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And since the quiz I included with the original post (many years ago) is no longer valid, I thought I'd include a short video to help illustrate my poem.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

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Bleakness

Once again it’s fiction Friday and here I am with the story I came up with for this month’s picture prompt. How about you? Did you find yourself inspired by the picture? Just as a reminder, here it is:



My story turned out a little longer than I expected, and I have to admit it’s a little rough. But ready or not, here it is:

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The Bleakness

Clouds boiled in the sky, a sickly combination of grey and green and brown. That’s when she knew her spell had worked. Until that moment, she hadn’t been sure it would. It was a dark magic, and old magic passed down through generations but no one had ever used it before. No one had been consumed with the right amount of rage and sorrow....

The day had begun much as all the days did. While she hoed the small vegetable patch beside the house, she kept an eye on Lanni, her youngest, as she played contentedly with her doll in the shade of the apple tree. The branches of the tree were just starting to dip under the weight of the apples they held - it promised to be a good crop this year.

In the distance she could see Joseph working diligently in the fields, Henry and Robard close by. The sky was clear and blue, giving no hint of what was to come. She’d paused for a moment, leaning on her hoe, and watched a hawk wheeling above, then suddenly diving. He was so fast his prey had not even a chance to cry out.

And that was when the horn sounded.

She’d frozen in place. Out in the field Joseph’s head snapped up, and when the horn sounded a second time he sent the boys ahead of him as they raced towards the house. Shaking off her paralysis, she dropped the hoe and snatched Lanni up, ignoring the plaintive cries for the dropped doll as she rushed into the house.

“There’s no time to take anything,” Joseph shouted, catching up to her at the door.

“But...”

He sent the boys on ahead then took Lanni from her. Frightened, Lanni began to cry harder.

“Things can be replaced, you can’t,” Joseph said grimly. “We’ve no time to waste.”

He was right and she followed him back out of the house without a second glance. There was not enough time to follow the road and they cut across the fields, stumbling on the uneven ground. As they caught up to the boys Robard fell, crying out in pain. They paused long enough for Joseph to pass Lanni over to her and then he scooped Robard up into his arms.

The gate was just closing as they reached the village wall.

“Wait!” Joseph shouted.

But the gate shut fast and they heard the bar drop into place.

“Please,” she called out, as Joseph set Robard down so he could start pounding on the gate. “You can’t just leave us out here!”

“It’s the likes of you what brung the raiders in the first place,” an angry voice called from behind the gate. “With any luck they’ll take you and leave us be.”

“At least take the children!” she begged, only to be met with silence.

They turned to run but it was too late. The small party of raiders, advance scouts for a much larger group, had them surrounded. Though they had no come specifically for her, once they saw the mark on her forehead she knew they were lost.

The raiders took them back to the homestead and made her watch as one by one they tortured and killed her family. She remained stoic, resigned, refusing even to shed a tear. Finally they beat her and raped her and left her for dead.

There no sympathy from the villagers who ventured out to see the raiders handiwork the next morning, but then she expected none. Dry-eyed, she stood and faced them.

“You have only yourself to blame, witch. This is what comes of consorting with the devil.”

“I am no witch,” she said proudly. “As you well know.”

“You bear the mark,” the headman’s wife hissed.

“It’s just a mark, it means nothing.”

“You need to leave,” the headman told her. “We don’t want your kind here.”

“And where am I to go? This is my home.”

“No longer. We want you gone before your trouble becomes ours.”

“You have no idea what trouble is,” she said softly. “But you will.”

They left without even offering to help bury her dead, not that she would have accepted. Her heart was stone, she was stone. Alone she buried her family, four graves lined up side by side. With each shovelful of rocky soil her anger grew, soon outweighing her sorrow. They would have only had to open the gate and her family would still be alive. But they were too superstitious, too petty - and they would pay.

She was not a witch, but she came from a long line of witches. They had but one spell left to them, passed down from generation to generation. Her mother had not used it, nor her grandmother, nor even her grandmother’s mother. But she did.

It was a summoning spell, it called the creature known as The Bleakness. It stood before her and she pointed at the village behind its wall, no words were necessary. At her direction it turned and drifted that way, the crops in the field it passed over shriveling in its wake.

She watched even though she could no longer see it, knowing that where The Bleakness passed, barrenness followed - fields, animals, women - no life would grow here for a hundred seasons. There would be no crops, no increasing herds, no children.

At last she turned away and started back towards the house to pack up what few belongings she was taking with her. As she passed the apple tree, fruit rotting on its limbs, she spied Lanni’s doll laying where she’d dropped it. She reached down and picked it up and a shiver went through her.

Numbly she continued on into the house. There was nothing she wanted to take from this place. There was nowhere for her to go where she’d be welcome. She sank down onto the hearth with the doll in her arms and wept.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Be sure and visit next Friday to see what the picture prompt is for the month of May. And don’t forget to check back on Sunday for the final poetry post.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week Three of the Jamie and Carol Poetry Challenge

Whoops! I almost forgot. It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time to post my week’s worth of poems. In case you missed the previous posts, you can find Week One HERE and Week Two HERE. And don’t forget to check out Jamie’s poems HERE.

Without further ado, POEMS!

Poem #15
The Monotetra can have any number of stanzas of four lines each, but must have at least two. Each stanza contains a mono-rhyme, so that the pattern is aaaa, bbbb, cccc, and so on, and eight syllables, and the last line of each stanza has a repeating four-syllable phrase, like an echo, to make it look like a refrain.

The Price to Pay

The wind is from the west today
I stand and watch the branches sway
a storm is coming, so they say -
perhaps it may, perhaps it may.

