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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Bridge

I have a fabulous Fiction Friday in store for you. Being the last Friday of the month it’s time for the writing results from the picture prompt posted at the beginning of the month. I have not one, but two stories inspired by my bridge picture. Okay, technically there’s three of them, but you’re only getting two of them today. I didn’t want to overwhelm you. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It has nothing to do with the fact I haven’t quite finished my own yet. ;-)

As always, we begin with a repeat of the picture:

First up we have a flash story by Jamie DeBree. It’s been sitting in my inbox for weeks now because I refused to read it before I finished my own. Trust me, it was well worth the wait.

Darkness & Light

by Jamie DeBree

The rope felt rough and splintery in my tight grip as I stood at the edge of the rickety wooden bridge. It was one of those defining moments in life - the ones where you know that once you make the decision to move, you can never go back. Nothing will ever be the same.

I could still see them in the mist, but barely. If I ran, I might be able to catch up. Or I might fall through one of the rotted out boards and find out just exactly how deep this cursed ravine really was. Probably right before I died.

"Go big or go home," I muttered, taking one last look at my rickety fate. Took a deep breath, and then ran, a kind of zig-zag-jog as I tried to keep my feet on the outer edges of the bridge, where it was still mostly supported by those old, fraying vines. My hands slid across the vibrating ropes, collecting splinters and I used the pain to fuel my sprint. My pulse was pounding in my ears, adrenaline pulling me forward even when chips and chunks of wood fell out from under my feet.

The fog engulfed me and I could no longer see my prey, but still I ran, knowing I couldn't give up, couldn't let them win.

Darkness materialized beside me, like he'd been there all along. He grimaced, knowing I had to stop Light from leaving, though I'd embraced Darkness not so long ago. Our exclusive dalliance had been just that, but it was over. I couldn't commit to just one of them, as he wished me to do.

My second target shined through the mist, and I pushed harder, running faster, knowing the Light couldn't hurt me like it could Darkness. I had to catch him. Had to keep him from leaving us.

Darkness fell behind as I continued on, the burning in my lungs not so bad anymore. The shine grew brighter, and hurt my eyes as the mist began to fall away.

"Stop, please!" I called to Light. "You can't go! We need you!" I couldn't see him, but I felt his warmth. Knew he could hear me where he was.

"You freed Darkness from his dungeon," he said, his voice smooth and calm. "We each need our own space - you know that. If he's allowed to run free, I must leave. 'Tis the way of all things."

I nodded. "I know. And I'm sorry. I never should have opened that lock. But I did, and now I need your help. Please don't leave me."

Light hesitated. "You'll get rid of the Darkness?"

I thought about that for a long moment. "No," I replied. "I don't think you can exist without each other, and I can't go on without you both. But I will put him back in his place, and make sure he stays there, with your help."

The mist seemed to flicker, and then slowly dissipated. The bridge swayed slightly, the ropes rasping my palms yet again as Light's figure finally appeared, his brilliance toned down so I could see his visage. I looked back, and Darkness was there too, waiting.

My heartbeat slowed, my tension drained, and I took a long breath into my lungs. Everything would be okay now.

Until Darkness enticed me to let him out again.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Next I received this story by C.L. Hannah. One of the things I love about these prompt stories is that we work from the same picture but come up with totally different stories. I hope these ladies take up the challenge for October as well.

Never Gone

by C. L. Hannah

Misty air dances over my face as I sit on a tree stump. Above, mosquitoes buzz around my head like angry bees yet the birds are mysteriously silent. My stomach growls; I haven’t eaten since before the funeral yesterday.

Pushing to my feet, I wipe the dampness from my pants and think about all the empty platitudes that were pressed on me as people made their ways out of the church. She’s in a better place. There’s a reason for everything. You can still have another child. I know how you feel. And of course the easily said, be strong.

They have no idea, I think, rolling my eyes. No understanding of the gut wrenching pain that entered my soul the moment my darling daughter left me. No understanding of how difficult it is to just get out of bed in the mornings nor how draining it is just remembering how to breathe.

No. No one understands. Shifting my weight from foot to foot, I wonder if I’ll ever be whole again. Will I ever stop hurting?

The drone of a distant plane momentarily distracts me and I look heavenward, searching for the offender that dares to interrupt my mourning.

The plane is probably off to some sunny location with a cabin full of happy, excited people, I think, grinding my teeth. I bet if they knew what I do, they’d not have chosen to be on that plane but rather to be at home with their loved ones safely tucked behind locked doors.

Lowering my eyes, I stare across the bridge and wonder for the millionth time, why? Why did this happen? Why did Sydney insist on showing me her dance moves here?

