Monday, October 15, 2018

The Double-edged Sword of Nostalgia

It's okay to look back at the past. Just don't stare.
~ Benjamin Dover

2 hours 43 minutes

Words from sprints:
Magic II – 0
Wandering Wizards – 1,189

Untimed words:
Wandering Wizards – 411

Total New words:
Magic II – 0
Wandering Wizards – 1,600

Once again my week started out strong writing-wise, and petered out by Friday. I was hoping to catch up a bit on the weekend, but . . .

Saturday I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled in for a long haul of editing and writing to make up for slacking off towards the end of the week. In the course of procrastinating before I actually got started, I decided to check out the files on a couple of USB sticks that were sitting on my desk. I may have been looking for something specific, like an idea for this year’s NaNo, but more likely I was just procrastinating.

At any rate, I stumbled across a few files that were encrypted – e-journals I kept in the early 90s. The problem is, they were written in WordPerfect (one of the early versions at that) and password protected. I haven’t used WordPerfect in…well, probably not since those files were created.

Apparently two of the files weren’t encrypted because at some point I was able to convert them to MS Word. And there went the rest of my Saturday – rereading those two files. One was from 1991/92 and the other was 1994.

It was pretty trippy, walking down memory lane. And interesting to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. Surprising in places too. While I’d like to say I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for the “good ole days” I really wasn’t. As Henry Wadsword Longfellow once said, “Let the dead Past bury its dead!”

So, I’ll leave the mystery of those encrypted files for another day – that nebulous day in the future when I have lots of time to spare for things like that. Instead I’ll turn my focus to the job ahead, mainly getting as much progress made on Wandering Wizards as possible.

And just to add a little extra spice to my writing life, I’ve signed up for the Speculative Fiction course again – all new workshops.

Last time I posted my in-class work on Fridays, but I think I’ll wait and see the results before I suspend my current 30 Weeks series. Like I said, these are all new workshops and a couple of them are going to be . . . challenging, to say the least.

So no more time for nostalgia, time to look forward.

Friday, October 12, 2018

30 Days Weeks of Writing Questions –Week 4

Several years ago I participated in something called 30 days of Writing Questions – a question a day for 30 days. Since I don’t have anything better to do on Fridays I thought I’d resurrect it, only I’m going to do one question a week. What the heck, if nothing else it’ll be fun, right? And just to make it even more exciting…I was able to locate my original answers, so I’m including them as well. It should be interesting to see if, or how much, my answers have changed.

Question Four:

Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Old answer:

One of the first characters I ever created was named Ghia F’ton Banestayju. What a mouthful, eh? She was raised on Earth by a wizardly type old man, who dies before he can tell her who she really is and where she comes from.

The plot is almost embarrassing to admit, but just remember, I was very young! :-p

Okay. Ghia was sent to Earth with her guardian to keep her safe from assassins. Her family was some kind of royalty (I was a little vague on that). After her guardian dies, she feels compelled to visit the Stonehenge where, on the night of a full moon, she hears a strange and wonderful music and dances amongst the stones. This activates a portal that transports her to her home world – Saturn.

See, I told you it was embarrassing.

So here the poor girl is, stuck on an unfamiliar world, not knowing who she really is, and with bad guys after her to kidnap/kill her. That’s about all I remember, other than the fact there was a lot of really weird landscapes she travelled through, like the Crystal Forest, which was a forest literally made out of crystal.

I think a few pages, typed on an antique typewriter on very thin paper, might still exist, but it won’t break my heart if the mice get them. :-)

New Answer

Well obviously not much has changed since the last answer but as I read it over I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance to my Moonstone Chronicles. It, too, features a main character who was sent to Earth to be raised in safety and then returned to her home world as an adult. Although in this case the world she returns to is a magical one, filled with magickal creatures. But it just goes to show, old ideas never die, they just get recycled.