But wind and rain are not what wait
for one like me, no it is fate
upon my soul it’s hunger sate
so filled with hate, so filled with hate.

I dabbled in what I should not
never thinking I’d be caught -
it’s not as if I’d not been taught
but I forgot, but I forgot.

There always is a price to pay
for those who once were made of clay
but changed to stop life’s slow decay
to my dismay, to my dismay.

I come to you, confess my sin
remind you all of what has been
the world around me starts to spin
please let me in, please let me in.

It doesn’t matter anyhow
alas there is no succor now
for those who broke a sacred vow
the end is now, the end is now.

Poem #16

You know, you’d think Sunday’s poem would be easier because I’m not following a specific form, but I still have to come up with a subject, and my brain feels like it’s full of sawdust.

I Make The Plans

I make the plans and then I watch
as plans go all awry
all that time gone with a splotch
and all I can do is sigh.

I make the plans and then I see
other things to do
I go upon a cleaning spree
and then I sit and stew.

I make the plans and then I find
a web cam on the ‘net
I watch the feed ‘til I’m near blind
and so the pattern’s set.

I make the plans but never seem
to stick to them, I guess
plans for me are just a dream -
they only cause me stress.

Poem #17
Naani is one of India's most popular Telugu forms. The name means “an expression of one and all”. It consists of four lines, with a total of 20 to 25 syllables. The Naani has no rhyme scheme and there is no set length to each line, nor is the poem is not bound to a particular subject. My kind of poem! It was so much fun I did three of them. :-)

I offer you a cup of words
take what you want -
the rest will fly free
like dandelion seeds on the wind.

Look up, look up
into a clear blue sky
where thoughts and dreams drift
in the shape of white clouds.

Ink spills across the page
needing the mind’s eye
to decipher the meaning
of the poet’s thoughts.

Poem #18
The Ochtfochlach (points if you can pronounce it) is from Ireland. It has 8 lines, any consistent number of syllables, and the rhyme scheme is AAAB CCCB.

Split

There is a darkness deep in me
Down where no one else can see
Filled with all of life’s debris
and what I perceive is pay back.
Sometimes I let the darkness out
but only when no one’s about
and then true evil starts to sprout
and there’s no turning back.

Poem #19
The Pensee is a syllabic form with five lines. The structure is as follows:
Line 1: subject – 2 syllables
Line 2: description – 4 syllables Line 3: action – 7 syllables
Line 4: setting – 8 syllables
Line 5: final thought – 6 syllables
Titles are optional, but I titled mine and did two of them because they’re short.

Magic
faeries
in the moonlight
flittering and dancing free
in the hidden magic forest
make me feel young again.

Depression
journey
into darkness
the black dog is chasing you
to the edge of the mind’s abyss
the dark night of the soul.

Poem #20
I had a lot of choices for the letter Q and in the end I chose my two favorites.

A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. These syllables are distributed as follows:
Line 1: Statement of 7 syllables
Line 2: Beginning of question with 5 syllables
Line 3: End of question with 3 syllables

I always expect the worst -
why do I do that?
I don’t know.

The flapping of wings fills the air.
Where do ducks come from?
Will they stay?

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Quatern is a sixteen line French form. Rhymes are not a requirement and if one is used the rhyme scheme or rhyming pattern is entirely up to the poet. The Quatern:
1) Must have four verses.
2) Each verse must have four lines.
3) Each line must have eight syllables.
4) It must have a first line which is a descending repeated line.

Magic Rare

A quality of magic rare
dwells within the most worthy souls;
a hidden essence sometimes shown
but only to those who believe.

Like a ghost on the earthly plain,
a quality of magic rare
is often sensed rather than seen
like a will-o-the-wisp at large.

A moonlit path of fairy dust
that shimmers and glows will lead to
a quality of magic rare
for those who have the eyes to see.

With pen and ink I start to write
trying to capture the coy words
and wish that somehow I could find
a quality of magic rare.

Poem #21
Like so many other French forms, the Retourne is all about repetition. It contains four quatrains (four-line stanzas), and each line has eight syllables. It’s kind of like the Quatern in that it has a repeating line, but in this case the second line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the second stanza, the third line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the third stanza; and the fourth line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the fourth stanza.

My Path

I walk a path that no one sees
It takes me to unknown places.
I see things most others cannot
I hold the magic in my veins.

It takes me to unknown places
This path of mine I walk alone
Though others are free to follow
If they truly wish to do so.

I see things most others cannot
Which is disconcerting at times
But oh, the beauty in the world
So often overlooked by man,

I hold the magic in my veins
And walk a magic path of words.
As hard as it is, still it’s mine
And I wouldn’t trade for anything.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And there you have the poems for week three. Next week is going to be challenging because I’m getting into the harder letters of the alphabet. And seeing as April ends next Sunday, that’s when I’ll be posting the final week’s worth of poems. Don’t forget to check back!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Week Two of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

Wow! It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up the pace of the poetry challenge, but somehow we’re managing. Would it have been easier if we were posting every day? Hard to say. In any case, if you missed the first post about National Poetry Month, you can find it HERE and for those of you who’ve had these posts delivered to your email so you can’t just scroll down, my first week’s worth of poems can be found HERE

And now, on to the poems!

Poem #8
The Gzha is a Tibetan poetry form written in four unrhymed lines with six syllables per line. It's really only supposed to be one stanza, but because it's so short I kept going - technically any of the verses could be a stand alone.

Pearls of wisdom fall like
drops of blood from a wound,
bruising whatever they
touch with unwanted truths.

Whispers in the darkness
meant to lure and beguile -
a maelstrom of choices
too tempting to resist.

