty much it. And it’s not like I didn’t have the time to write. There were a couple of nice chunks of time through the week, but I sat in front of the blank screen of my lap top and nothing. I’d pick up a pen and pad of paper and nothing. The strange part was I had no problem writing lengthy journal entries or poetry. It was only when I tried to write fiction that the connection between my brain and my fingers seemed broken.

So Saturday I sat in my office, but instead of writing I ended up doing a great deal of reading online, mostly blogs of other writers who are going through a similar ordeal. And man, are there ever a lot of us out there. And while no one seemed to offer any solutions, we all seemed to have one thing in common - persistence.

We may think about giving up, we may even talk about it, but no matter how bad things are going there’s just something inside us that refuses to quit. True writers are nothing if not persistent.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge

With that in mind, Sunday morning I changed my routine slightly. I did not, as I usually do, watch Criminal Minds on A&E as I had my breakfast. They run six episodes back to back and it’s kind of like potato chips for me - I can’t stop with just one episode.

So no distracting TV for a change. However, instead of buckling down to write my morning was spent on several mundane tasks that could have been put off - sewing a missing button on a shirt, doing some hand wash laundry... It wasn’t until after lunch that I was filled with an urge I hadn’t felt in far too long. The urge to work on my current novel.

Never mind the fact that I still had two blog posts to write, two quiches to make for a family dinner (one vegetarian, one traditional), and a house to clean, I wanted to write fiction. So I did. I got a few hundred words in before I had to stop and get the quiches made, which took longer than expected, and the cleaning done.

Sometimes, the best way to do a thing is to just do it. A little step perhaps, but a step in the right direction.

So tell me, what do you do to get out of your writing funk?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prompt Me - Wall Between Worlds

I was so busy patting myself on the back last night for remembering to schedule a repeat of my poetry post to my regular blog that I completely forgot to schedule my picture prompt. Fortunately, I get up early enough that I won’t be too late with this. :-D

However, you are not getting the picture I intended.

I had the perfect picture all picked out. And I even had the beginnings of a story to go with it in my head. But do you think I can find that picture now? Of course not! It’s hiding somewhere on my hard drive. I tried a Google search but while I came up with a similar picture, it wasn’t the picture. *sigh*

The picture below is actually the second, second choice I made. The first one was another really cool picture, but the options for a story/poem were rather limited and I wasn’t sure there was a non-fiction option. It was a little abstract.

This picture almost tells a story by itself - the wild woods on one side, the tamed field on the other, the stone wall in between. Lots of possibilities here, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope it sparks some creative ideas in you.



The idea is to write a story, poem, or a non-fiction piece inspired by the above picture. And I’d love to see what you come up with! So don’t be shy, you can send your creative endeavour to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and with your permission I can even post it here to share with others. You’ve got until the last Friday of the month to put your thinking caps on.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Paradelle

This being the first Wednesday of the month, it’s time for a form!

After much consideration, I chose the Paradelle. This form was invented by Billy Collins (who was the U.S. Poet Laureate at the time) as a parody of the Villanelle. He did it as a joke, claiming it was one of the more demanding French forms. The joke was on him when people took him seriously and began writing their own Paradelles.

This form has four stanzas with six lines each. The first three stanzas have the following format: lines 1 and 2 are the same; lines 3 and 4 are the same; but lines 5 and 6 must contain all the words from the previous lines, using each word only once. And just to make things interesting, the fourth stanza uses all of the words from the previous stanzas, and again uses each word only once. Got that now?

You’d think with all that repetition this would be an easy form, but it’s not. The last two lines of each stanza were bad, but nothing compared to the final stanza. Trying to fit all the words from the previous stanza without leaving any of them out is pretty tricky. If anyone out there would like a poetry challenge, I highly recommend the Paradelle.

And I unashamedly admit that I did not create a new poem as an example, this is the one from my original poetry post.


Vampire Moon

Red moon in the sky, swollen and full
Red moon in the sky, swollen and full
Bathing the world in its ghostly light
Bathing the world in its ghostly light
Swollen in red, the full ghostly world
Bathing the moon and sky in its light

The time has come to embrace the night
The time has come to embrace the night
Rise, take your place in the mortal realm
Rise, take your place in the mortal realm
Take your place in the night rise, mortal.
Embrace the realm, the time has come to.