I’m sure there was a story or two that pre-dated my Saturn one, but if so I’ve mercifully forgotten about them and there is no paper record of them.

In case you missed them, here are the previous weeks questions: one, two, three.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Autumn Garden

I wrote these two poems a couple of years ago – more just streams of consciousness, as most of my free verse poems are.

Autumn Garden

wind whispers through the dying leaves
the sound masked
by the waves racing each other to the shore
the water beyond is banded
with what I believe are sandbars
too cold to test my theory
I do not yet see
the autumn colours
though everything is muted
sucked dry like the aging season
a handful of blossoms
rallying against the vampiric effect
the ship on the horizon
appears to be moving backwards
would that I could do so too
a butterfly has lost its way
I can relate to that

Autumn Garden II
(from the bench on the boardwalk)

a man in a wet suit
searching for gold

women walking in pairs
the minutiae of their lives
trailing behind them like perfume

a woman with her dog
down on the sand
she unclips his leash
there’s so much joy in his freedom
I must look away

wide empty sand
smoothed out by the wind

the clouds on the horizon
follow me home

I quicken my steps

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

That’s right, it’s turkey time if you’re Canadian. And if you’re like me and do the big dinner on the Sunday rather than the Monday, then right now you’re in a turkey coma. My turkey was 23 pounds…for five people. Good thing we like turkey, we’ll be eating it for the rest of the month. LOL

I wish I could blame Thanksgiving for the lack of words last week, but alas such was not the case. Monday I wrote a total of 901 new words on Magic II, and that was pretty much it for the week. After that I started to focus on editing Wandering Wizards (8:46 hours). November is just a few weeks away and I really want to have WW as close to being finished as possible before hand.

The progress bar for it took a leap, but don’t get too excited. These were mostly words culled from the original draft and distilled into the new one. But I’ve only got about 24,000 words left of the old draft and as soon as I’ve used up those words it’ll be all new words.

As it stands, I have a couple of scenes I need to write to be inserted into the existing story. I did start writing one of them last week but it started getting too wordy – it was a flashback and while it was information I, personally, needed to know, it wasn’t something that moved the story forward so I’m having to rewrite it.

The other scene is more action oriented, but both scenes were being stubborn about being written. I’m going to have to sit down and work them out with pen and paper. At one time, everything I wrote started out with pen and paper and sometimes it’s necessary to get back to basics. The speed of the Neo is great, but pen and paper slow the process down and let you really think about what you’re trying to say.

So this week there should be some new words as well as lots of editing. You know, unless I explode from eating all that turkey. ;-)

Gobble, gobble!

Friday, October 5, 2018

30 Days Weeks of Writing Questions –Week 3

Several years ago I participated in something called 30 days of Writing Questions – a question a day for 30 days. Since I don’t have anything better to do on Fridays I thought I’d resurrect it, only I’m going to do once question a week. What the heck, if nothing else it’ll be fun, right? And just to make it even more exciting…I was able to locate my original answers, so I’m including them as well. It should be interesting to see if, or how much, my answers have changed.

Question Three:

How do you come up with names for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

Old answer:

The names for my main characters usually come pretty easily – I can’t start writing about them if I don’t know their names. In Driving Into Forever, I knew from the beginning that my main characters were named Hannah and Kelvin. With the story I’m editing right now, Forever and For Always, the name Treasure Beaumont just popped into my head one day and I started writing. I didn’t know anything about her, except for her name.

Secondary characters, however, can be a whole different story. While Hannah’s best friend was named Sara and hung onto her name from the beginning, the character of Nathaniel underwent many name changes until he decided to hook up with Sara in the sequel. She must have a steadying influence on him. ;-)

Kelvin’s brother and his Aunt also went through several name changes. I try not to have my characters have similar sounding names and if I’m stuck I’ll pick a letter of the alphabet and consult a baby-naming site on the internet. This helps, too, if I’m looking for a name with a particular ethnic feel to it.

