Monday, December 11, 2017

Believing Your Own Lies

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 0
Poetry - yes
Total Words -
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

I had every intention of getting some writing in last week, but all I have to show for my time is a bunch of emails, a few notes, and a hand-written poem. Well, that and a decorated Christmas tree and over half my Christmas shopping done.



What can I say? The spirit was willing but the body was just too darned worn out. And it didn’t help that last week was pretty grey and dismal (and windy!) for the most part. But no snow yet. They’re promising some for this week, and it’s certainly cold enough for it, but I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know if anyone else who’s done NaNo has noticed, but once November is over and you can breathe a sigh of relief, suddenly Christmas is staring you right in the face. So all those good writing habits you’ve developed over the month fall by the wayside in the holiday rush.

Let’s face it, as much as we’d like to do everything, we just can’t. There are presents to buy, and wrap; trees and houses to decorate; baking to be done...and if you’ve got kids you’ve got them to deal with too. And let’s not forget all the social obligations the holidays bring.

Something’s gotta give, and unless you’re a full time writer who supports their family with their writing, writing’s usually the easiest thing to put off. There’s always tomorrow. Or next month. But the thing is, like most things the more you put it off the harder it is to get back into again. Last year I felt justified in ignoring my writing in December - after all, I’d just written a 50,000 word novel - but when January rolled around I found my pen had dried up. And the dry spell lasted for months.

The solution may seem obvious, just don’t stop writing, but for a lot of us it’s easier said than done. NaNo got us used to writing big blocks of words every day. Big blocks of time alone aren’t easy to find this time of year, unless you’re very, very lucky.

I propose we try for smaller blocks of time. Instead of an hour for writing, try 15 minutes. Instead of 1,000 words a day, try 100 and if you’re able to do more, so much the better. The thing is, even 100 words a day is still 100 more than you had before. And even 100 words a day will start to add up.

I do my serious writing sitting at my lap top, which is a little unhandy when it comes to just adding a few words here and there, so I carry a notebook and pen with me. I’ve written entire stories in notebooks, but I also write poetry or make notes to continue in a WIP. Some people are able to use their phones or a tablet to write on, and that’s great - five minutes here, five minutes there, and before you know it you’ve got your hundred words in.

The thing is, you want to at least keep a toe in the water. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can keep putting it off for tomorrow, or next week, or after the holidays are over. Because once you start believing your own lies - justifying not writing - you’re going to have a real struggle to get back into the writing frame of mind.

Trust me, I know.

Friday, December 8, 2017

For Want of a Pen

So how’s everyone’s birdie story coming? I’ve got a couple of ideas so far, but nothing I’m ready to commit to paper yet.

One thing I’ve learned the Neo is not good for is writing poetry. I did some extra babysitting yesterday and part of it was during the grandbaby’s nap time, so I took a couple of notebooks with me that I’ve been using as workbooks for poetry, thinking to finish a couple of poems I started a while back. And it would have been a great idea...if I’d also remembered to take a pen or pencil with me. LOL

Ironically, I had pens and pencils with me the day before, even though I’d planned on working on my Neo, and a poem came to me. I wrote it out from start to finish at one go - sometimes poems come to me that way. All it needs is a little tweeking.

At any rate, seeing as poetry was out of the question, I figured I’d work on one of my WIPs on the Neo. I know I’ve only got one big scene left to go on my NaNo novel, but I couldn’t remember where I left off. Guess I'm already blocking it from my mind. LOL

So then I decided to work on Wandering Wizards. When I left them, my characters were getting ready to break out of the sanctuary they’d been hiding out in in one of the elven realms. But as I was typing, I got this feeling of deja vu. It was so strong that I stopped writing, and when I got home I checked and sure enough, I’d already written them out of the sanctuary and through the barrier.*sigh*

The lesson here is to keep the writing bag ready at all times. Right now I’m using a canvas bag, but I have a small leather backpack I’d like to start using instead. If I can find it. And get it cleaned up.