What good is truth really?
When a well thought out lie
is much more seductive
and easily believed.

Poem #9
This poem fell on a Sunday, and I’m taking Sundays off from forms and just doing whatever pops into my head. :-)

A Poem Every Day

What was I thinking?
A poem every day -
I really don’t have
all that much to say.

A poem every day?
It’s a lot of work
when lately my writing
I’ve tended to shirk.

And sticking to forms -
what’s that all about?
A lot of those rhyme schemes
fill me with doubt.

A poem every day
is a pretty big chore
but I hope by the end
I’ll keep writing more.

Poem #10
Today’s form is the Hexaduad which is comprised of one stanza of six rhyming couplets or twelve lines. The structure is fairly simple: 1st couplet has 2 syllables per line, 2nd has 6 each, 3rd has 8 each, 4th has 4 each, 5th has 6 each, and 6th has 4 each. The rhyme scheme is aa bb cc dd ee ff

Oh look,
a book!
Because it’s so well writ
I find I must read it
and nothing will stand in my way
even if it takes me all day.
Give me a chair
out of the glare
and a pot of hot tea
and perhaps a cookie -
no talk until
I’ve read my fill.

Poem #11
The Imayo is from Japan, a four line poem with twelve syllables per line. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, there’s a caesura (or pause) separating each line after the seventh syllable, giving it the typical seven/five pattern. Because it’s so short I did two of them, but I cheated a bit and did the five syllable part as single words.

Stargazing
Childish wish upon a star, imagination
the truth appears in a dream, interpretation
things fall into place for once, serendipity
the future spreads a bright path, illuminati.

Progress
Toxic waste flowing freely, contamination
always there is an excuse, justification
quasi clean-ups just in time, organization
money obscuring the truth, civilization


Poem #12
The Jagati is a Hindu verse form. The Jagati is written with 4 lines or padas to a stanza and 12 syllables in each pada.

Disconnection

A cool white moon, shining high in the midnight sky
Keeping silent vigil o’er an uncaring world,
Pacing across the heavens in an age old dance,
Seeking the perfect partner that does not exist.

A lost god, winging his way across the heavens
Forever in pursuit of the truth, of the way,
Fruitlessly searching for the vision gone astray -
Steadfast, the mission to find a forgotten past.

A rising sun, red on the distant horizon,
Herald for a new day of unanswered questions,
As eternal and enduring as time itself -
Archaic habits cannot be changed on a whim.

Poem #13
Today’s form is the Kwansaba, which is a non-rhyming form that consists of seven lines of seven words per line and each word cannot be more than seven letters. You’d think this would be a breeze with no rhymes or syllable count to worry about, but I kept wanting to use words that were more than seven letters. Go figure. LOL

Dreamer
I lie awake in the dark night
my mind awhirl with this and that
hopes and fears and what might be.
Sleep still eludes me for a time
but as my turning thoughts slow down
visions begin to appear in my mind;
soon I’m lost in a dream world.

Poem #14
The final form for the week (written fresh this morning) is the Luc Bat. Luc Bat is Sino-Vietnamese for "six eight", referring to the alternating lines of six and eight syllables. It will always begin with a six-syllable line and end with an eight-syllable one, however, it can be as long as you wish. It has a really funky rhyme scheme, which you can learn all about  HERE.

So It Begins
The drifts of snow are gone
and sooner comes the dawn, soft glow
the winds begin to blow
the sap begins to flow, unseen
the grass becomes more green
and has that special sheen, once more
the rain begins to pour
like it has done before, in spring
the birds begin to sing
celebrate everything, at dawn.

And there you have it. The second week’s worth of poems.

Don’t forget to check out Jamie's Poems too. She may not be using specific forms, but following prompts can be just as challenging, if not more so!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week One of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

As you know, my best buddy Jamie and I challenged each other to write a poem a day for the month of April. I’m following an A to Z theme of forms while Jamie is working from prompts supplied to her from a workshop she participated in.

We emailed our resulting poems to each other on a daily basis and today we’re posting them on our respective blogs.

Poem #1

My first poem is written in the Abhanga form. It’s a four line stanza with a syllable count of 6,6,6,4. Lines 2 and 3 rhyme:

Magic burning brightly
the heady perfume scent
of power in assent
filling the air.

A thought, a word, a spell
the magic works its will
and power rises still
to reach the end.

Poem #2

Since April has 30 days and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, I’m going to take a page from the A to Z thing and do whatever turns my crank on Sundays. This is a poem I’ve been meaning to write for a long time that’s part of a book I haven’t worked on in years (because it needs to be totally rewritten). It’s supposed to be more like a nursery rhyme.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

White the Myste that grasps your hand and takes you to another land.
Yellow Myste, the years will fly -
forwards, backwards, not knowing why.
Blue the Myste, transforming skin
into things that have not been.
Green the Myste you’ll lose your head;
Red the Myste, you’ll end up dead.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

Poem #3

The Balassi Stanza is named after the Hungarian poet Balint Balassi. It consists of nine lines with the rhyme-scheme AABCCBDDB and a syllable count of 667667667.

My escape is a dream
on a silver moonbeam
a gift from the stars so bright.
I can fly if I will
even go further still
and soar far into the night.
I can change how I look,
take the road no one took -
wherever fancy takes flight.

I can be anyone,
I can lay in the sun,
or swim in an ocean blue.
I can step in a book
maybe just for a look
or see the story comes true.
I would live in a dream
all my life it would seem
if choice was in my purview.