This is all my fault. I’m the adult. I should have known better. But Sydney’s smile melted my reluctance and I wanted her to be happy, so I just stood there and watched as she danced her way off the side of the bridge, to her death in the gorge below.

Sitting back down on the stump, I dig my heels into the damp ground making a hole. I wonder if I can make a big enough one so I can crawl into it and die.

“Don’t think like that Momma.”

Snapping my head up, I search for the source of the words. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me Momma. Don’t you recognize your own daughter?”

“You can’t be.” My heart races as my eyes flick through the shifting, fog shadows. “My Sydney died two weeks ago.”

“No I didn’t Momma. I just changed forms, that’s all. Come. Come to me and you’ll see.”

Squinting into the fog I think I see something take shape about half way across the bridge. Could it be? Is it true?

Jumping to my feet I rush toward the bridge then pause. Am I losing it? This can’t be happening and yet, I heard her, so it must be.

Taking a deep breath, I start across the bridge. The fog gets thicker the further out I go, until I can barely make out the wooden slats beneath my feet.

“Where are you?”

“You’re almost to me Momma. Keep coming, you’re almost here.”

I feel like I’m pushing through a door with my next step. The fog is now so thick that even the bugs have been silenced.

“Almost Momma. Almost.”

Taking another step I reach out my hand and hold onto the railing for support.

“That’s it Momma, now turn and look at the beautiful scenery below.”

Turning as directed, I feel my foot start to slip, but the scenery below, suddenly clear of fog, catches my attention. It’s not until my foot is dangling in mid air that I realize the voice isn’t my daughter’s but an evil imitation of it. I try to pull my foot back but as I do the other one slips and I find myself hanging off the side of the bridge. Only my grip on the railing stands between me and death.

“What are you waiting for Momma?” the evil imitation voice, sing songs. “Don’t you want to see me?”

“You are not my daughter,” I say, struggling to hold onto the railing. “You’re nothing. My daughter is dead. Gone.”

“Yes she is.” The imitation voice, now a loud hiss, agrees. “But you keep blaming yourself so I thought I’d help you out and have you join her. All you need to do is let go. Free yourself Momma. Let go and join your daughter.”

I think about the suggestion for a nano second before it hits me that if I do let go then I’ll never see another sunrise or sunset. I’ll never again hear birds singing or coyotes calling and I’ll never have the chance of being a Momma again.

“No!” I struggle to pull myself back onto the bridge. “This is not how it ends.” Pulling up with my arms, I wiggle my hips back onto the bridge and shimmy backwards until I’m safely in the middle. “This however, ends here, now. I miss my angel with my whole heart but it is not time for me to join her.”

Standing, I run off the bridge and slide through the fallen leaves to my car. Turning the ignition on, I slam the car into reverse and look in the rear view mirror. Sitting there, where her car seat used to be, is Sydney. She’s smiling.

“I told the devil you wouldn’t fall for it Momma. I told him that you’re stronger then he thinks and that you have more to live for then he can imagine. I’m proud of you Momma.”

My tears distort Sydney’s appearance but I know in my heart that it’s truly her this time.

“I love you so much baby girl. I’m so sorry I didn’t reach you in time.”

“You weren’t supposed to reach me Momma. It was my time to go to heaven. Please don’t be sad. There is still so much for you to do here. We will be together one day but until that day arrives, live Momma, live. You have so many opportunities coming your way, don’t miss them because you’re sad. I’m still part of you, not like before but still, part of you. I promise.”

“Thank you baby girl. I’ll make you proud of me. I promise.”

Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and feel the pain that has held me hostage for the past two weeks suddenly shatter. A lightness seeps into my chest and I feel warm. Looking at my own image in the mirror, I wipe the dampness from my cheeks and smile. I’m going to be OK.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Don’t forget to check back next Friday for October’s picture prompt. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired as well. And the Friday after that I’ll be posting my own story - I hope it’ll be worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

High School High Jinks

You know, just because I haven’t been posting recently written poems in my passion for poetry posts doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing anything new. I’ve been writing a least a poem a week for the Brazen Snake Books prompts and I somehow think it’s cheating to use them here as well. That’s not to say the poetry muse doesn’t strike at other times as well, but these poems are either too personal or too unfinished to use.

Which means once again I’m dipping into the poetry vault, this time coming up with a couple of poems I wrote in high school. Oh, the memories . . .

Between Classes

I’m sitting alone
on the stairs
basking in the silence.
Suddenly, the sharp
ring of a bell
and the thunder begins.
Doors open and
people begin to pour out.
Lockers bang and
feet assault the floors.
Voices chatter and
people jostle on another
on their way
to heaven-knows-where.
Less than ten minutes
have passed.
Then once again,
As I sit alone
on the stairs
basking in the silence.