At any rate, for today’s Fiction Friday excerpt I’m going with another one from Lost and Found, my NaNo novel. This scene takes place shortly after the last one I posted. Nathan and Sara contracted some sort of illness during their stay in the tropical paradise, and ended up being nursed back to health by the Children of Lavan, a religious community.


Excerpt: Lost and Found

Though the women were kind, and she was grateful for the care they’d given her, there was something off-putting about being here. Maybe it was all that white - white walls, white bedding, white clothes - she’d been given a white robe like the others to wear and while it was comfortable enough it wouldn’t have been her first choice. Or maybe it was all the religious talk and they way they deferred all their decisions to the men in charge. All except the skinny old bat who’d lectured her about it being unseemly to keep asking after a man. To which Sara had replied if they’d just tell her what was happening to Nathan then she wouldn’t have to keep asking after him.

All they’d tell her is that he was recovering as well and soon they’d both be well enough to contribute to the good of the community in the name of Lavan, praise be his name. She didn’t like the sound of that one bit. She had the sinking feeling they’d stumbled across some kind of cult or religious commune. Either one of them spelled trouble for getting away.

Feeling particularly sullen, she was in no mood to return Constance’s cheerful greeting when the woman turned up unexpectedly. Constance had been assigned to watch over her while she was recuperating, and as soon as she was able to sit up for longer periods of time, began to instruct her on the Way of Lavan. Lavan had some pretty outdated ideas on what was proper behavior for men and women and Sara wanted nothing to do with it. But they were trapped here for now and all she could do was to try and make the best of it.

Constance surprised her by bringing her a bowl of warm, fragrant water and a towel and washcloth.

“What’s the occasion?” Sara asked, just the tiniest bit afraid of the answer.

“The Staff and Chalice have given permission for you to have visitations with your pledge-mate.”

“My what?”

“The one to whom you are pledged to complete your journey to Lavan with as one.”

Sara felt a chill of fear. This didn’t sound good at all. “I don’t--“

“No, that is not the term I was told he used,” Constance said. “Now what was it he called it?” She paused in the act of brushing Sara’s hair. “Betrothed. That was what he called it.”

“Betr-Nathan? I’m going to be allowed to see Nathan?”

“This betrothal is similar in nature to our claim-pledge. So yes, you will be permitted to spend one hour every second day in each other’s company. Supervised of course.”

“Of course,” Sara echoed.

“You will wish to freshen up first, of course. There is no call to be frightening him away before you are duly wed.”

Impatiently Sara let Constance fuss over her, then she was led down the hall to a small sitting room. There was a table with two chairs and a window overlooking a walled garden. Constance took a position just inside the room to the right of the doorway.

After a few interminable minutes, Sara heard footsteps approaching. A young man dressed in unbleached cotton trousers and a pullover shirt entered first. He darted a glance at Constance and quickly looked away, moving to take a position on the left side of the doorway.

Right behind him was, “Nathan!”

Sara practically threw herself into his arms.”I’ve never been so glad to see someone in all my life!” she said against his chest. His arms around her, holding her tightly, was the best feeling in the world.

“No physical contact,” the man admonished.

Sara looked over at him, about to tell him off and good, but a slight shake of Nathan’s head stopped her.

“Sorry,” Nathan said. “We are not used to being parted.”

“It is Lavan’s will,” Constance said gently. “It is something you will have to get used to.”

Not if she could help it, Sara vowed.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Blackout Poetry

I’ve known about blackout poetry for a few years, but for some reason I never got around to trying it.

When I first considered it for the form of the month I thought it would be really easy, maybe even a little fun. Basically, to do a blackout poem you take a page of prose, pick out a few key words, and then black everything else out.

With the holiday season closing in fast, I decided to use a page from one of my favourite Christmas stories, the Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. I actually started out with two pages. The first page I used a yellow highlighter to highlight words that caught my eye. Then I reversed it on the second page, blacking out everything but the words I highlighted on the first page. And this is what I came up with:



It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, especially the blacking out part. I went through seven copies before I got it right. LOL

Meanwhile, here’s another couple of examples of what you can do with blackout poetry:

Smore - Blackout Poetry Challenge

Scholastic Blackout Poetry

For more examples and a better explanation, check these links:

Power Poetry  - 5 Tips For Creating Blackout Poetry
Medium - Creative Deconstruction For Writers: How to Write a Blackout Poem

Monday, December 4, 2017

Aftermath

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 17,000 +
Poetry - 0
Total Words -
Paragraphs of Notes - 7



Well, NaNo is well and truly over and things should be getting back to normal right? Ha! That’s what you think. Christmas is coming and that’s a whole other kind of stress.