Soft velvet night of the vampire moon
Soft velvet night of the vampire moon
Awaits you with your heart’s desire
Awaits you with your heart’s desire
Velvet vampire desire. Soft night,
Your heart’s moon awaits with you.

In your sky, has the velvet moon come?
The night awaits with your place in
the world, swollen and full of the light.
You, bathing in its soft ghostly night.
Rise, heart’s desire, take the mortal realm;
Time to embrace the red vampire moon.


If you’d like to learn more about the Paradelle, and maybe even try one for yourself, check out one of the following links:

Shadow Poetry - Paradelle
Writer's Digest - Poetic Asides
Poets Online Archive

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pet Peeve

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, not posting so much, just reading. And I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of late. People using old, perhaps relatively unknown, stories or poems and creating smarmy Facebook posts from them and riding on the coattails of someone else. Let me explain.

I’m sure there are lots of examples out there, but the first one I noticed (a couple of years ago) was a poem that was attached to a picture of a really old man lying in a hospital bed and the caption read that the poem was found amongst his things after he died. I’m sure you’ve all heard the poem before:

“Look at me nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me...”

The thing is, that poem was one of my mother’s favourites some 30 40 many years ago. It was actually written by a woman named Phyllis McCormack, who lived in Scotland, in the 1960s. I was rather appalled that this was being used to generate “likes” on Facebook and just how many people were buying into the idea that this was a recent occurrence.

Just recently I watched a moving video account of a young man who was orphaned in the Philippines 30 years ago and was adopted by an Australian couple, and who was seized by the desire to find out what happened to his parents all those years ago. So he went to the city he was adopted from and found his birth mother. Sound familiar? If you’ve seen the movie Lion, or read the book, it should.

A few days ago I watched what was supposed to be a video to inspire you to think of others. It told of a young married couple - she had long hair and he had a broken pocket watch. He sold his watch to buy her new combs for her hair, and comes home to discover she’s sold her hair to pay for the watch to be fixed. C’mon people, do you live under a rock that you’ve never heard of O. Henry’s feel good Christmas story called The Gift of the Magi? One of my all time favorites, it’s both touching and humorous. And I really resent the fact someone ripped it off for another smarmy Facebook post. They ought to be ashamed of themselves!

There are lots more examples, but I think I’ve made my point. Between stuff like that and all the political stuff going on, I find myself going on Facebook less and less.

And does anyone else find the way the internet keeps track of where you live and what you’ve been looking at creepy? The hubby and I were looking at ceiling panels for the kitchen and suddenly I keep getting ads for Home Depot popping up in my Facebook feed.

/end rant. ;-)

Last week wasn’t exactly a stellar week writing wise, but it was certainly better than the week before. I got all of my blog posts done, some of them even posted on time, plus I did a story and a poem for the Brazen Snake Books weekly prompts, AND I managed to get a super short story done for my monthly picture prompt.

But that was pretty much it because it was a holiday weekend and a busy one at that. And considering the wet, depressing week during which I was suffering from a sinus cold and migraines, I think I did pretty good.

This week’s goal is to get my blog posts done, at least attempt the Brazen Snake prompts, and actually get some of those word things in on one or more of my current WIP.

So tell me .... what are some of your pet peeves?

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Reader on the Rocks

It’s the end of the month and you know what that means, story time!

First off, here’s a reminder of this month’s picture prompt:



I have stared at this picture off and on over the last 30 days and I have to admit that while I still think this picture is really, really cool, it didn’t really spark any great literary ideas. It didn’t seem particularly poem-like, nor did it seem to generate a non-fiction idea - rock climbing? Reading on the shore? To be honest, the picture seemed to be a story all on its own, which is what I finally went with.

And if the story seems a little short, well, that’s because I don’t normally sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to write a story and it’s going to be this many words.” Usually I just sit down and write and let the story take its own path. There's a quote - I think it's from Alice in Wonderland - that goes something like: "Start at the beginning and go on until the end. Then stop." That's exactly what I did here.


Reader on the Rocks

It was the fog, really, that made it the perfect spot. When she caught sight of the rocks earlier in the week she thought they looked a little exposed. But now she stared down from her seat on top of them and all around her was a sea of fog. Sea was an apt term for it - the waves of grey fog undulated as though being tossed by the currents of an ocean, even though the nearest water was miles away.