As far as naming places goes . . . this is much harder for me. I write about imaginary places mostly – different dimensions, different planets – and these are much harder to name. Again, I try not to have places sound all the same, but it’s not always easy. In my on-line serial I name one planet Sigma Alpha IV, which I think I stole from Star Trek. :-)

New answer:

Not much has changed really as far as the answer to this question goes. Most character names come fairly easily to me. I’ve gotten better at naming the secondary characters – I’m able to find the right name for them and stick to it.

I have several “name the baby” sites bookmarked and when I’m looking for a name I often consult them. This is especially helpful if I’m looking for a specific kind of name because you can do searches by ethnicity.

Places are still kind of iffy though. In my Elemental series, two of the stories take place on the same world, which I don’t think I gave a name to. And the fourth book also takes place on an unnamed world, although I had a lot of fun naming the five major mining operations.

The magical world Jessica finds herself on in the Moonstone Chronicles is also unnamed. However, I have maps to keep track of where she’s been and where she’s going, and I’ve been naming places and rivers as I go along. Some of them are pretty lame names, but they’re names nonetheless.

Come to think of it, my Seven Realms series (which is still mostly in the planning stages) is also taking place on an unnamed world. And the realms themselves have names like: Desert Realm; Ocean Realm; Forest Realm . . .

Hmm. Looks like unless someone is actively looking for a specific world, none of my worlds have names. Maybe I should look up one of those name generator thingies online and get working on that. :-D

In case you missed them, here are the previous weeks questions: one, two.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight

This poem has a lot of sentimental value for me – it was one of my mother’s favourites. She died when I was thirteen and I remember a few years later, when I was in high school, trying to find a copy of it for an English assignment. This was before the days of the internet and Google. ;-)

At any rate, I wasn’t even sure of the title and had no idea who wrote it, but I went to the local bookstore (our town was small enough that it had only one) and the lady there not only knew the poem, she found me a book that included it – the joys of living in a small town.

It became one of my favourites too – I loved the romance of the story it told. The author, Rose Hartwick Thorpe, was only 17 when she wrote this poem, and although she went on to write other poems and stories, it still stands as her most memorable.

Curfew must Not Ring To-night
Rose Hartwick Thorpe (1850–1939)

SLOWLY England’s sun was setting o’er the hilltops far away,
Filling all the land with beauty at the close of one sad day,
And the last rays kissed the forehead of a man and maiden fair,
He with footsteps slow and weary, she with sunny floating hair;
He with bowed head, sad and thoughtful, she with lips all cold and white,
Struggling to keep back the murmur,—“Curfew must not ring to-night.”

“Sexton,” Bessie’s white lips faltered, pointing to the prison old,
With its turrets tall and gloomy, with its walls dark, damp, and cold,
“I’ve a lover in that prison, doomed this very night to die,
At the ringing of the Curfew, and no earthly help is nigh;
Cromwell will not come till sunset,” and her lips grew strangely white
As she breathed the husky whisper, “Curfew must not ring to-night.”

“Bessie,” calmly spoke the sexton,—every word pierced her young heart
Like the piercing of an arrow, like a deadly poisoned dart,—
“Long, long years I’ve rung the Curfew from that gloomy, shadowed tower;
Every evening, just at sunset, it has told the twilight hour;
I have done my duty ever, tried to do it just and right,
Now I’m old I will not falter. Curfew, it must ring to-night.”

Wild her eyes and pale her features, stern and white her thoughtful brow,
As within her secret bosom Bessie made a solemn vow.
She had listened while the judges read without a tear or sigh:
“At the ringing of the Curfew, Basil Underwood must die.”
And her breath came fast and faster, and her eyes grew large and bright;
In an undertone she murmured, “Curfew must not ring to-night.”