Normal would be keeping up the good writing habits I was starting to develop: an hour before babysitting, an hour during, and an hour after. Wednesdays and Fridays I don’t get the free hour before babysitting, but Fridays I get extra time during. And I was also writing up at storm in the evenings.

Normal would also include the good habit of doing more writing on my Neo. I’m not kidding when I say I write better and faster on it. I never realized how easily I was getting distracted when using my lap top. But think about it, the Neo can only be used for writing. The lap top can be used for all kinds of things, including socializing, game playing, and surfing.

However, as good as that sounds on paper, the proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. It’s one thing to keep to that kind of strict schedule when I’ve got the deadline of NaNoWriMo looming over me, it’s a whole other story now that the pressure is off.

Take this morning, for instance. Here I am getting this blog post finished instead of working on a WIP. And I’m doing it on my laptop. And before I buckled down to work I checked not only my email, but Facebook as well. And started playing Letter Garden before stopping myself. Yup, off to a good start.

While I’d like to promise I’ll do better, realistically, as I sit here all tired and headachy looking out at another overcast day, all I can promise is that I’ll try. And who am I promising anyway? Myself, that’s who.

I can promise that the blog posting will be returning to something near normal. I got this month’s picture prompt posted on the weekend and the results will be posted at the end of the month. And this being the first Wednesday coming up, I’ll not only be posting a poem on Wednesday, I’ll be sharing a form.

At some point I’ll start to post Christmas music videos - I’m kind of thinking starting next weekend and replacing the poems with them for the holiday season. Or maybe I’ll pick a different day and then after the holidays I’ll replace the Christmas music with just regular music videos.

Meanwhile, I have Christmas crafts to make, cookies to bake, and decorating to do. This is also the time of year I start thinking about the year ahead and changes I want to make.

How about you? All set for the holidays? Santa Claus is coming you know. ;-)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Prompt Me - Birdies

As promised, I’m here with my picture prompt for the month of December.



Is that happy enough for you Catherine? Little birdies sitting on a string of Christmas balls. Are they someone’s pets, trained to sit there? Did they sneak in from outdoors to get in from the cold? Inquiring minds want to know.

The challenge is to come up with something creative inspired by the above picture - a story, a poem, or even a non-fiction article. I'd love to see what you come up with, and if you send it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com by Thursday, December 28, I'll post it here on the 29th. Please try to keep it to 1,000 words or less and if I get more pieces than will fit comfortably in a single blog post, I'll post them over a couple of days.

Even with the holidays coming up I’m sure you’ll be able to find the time to come up with something. Can’t wait to see it!

Friday, December 1, 2017

NaNo For the Win!

I know that this is the first Friday of the month and normally it’s the day I post a picture prompt for you to work on, but seeing as it’s the day after NaNo ended I thought I’d do my recap for it today along with a final excerpt. I promise to post the prompt picture tomorrow.



On Monday I was 14,000 words behind in my NaNo novel. So I tell you true, no one is more surprised than me that I won NaNo. And with 3,000 words to spare.

To further boggle the mind, that means I wrote 17,000 words in four days. SEVENTEEN THOUSAND!

So how did I do it?

Well, first of all, the weather turned sunny. I’ve always said I was solar powered, and the week before was insanely gloomy. Monday dawned bright and sunny and it’s crazy what kind of difference it made to my energy level.

The second thing was, I stopped fighting my imagination. I stopped following the notes I’d made when I first came up with the story idea and gave my imagination free reign. This landed my characters in a few unexpected situations, like getting sick at the same time and being nursed back to health by a religious cult they then had to escape from. That alone spanned several chapters.