Goodbye Teens

Slips of paper
with parts of poems
tear stained pillows
fights on the phone
pictures of people
whose names have been lost
drawings of summer
or winter’s bright frost
what’s left of the tickets
of movies you seen
sad secret smiles
for the dreams you once dreamed
old faded blue jeans
hung up for good
saddened goodbyes
to your lost teen-hood.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Flashing My Stuff

Short Fiction - 593
Long Fiction - 2295
Poetry - 324
Total Words - 3212
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

Well, if there’s one good thing about the heat wave we’re under right now, it’s that it makes it easier to work in my office. Not the new one, the old one. It’s on the north side of the house with a big tree in front of the window, which means it’s nice and cool in the morning. And I actually am finding it easier to get into the routine of writing in my office first thing in the morning.

Except this morning. Being cooler also means the office is dimmer, and this morning I needed some light to energize myself. So here I am in the living room with the view of the deck, and a fan oscillating in my direction. However, the downside of using the fan is that it tends to make my throat sore and exacerbate the cold I came down with at the end of last week. And though I started taking my magical herbal cure at the first sniffle, this cold quickly surpassed the herbs’ ability to combat it. This has been one heck of a year for colds for me

I spent a lot of time on poetry last week. If you’ve ever written poetry, then you should know it can be every bit as time consuming as a short story. The poem I wrote for the Brazen Snake Books prompt was easily twice as long as the finished product. I kept creating and discarding verses, and changed the focus of the woman’s ire. Click on the Brazen Snakes link above if you’re curious about the completed poem.

I did not, however, finish the story I’m writing for my picture prompt. Finding the balance for flash fiction can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you want to tell a complete story, but on the other hand, you want to keep it short. While I really like my story idea, it keeps spiralling out of control. Typically, anything under 2,000 words is considered flash fiction, although it’s more often under 1,500 words. I try to keep mine around 1,000 words.

I read a lot of flash fiction, and in fact I get a flash story delivered to my in-box every week day morning. It’s usually the perfect length to read while I’m having breakfast. And while I’ve read some great stories, I’ve also read some disappointing ones. Some people just don’t seem to get the concept of flash fiction and I have to wonder who they know that they’re able to get published.

A list is not flash fiction. An extended paragraph to set up a punch line is not flash fiction. An article, sermon, or obituary-like report on someone’s life is not flash fiction. And whenever I receive one of these in my in-box, I think I should try submitting a few stories to them because obviously they’re hard up to fill their space.

So what is flash fiction? Good flash should follow the same rules as any other fiction, whether it be long or short. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a point, a reason for it having been written. The best flash should linger in the mind long after the story has been read.

Flash is a great way to hone your craft. It teaches you to be succinct, to the point. Every word must have a purpose. You strip off the flesh and get to the bones of the matter. Out of necessity, the cast of characters will be limited and there will be no space to go into a lot of detail about them, their nature will be shown by what they say or do.

And there are many benefits to writing flash fiction. Your longer writing will become tighter. It will help establish a regular writing habit - it can feed your soul when you don’t know what to write about. Because it’s brief you can indulge in different genres or aspects you’ve never thought of trying before - romance, suspense, humour - without having to worry about keeping it up for pages and pages. It gives you the opportunity to let your imagination out for a stroll.

And as an added bonus, there’s a growing market for flash fiction. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little extra money? ;-)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fiction Friday
Wandering Wizards, At Last!

I finally got back to work on Wandering Wizards, the third installment of the Moonstone Chronicles. In fact, I wrote this whole chapter that needs to be inserted a few chapters ahead of where I actually left off in the book. Unfortunately, it needs a bunch of changes because it needs to agree with information in the other two books.

I actually had two separate things going on, but when I wrote it I had it as just one thing. Or maybe it’s not. I have to rethink at least half of that whole chapter. This is one of the drawbacks of being a pantser and publishing a series as you go along - you can’t go back and change stuff. Well, I guess you could, but it wouldn’t be fair to the people who’ve bought the first two books in paperback.

At any rate, that’s not the scene I’m going to share today. The scene I'm actually going to share is sort of the ripple effect result of the scene I’m still working on. Which is why it’s important I fix the other one.

To set this up ... Jessica and her friends are trapped in the sanctuary inside of one of the elven realms, surrounded by dark elves who don’t know they’re there. Howard and the others were investigating the reason why all communication appeared to have been cut off from this realm and were supposed to report back to Aracelia (Jessica’s elven grandmother). Jessica and Dominic ended up there when Howard nearly died from a dose of elf bane and needed Jessica’s magic to cure him.

(not the actual cover I’ll be using, just one I came up with for NaNoWriMo)

From chapter twenty...

