Monday, July 31, 2017

Bucket Lists

Do you have a bucket list?

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the bucket list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So... what’s on your bucket list?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chaos Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shepherds and Nymphs

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

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

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Christopher Marlowe

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

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Sir Walter Raleigh

Monday, July 24, 2017

Miscellaneous Miscellany

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

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

You’re welcome. :-D

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

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

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

I think I’ve strayed off topic. ;-)

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

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

Wish me luck - I’m gonna need it!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Untitled Novel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bingo Blues

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

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

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

Bingo Blues

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Caffeinated Dreams

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

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

But I came home and wrote the following poem:

Caffeinated Dreams

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prompt Me - Wall Between Worlds

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

However, you are not getting the picture I intended.

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pet Peeve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

/end rant. ;-)

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

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

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

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