With quick step she bounded forward, sprung within the old church door,
Left the old man threading slowly paths so oft he’d trod before;
Not one moment paused the maiden, but with eye and cheek aglow
Mounted up the gloomy tower, where the bell swung to and fro
As she climbed the dusty ladder on which fell no ray of light—
Up and up, her white lips saying, “Curfew must not ring to-night.”

She has reached the topmost ladder; o’er her hangs the great dark bell;
Awful is the gloom beneath her, like the pathway down to hell.
Lo, the ponderous tongue is swinging, ‘tis the hour of curfew now,
And the sight has chilled her bosom, stopped her breath, and paled her brow.
Shall she let it ring? No, never! flash her eyes with sudden light,
As she springs, and grasps it firmly—“Curfew shall not ring to-night!”

Out she swung—far out—the city seemed a speck of light below,
There ’twixt heaven and earth suspended as the bell swung to and fro,
And the sexton at the bell-rope, old and deaf, heard not the bell,
Sadly thought that twilight curfew rang young Basil’s funeral knell.
Still the maiden clung more firmly, and with trembling lips so white,
Said to hush her heart’s wild throbbing: “Curfew shall not ring to-night!”

It was o’er, the bell ceased swaying, and the maiden stepped once more
Firmly on the dark old ladder where for hundred years before
Human foot had not been planted. The brave deed that she had done
Should be told long ages after, as the rays of setting sun
Crimson all the sky with beauty; agèd sires, with heads of white,
Tell the eager, listening children, “Curfew did not ring that night.”

O’er the distant hills came Cromwell; Bessie sees him, and her brow,
Lately white with fear and anguish, has no anxious traces now.
At his feet she tells her story, shows her hands all bruised and torn;
And her face so sweet and pleading, yet with sorrow pale and worn,
Touched his heart with sudden pity, lit his eyes with misty light:
“Go! your lover lives,” said Cromwell, “Curfew shall not ring to-night.”

Wide they flung the massive portal; led the prisoner forth to die,—
All his bright young life before him. ’Neath the darkening English sky
Bessie comes with flying footsteps, eyes aglow with love-light sweet;
Kneeling on the turf beside him, lays his pardon at his feet.
In his brave, strong arms he clasped her, kissed the face upturned and white,
Whispered, “Darling, you have saved me, curfew will not ring to-night!”

Monday, October 1, 2018

Uphill and Down

Some days I feel like Sisyphus, some days I feel like the rock.

0 hours 0 minutes

Words from sprints:
Magic II – 1,289
Wandering Wizards – 979

Untimed words:
Magic II – 425

Total New words:
Magic II – 1,712
Wandering Wizards – 979

I’m starting to notice a pattern. My weeks always start out good, but after Wednesday all bets are off. Last week I got zero editing in and while it doesn’t really make a difference for Magic II it certainly mucks up the progress for Wandering Wizards.

During one of my word sprints I started writing a scene in WW where one of the characters was having a flashback, and when I continued the scene later on I felt like a lot of this scene was just padding – how important was it to the story? That’s the point where I should have buckled down to some hard core editing.

Instead I switched my attention to Magic II, which is why I have twice the words written for it as I do WW. Because M-II is still in the first draft stage, there’s not a lot of editing to be done – I’m saving it for when the draft is completed. Tempting as it is to edit as I go along, I think it would be a wasted effort because I’m not following an outline, I just know where the story is going and let the characters take me there.

For instance…the male main character was having a drink at the club with his friend after a game of racquetball and suddenly remembered he was supposed to meet his mother for lunch. I didn’t even know he had a mother! And I knew he was rich, but she apparently owns the hotel they were having lunch at.

I missed my poetry post last week – I just didn’t have the energy. Thursday I got one sprint in, and that was it for the week. I don’t usually expect to get much done on Fridays – it’s a busy day for me – but Saturday is my big editing day. This Saturday, however, I was on the road to Huntsville to a wedding and we didn’t get back until 8 or 9, and who feels like editing at that time of night?