“We need to get a message to Aracelia,” Ellen said. “She needs to know what’s going on, to warn the other elves.”

“I tried to summon a wind imp yesterday, but was unsuccessful,” Kaelan admitted. “Perhaps someone with more power...”

“No problem,” Jessica said, turning to root around in her pack. “I can contact her with my mirror.”

Once she had the mirror in her lap, however, she just sat there looking at it.

“What’s the matter?” Dominic asked.

She looked over at him. “It’s just...” she bit her lip as she hesitated. “This will be the first time I’ve spoken to her since our blood relationship has come to light.”

“You nit,” Howard chided her. “She’s thrilled about you being her granddaughter. And we could tell she was really unhappy about keeping the truth from you.”

“If you say so,” Jessica said dubiously. Deciding it was best to just get it over with, she held the mirror a little more firmly and chanted the activation incantation, then waved her free hand in front of it.

She frowned when nothing happened and tried again.

“Shouldn’t something be happening?” Ellen asked.

“Yes something should be happening, it just isn’t,” Jessica snapped. She tried a third time with no better luck. “Maybe I’m getting the incantation wrong. Here, you try.” She thrust the mirror towards Dominic who snatched it out of her hand to avoid being jabbed in the midsection.

“What makes you think I’d have better luck than you?” he asked. “You’re the one with all the power, I’m just the muscle.”

“But you know more about magic than I do, and I just worked a major healing,” she said, gesturing towards Howard.

Dominic sighed, but did as she asked, unsurprised when he had no better luck that she had.

“This can’t be good,” Ellen said. “Maybe it’s broken.”

“Or maybe something’s interfering with its magic,” Kaelan said slowly. “Perhaps the changes the dark elves have made to the barrier are blocking your magic.”

“Like a jamming signal,” Howard suggested. “It makes sense. If there were any stray elves hiding out, they wouldn’t want them to be able to tell anyone on the outside what’s going on.”

“Okay, so how do we get in touch with Aracelia?”

“You need to boost the signal,” Ellen said. “Like on Star Trek.”

Jessica rolled her eyes. “That is so not helpful. This isn’t a T.V. show - I can’t just tell Scottie to give me more power.”

“What about this?” Howard asked, pulling the moonstone pendant from his shirt.

“What about it?”

“It was made by the elves, and it has ties to Aracelia. What if you used it with the mirror? I don’t know, wrap it around the handle or something. Maybe it would help boost the signal.”

Jessica looked at Dominic. “What do you think?”

He shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt to try.”

She took the chain from Howard and wrapped it around the handle of the mirror with the actual pendant resting on the back of it. Taking a deep breath, she tried the incantation again. This time there was a ripple in the glass.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Shadow On The Stone
by Thomas Hardy

While I really enjoy Thomas Hardy’s poetry, I have to admit I’ve never read any of his novels and I don’t believe I’ve read any of his shorter fiction either. Maybe one of these days I’ll look him up on Project Gutenberg . That site has everything. ;-)

In the meantime, for today’s passion for poetry I’d like to share my favourite Thomas Hardy poem. It was written shortly after the death of his first wife, Emma. He wrote a whole series of love poems for her, regretting how much they had grown apart in the later years of their marriage.

The Shadow On The Stone

I went by the Druid stone
That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
That at some moments fall thereon
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
Threw there when she was gardening.

I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
Though how do you get into this old track?’
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Readin’ and Writin’

Short Fiction - 762
Long Fiction - 2043
Poetry - 152
Total Words - 2957
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 3

Despite the fact my numbers are higher than they’ve been previously, I have to admit to being a little disappointed. Granted I had a few health issues going on last week, but there were several times when I had a choice between reading and writing and I chose reading. Yeah, I know. Bad author!

But there were a couple of steamy shifter books on the e-reader that were really hard to put down, and I started to really get into Stephen King’s The Dark Half. I love when his characters are writers. And if you’re writing under a pseudonym you really need to read this one.

The good news is, I’ve started a collection of military based romances on my Kindle that aren’t quite as riveting, and I finished The Dark Half and needed something a little more ordinary in the tree book department, so I’m reading a Regency Christmas anthology. Don’t judge. :-p

I surprised myself by not only writing a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt, but coming up with it early. The deadline is Friday at midnight and you can usually find me hard at work on it at 11 p.m. But this one was finished on Thursday! If you’re curious, you can read it HERE. And I thought it was pretty ironic that the day it was posted it was hazy in the morning, got hotter by lunch, and then some clouds started to roll in. Of course these clouds just rolled on by and it never cooled down, but still ...