And the third thing was the one I mentioned in my Monday post - I wrote exclusively on my Neo. No bells, no whistles, just words. For some reason I tend to type faster on my Neo - maybe because writing is all it’s good for. I don’t really care. I just care that I pulled off a writing miracle.

So...what’s next? Well, I’m going to continue using my Neo and finish the novel. My characters are about to have a run-in with a group of Amazons, and once that’s over all that’s left is getting them home. I have no idea how many words that’s going to take - I thought the religious cult thing was only going to be a few thousand words and it was over ten. The Amazon encounter is even more intense.

After Lost and Found is finished, it’s nose to the grind stone until Wandering Wizards is done. Maybe I can pretend it’s another NaNo. :-D

In the meantime, here’s the final excerpt from my NaNo novel. The dream Sara is referring to is a recurring one she had near the beginning when she dozes off waiting for her friend Hannah to phone her to let her know she made it home safely. And it’s just after this scene that Sara and Nathan become ill and end up in the hands of the above-mentioned cult.


Excerpt, Lost and Found:

They finished eating and were just making up their bed over the mound of palm fronds when Sara happened to glance towards the shore. Letting out a gasp, she straightened up.

“What is it?” Nathan asked.

But Sara ignored him, and walked towards the shore. She stood mesmerized on the sand, the light breeze caressing her bare shoulders. As she felt him come up behind her, she spoke. “I know this place. I’ve dreamed of this place.” She turned to face him. “I’ve dreamed of you in this place.”

“How is this possible?”

“I don’t know. But I dreamed that I stood watching a sunset, just like this one, on a beach of white sand, like this one. I could feel the same perfumed breeze on my skin. And...and I realized I wasn’t alone, you were with me. I mean, it was you, but I didn’t know it was you.”

“And then what happened?”

“And that’s when I usually woke up,” she said, turning away to stare at the sun as it dropped below the cliff until only a brilliant glow remained.

He wrapped his arms around her from behind, pulling her close. “It sounds like a wonderful dream.”

They stood for a while, watching the glow disappear from behind the curve of the bay. The only sounds were the waves lapping gently on the shore and the slight breeze rattling the palm fronds.

“Look, there’s two moons,” she whispered.

One was the color of butter, the other a pale blue. They both hung low in the sky, overlapping each other.

“Can’t get much more romantic than that,” he whispered back, his breath hot on her neck.

She turned in his arms and he kissed her softly. It wasn’t nearly enough. Fueled by her memories of the dream, she pressed herself closer. Without breaking the kiss, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her back towards their nest. Halfway there, Sara jerked in his arms.

“Ow!” she said, slapping her arm.

“What--ow!” He let her slide to her feet so he could slap at his upper thigh. “Damn!”

For the next few minutes all they could do was curse and slap as they were stung over and over again.

“The water!” Sara gasped, sprinting for the shore, Nathan hot on her heels.

They waved their arms over their heads as the swarms followed and regardless of how dark it was they dove right in. Several yards from shore they were forced to come up for air, but the insects didn’t seem to have followed.

“What the hell was that?” Nathan asked, bewildered.

“They certainly weren’t in my dream,” Sara said, treading water beside him.

Back in the jungle they could hear the birds come to life, screeching and squawking.

“Well at least we know what the rest of the birds live on.”

The light from the moons was bright enough they could see the swarms of insects cutting great swaths of black along the shore. Then the birds descended on them, feasting on the wing.

“Please tell me we won’t have to stay in the water all night,” she said after they’d been watching for a while.

They moved closer to the shore until they were able to stand, neck deep in the water, ready to duck down any second.

“I hope not,” Nathan said. “This water doesn’t feel nearly as warm as it did earlier. I don’t suppose your survival training included how to ward off attacks by flying insects that bite?”

“I’ve had to deal with swarms of mosquitoes before,” Sara told him. “They’re kind of like these but not quite as vicious. But normally they’re most active during dusk or dawn, sometimes during the day, not in full dark.”

“So what do you do to repel them?”

