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.”


“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

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 Cort├ízar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Quotable Quotes - January 30 through February 3

As mentioned in my previous post about shaking things up on the blog, I didn’t want to just ditch the quotes post, but picking out my two favourites of the week and interpreting/discussing them wasn’t exactly working the way I’d hoped it would. It was fun to do once in awhile, but like the poetry and flash fiction, once you get locked into a weekly thing mostly it just feels like a chore, and a chore I was struggling to find time for at that.

And yet, like I said, it seems a shame to waste the quotes that Jamie and I come up with for each other. Some of them are really good, worthy of getting written up for my cork board even. So I started saving the daily quotes in a document file, and each week I’ll post the previous week’s worth of quotes. This way you get a week’s worth of inspiration all in one post. And if you like, you can let me know which (if any) quotes you found helpful or inspirational in the comments.

Some authors write with a grave ink, of a dramatic pen dipped into their dark souls.
~Terri Guillemets

Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down.
― Neil Gaiman

My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin.
~Karl Kraus

I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after 'semicolons,' and another one after 'now.
― Ursula K. Le Guin

Caress your phrase tenderly: it will end by smiling at you.
~Anatole France

Writing is.... being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.
― Mary Gaitskill

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.”
“What mood is that?”
“Last-minute panic.”

~ Bill Watterson

Reading is very creative - it's not just a passive thing. I write a story; it goes out into the world; somebody reads it and, by reading it, completes it.
― Margaret Mahy

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.
~E.L. Doctorow

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, February 3, 2017

Prompt Me - The Tea Party

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’d like to feature a little more writing on this blog without getting locked into a weekly thing. But while weekly seems to be too much, monthly sounds just about right.

So starting today, I’m going to put up a prompt on the first Friday of each month. Hopefully some time before the end of the month I’ll be inspired to come up with a story or poem or maybe even a non-fiction piece based on this prompt because on the last Friday of each month I’ll be posting whatever it is I’ve come up with.

But wait! That’s not all. I’d love for you to join me. Have a look at the picture, think about it, and then let your creative juices flow. If you like, you can email me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com what you came up with and I’ll post it on the last Friday of the month.

If you don’t want to wait that long, check out the weekly prompt you can find on the Brazen Snake Books website.  I think you’ll find these are a little more challenging than a simple picture prompt. ;-)

Happy writing!