To her pleased surprise the climb hadn’t been that difficult. The rocks weren’t jagged as one might expect, but more rounded - big, but not too big. And the fog had only just begun to roll in so it hadn’t done more than slightly dampen them. Getting down might be a little trickier, however, the fog was heavier now and the rocks were bound to become a bit slippery.

The path she’d taken had been a round-about one, not too easy to follow she hoped. An hour or two, that’s all she needed; she felt confident she would not be found any time soon. First, as always, they would try yelling, the volume increasing with her lack of response. But she was well out of range of even the most piercing of screams.

When that didn’t work one of them might try poking around her usual hiding spots, but only half-heartedly. By and large they were a lazy bunch, which was another reason to be up here instead of down there. It’s not that they couldn’t do things for themselves, it was just easier to have her do them.

Taking a deep breath of the damp air she made herself comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could be sitting on a pile of boulders. Family relegated to the back of her mind, she opened her book and began to read. At last! She’d finally be able to finish it without being interrupted!


Hope you enjoyed my little tale. Be sure and stop back next Friday to see what the picture prompt for the month of July will be.

Until then, happy writing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Silent Sentinel

This week’s poem is just a random one I chose from my files. It was written in 2013 and I believe it was “poemwork” for a poetry group I was a member of. As I recall, the assignment was to write a poem from the point of view of an inanimate object. In case you can’t guess from the poem itself, the point of view is from a stone that was carved into a gargoyle.


Silent Sentinel

I remember my birth
torn from the quarry
then found to be unfit for the stone circle.

I remember the superstitions,
the Wild Hunt's ride, sacrifices to beg a boon;
the dancing and the Green Man's bride.

I remember the poets,
who spent years perfecting the faultless rhyme
that would make of them heroes

I remember the old gods
no longer worshipped, not knowing why,
turning their backs on man.

I have felt the passage of time
felt the reshaping of my limestone form
awakened in my new home atop the cathedral

I have watched the world turn
the pleasure and the sorrow of man
the life and the death. Oh, so much death.

I have watched the city rise and fall
the new replacing the old until only I remain
keeping your secrets carved in stone.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Catching Up and Carrying On

I’m a procrastinator by nature. Long time, unapologetic, hard core procrastinator. Never put off today what you can put off until tomorrow or the next day. I’m also the queen of excuses. This is a bad combination. There’s always a good excuse for putting things off. But the thing about procrastination is that you can’t put things off forever. There comes a time when you have to fish or cut bait.

One of the things I’ve been putting off is catching up on my blog posts. I keep telling myself I can write a few blog posts over the weekend so I’ll have them ready to post during the week. But my weekends end up getting used to catch up on all the other stuff I don’t get done during the week. The end of the weekend comes and I’m surprised to find that once again I’ve got no writing done.

I had this big plan of posting poetry on Wednesdays, something to do with fiction on Fridays, and an update post on Sundays or Mondays. So far I’m not doing so good. The last couple of weeks I’ve been getting the poetry done, but not ahead of time.

And blog posts aren’t the only thing I seem to be putting off. I’d rather not have to talk about my fiction writing, but I did promise to be honest about my writing here. Most of my writing lately has been flash stories for the prompts from the Monday posts on the Brazen Snake Books blog, Snake Bites. Last week I didn’t even get that much done.

I’m not lacking for ideas or words, and I don’t believe in writer’s block. So what’s my problem? I have no clue, other than the spirit is willing but the rest of me seems to be out to lunch. Or maybe it’s just a total lack of motivation. And when I do have the motivation, life interferes and sucks up my time.

I take small comfort in the fact I’m not the only writer out there who’s feeling the same way lately. Even a few big name writers are finding it hard to motivate themselves these days. Nice to know I’m not alone. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have any solutions either.

I have a coffee mug that tells me to Keep Calm and Carry On. Good advice, that.

Instead of wasting time analyzing what’s happening and how to combat it, I’m going to try just carrying on. No excuses, no promises, just doing. Who knows, maybe it’ll even work. ;-)

One of my favourite personal quotes is this:

And what good is a life
That leaves nothing behind
Not a thought or a dream
That might echo in time

~ What is Eternal, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It’s from the album Beethoven’s Last Night, which is basically a fictional story of Beethoven struggling with a choice given to him by the devil - keep his soul but be forgotten by the world, or give up his soul so that he and his works will be remembered.