Poem #4

Choka is a form of Japanese long poetry pre-dating, but related to, haiku. As with haiku, the lines of a choka should not rhyme but should follow a syllabic pattern (onji). The most widely accepted pattern for the Choka is to start with a katuata of 5-7-5 syllables and continue in a 7-5 syllable pattern. It can be any odd number of lines and finishes with a 7-7 syllable count.

Gun metal grey sky,
clouds weeping for lack of sun,
chill dampness seeping
into the pores of the earth,
no ending in sight.
Boiling rivers and streams, dark
with mud and debris
rushing to leave us behind;
wash away our sins.
Like divine retribution
prayers go unheeded.
In the uncaring darkness,
voices turn to smoke.
Like a prophet false to truth
the dark continues
eroding creativity;
a slow death of the spirit.

Poem #5

Despite being called the Diminished Hexaverse, this form has nothing to do with the number six. It begins with a five line stanza of five syllables in each line, then a four line stanza with four syllables each, then three, then two, then one. Rhymes are to be avoided in this form and you can give it a title or not, as you wish.

Creativity

The glide of a pen
A soft muttered curse
A brushing of paint
A starting over
Persistence is key

A finished poem
A finished song
A painting done
Satisfaction

Creation
is never
that easy

but still
we do

it.

Poem #6

This form is the Etheree, which is similar to the Diminished Hexaverse only longer. This one is ten lines long. The first line is one syllable, the second line is two syllables, and so forth until the tenth line of ten syllables. You can also do it in reverse, going from ten syllables to one.

I
write of
things unseen
and often things
hidden in the dark
abyss of a twisted
imagination - nothing
is planned, words flowing outward
and spread across the page in a pattern
that weaves the story that’s trapped within

But the spinner spins and the weaver weaves
and sometimes thread-thoughts become tangled
and I stare at the empty screen
waiting for inspiration
waiting for ideas
that might never come -
still I persist
until the
tale is
done.

Poem #7

The Flarf is an internet dependant form that combines unusual phrases from Google searches. It takes its raw material from a search involving wildly different terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "exquisite + corpse." A poem is created by cutting and pasting words from the search results page (none of the website links are followed). You can also pull lines from your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but I chose the traditional Google search. :-D

The Ugliness in Beauty (revised)

Humans can be very conflicted
when it comes to the concepts of beauty and ugly.
Is Ugly the New Beautiful?
These are two variations of the same concept,
which, when literally translated, mean pretty-ugly
and beautiful-ugly, respectively.
Note the proportion of beautiful words to ugly ones.

What are we to define ugly?
We all enjoy beauty.
But an appreciation of ugliness is necessary to it.
The Beautiful and the Ugly are One Thing
Ugly is just another form of beauty,
Without ugly we would have much less,
Because even the ugliest thing has helped something.

How beautiful am I?
The beautiful and the ugly are not opposites,
but aspects of the same ...
Better to see the beautiful, ugly truth of the cosmos.
There are no certainties here, only struggle and contingency
In the natural world, beauty can be many things

Why am I ugly?
or not pretty enough?
It’s a pretty person’s world
I'm ugly, and I know it.
Stop telling me I'm 'beautiful'.
I'm ugly. It's fine.
The Beautiful Ugly. 143 likes

Heartbreaking, terrifying, thought provoking
Just who are these sinners
that are so ugly on the inside?
And the LORD God said unto the serpent,
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle,
and above every beast of the field; ...
Existence can be beautiful or ugly.
It can be lonely. Chaotic. Terrifying.
What matters is how you see it.
“EVERYTHING burns,”
says the Joker in the Dark Knight
Am I ugly?

And there you have it. The first week’s worth of poems. I hope you had as much fun reading them as I did writing them. And hey, it’s National Poetry Month - why not give one or more of the forms I’ve included a try?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Prompt Me - the Masked Figure

Here we are again, the first Friday of the month. And here's your picture prompt for the month:



A cloaked figure in a mask crossing a barren field - if that doesn't inspire you to write a poem, story, or article I don't know what will. :-D

As usual, you have until the end of the month and I'd love to see what you come up with so feel free to email it to me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. With your permission, I can even post it here so others can enjoy it too.

And don't forget to stop by tomorrow to check out my first week's worth of poems!

Monday, April 3, 2017

On National Poetry Month and Challenges and What Was I Thinking?

Remember back in November when my writing wasn’t going well and I decided to do NaNoWriMo? The idea being it would give my writing a much needed boost and get me back on track. And it worked ... for a while.

Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events, over the Christmas holidays I kind of lost my momentum. And my motivation. So I thought, why not take part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge? This challenge has you doing a blog post every day for the month of April (except Sundays) following the letters of the alphabet. I’ve done it a few times in the past and it was a lot of fun - each day is a new letter.

But when I went to their site I discovered that they’ve changed the way they’re running it, which is their prerogative of course, but instead of a links list of participating blogs, you’re required to post a daily link either on their website, their Facebook page, or Twitter - or all three if you have the time and inclination. Which quite frankly, I don’t.

For my A to Z theme (it’s always easier if you have a theme) I was going to do poetry, seeing as April is National Poetry Month. More precisely I was going to do poetry forms, which I’ve explored with great enjoyment in the past, but writing an original example for each day’s form.

When I decided not to do the challenge I toyed with the idea of just posting my A to Z poems anyway, but a daily blog post seemed like a lot of work. I was all ready to just shelve the idea when I received an email from my best bud Jamie who was waffling over participating in a local poem-a-day seminar.

I goaded double dog dared encouraged her to participate and even suggested I’d be willing to match her poem for poem, never really believing she’d accept. ;-) But she did, and now we’re both writing a poem a day for the month of April. To keep each other honest, we’re going to email each other our poems on a daily basis and then post a week’s worth of poems on our respective blogs on Saturdays.