Yesterday got off to a slow start, as most Sundays do. The daughter and her family come to dinner on Sundays, so my afternoons are usually spent getting ready for that. This leaves the morning for writing related “stuff.”

I spent some time in my office straightening up – now that the cooler weather is here there’s no reason I can’t be spending more time in there – and then I did something I rarely do. I got my Monday blog posts written and scheduled.

That’s right, it’s Sunday morning as I’m typing this. Normally I’m typing the post for my other blog late Sunday night or, more often than not, as soon as I get up on Monday. And lately this post has been done later in the morning. And there goes my writing time on Monday mornings.

But now I have no excuse for a lack of numbers today. Time to push that rock.

Friday, September 28, 2018

30 Days Weeks of Writing Questions –Week 2

Several years ago I participated in something called 30 days of Writing Questions – a question a day for 30 days. Since I don’t have anything better to do on Fridays I thought I’d resurrect it, only I’m going to do once question a week. What the heck, if nothing else it’ll be fun, right? And just to make it even more exciting…I was able to locate my original answers, so I’m including them as well. It should be interesting to see if, or how much, my answers have changed.

Question Two:

How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

Old Answer:

In Driving Into Forever, my book set in the Myste, I start out with, uh, about 7 core characters and that many minor characters who almost immediately start “disappearing.”

The core characters are all essential to the story. The only one I could even think about cutting is the brother, but he’s the central figure in one of the sequels so he pretty much has to be included in this one. The same goes for the body-guard. What happens to him in this story is the basis of the next story.

I really don’t have a preference when it comes to characters – I like writing about both sexes. Because I write romance, I pretty much have to be able to write about them both.

That being said, in DIF I think I preferred Kelvin (the male MC) to Hannah (the female MC). He was pretty straight-forward to write about, but she gave me no end of trouble – her career changed a few times, and she underwent a real personality make-over. I was starting to get the feeling she didn’t want to be in this story! :-)

New Answer:

Okay. Back when I answered this question originally, Driving Into Forever was pretty much my only book-length WIP. Now I have several so the question is kind of confusing. How many per WIP? Per published book? Altogether? Do I count characters in short stories? You see my dilemma.

One WIP I have only has two main characters and a handful of secondary ones. The other has one main character, several significant secondary characters, and a whole lot of extras. I don’t know if that answers the question or not. Truth is, the number of characters varies from story to story.

I still don’t have a preference when it comes to writing about them. I usually like to make it balanced – equal numbers of men and women. The trick is to treat them like individuals and make each one unique.

You can find the previous week's question HERE.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Don’t Look Now . . .

. . . But it looks like I’ve started running out of steam.

4:12 hours on Wandering Wizards

Words from sprints:
Magic II – 610
Wandering Wizards – 606

Untimed words:
Wandering Wizards - 651

Total New words:
Magic II – 610
Wandering Wizards – 1,257

My editing hours were up slightly, and words added to Wandering Wizards was up, but I only managed two sprints last week and the words added to Magic II was way down – and I haven’t even moved those words from my Neo to my lap top, which is why the progress bar hasn’t moved.

What can I say? Last week was just a bad week all around. Normally I get to relax a bit on the weekend and recharge my batteries, but not this time. Saturday morning I got some editing done, then had coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, then I ended up looking after the grandbaby for several hours.

We had a wind storm Friday night that knock a branch from a rotting tree onto the daughter’s house. The house was okay, but the tree really needed to come down before it did serious damage to something. Taking down a tree is a little hard with an overly curious toddler underfoot, so she came to visit Grammie while her parents dealt with the tree.

Then yesterday I went to Toronto with a friend to the 29th annual Word On the Street – the giant book and magazine festival. It had been a long time since we’ve been there – last time we went it was held downtown at Queens Park, now it’s held on Queens Quay which is within walking distance of Union Station.

I was pleased to see a greater presence of micro presses and self publishing, and surprised (but also pleased) to see more poetry. There were also a number of writing groups represented, as well as courses being offered. I entered several draws for a free course. What the heck, eh?