She gave a short laugh. “Insect repellent. Lavender, garlic, apple cider vinegar, citronella candles - none of which we have. One of the counselors at a summer camp Hannah and I went to swore by smoky fires. Of course that would mean one of us would have to leave this rapidly chilling water, go up onto the beach, start a fire, and then find some greenery to throw on it to make it smoky. All without getting stung to death.”

“I think I’d rather take my chances in the water,” Nathan said.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Down to the Wire

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - a lot
Poetry - 0
Total Words -
Paragraphs of Notes - 0



I have really, really been struggling with this NaNo. As you might have guessed by the lack of posting last Monday. Had I a lick of sense I would have quit while I was ahead and moved on to something else. I did that one year, seven days and 10,000 words in and I went with a totally different story and still won.

It’s not that I don’t like my story, I just have zero interest in working on it. Last Monday I was a mere 6,000 words behind, today I’m...uh... something like 13,700 behind. Which was better than it was going into the weekend when I was close to 20,000 behind.

I have to admit, when I decided to do NaNo this year I did not anticipate the toll babysitting has been taking on me. It’s not just the time spent babysitting, it’s the fact that the grandbaby is an energy vampire. A few hours with her and I’m exhausted. Plus there’s been some extra babysitting thrown in for good measure.

So between the lack of interest and the babysitting, there’s a very good chance I won’t finish NaNo on time this year. First year since my first time that I’ll be participating and not finishing.

If I do finish on time, it’ll be thanks to the writer’s best friend, my Alphasmart Neo. Saturday I sat in my office for about seven hours working on my lap top and only managed a measly 888 words. Then I switched to my Neo and did close to 600 more in just a couple of hours.

Yesterday I sat in the living room for a couple hours here, a couple hours there, and wrote just over 4,000 words. Kinda wished I’d been working on the Neo exclusively Saturday too.

The reason I write faster on the Neo is there are no distractions, no bells and whistles, just words. At the end of the day I just sit back, plug my Neo into my lap top, and watch the words appear in a Word document file. Can’t get much simpler than that, and when it comes to writing, simple is better.

So keep your eye on the little widget on the right. 3500 words a day to finish isn’t too much to ask, is it?

And do yourself a favour, go to ebay and buy yourself a Neo - they stopped making them a few years ago so the only way you can get one is used.

Alphasmart Neo. Don’t do NaNo without one.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Oh, No, What Happened to My NaNo?



I’m gonna be honest here, it’s not looking good for me to finish NaNoWriMo on time. I have seven days to write 20,000 words. And given that all I’ve been able to manage during the week is 500 a day.... Well, I still have the weekend ahead, and I’ve been known to pull a few miracles off in the name of NaNo in the past, so I guess we’ll just have to see.

The thing is, I’m just not feeling it with this novel. I like the characters and it’s not a bad story, I just don’t feel like writing it. At some point, when I feel ready to move forward with this series, I’ll have to sit down and create a guide to the Myste, which plays a major part in the whole story line. But for now all I can do is make it up as I go along.

So for this week’s excerpt, I give you Nathan trying to explain to Sara about the Myste that’s surrounding them:

Excerpt

“Time doesn’t work the same when you pass through the Myste.”

Sara finally reached her limit. “All right, you’ve pussy-footed around the subject long enough. Tell my about this...Myste.”

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “There’s been debate for centuries over whether the Myste is naturally occurring or it was somehow created. It spans both time and space. Some worlds it only touches temporarily, some worlds have permanent access points to it. As near as I can figure, you and your friend Hannah entered the Myste through a temporary access point and it was only through sheer luck that you entered at different times but ended up in the same place.”

As she tried to process this, he tried a different tact. “When Madalyn was explaining the Myste to Hannah she asked if there were any stories where you come from of people who have been lost in the fog and when they’re found only hours or days have passed for them but years have passed for those left behind?”

“Sure, Irish folklore is filled with stories of people who’ve stepped into the land of fairy.”

“Only it’s not a fairy tale, it’s real.”

She stared at him, eyes narrowed, and he continued. “Islands like this can be found in the Myste, but are not part of the Myste itself. They’re like sanctuaries. One of the reasons for the expedition was to try and map the islands - I have no idea why, unless it’s to make it easier to travel from world to world. Right now it takes special equipment to make this possible, and even then it’s chancy at best.”