I often get together with a writing friend on Saturday mornings for coffee and a thrift store run, but this weekend we brought our coffee in thermoses and packed a couple of lawn chairs in the car. We parked on the pier and sat in our chairs facing the harbour and pulled out our notebooks to write. I should clarify - Catherine wrote; I kept getting distracted. This is the view I had:

The water was so calm it looked like you could walk on it. There wasn’t even a hint of breeze. It was beautiful. There was a flock of seagulls on the other side of the barrier that keeps pedestrians from walking out to the lighthouse and even they were quiet. Then all of a sudden there was this loud splash as a huge fish leaped out of the water and smacked down again. He did this three times and then moved on to a different spot. He seemed to be making a circuit of the harbour - always leaping three times before moving on - and I couldn’t help but wonder what his deal was.

This was one of those times when I tried to bend the writing to my will, which never works and I really should have known better. I had my heart set on doing a story for the BSB prose prompt, but I could not for the life of me come up with a reason why someone would send hate mail to a weatherman when the weather was good and fan mail when the weather was bad. Of course now I have about three different ideas that would work, but it’s too late. LOL

Anyway, after spending way too much time getting nothing done on that I turned to my own prompt, the picture of the month. And started re-writing the story I’d already started from the beginning. A page or two into that I got a couple of ideas that I had to write down, so I abandoned my story and didn’t get back to it. And then it started getting freakishly hot so we packed it in.

So while I didn’t get the 12 pages written that Catherine did, I got enough accomplished that I don’t feel like I wasted my time. Next time I’d like to be better prepared - maybe with a clearer idea of what I want to work on. I kept thinking I should have taken my Neo with me and next time I will.

And sun screen. Lots of sun screen. ;-)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fiction Friday - The Wishing Stone

By the time I’m ready to write my wordage report on Monday, I should have a significant number of new words added to my current WIP, Wandering Wizards, just not yet. I have added a few hundred so far this week, but there’s not really enough for an excerpt. Instead of working on my WIP I got a jump start on the story for my picture prompt, and then I wrote a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt.

So once again I dipped into the vault, this time pulling out a story that is the first in a planned series of five stories revolving around a crystal necklace. I’m not sure why I abandoned it - I like what I have of it and I think I’ll be moving it up on my list of stories to return to in the future. And though it’s a series, each story is a stand-alone. While some of the characters know each other, the only real connection is the necklace.

At any rate, our heroine, Annalise, has had an incredible run of bad luck so her grandmother gives her the wishing crystal (without telling her what it is) and sends her off to the cabin no one in the family knows she has where she is supposed to fulfill her dream of becoming an author. Only the magic in the necklace manifests itself in ... unusual ways.

The Wishing Stone

The shriek of some animal dying rent the night. Like a switch being thrown, the night was suddenly still. The quiet lasted for several seconds and then the crickets began chirping again followed by the bull frogs.

All at once the night lost its magic. Annalise scrambled to her feet, suddenly chilled to the bone. She stumbled on the path back to the cabin. The moon was behind her now, casting ominous shadows. There was a rustling in the woods beside her. She halted, staring blindly into the underbrush.

The brush rustled again but she couldn’t tell which side of the path. She had the strangest feeling of being watched.

“Hello? Is someone there?”

A bird shot out of the brush, right across the path in front of her. Annalise gave a shaky laugh. Just a bird, nothing to get nervous about. She took another step up the path, stopping when she heard a growl.

“Whoever this is, this isn’t funny!”

Glowing, yellow eyes stared at her from the underbrush.

Annalise backed away a step, then another. Again she heard a low growl. The breeze shifted and the growl became something else. A cloud slid across the face of the moon, taking what little light there was with it.

More movement in the brush, coming closer. Almost before she realized what she was doing, Annalise turned and fled up the path towards the cabin. She could hear something behind her but was too terrified to look back to see what it was.

Sobbing with relief, she saw the cabin, just ahead. She was almost there when she tripped on a protruding root. Before she could scramble to her feet, whatever had been chasing her caught up to her. It landed on her back, planting her face in the dirt again. Her breath left her in a whoosh. Whatever it was it was large and heavy. It snuffled the side of her face and neck.

Rapid fire thoughts shot through her as she lay there, waiting to be torn apart. This was it, she was going to die. They’d find what was left of her body eventually and Grams would blame herself for sending her up here in the first place when really it was her own stupid fault for not being more careful. Or maybe the creature was going to drag her off and they’d never find her body and they’d always wonder what happened to her.

The creature, however, did not tear her apart but continued to snuffle the side of her face, her hair. Its breath blew out in harsh huffs. Her knees and hands started to sting where she’d tried to break her fall, she shifted minutely. The creature growled, low in its throat, but shifted as well.

Any relief she felt when its weight left her was short-lived as she felt herself being flipped over onto her back. No sooner had it done this than it was on her again. Though she struggled, he held her down easily. She could tell it was a man now, laying his full length on her to keep her still.