I don’t know who’s facing the bigger challenge: Jamie, who’s working from a specific prompt that’s sent to her daily; or me, who has to come up with an idea for a form. One year I participated in the Writer's Digest PAD Challenge where you write to a daily prompt, and it was indeed challenging. The only good part about it was you could post your poems any time, so if you fell behind it was easy to catch up. But that’s where I first discovered a poetry form called the Sestina, which I’d never heard of before and that sent me on my journey of discovery of poetry forms.

I started out writing poetry, and I’ve always felt that it gave my other writing a creative boost. I think Jamie will find that too. If nothing else, it’ll get us writing every day, right?

Don’t forget to check back Friday for the picture prompt for April, and then Saturday for the first week ‘o poems. :-D

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Wall

Here it is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s story time!

As a reminder, here’s the picture for this month’s prompt:



What did you think? Did it inspire you to come up with a story? A poem? Maybe a travel article? As seems usual for me lately, my imagination took a bit of a darker turn. And I had to do a surprising amount of research. Even so, I still managed to get it finished on the proper day this month. LOL


The Watcher On the Wall


My grandmother was fascinated by the end of the world and made it her life’s study. Don’t be too quick to judge, she wasn’t some crack pot, she was a respected university professor. Her specialty was end of the world mythology.

When I was younger I used to help her with her research and I have to admit it was intriguing to see how the different cultures believed things would end. It’s been predicted from as far back as the Mesopotamians, who believed the world was already slowly deteriorating and would end in the destruction of a corrupt society.

The Egyptians believed that after countless cycles of renewal, the world would dissolve in water, returning to its primordial state. The word apocalypse originated with the Greeks, who believed the world had already ended several times. But they, too, believed the ultimate end would come in water.

Surprisingly, the Norse Ragnarok, where the gods would battle Loki, the Frost Giants, Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent), and the wolf Fenrir was not the ultimate end of the world as there would be survivors. The true end would come when the serpent Níðhöggr gnawed through the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil, bringing it and the universe down together.

Of course the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012 was proven wrong. But we still had the Christian belief of the second coming of Christ, who would face off against the Anti-Christ, Satan, a False Prophet, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse during Armageddon.

But in the end, it was none of those things. It was not fire or flood or war that brought us down, but a meteor and a man with too much authority and too little sense. There were other ways the deadly piece of rock from space could have been dealt with, but in his arrogance he chose to make a display of his nation’s power and blast it out of the sky with nuclear weapons.

He was successful in that the meteor shattered, so there was no devastating impact, but the meteor was riddled with micro-organisms that managed to survive the journey through space. Perhaps they were inside the meteor - we’ll never know, and in the long run it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? The radiation from the nuclear blast changed the microbes, made them into something... something we were not equipped to deal with.

The fallout of the fragments cut a wide swath through northern South America and half way up through the United States, releasing a virus that spared nothing and no one - humans, animals, plants - it came down as a mist, and everything it touched was affected. The lucky ones died. The unlucky ones ... changed.

In the beginning we thought it would be contained in North and South America. Although we lost communications with them after the first month we still managed to receive the odd satellite image. That was months ago - I still have nightmares about them. If there were any survivors in the Americas, they were on their own.

Strangely enough, those infected were not contagious, which gave the scientists hope the virus would have a limited lifespan - a virus shouldn’t be able to survive for long without a host but this virus was unlike anything we could have ever imagined. Though they hoped for the best, our scientists began to prepare for the worst. Reports started filtering down from England and along the coast of Africa, of dark misty clouds, like a swarm of insects, leaving trails of chaos in their wake.

There was no hope of reversing the damage the virus had caused, but the scientists were confident they had a way of repelling it, of making our land and our people distasteful to it. It was an enormous undertaking, spreading the repellent. They retrofitted planes and helicopters like crop dusters, seeded the clouds, urged citizens to bathe in the chemicals so that everything this side of the wall was covered, saturated.

The swarms - it was easier to think of the virus as a living entity at this point - advanced. A call went out for volunteers to man the wall, both to give warning and as an early test of the results of the repellent.

And now we watch. And we wait.


Be sure to stop by next week for the picture prompt for the month of April!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Of Rainy Days and Mondays ...

Seriously. Who ordered all this gloomy weather? It’s been like a week since I’ve seen the sun and my solar batteries were depleted about three days ago. There’s a rumour that we might get some sunshine tomorrow and maybe the next day, but I’ll believe it when I have to put my sun glasses on.

Or even be able to read a book without turning on the lights.

Not much to report for the wordage report. I had a kind of vague idea for last week’s prompt from Brazen Snake Books, but didn’t do anything with it. Which actually turned out for the best because it was very similar to the story Beware the Tiny Doors/ Alex Westhaven did, and she did a much better job. :-D

I got all excited when I found an envelope from Amazon in my mail box on Friday, but it was just my account statement for tax purposes, not the letter I need from them to go along with my ITIN application. Guess I’m going to jog their memory that I’m still waiting for it. *sigh*

If the weather isn’t enough to depress a person, my account statement sure was. It made me start to question what I’m doing here. Of course I haven’t exactly been promoting myself so if I’m not selling I’ve only myself to blame. And I’ve been using my lack of an ITIN as an excuse not to promote myself or expand my selling base. What’s the point if I’m not going to get the royalties I’m entitled to?

I think we all go through these periods once in a while, where we question ourselves and what we’re doing. A time of reflection, I guess you could say. And while I figured out a long time ago I wasn’t in this for the money, it would still be nice to know that someone out there is reading and (hopefully) enjoying my work.