“Why would it be chancy?” Sara asked, in spite of herself. “I mean, other than the generally poor visibility. If this Myste spans worlds, like you say, I’d think people would be lining up to go world hopping.”

“Just being in the Myste is dangerous - breathing it in can cause lung damage, and if it changes colour even a breather won’t help you. *this would be a really good place for the Myste poem that I will have to re-write*

“We were breathing the Myste in,” Sara pointed out. “But we seem to be okay.”

He sighed heavily. “Look, I know you have no reason to believe me but I have no reason to lie to you.”

They stared at each other for a few moments and then turned away to watch the Myste.

“I probably wouldn’t believe me either,” Nathan admitted.

“Are we safe here?” she asked with a shiver.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Probably.”

“That’s not very reassuring.”

“No, but at least it’s honest.” He hesitated, then said, “We need to figure out what we’re going to do.”

“Do? Isn’t that obvious?” Sara asked, a little surprised. “We need to go back the way we came. Or better yet, we go to wherever the others went and then Hannah and I can go home together.”

Nathan drew back and looked at her askance. “You can’t seriously think it’s that simple! Haven’t you been listening to me?” He got up and began to pace. “Getting back to your world is impossible - the access point you passed through was temporary.”

Sara felt her first real chill of fear. “Then I guess we go back to where you came from. Surely there’s someone there who can–”

He was already shaking his head. “That’s really a long shot at best. We–”

“Then we just wait here to be rescued,” she said a little desperately. “Someone will have to come back for the equipment at least right?”

“Sara.” Nathan stopped pacing and came back over to the bench. Sitting down again he took her hands in his. “I’m not going to sugar coat this. The chances of anyone coming back here before we run out of food and water are pretty slim. We’re going to have to take our chances out there.” He waved a hand towards the Myste.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Back on Track



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

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

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


Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

“Left,” Nathan whispered. “The camp.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Just Nanoing Along

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Place your bets now.

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaNo Madness!



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

But enough of that.

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

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

“Are you all right? Hannah?”

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

“Oh jeez!”

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

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

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

The body started to rise under her questing hands.

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

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

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

The man mumbled something.

“What did you say?”

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

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

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

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

“Not there.”

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

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

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

“Nathan,” he answered.

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

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Always

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




Always

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feast or Famine

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about.

Friday, November 3, 2017

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

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

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

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


Shadows

by C.L. Hannah


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where did you come from?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Welcome? For what?”

“You’re here aren’t you?”

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

The cat sighed heavily.

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

“Who says I’m a cat?”

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

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

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

“Yes and now, for you.”

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Balassi Stanza

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

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

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

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

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


Allhallowtide

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

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

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Counting Down

Short Fiction - 424
Long Fiction - ?
Poetry - 121+
Total Words - unknown
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - ?

Last week was one messed up week. As you can see, I have no real idea what my word count was. I know my cat story was a measly 424 words, but that’s about it. I plugged away at Wandering Wizards, a bit here and a bit there, but didn’t keep track. I wrote a cute little veggie poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt and then started working on a poetry form for this week and again, didn’t keep track of the words.

I got a little work done on the office but not as much as I would have liked. At least I’ll be able to sit at my desk to write for NaNo, although it’s probably going to take me until the end of November to get all my stuff squared away.

I have to say I wasted far more time than I’d like to admit to on Sunday playing around with pictures and banners for my blogs and my author’s page on Facebook. Of course I was also watching the new season of Stranger Things on Netflix, but only the first four episodes. Okay, six episodes - I watched two in the evening as well. ;-)

I suspect the mess in the office will get bigger before it gets smaller. I find that the older I get the more anal I am about being organized, so I don’t want to just throw things back together, I want some order to the chaos. I have a lot of office supplies - pens, notebooks, stick notes, notebooks, decorative paper (for letters and poetry), notebooks - which are scattered between two rooms and a cabinet. I really need to take stock of what I’ve got and maybe even gasp get rid of some.