“What do you want?” she sobbed. “Why are you doing this?”

The moon slipped from behind the cloud and in that instant she could see the glowing yellow eyes and the long, furry muzzle with sharp, white fangs reaching for her. Annalise opened her mouth to scream.

She woke with a start, heart still pounding as though she really had been chased through the woods.

“I can’t believe I fell asleep at the typewriter.” She took a deep breath and let it out again.

Covering the typewriter for the night, she glanced at the pages she’d typed out earlier. Gathering them up, she tossed them into the fireplace.

“I’m thinking werewolves are just a little too paranormal for my taste,” she said. With a yawn she headed up the stairs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Poet Tree

About four years ago I was invited to join a group of poets who were giving eulogies to a tree. Yes, that’s right, a tree. This wasn’t a protest, this was saying goodbye to the last elm tree in Victoria Park before it was cut down. The occasion was even videoed and uploaded to YouTube. Good luck finding it. ;-)

Afterwards we tucked our poems beneath a string wound around the tree so that passersby could read them. I just recently saw in our local news that the first of several benches made from the wood of the tree are ready to be placed in the park. Apparently the wood needed to season before it could be used.

At any rate, this is the poem I came up with for the occasion:

The Poet Tree's Tale

Hear my tale that you may see
The dream I dreamed beneath this tree
Whose rich enchantment captured me;
While I was sitting in its lee.

There was a sweet tranquility
Of visions that were sent to me
By this majestic poet tree
Whose life is filled with history.

Ages of serenity
Years passed by in harmony
Such innocence and purity
It caught me up, then set me free.

"But peace no more," alleged the tree,
"The world has changed, and so have we.
Life is just uncertainty -
A storm is coming, wait and see."

"Earthquakes leave behind debris,
Earth and fire, wind and sea,
The heavens weep unnaturally,
For what is past and still to be."

"The warnings come by two and three
Ignored by those too blind to see.
And you, the guardians, meant to be
Abandoned us, ignore our plea."

And when I woke, beneath the tree
I wept for what would come to be
I wept for all life's frailty
And the dream I dreamed beneath this tree.

Monday, September 11, 2017

An Embarrassment of WIPs

New Words - 557 + 1051 + 617 + 397
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 2622
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 4

So ... despite last Monday being a holiday, I finally started to ease into that much needed writing schedule I’ve been yearning for. I wrote 500+ words on Monday, twice that on Tuesday, nothing except updating my journal (a week’s worth) on Wednesday, and Thursday ... Okay, Thursday I did park my butt in my office at the appointed hour, but that was it. And no poetry at all last week.

I did print out some stuff to work on during nap time (which didn’t happen - the writing, not nap time). I just kind of ground to a halt. The mind was willing but the fingers were weak. I got hit by a dose of writer’s apathy and I’m still struggling with it. And while I did lose three days to the writer’s apathy, I did start to rally on the weekend and get a few more words in.

But there’s another reason I didn’t get as much done as I could have last week and I can’t for the life of me decide if this is a good excuse or a really stupid excuse, but here goes. You be the judge:

I have too many projects to choose from.

I have a folder on the desktop of my computer that’s labeled Working On. In this folder is 28 document files - all stories that are in various stages of being done. Some just need a little tweeking, some need a lot of work. A couple are stories I started for the weekly BSB prompt and never got off the ground, but I want to finish anyway.

But wait! There’s more. There are also 8 sub-folders that contain a total of 143 files of stuff I’ve been working on. That’s a lot of WIPs to choose from, don’t you think? And that’s not even dipping into the folders on my desktop marked Books, Short Stories, or Poetry.

The Books folder, for instance, holds all of my NaNo efforts as well as folders for several different series I have plans for. Not just novels, but series of novels. I’ve completed the NaNoWriMo challenge 10 times and only 1 of those novels have seen the light of day. Shame on me! But it’s no wonder I’m not getting anything done, I have so many irons in the fire you can’t even see the fire.

So, what am I to do?

I’m going to change the name of the Working On folder to To Be Worked On and maybe even store it on a USB stick to remove temptation. I will create a new folder called Currently Working On for my desktop, and in it I will limit myself to no more than six WIPs, including the novel I’m hoping to have done in time for Christmas. And if I’m going to have a prayer of that happening, I’m going to have to seriously up my game.

Expect to see the New Words at the top of this post divided between Short Fiction and Novel next week. And it would really help if Book Bub would stop offering me so many good books to read. And maybe the new season of television could be put off for a couple of months.