But another, perhaps more appropriate quote for me these days is this one from their Nightcastle album:

I wasted my time
'Til time wasted me

~ Believe, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Life’s too short to waste so much of my time. Something I need to keep in mind.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Flarf

Yeah, I know it’s not the first Wednesday of the month, but I’m sharing a form with you anyway, just because I can. :-D

The Flarf is the brain child of Gary Sullivan, and started out as a scam on a contest sponsored by the Poetry.com site. I’m sure he was as surprised as anyone when it became a whole movement.

What makes a Flarf both fun and easy is the fact you take your raw material from the internet, specifically a Google search. Simply use two unrelated terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "beautiful + corpse" and piece together your poem by cutting and pasting from the search results page.

You can also write a Flarf based on your Twitter or Facebook feeds, but I chose the more traditional Google search. The terms I used were "kitten + apocalypse".


Kitten Apocalypse

The world will end by kittens
and I want to explain how this will happen
in a lot of depth but
I have not made the video!

Mass resurrection
brings all dead party
and raid members back to life.
Beware.. The kittens have gone crazy!
To me, they are truly evil.

Do you see kittens staring at you?
Do they look sinister/evil!?
Avoid the radioactive zombie kittens
in a post apocalyptic nightmare!
Zombies, don't mess with angry kittens!

Kittens are the new ninjas.
Check out this vicious cat killing spree!
Meet Hiromi, the shy artist;
her cat Vince, who has a secret;
her best friend Kitty with all the visions

It's the kitten apocalypse! ..
. Animated zombie kittens!
Zombie kittens are attacking!
Why the hell are you still reading?

Apocalypse warning,
kittens involved.
If you see these,
you're probably screwed.

No one suspected
the zombie apocalypse
would look so cute.


If you’d like to learn more about the Flarf, try one of these links:

Poets.org - A Brief Guide to Flarf Poetry
The Truth About Lies - How to Write a Flarf

And since the quiz I included with the original post (many years ago) is no longer valid, I thought I'd include a short video to help illustrate my poem. :-)




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Words

Do you remember, back in your high school English class, having to dissect a poem? Your teacher would pick something by Keats or Wordsworth or Longfellow and tell you to write 500 or 1000 words on what the author really meant when he wrote that poem. I don’t know why they do that. No one really knows what the author means except the author themselves. And most of the poets that are studied in school have been dead for a long time.



The poem I’m featuring today was one I wrote in high school. Because I wrote it a few weeks after I broke up with my first boyfriend, everyone assumed I wrote it for him. I even had a couple of his friends come up to me and tell me to leave him alone, he’d moved on. But the truth is, I didn’t write it for anyone. It’s just a poem about words - there’s no hidden meaning. I got to thinking about words and how they can mean something different from what you intended. And then I kind of segued into story mode just to make it longer.

Anyway, here it is in all its glory. :-D

WORDS

Words to share with lovers
their meanings old as time,
and words I never said to you,
I thought them only mine;
words that can work magic,
that mend a broken heart;
words that seem to give you
another brand new start.
I wish that I had told you
the words I had in mind.
It might have made a difference
if we were given time.
The world's a mess because of words
that no-one thought to say,
and now I think that it's too late,
those words are here to stay.
I wish that we could build new words,
their meanings deep and true,
and I would take back words I said
and change them just for you.
You do not understand my words,
you never did it seems,
for words have double meanings
and I was filled with dreams;
I spoke too fast, I wasn't sure
of words I could not say,
and so I kept them deep inside
and now they're there to stay.
If I thought words could bring you back
I'd chatter day and night,
but it's too late for both of us
to make the wrong words right.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Poetry Anyone?

Once upon a time I participated in something called the PAD challenge run by Writer’s Digest. It was held during the month of April, National Poetry Month, and the idea was to write a Poem A Day using the prompts they’d supply. One of these prompts was for something called a sestina. With all the poetry I’ve written over the years, I’d never heard of a sestina before. It was a little challenging, and by the time I was done I was starting to wonder how many other poetry forms were there out there that I’d never heard of.

Turns out there were a lot!