I will be introducing a new poetry form on Wednesday, it being the first of the month, but I won’t be doing the picture prompt of the month on Friday. I mean seriously, who has the time? I was able to churn my cat story out pretty quickly, but I’ve been known to spend days, if not weeks, on a flash story, and that just ain’t gonna happen in November.

Tomorrow night while people are up late going through their kids’ candy looking for anything suspicious (and maybe stealing a bite or two), I’ll be waiting for the witching hour, hands poised over my lap top, ready to start writing. As will thousands of writers all over the world. Maybe even you!

At least I’ll be in good company. :-D


Friday, October 27, 2017

A Cat's Tale

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

Despite having a couple of people telling me they were working on stories for this month’s prompt, my inbox remained empty. The stories don’t do me any good if you don’t send them to me people. :-D

When I first posted the prompt picture I had a great idea for a story, but of course by the time the deadline was looming, that idea was long gone. Still, I’m pretty happy with the story I came up with and I hope you enjoy it too.



A Cat’s Tale

The night was crisp and cold, one of those beautiful fall evenings that was perfect for walking in the park. The moon was full and hung low in the sky as a flock of geese honked, winging their way south.

“George, what have you done?”

George got up from where he’d been sitting patiently and started down the path. For some reason she felt compelled to follow.

“It’s not so bad, being dead, you know. But I’m kind of fuzzy on why I’m here.”

The cat ignored her, continuing forward at an unhurried pace.

“I want you to know, of all the things I’ve had to leave behind, you’re the one I miss the most. You were the smartest cat I’ve ever owned and the best familiar a witch could have.”

That earned her a flick of the tail.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you figured out a way to bring me back.”

Twitching an ear, George continued forward. They reached the edge of the park and the cat turned onto the sidewalk.

“I don’t suppose you could tell me where we’re going?”

George meowed at her but kept going.

“I didn’t think so,” she said, voice resigned.

The neighborhood they were passing through was one of the nicer ones. The houses weren’t huge, but there were nice sized lawns attached to them. Several of them had neatly kept gardens.

George turned up the sidewalk to a modest bungalow and led her around to the back.

“Is this why I’m here? You wanted to show me where you live now? I’m glad you found a nice home. I’m guessing the family who lives here is just as nice.”

Pausing, George looked back at her again and meowed.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you want.”

George pushed through the cat door to enter the house. Still compelled to follow, she passed easily through the door. Looking around curiously she realized she was in the kitchen.

A sharp meow brought her attention to George, sitting near a shallow alcove. She looked closer and realized this is where he was fed. Then she took a closer look at the dishes.

“Seriously? This is why you brought me back?”

George stared at her, giving her that look, the one he practically patented for when she stated the obvious.

“You know I’m dead, right?”

Another meow.

She waved her hand through the table beside her. “I’m incorporeal. I’m sorry your food dish is empty, but there’s no way I’m able to feed you.”

The disgruntled look on the cat’s face was almost comical.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jack O'Lantern

Whoops! I almost forgot about this week's poetry post. Sorry about that, but I'm in the middle of a bunny crisis. No, not a real bunny. I'm making a bunny costume for the grandbaby. From a sleeper pattern that just barely fit her when I made her Ewok costume last year. Please pray for me that it fits. :-D

I thought considering we're so close to the end of the month that a Halloween poem would be fitting for today. Once upon a time I was a member of a poetry group and as a fun exercise we'd write from prompts. I don't know what the exact prompt was for this poem, but it's one I wrote about five years ago.

And for those of you interested in such things... I did a lot of research before writing this poem and the story about Stingy Jack and his deal with the devil is true, as is the fact that early jack 'o lanterns were carved from turnips.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Jack O'Lantern

Beware ye fool the devil, for the devil has his due
Beware ye lest the devil, should turn the tale on you
Stingy Jack was one who thought the devil he could best
For him his fate was worse than death, he wanders without rest


Now Jack was not a well-liked man, a mean and wretched soul,
He liked his drink, and that's a fact, be it bottle, keg, or bowl.
'Twas on a night that's such as this Jack bade the devil drink,
A guileless smile upon his face, his cheeks a ruddy pink.