But the thing is, it’s not enough to self-publish a book, you’ve got to be willing to put the time and effort into promoting it, and yourself. So like much like my friend Jamie takes a night off of writing to work on the business side of things, I’m going to have to designate a chunk of time to work on self-promotion. It’s not going to be easy, I’d rather wade through a leech infested swamp than put myself out there, but it’s got to be done.

On the weekend I read a few interesting articles to get me in the proper mindset. One of them I posted on my Facebook page (you can find a link for it in the bar on the right) and the other one was found HERE. I found this article in particular helpful because I suffer from a lot of self-doubt and negative thinking.

One of my big problems is putting things off until the weekend. My free time during the week is kind of broken up - an hour here, a couple of hours there, 45 minutes here - so it always seems logical when I want to work out something complicated to wait until the weekend when theoretically I have big chunks of time. Only something always comes up, or I get distracted, or I’m just too darned lazy.

So maybe I won’t just have one day/time to devote to the nuts and bolts of the writing business, maybe I might take a couple days . Self-promotion will be a big part of this, for sure, but I also want to start researching markets for my poetry and short stories. And submitting them. I’ve been writing more short fiction than long so far this year, and some of it’s pretty good. Maybe it’s time to start doing something with them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Of Lists and Flix

Here's how distracted and muddle-headed I've been lately. I wrote this post yesterday, and then posted it to the wrong blog. Can we say D'oh?

Every time I go to type “wordage report” I hear in my head “creature report,” as in the Creature Report that’s included in every episode of The Octonauts. In case you’re not familiar with The Octonauts, it’s an animated children’s show about a team of underwater explorers - Captain Barnacles the bear, first mate Kwazi the cat, and Peso the penguin, among others - who explore under the sea, meet various sea creatures, and generally protect the ocean. Clearly I spend a lot of time with the granddaughter. ;-)

Anyway, this week’s wordage report is pretty slim pickings, especially when you take into consideration it’s been two weeks. One flash story for the Brazen Snake Books prompt that you can find HERE and a long letter to my sister.

Quite frankly, you’re lucky to have got that much out of me. Between a bad sinus cold that blew a hole in my eardrum and other assorted stumbling blocks life threw in my path, the last couple of weeks have been pretty stressful. And while I work well under pressure, stress is a whole other can of worms.

Sometime on Friday I made out a list of all the things I wanted/needed to get done on the weekend. It was quite a long list. The story wasn’t on the list but I wrote it in one session, despite the railroad spike like pain in my head. However, by the end of the weekend I was able to cross exactly zero items off my list. And here’s the reason:

A week ago Saturday my sadistically evil daughter had the hubby and I babysit so she and her hubby could go to the movies. That wasn’t the evil part. The evil part was leaving her Netflix cued up with the first episode of Stranger Things, a show she’s been recommending we watch. So we watched it. And the next episode. And part of the next. And when we got home I continued watching until 3 a.m. I finished watching the available episodes the following day.

Here’s where the sadistic part comes in. That’s all there is until the end of October. Now if you’ve had the pleasure of watching Stranger Things yourself, you’ll know that while they wrapped up the major story lines pretty well, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. And if you haven’t seen it yet, do so! If you don’t have Netflix already you can try it free for a month. Trust me, it won’t take a month for you to watch those eight episodes.

But back to my list. Despite my neatly written, well organized list, the daughter and I indulged in some out-of-town shopping therapy on Saturday. Then instead of tackling my list, I tackled the first six episodes of The 100, a show I’d wanted to see when it first came out, but it wasn’t offered on our regular TV channels.

Unlike Stranger Things, this show is well into its 4th season and there’s (I think) 13 episodes per season. So that’s a lot to catch up on. I’m going to have to learn to pace myself and get organized if I want to get anything else done.

Maybe I should put that on my list. ;-)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 27 through March 3

02-27
The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
~ William Faulkner

When you're a writer, the question people always ask you is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Writers hate this question. It's like asking Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, "Where do you get your leeches?" You don't get ideas. Ideas get you.
― Connie Willis

02-28
A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
~ William Faulkner

Writing- the profession in which you stare at a computer screen, stare out the window, type a few words, then curse repeatedly.
― Drew Goodman

03-01
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
~ Oscar Wilde

A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader's. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.
― Ian McEwan

03-02
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
~ John Steinbeck

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.
― Beatrix Potter

03-03
My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.
~ Susan Sontag

I write
Not
For the sake of glory
Not
For the sake of fame
Not
For the sake of success
But for the sake of my soul
― Beth Nimmo

Monday, March 6, 2017

Of Good Intentions and Story Derailments

Is it just me or are these wordage reports not only perpetually late, but actually have very little of wordage in them? Well at least this time I finally have some words to report.

Two thousand and twenty-seven. That’s how many words I wrote last week, not including emails, a rather lengthy letter to my sister, and blog posts. That’s pretty good considering my mind has been a dust bowl lately.

However, the story was supposed to be a light, fluffy, humorous piece written for the Brazen Snake Books Weekly Story Prompt. It turned into something a little more complicated and a whole lot more serious. Seriously? *sigh*

Last week’s prompt concerned a fountain in a park, and the habit young girls had got into of taking selfies of themselves kissing the stone frog that was attached to the edge of the fountain. Originally I thought about writing the story from the frog’s POV and how he was cursed by a witch and how no matter how many girls kiss him he’s never going to be free because he’s gay.

Trust me, it was going to be really funny.