For the next couple of years I had a separate blog for poetry and I’d share a new form with an original example each week. Sometimes I’d feature other poems, but mostly it was all about the forms. Then some person I’d never heard of sent me an email accusing me of using her information (not her poems) without citing her as a source.

So I dutifully went back through my posts and found two instances where the information was similar - not the same, just similar - to what she had on her site. I’m actually surprised there weren’t more. Although I used a variety of sources, sometimes there are only so many ways you can say: This is a Japanese form and the syllable count is...

Anyway, I reworded my posts and thought no more about it until I got an email from a gentleman with a similar complaint. Really? I checked, and once again the words were not an exact match but pretty similar. On a whim I checked the woman’s site and oh, gee, look at that. His words were an exact match to hers.

That was it for me. I was done. I’d started the blog to share my love of poetry, not to be harassed by small-minded, mean-spirited people. At this point I’d explored over a hundred different forms, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth so I pulled the blog.

For the next few years I only wrote poetry occasionally, and didn’t share any of it. Then I shared a couple of special occasion poems. Then Jamie and I did a PAD challenge of our own and it kind of revived my interest again. And now, here we are.

As a new feature on this blog, I’ve decided that Wednesday is going to be poetry day. The first Wednesday of the month (which would be today) I’m going to share a form. The rest of the Wednesdays will be just random poems - some new, some old, maybe even some old favorites culled from my library of really old poetry books.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the forms, for obvious reasons, but I will include links should you care to explore them yourself. So ... I’m going to begin where I began in the beginning, with the sestina.

The sestina was one of the most challenging forms I’ve ever encountered. It has 39 lines in total, divided into six verses of six lines each, and a three line envoi at the end. Sounds easy enough, right? Especially since it doesn’t have to rhyme. But here’s the thing. You start off by coming up with six words, and each of these words is used as a end word of one line in each of the six verses and the order changes in each verse.

For my sestina, I used the words: truth, grave, life, night, death, and stone.

Night Dweller’s Truth

In every breath there is a truth
that overshadows every grave,
a truth not found within a life
that shines its beacon into night,
a knowledge brought about by death
and graven into hardest stone.

A thought that’s carved in precious stone
contains what we perceive as truth,
unsuppressed by certain death,
as cold and alien as the grave,
deep and dark as empty night
just before it bursts to life.

If I’d but know how sweet is life,
not just a pathway strewn with stone,
perhaps I’d not embraced the night
that fills me with its awful truth
and takes me far beyond the grave
out of reach of even death.

And what is that which we call death?
Perhaps another way of life,
the end is more than just the grave,
a fresh turned mound that’s capped with stone.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth
before we pass into the night.

Come and share this sweetest night
where we can stand abreast of death,
and we will seek the perfect truth
of what is that which we call life
that gathers round us like a stone
and leads us blindly to the grave.

You look at me with visage grave -
accept my words, accept the night,
accept that fate’s not carved in stone.
Turn away from Lady Death,
her promise of the afterlife,
and know what’s in my heart is truth.

We’ll find our truth without the grave
and make our life within the night,
then vanquish death with shattered stone.


If you’d like to learn more or better yet, try your hand at your own sestina, here are a couple of sites that I’ve found helpful in the past:

Baymoon
The Poetry Foundation 
Shmoop

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prompt Me - the Rock

While I dropped the ball on my story last week (I’m still working on it though) I didn’t forget that this is the first Friday of June which means it’s time for another picture prompt!



Who is this girl? What is she doing up on that rock and how did she get up there? And what is that book she’s reading?

More importantly, what does it inspire you to write? A poem? A story? And article on readers who can read anywhere?

Inquiring minds want to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I’ll share it here at the end of the month.

Happy writing!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Light On Her Feet

Once again the last Friday of the month has snuck up on me, although to be fair, May ends Thursday next week so I feel I should be granted some leeway. But a promise is a promise, so ready or not, here we are. :-D

Here’s a reminder of the prompt picture:



As you know, the idea of these prompts is to inspire you to creativity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or poetry just so long as you write something. In my case I’m working on a short story that seems to keep changing, necessitating me going back and changing the beginning. I may, or may not, finish it later today. Or tonight. Or tomorrow.