We only saw about half of what was being offered – okay, if you must know it’s because although I picked up a map at the beginning, we never looked at it, so we didn’t realize that there was stuff going on inside the big building that bisected the area, as well as more booths on the other side. Oh, well. If we go next year we can be better prepared.

I came home with a fair amount of loot:

The stack of books on the left were bought at greatly reduced prices, and the rest of the stuff was free – information, bookmarks, notebooks, pens… I think my favourite freebie was that little blue mesh bag from Dreamers Creative Writing (the middle of the pile). Inside is a business card with a prompt on the back, and a seed with a couple of words carved into it. You’re supposed to plant the seed to become inspired to write.

According to my friend’s fitbit, we walked 12,000 steps, which translates roughly into 9 kilometres. And no, I’m not going to convert that into miles for you Yankees – it’s more impressive in kilometres. LOL

I’d been kind of hoping absorbing all that creative energy would recharge my batteries, but the sheer number of people there was a bit draining, and then I got home in time to get supper ready for everyone so I didn’t have a chance to sit down and relax until much later. Too little too late.

I don’t know if this week is going to be much better than the last one, but maybe I’ll plant my seed and see what grows.

Friday, September 21, 2018

30 Days Weeks of Writing Questions

Once upon a time on a blog far, far away….

I participated in something called 30 days of Writing Questions. A question a day for 30 days, what could be simpler than that? The beauty of it was that you could start any time and just continue for the next 30 days.

So, since I don’t have anything better to do on Fridays, I thought I’d resurrect this, only I’m going to do once question a week. What the heck, if nothing else it’ll be fun, right?

And just to make it even more exciting…I was able to locate my original answers, so I’m going to include them as well. It should be interesting to see if or how much my answers have changed.

Here we go with the first question:

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

Old answer:

My favourite universe to date is probably where the Myste resides. It isn’t just a setting, it’s almost like a character itself because the characters know so little about it, yet they’re exploring it anyway.

It can be dangerous and unpredictable, and no one really knows what the source is. Is it sentient? Is it magical? Is it created by technology? They’re never really going to know for sure, so it’s lots of fun to throw out hints that can be taken whichever way the characters (or readers) want.

I have one full draft written about the Myste, a sequel in the planning stage* so far, and ideas for two more in the series. As a setting, the Myste has a lot of potential.

* I actually wrote the sequel for NaNo in 2017 – it’s currently sitting at 53,400 words.

New answer:

While the Myste is still pretty cool, it’s not quite as interesting as the as yet unnamed world of the Seven Realms. Each of the Seven Realms is unique – seven closed ecosystems. They’re separated by the wild lands which is the chaos to their order.

In the trilogy I’ve got started I’ve introduced the reader to the Desert Realm, the Forest Realm, and the Jungle Realm. The realms also include: Mountain, Frozen, Ocean, and Darkling

While I’m hoping the books to be stand-alone, adventure/romance, the first three are connected by a wish made at the beginning, and a common thread through all seven will be the fairy godmother, Esmerelda.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Urjuzah Poetry Form

It’s been a while since I’ve done a form here so I think we’re due, don’t you?

The Urjuza is an Arabic verse form, consisting of rhyming couplets done in the rajaz metre. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Except, the rajaz metre is made with lines that are 24 syllables long, divided into two groups of 12 syllables with a caesura, or break, between them.

The verse focuses more on the details of content leaving the poem "devoid of stylistic elegance and poetic beauty". The poem served several functions, for example camel drivers’ songs (known as al-ḥidā ), was utilized for verbal display, and other types of didactic and even obscene poetry.

The Urjuza is:
Written in any number of couplets.
Monorhymed or written in rhymed couplets - either aa aa aa etc. or aa bb cc etc .
Written in rajaz meter, which calls for lines of 24 syllables with a caesura at 12 syllables

Once of the sources I checked referenced the UK band, Camel (70s progressive rock), who made an album called Rajaz. They had a very eloquent description of the Rajaz metre:

The music of poets once carried caravans across the great deserts.