And at this point I really have to wonder, what was I doing with all my time over the last few months?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fiction Friday - Forever and For Always

Though I have been getting back into my writing groove, it’s been short stories and bits and pieces, nothing I can really post an excerpt from. So today I’m offering a snippet from my first complete NaNo novel. And by complete I mean I completed the NaNo challenge with it, not that the novel itself is complete. There’s a couple of plot holes to fill and a massive amount of editing. But one of these days ...

In the meantime, this excerpt is from near the beginning. Our heroine has crashed on a planet and decided to do a bit of exploring a bit of exploring while her ship’s energy stores re-charge. In this scene she meets the man who will be the hero of the story. I was going to post a picture of my inspiration for his character, but it was NSFW, so you’re getting the cover I came up with instead. ;-)

The water fell from a height of about twenty feet, hitting the rocks framing it before tumbling into the river, which had widened into a pool at this point. A flat, stone slab formed part of the bank and Trez knelt on it to test the water. It was cool, but not as cold as she expected.

Sitting back on her haunches, she debated about going for a swim. Unlike most spacers, she knew how to swim and enjoyed it whenever she got the chance. She glanced around the sunlit glade. It seemed harmless enough.

Colourful butterflies flitted from one exotic bloom to the next. There was just a hint of a warm breeze causing the leafy fronds above to sway gently. The water was clear enough to see a handful of small, silvery fish darting after each other. The pond beckoned and she couldn’t resist any longer.

Standing up, she peeled off the ship suit and folded it neatly of the rock. Completely naked she eased herself into the water, gasping at the cool temperature. Taking a deep breath, she ducked under and swam out into the center of the pond.

Her head broke above water with a gasp. This was wonderful! Trez swam a few laps and then floated on her back, letting the current carry her away from the waterfall and the sun warm her up. Somersaulting in the water, she swam back over to the waterfall and climbed up on the rocks.

The rocks were a bit slippery, but she managed to find a fairly flat surface. She stood up and held her arms out, letting the water pound into her. Laughing, she turned in a circle. It was like getting a water massage.

When she grew tired of being pummeled by the waterfall she turned and took a running leap off the rocks. With a loud whoop that startled the nearby birds from the trees she landed with a splash in the center of the pond. She broke the surface with a laugh; she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had this much fun.

Trez started swimming laps again and when she grew tired she pulled herself out onto the sun drenched rock. She lay on her back and dozed, letting the sun dry her off. After about an hour she started to get an itchy feeling, like she was being watched.

She sighed, and stretched, then sat up and reluctantly pulled on her clothing. Taking her time, she surreptitiously glanced around, trying to locate the source of her feeling. Whatever was watching her, she didn’t think it was an animal. An animal would have attacked by now or moved on. It was probably some kind of humanoid, hopefully not an aggressive one.

“Okay,” she said in a loud voice. “You’ve had your fun. I know you’re out there, you might as well come out and show yourself.”

Turning, she faced the jungle. A rustling came from the place she was watching. It was lower to the ground than she expected, as though it was either a small person or someone low to the ground.

“It’s all right,” she said, crouching down. “I’m not going to hurt you. I enjoy making friends on new worlds.”


The voice came from the direction of the rustling and was definitely male. And if she was reading the nuances right, he was a very frightened male.

“It’s okay, really,” she cajoled. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The brush parted and slowly the creature approached. He was hunched over and moved with a shuffling gait, using both hands and feet, allowing him to stay close to the ground. Definitely humanoid, he was naked except for a thick collar around his neck. His long, blonde hair was matted and filthy, but the face he raised to her was the face of an angel.

“Do you have a name?” she asked gently.

He ducked his head. “Ape,” he said. “Me Ape.”

“It’s nice to meet you Ape. My name is Trez.”

“Friend Trez.”

“Close enough,” she smiled. “Are you all alone here Ape?”

Shaking his head vigorously, he didn’t answer. He darted a look at her, then hesitantly held out his hand. His offering was a large red blossom.

Trez smiled and took the flower from him. “Thank you, Ape. It’s beautiful.” She brought it up to her nose and gave a sniff. “Oh! The scent is–” she smelled it again. “I’ve never smelled anything like it in my life. It’s amazing.”

There was a flash of white teeth as Ape grinned at her before ducking his head again. Trez studied him curiously. She’d bet her last cargo he was human, but what happened to him? Had he been stranded here? Hurt? How long had he been like this?

Suddenly, he tensed as a woman’s voice was heard calling his name.

“Ape! Damn your worthless hide, where are you hiding?”

“Friend go. Friend hide,” he said emphatically, pointing away from the voice.

“Who’s that calling?” Trez asked. He seemed frightened; perhaps he’d strayed away and was afraid of getting into trouble. If that were the case she should stay to smooth things over. “Is she your friend too?”