In the meantime, the oh-so-talented Jamie DeBree sent me this lovely poem inspired by my prompt. It makes me wish I’d done a poem too - maybe I will eventually. ;-)

Light on Her Feet

Like a bright burning
filament she
dances,
flickering,
mesmerizing,
hypnotizing all
who dare stare into her flame.


While you’re waiting for my story, I suggest you check out Jamie’s on-line serial, Rattlesnake Falls. And if you’re curious about how the characters ended up where they did, drop Jamie a line and if you ask nicely she’ll catch you up.

Now cross your fingers and check back tonight, and if the planets are in the right alignment I just might have my story up too.

See you later.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Of Plots and Plans and Things In Between...

Writing is the dragon that lives underneath my floorboards. The one I incessantly feed for fear it may turn and devour my ass. Writing is the friend who doesn't return my phone calls; the itch I'm unable to scratch; a dinner invitation from a cannibal; elevator music for a narcoleptic. Writing is the hope of lifting all boats by pissing in the ocean. Writing isn't something that makes me happy like a good cup of coffee. It's just something I do because not writing, as I've found, is so much worse.
― Quentin R. Bufogle

This was the inspirational writing quote I sent to my best bud Jamie today, and in the accompanying email I said something to the effect that after careful consideration I have to agree with it. Writing doesn’t always make me happy, but it makes me a lot happier than not writing does.

The daughter was away for a conference this week, which necessitated me having to babysit during the day while her hubby was at work. Monday I was a disorganized mess. But Tuesday I discovered that by planning ahead things went much more smoothly. I even managed to get some writing in during the toddler’s nap time. Wednesday was the same.

I used to get very frazzled whenever I was expecting company, until I learned my aunt’s secret. She planned everything ahead of time, and did as much of the prep work for meals before the company arrived as she could. It’s amazing what a little planning can do.

During my writing time while I was babysitting, I was trying to work on a story but I wasn’t sure where it was going. So I jotted down a few plot points of what I wanted to have happen. That’s not to say I plotted the whole thing out, just a really short plan of the action.

A couple of weeks ago I used mini index cards to jot down the remaining scenes in the novel I’m currently working on, and even a couple of scenes closer to the beginning that I’ll have to go back to so I can fit them in. As plans go it’s not much, but it got me eager to start working on it again.

All of this made me realize that maybe there’s something to planning ahead after all.

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post about pantsers versus plotters. It’s fairly simple. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants - they just sit down and write, having no clear of what’s going to happen until they write it. Plotters, on the other hand, plan everything out ahead of time so there are no surprises.

Back when I was new to writing, I thought everyone was a plotter. So I spent a lot of time on outlines and maps and character sketches and eventually realized that I was spending more time on them (and having more fun in the process) than I was actually writing. My novel kind of stalled and it was years before I got back to it. Actually, my writing stalled - it was a few years before I got back to any of my longer fiction.

The first novel I actually finished was written purely by the seat of my pants. I was goaded convinced by Jamie to try my hand at a blog serial. I let the story progress naturally and most of the time I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was an adventure, albeit sometimes a frustrating one.

I wrote several other novels after that (that book turned into a series, of which I’m about to start number five), all by the seat of my pants. It was decided. I was a confirmed pantser.

But then I began to struggle a bit. My second series, based on that first attempted novel, began to flounder until I discovered all the character sketches, maps, and notes I made originally. While the characters had evolved well past those initial sketches, the notes were invaluable, as were the maps. Using the notes, I created the “scene cards” I mentioned earlier, half-sized index cards with a few words describing a single scene on each one. This will take me to the end of book three.

Maybe planning out a novel isn’t such a bad thing after all. Especially when you’re writing a series. And recalling those story notes I made ... I used to get an idea for a short story and just wing it. But knowing what’s going to happen actually makes it a little easier to write. And notes help jog my not-so-reliable memory when it falters.

So... while I doubt I’ll ever be doing a long-winded, multi-page, detailed outline such as plotters are famous for, neither will I dismiss the idea of a little planning ahead. I guess you could say I’m taking the middle road. “Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.”

I’m not totally a plotter, but neither am I strictly speaking a pantser anymore. I’m somewhere in between. I ... am a tweener!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Prompt Me - Artificial Light

Whoops! I was so busy writing I almost forgot today was Friday and time for a new picture prompt!