They drank a toast to Samhain Eve and all the souls in hell.
Another, then another, till they heard the church bells' knell.
But Stingy Jack had not the coin 'twas needed then to pay,
He had a plan instead and this is what I heard him say:

"Old Scratch, into a coin ye must turn into straight away.
I'll pay our tab and ye'll change back without a long delay"
The fiend agreed not knowing that old Jack had tricked him well,
In a wallet with a cross beside, Jack put the coin to dwell.

The devil seethed, the devil raged, but all to no avail,
He tried to use his power, even knowing he would fail.
They struck a deal, that should Jack die, he'd not go straight to hell,
Instead he had a year of grace in which to say farewell.

Before his year of grace was up, Jack took the plague and died
But Heaven didn't want him, and the devil had his pride.
Because the year was not complete, he would not claim Jack's soul,
But sent him off into the night with just a burning coal.

A coal is just too hot to hold in nothing but your hand,
So Jack, he carved a turnip face to hold the burning brand.
On Samhain Eve he wanders now throughout the chilly night
A sad and lonely figure in the Jack 'O Lantern's light.

Beware ye fool the devil, for the devil has his due
Beware ye lest the devil, should turn the tale on you
Stingy Jack was one who thought the devil he could best
For him his fate was worse than death, he wanders without rest




Monday, October 23, 2017

The Short and the Long of It

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 3548
Poetry - 187
Total Words - 3735
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 3

The short version is that I missed my wordage goal by about 1500 words but I’m going to be doing NaNo anyway.

The long version is...I don’t know what I was doing last week, but apparently it wasn’t writing. The words are there, I can feel them, and I know pretty much what’s going to happen between now and the end of the book, but knowing and doing are two very different things.

And that’s when it hit me. Every year I go through a writing slump in the weeks leading up to NaNo. The closer I get to November 1, the less I write. It’s almost like my brain is saving up the words to spew them forth in November.

Decision made, I picked my novel and even came up with a working cover for it (to go with the working title).



The story is actually the sequel to my first NaNo novel, which was an utter failure (although it did spawn ideas for two sequels and one prequel). The book was finished at 35,000 words with a week of NaNo left to go. It being my first book and all, I had no clue what I could do to make it longer. Who knows, maybe it doesn’t need to be any longer - as I recall it was pretty action packed.

I’m probably setting myself up for failure, but the lure of NaNo is too strong to resist. This doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up on Wandering Wizards, I’ll be working on both novels at the same time. You know, just to make things interesting.

Think it can’t be done? Never under estimate the power of determination. I know people who’ve done twice and even three times the required 50,000 words in the month of November. I even know people who’ve knocked off their 50,000 in the first week. I’m pretty sure they lived alone and were fed intravenously, but they did it.

At least my office will be more or less back together by then. We got the futon dismantled and stashed away (you can read more about that HERE if you like) over the weekend and the hubby made the inserts for the upper desk drawers. I need to clean the carpet and shuffle the furniture around, but the desk itself is where I want it to be and I can plug away at the rest as time permits.

So this week the focus will be both working on getting my office set up and getting as many words in on Wandering Wizards as I can manage.

Oh! And since my inbox hasn’t exactly been flooded with stories, poems, and articles inspired by my picture prompt, guess I’d better get on something for that too, eh?

A writer’s work is never done. ;-)

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Place of Your Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

“Try again, Horace,” Paranithel encouraged gently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Squirrel

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

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

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Squirrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Writer’s Brain and the Great Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

To NaNo, Or Not to NaNo

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

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

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

To NaNo or Not to NaNo

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hey, Wagon, Wait Up!

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

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

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

And then there was this:





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

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

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

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

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

Then all that will be left is the writing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Prompt Me - Cat

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



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

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

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dinggedicht

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

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

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

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

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

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

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

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

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to No Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

One More Bridge

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


The Bridge of Lost Tomorrows

By Carol R. Ward


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you ever see the bridge?”

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

“But you’re still here.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

“A body has to believe that it will.”

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

Corrine stepped forward.