So I started the story. I cursed my character. I had him sitting in the park, enduring the slobbery kisses from giggling girls. And then I realized my story was at a thousand words, it was really late, and there was no way I was going to make the deadline. Oh, well. Tomorrow was another day and I could finish the story at my leisure for my own amusement. Except that the next day I made it up to two thousand words and I wasn’t done yet.

I only have myself to blame. I started writing some back-story for the main character and he became a whole lot more interesting. And then the story itself turned into a quasi love story and took a darker turn and then I found myself questioning the sex of his love interest. I’ve written gay characters before, that wasn’t the problem, the problem was the whole point of him being gay was for the humour of the situation. Since this is no longer a funny story, I’m wondering if the situation the love interest ends up in would work better if it was a woman instead of a man.

Or maybe not. Even in this day and age there’s still far too much discrimination going on, and gay-bashing, and just plain ugliness. And there are way too many messed up, angry people out there. Should I give the story a happy ending? A tragic ending? There’s a thought, the story could take an even darker turn and become really tragic. Hmmm.

You see how easy it is for me to derail a story?

Maybe what I need is a bigger train. ;-)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Prompt Me - The Wall

Did you have fun with last month's prompt? I hope it inspired you to write something interesting!

This being the first Friday in March, here's a new picture I hope will spark your creativity:



Remember, you can write anything you like: a story, a poem, even a non-fiction piece.

I'd love to see what you come up with, so when you're done feel free to email it to me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. With your permission, I can even post it here so others can enjoy it too.

Good luck, and have fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 20 through 24


02-20
Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.
~ Maya Angelou

There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.
― Washington Irving

02-21
It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.
~ Anais Nin

I like the idea of coming up with a story that never existed before, but I don’t really want to be in charge. I don’t want to be famous. I guess I like the idea of sitting in the dark and knowing that I created the thing on screen, that it’s my story, but, like, no-one else has to know it was me. Does that make sense?
― Melissa Keil, Life in Outer Space

02-22
I suppose there must be idiots who dream of signing deals with publishers while fully intending to drink martinis in cool bars or ride around on skateboards. But the actual writers I know are experts in neurotic self-torture. Every page of writing is the result of a thousand tiny decisions and desperate acts of will.
~ Helen Garner

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.
― Natalie Goldberg

02-23
However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.
~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.
― Roger Zelazny

02-24
Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply “must” do things.
~ Ray Bradbury

Why am I compelled to write?... Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger... To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit... Finally I write because I'm scared of writing, but I'm more scared of not writing.
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Monday, February 27, 2017

Prompt Me ... Um ... Sunday?

So here’s the thing. For some reason I thought I had another Friday, so I was planning to work on my story this week and post it Friday. Only this Friday will be March, and the first Friday of the month is when I post my picture prompt. So my story is late, but at least I managed to get it done.

Here’s a reminder of the picture prompt I used:



Now you may wonder about the title. It’s loosely based on the fable by Aesop called The Scorpion and the Frog that goes something like this:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?" The scorpion replies: "It’s my nature..."

It was that last line that stuck in my mind. The picture made me think of forest faeries and tea parties. And that got me thinking about the nature of faeries and how they’re often thought to be soulless. And THAT got me thinking about a story I started (but it petered out pretty quickly) a while back about a man who finds a faery in his garden. So without further ado, here’s my story for the month of February:

Frog and Scorpion

His friends thought him mad, buying the cottage set in the woods on the cliff side, and yet they were often to be found wheedling an invitation to visit. There was something peaceful about the murmur of the sea, the shushing of the wind in the trees. It was almost magical.

Despite being surrounded by nature, he created a garden - for the faeries, he said. There were sunflowers and daisies, lilies and lavender, foxglove and tulips, honeysuckle and heliotrope, and set in the midst was a low, round table with eight diminutive chairs padded with moss. On a whim he set the table for tea with mismatched china.

He found her there, at the bottom of the garden, a broken thing - lost, injured, just a shell - like so much flotsam cast up by the tide. At first he was not even sure she was alive, lying as she was amidst the stones, cradled in the illusion of tattered remnants of gossamer wings.

The friend who had accompanied him to assess the damage left by the great wind storm the previous night told him to leave it there, no good would come of aiding such a creature. But he believed in magic and faeries and all the good that came with them and would not be dissuaded. When he brought her into his home, the friends who were waiting for the damage report advised him to cast it back from whence it came. He stood as they barred his way, the weight of her in his arms as insubstantial as a puff of smoke, and looked at them reproachfully until they stood aside.

“It’s a wild thing,” they said, calling back to him over their shoulders as they left his home. “It cannot be tamed.”

“Nonsense,” he said softly, otherwise ignoring their departure. “She’s lost and helpless. She has no need of taming, just love and care.”

Love he had in abundance, and was always willing to share.

She was almost transparently pale as he carefully laid her on the cot in the sunny guest room. He built a fire in the fireplace for warmth and washed her and cleansed her scratches with witch hazel. With the gentlest of touches he combed the detritus from her long dark hair.

For a long time she lay unmoving on the cot, her slight form barely discernible under the faded patchwork quilt. Patiently he spooned milk, warmed and laced with honey, into her mouth. More often than not it dribbled back out again, but his quiet persistence was at last rewarded. She swallowed, and he all but wept with joy.

When he spoke to her, she opened eyes that held a forest of green, but she made no sound in return. He named her Shaelyn, meaning ‘from the faery palace’ in Gaelic. He continued to feed her the milk and honey when she was awake, and when she dozed he read to her from slender, leather-bound volumes of poetry.

“One day you will regret your impulsiveness,” she told him, when she could at last speak. “You should have left me to die.”

“Nonsense.”