I was writing not one, but two stories from last week's Brazen Snake Books prompt, which you can find every Monday on the Snake Bites blog. This one was all about keepsakes and I wrote a poem, then a dark little tale, then had an idea for a sweet romance, then a longer version of the dark tale. All from one prompt!

This month's picture prompt was given its title by the photographer. It was part of a photography challenge she had with a friend, and I quite like the mystery of it.



Who is this woman inside the lightbulb? Why is she in there? Is she a woman, or something else? What is that smoke in there with her?

Don't forget, your creativity can come in any form - fiction, poetry, non-fiction ...

I'd love to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I'll even post it here at the end of the month.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week Four of the Jamie and Carol Poetry Challenge

Can you believe it? It’s the end of April, which marks the end of National Poetry month and the end of the poetry challenge.

I have to admit there were a few times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the end. And many times when I thought about cheating - I’ve done examples of all of the forms I used before and it was really tempting to use one of my pre-written examples, especially for the Xenolith, but I didn’t.

I come away from this challenge with 30 brand new poems to add to my collection, and a new energy towards my fiction writing. I’m glad I stuck it out, and maybe I’ll even be inspired to post a new poem here every once in awhile.

It’s something to think about, to be sure, but for now - the poems:

Poem #22
The Sijo is Korean, traditionally composed in three lines of 14-16 syllables each, totaling between 44-46 syllables.
Line 1 introduces the situation or theme of the poem.
Line 2 develops the theme with more detail or a “turn” in argument.
Line 3 presents a “twist” and conclusion.

* ~ * ~ *

I watch for the portents, like dark clouds fleeing towards the horizon
when a storm is coming, you can smell it on the wind
there are changes fast approaching, and we are totally unprepared.

* ~ * ~ *

On All Hallows Eve the veil between this world and the next thins
allowing spirits to roam at will, lingering at the fires of bone
before returning from whence they came, leaving us behind.

Poem #23
This was a Sunday poem and although I said I wasn’t going to do forms on Sundays, I thought I’d lighten things up with a couple of limericks:

There once was a girl from Nantucket
Who said all these forms can just suck it
with syllable counts
the tension just mounts
and as for the rhymes I’ll just chuck it.

* ~ * ~ *

These grey rainy days are so dismal
I’m sick of the heaven’s baptismal
There’s no end in sight
To the duckies delight
This weather is truly abysmal

Poem #24
The Tetractys consists of at least 5 lines with a syllable count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10. You don't need to limit yourself to a single verse, you can have as many as you wish following the 5 line format. It can also be reversed and written as 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. You might also want to try the Double Tetractys 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, or continue as long as you wish keeping to this pattern. I did both a double and a single.

Sun
rising
colouring
the sky with pink
before it starts bleeding into the day
and then turning multiple shades of blue
until losing
cohesion -
fade to
black


The
zombies
are rising
and so we just
batten down the hatches and wait in fear


Poem #25
The Utenzi verse form is Swahili in origin and usually describes heroic deeds. It consists of four-line stanzas with eight syllables per line. The last syllable of each of the first three lines rhyme with each other while the last line has a separate rhyme that is consistent throughout the poem, tying the verses together.

The Lovers

She was not the fairest of face
but she possessed an elfin grace
and led him on a merry chase
‘till he was well and truly caught.

A smile, a touch, and it began
though she was from another clan
so they were forced to make a plan
escape would take much aforethought.

They fled along the old causeway
and soon they made their getaway
far to a land where they could stay
where her kin would trouble them not.

And so they loved and lived their days
wrapped as they were in love’s sweet haze
together at last for always
in happiness that love had wrought.

Poem #26
The Virelai is a medieval French verse form. It can have any number of 9-line stanzas but must have at least three. The syllable count is 5-5-2-5-5-2-5-5-2 and it has a running rhyme from stanza to stanza aabaabaab bbcbbcbbc ddcddcddc etc until the end, in which the long line rhyme of the first stanza is repeated as the short line rhyme of the last stanza, ffaffaffa. I’m pretty sure this was a form of medieval torture.

Arrgh!

This form is a pain
I must be insane
to write
it looked rather plain
but it hurts my brain
tonight
this poem is inane
I’ve got a migraine
all right.