If anything, he seemed even more agitated. “No friend. Bad!” He rocked back and forth in place. “Friend go!”

With that he pushed off with his hands and vanished back into the jungle moving surprisingly fast for someone who kept so close to the ground.

Trez rose to her feet. “Well that was – bizarre.” She gave the flower one last sniff and then tucked it in her hair. Gazing thoughtfully at the spot Ape had disappeared, she finally shrugged and turned away to put her shoes on.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Wednesday kind of snuck up on me. There I was making excellent progress on a story I was working on, when all of a sudden I realized I was supposed to be posting a poem.

And I was actually going to try to write something new for a change, only, well, it was midnight when I started this post and my brain was not fully in gear. In fact, it took several tries before I rooted out even an old poem to use.

I’m pretty sure I was around thirty when I wrote this poem, which is kind of funny when you consider the subject matter. But just to give you a little perspective on the way my mind works ... I have a sister who’s ten years older than me, so when she turned thirty I was only twenty and I thought thirty was positively ancient. She has never forgiven me for the hard time I gave her. LOL


If I could live another’s life, my world their point of view
Oh, how happy I could be to do the things they do.
Instead of drab existence, a life more richly led
A wish fulfillment fantasy - another’s path to tred.

If I could have the romance that others seem to find,
The passion everlasting, the closeness so divine
The happiness I would derive from such a life as this
Seems to me the best that I could ever hope to wish.

If I could find adventure, the kind others seem to find
How exciting life would be - a mystery to unwind
Flights of fancy lead me to far exotic lands
Filled with wondrous peoples and vistas ever grand.

If I could see the dreams I dream come to life at last
The way that others seem to do then when the dreaming’s passed
I could look back upon a life and see what others see
And feel the satisfaction, that dreaming caused to be.

If I could live my life once more now that I’m at the end
I’d live a life that’s real this time instead of one pretend.
I’d do the things I dream about and when my life is gone
There’d be no regrets, as there is now, for things I’ve never done.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Things and Stuff

New Words - 1052
Poetry - 177
Total Words - 1229
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes- 3

Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another. Last week was another week that was not conducive to writing, and I can’t even blame the hubby being on vacation. Actually, hubby being at home was a bonus because he was determined to barbeque every night, which meant he was doing half the cooking for dinners.

No, the culprit last week was all the extra babysitting so the son-in-law could spend time visiting his mother, who was in the hospital. I love my grandbaby, but she can be pretty exhausting. She may only be 2 ½ but she’s already a force of nature.

What surprised me the most about last week was I was able to get my blog posts done. Especially the Friday ones. Thursday I babysat from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and then Friday the hubby and I took the day off to go to the CNE, which you can read about HERE if you like.

Thank goodness for the prompts from Brazen Snake Books last week or I might not have anything to show for my week except a few paragraphs of notes for a story idea. The poetry prompt was to write a poem about something (anything) going bad, which came just at the right time for me.

I’d like to move my office across the hall to a sunnier room in the house, but in doing so I also need a smaller desk. I’ve always dreamed of one of those small, roll top desks with all the pigeon holes and secret drawers and such. So on a whim I did an online search and to my surprise I found one I could afford within driving distance. I emailed the seller and yes, it was still available. It was going to be a couple of days before I could get to it and in the mean time someone else, with cash in hand, swooped in and bought it. You can read my poem about it HERE.

And anyone who knows me knows I love all things mystical, so it was impossible to resist last week’s story prompt: A character went to get his/her fortune read six years ago. Today, that fortune is coming true in the most unexpected way. Tell us about it… You can check out the resulting stories HERE. I really love that Jamie’s story (it comes first) is light in contrast to the darkness of mine.

The new PROMPTS for the week are up at Brazen Snake Books, you should really pop over and give them a try. And once you’re done with your story and/or poem for BSB, check out my picture prompt of the month HERE. Last month's prompt inspired someone other than me to write a story, I'd love if that happened again.

Needless to say, I made no progress on a writing routine last week but this week things are back to normal, despite the long weekend. So cross your fingers for me.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Prompt Me - The Bridge

Hard to believe it's September already, isn't it? Where did the summer go??

For a change, I actually started thinking about the monthly prompt early and I had three very different pictures sitting on my desk top for the last week. It was hard to choose between them, but I kept coming back to this one so this one it is:

Who built this bridge? What does it span? Who, or what, is the shadowy figure on the other side? Are the trees dead, or just dormant? Just think of the possibilities!

As always, the idea is to write a fiction story (any genre), a non-fiction story, or a poem inspired by the above picture. You have until the end of the month, in this case, September 28 (which is a Thursday) to send me what you've come up with and I'll post it here on the 29th. Just send what you've written to crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy writing!