“You think to bind me with your kindness and a name of your choosing. But I cannot be bound. I am not what you think I am.”

“You are one of God’s creatures in need of succor; that is what I think and that is all I need to know.”

It was several days before she was able to stay awake for any length of time and he left her side only once, to go to the village to buy more honey and oatcakes. On the fourth day she was able to sit up in the cot, on the fifth she was able to stand. On the seventh day she was able to walk to the door and back and he knew that soon she would leave him. The thought saddened him.

On the ninth day she stepped outside, holding her face up to the sun, the gauzy rags she wore floating in the breeze. He stepped up beside her.

“You can stay if you like,” he said, almost shyly, for in the short time they’d been together he’d grown to love her.

She turned to look at him and he felt a sharp pain in his chest. Looking down in surprise he saw the slender knife she’d slipped between his ribs. His hand went to the crimson stain blossoming on his white shirt. He looked at her in confusion.

“Why?” he gasped with his last breath.

She looked at him dispassionately as the light in his eyes dulled. “Because it is my nature,” she replied.

And without glancing back she turned away and spread her ragged wings.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 13 through 17


02-13
At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.
~ Michael Law

An admirable line of Pablo Neruda’s, “My creatures are born of a long denial,” seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge… It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.
― Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

02-14
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
~  Vincent Van Gogh

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.
― William Makepeace Thackeray

02-15
A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
~ George R.R. Martin

I read anything that’s going to be interesting. But you don’t know what it is until you’ve read it. Somewhere in a book on the history of false teeth there’ll be the making of a novel.
― Terry Pratchett

02-16
The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.
~ Ernest Hermingway

There's nothing on Earth like really nailing the last line of a big book. You have 200 pages to tickle their fancy, and seven words to break their heart.
― Alex de Campi

02-17
The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.
~ Shauna Niequist

Prison always has been a good place for writers, killing, as it does, the twin demons of mobility and diversion.
― Dan Simmons

Monday, February 20, 2017

It’s Alive!

Sort of.

I’m pleased to announce the fourth book in my Ardraci Elemental Series, An Elemental Earth is now available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords. Unfortunately, the epub version is not yet available, which means it’s not yet available for Kobo readers.



She's trusted him with her secret, but can she trust him with her heart?

Chloe has spent her whole life feeling like an outsider because of her unique gifts. Now she has met someone whose gifts rival her own and it's both thrilling and terrifying.

Zephryn never expected to meet anyone like Chloe when he came to this world. But he has a hidden agenda, an agenda that changes drastically once the Ilezie Da'nat discovers something about Chloe that shouldn't be possible.



To save you the trouble of having to go look for it, here are the links to find it on Amazon and Smashwords. The epub file is still pending review so it's not available through other epublishers yet, but soon, my pretties, soon.

And if you’d like a peek inside my publisher, Brazen Snake Books, included an excerpt with their Release Day Announcement. Seriously, go read it right now. They’re much better at this release day stuff than I am. :-D

AND while you’re there, you can enter CONTEST to win a free print edition and a gift basket. You don’t have to guess the correct flower, your comment alone will enter you in the contest. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 6 through 10


02-06
Tradition wears a snowy beard, romance is always young.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

...it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.
― Ernest Hemingway

02-07
The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
~Ray Bradbury

Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.
― Margaret Atwood

02-08
When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.
~Jorge Luis Borges

I need solitude for my writing; not 'like a hermit' - that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man.
― Franz Kafka

02-09
Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer
~ J.R.R Tolkien

Writing practice brings us back to the uniqueness of our own minds and an acceptance of it. We all have wild dreams, fantasies, and ordinary thoughts. Let us to feel the texture of them and not be afraid of them. Writing is still the wildest thing I know.
― Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life

02-10
Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order
~ Anne Wilson Schaef

A good writer should draw the reader in by starting in the middle of the story with a hook, then go back and fill in what happened before the hook. Once you have the reader hooked, you can write whatever you want as you slowly reel them in.
― Roland Smith

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Trickle of Words

I was going to start this post with more excuses and whining about not being able to settle into a routine because of life throwing me a curve ball every time I think I’m finally getting on track, but the truth of the matter is, if I’m not making a lot of writing progress I only have myself to blame.

Now the thing is, I used to get the bulk of my writing done in the evenings, but frankly after dinner is over with I don’t have a lot of energy left at night. Plus I have this addiction to on-line solitaire and hidden object games, and I get distracted easily.

Which means I need to start sucking it up and get my writing in during the day. It makes it a little difficult when I babysit four hours a day (right in the middle of the day) but I get at least an hour free during nap time, and I’m good for a couple of hours first thing in the morning. So really, it’s just a matter of self-discipline

That’s not to say I haven’t been getting any writing at all in. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve written a couple of stories and I got my notes all organized to get back to work on Wandering Wizards. I found these mini index cards at the dollar store, and jotted down a note or two about each of the remaining scenes on them, one scene per card. I have three scenes to be inserted throughout the beginning, and ten more scenes to finish the book.

I’d like to take a moment to remind you about the prompt I posted for February. You can either just scroll down to see it, or you can find it HERE . You’ve still got a couple of weeks to come up with your idea - fiction, non-fiction, poetry ...

And you may notice in that post how I said I didn’t want to get locked into a weekly thing. So I find it a little ironic that the two stories I’ve written were for the weekly prompts over at the Brazen Snake Books site.

For those of you who are curious, my story Broken can be found HERE and my story Retribution can be found HERE They were a fun challenge to write, and if you’d like to join in the fun, check out Snake Bites, the Brazen Snake Books blog on Monday for their new prompt.

They might not be the greatest stories I've ever written, but they got me writing again.