The second verse might
just worsen my plight
a curse
this poem is a sight
to give you a fright
perverse
must finish despite
my lack of delight
adverse.

Yah! The final verse
this poem is the worst
a bane
a syllabic curse
really kinda terse
brain drain
the rhyme is perverse
my psyche needs a nurse
migraine!

Poem #27
The Waka is said to be the classic verse form from which most Japanese forms developed. It is written in 5 lines with 31 syllables: 5-7-5-7-7

Thunder rolling in
lightning flashes in the sky
a scent of ozone
dark clouds on the horizon
preceding the breaking storm.

* ~ * ~ *

Relentless rainfall
pitter patter on the ground
quenching the earth’s thirst
‘til the earth can drink no more -
rising, then spilling over.

* ~ * ~ *

Words said in anger
ugly words like knives
sharp and painful
cutting deep, leaving a wound -
they cannot be unspoken

Poem #28
A xenolith is fragment of extraneous rock embedded in magma or another rock. A Xenolith poem is one poem of eight lines embedded in a poem of seven lines making it a fifteen line poem. The seven lines have twelve syllables per line and are mono-rhymed, the eight lines have eight syllables per line and are written in rhyming couplets. Technically, you can pull them apart to end up with three poems, all of which should make sense.

12 syllables
It starts with a poet who has nothing to say
some words will need coaxing to see the light of day
inspiration is as ethereal as the moon’s ray
you can give chase but cannot catch that which is fey
perhaps the will-o-the-wisp has lead you astray
to inspire others to follow the pathway
and see what remains left at the end of the day

8 syllables
magic appears when it’s not sought
it’s not a thing that can be caught
like dust left in a fairy’s wake
or beauty that makes a soul ache
the poet’s pen, the artist’s brush
the light of dawn’s first early blush
a song that’s sung with all your heart
a pledge that’s made to never part

Inspiration

It starts with a poet who has nothing to say
magic appears when it’s not sought
some words will need coaxing to see the light of day
it’s not a thing that can be caught
inspiration is as ethereal as the moon’s ray
like dust left in a fairy’s wake
or beauty that makes a soul ache
you can give chase but cannot catch that which is fey
the poet’s pen, the artist’s brush
the light of dawn’s first early blush -
perhaps the will-o-the-wisp has lead you astray
a song that’s sung with all your heart
to inspire others to follow the pathway
a pledge that’s made to never part
and see what remains left at the end of the day

Poem #29
The Yama verse is both a syllabic and a rhyming form. Traditionally it is a poem of death, grief or sorrow, although it can be expanded to include simply a poem of loss (even of a season). It can be any number of quatrains, but it is written in lines of 6 syllables with lines 2 and 4 rhyming, and must always have a title.

Regret For Time Lost

It happened much too fast
we’d no time to prepare
you were gone and we were
left behind in despair

I recall looking back
as you sat there alone
I never should have left
you to the great unknown

My big regret is that I
did not stay with you
I was young with no clue
what you were going through

The doctor lied to us
they said you had a year
it was just a few months
your sickness was severe.

I cannot help but think
that you are now content
you’re with mom in heaven
after a life well spent.

Poem #30
ZĂ©jel is a romantic Spanish form with Arabic influence. Eight syllable lines are common, but others have been used. It can have any number of verses. The first stanza, known as the mudanza, has three lines, rhyming aaa. All the other stanzas as many of them as you like have 4 lines, rhyming bbba, the a rhyme harking back to the first stanza.

Watcher

There’s magic in the air tonight
I feel it in the moon’s pale light
and I am filled up with delight .

I heard the horn from far away
to call the Wild Hunt into play
the riders soon will come this way
and I will witness magic bright.

You say I’m mad to wish to see
the huntsmen on their killing spree
on that I will not disagree
but I cannot resist the sight.

They take the damned, so it is said
to dwell among the restless dead
and sometimes take lost souls instead
because it is their ancient right.

Let others cower with a chill
next to the fire behind the grill
I will stand firm upon the hill
and I will watch the huntsmen’s flight.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And there you have it. An alphabet’s worth of poetry forms with a couple of extra thrown in to make 30 days of poetry.

Don’t forget to check out JAMIE'S final week’s worth of poems too. And come on back Friday to see if you’re inspired by the picture prompt I’ll be posting for the month of May.