Sung in a simple metre of the animal's footsteps, it transfixed weary travellers on their sole objective... journey's end.

The poetry is called 'rajaz'. It is the rhythm of the camel.

You can check out their Rajaz site HERE.

I freely admit my example isn’t a brand new one, I wrote it many years ago. I recall enjoying writing in this form though, I mean other than having to come up with 24 syllables per line all I had to worry about was the rhyming of the couplets.

Unfortunately, my HTML skills have kind of atrophied from lack of use and I was not able to indent the second part of each line without changing the html coding for the whole blog, and I didn’t think it was worth the trouble for one poem. So you’ll have to use your imaginations for the formatting. Basically, the second part of each line should be indented. :-D

A desert wind blows across the skin of my dreams,
winding its way across dunes of lost words and deeds.
A desert sun sets fire to my imagination,
burning away reality until it bleeds.

A desert day can burn itself into your mind,
until you no longer see what the pen has wrought.
A desert rain can sweep the landscape of changes,
dark words scudding across the sky in clouds of thought.

A desert night will cool the burning of the soul,
with sibilant whispers of things that could not be.
A desert night can rain down stars of poetry
sweeping the landscape in a storm you cannot see.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Here Comes the Sun

Words from sprints:
Magic II -1,644

Untimed words added:
Magic II – 2,077

Total New words:
Magic II – 2,642

3:22 hours on Wandering Wizards

Hmm. Except for Saturday when I wrote that big chunk of untimed words for Magic II in one sitting, last week does not appear to be a good writing week.

At first I was going to write it off (pardon the pun) as just one of those weeks. But then I was doing some research about solar flares (for something unrelated to either of my current WIPs I might add) and I learned some interesting facts.

Have you been suffering from lack of sleep, fatigue, low energy, or restlessness lately? Have your ears been ringing making you feel ungrounded or dizzy? Have you been having inexplicable pressure headaches and/or anxiety? Then you, too, might be affected by the fluctuations of the Earth’s magnetic field due to solar flares or solar winds.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Or maybe even a little science fictiony. But earlier in the week I was sitting here one night, alone in the house. It was cool enough that I didn’t have either the fan or the a/c on so it was quiet. The air was just so still outside that it was creeping me right out. It was one of those times when even turning on some music or the T.V. wouldn’t have helped because I’d know the silence was right underneath it all.

Then I remembered the last time I’d felt this way and how afterwards I’d stumbled across the possibility of a solar flare being responsible. Strange, but true.

Now I’m not using the sun as an excuse for my lack of progress last week, but I am going to cite it as a contributing factor.

If you’d like to learn more about solar flares, check out one of these links:

Major Solar Storms Causing Anxiety
How Solar Flares Affect Human Health
How Solar Flares and Geomagnetic Storms Affect Us
Sun's Solar Storms and Human Biological Effects
Three Day Solar Storm Forecast

Friday, September 14, 2018

Daydream Believer

This is the third, and final post in my dreaming series, and to my mind it may be the most interesting one of all.

I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
~ Steven Wright

Call someone a daydreamer and you may as well call them a flake, a space cadet, or a slacker. Daydreams, and daydreamers, have got a bum rap over the years, and I’m here to change all that.

Psychologists estimate that we daydream for one-third to one-half of our waking hours, although a single daydream lasts only a few minutes. Specifically, daydreaming helps you:

Relax. Like meditation, daydreaming allows your mind to take a break, a mini-vacation in which to release tension and anxiety and "return" refreshed. It's also very useful for controlling anxiety and phobias.

Manage conflict. Organized daydreaming -- or visualization – can be used to curb anxiety and is also useful for personal conflicts.

Maintain relationships. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially among daydreamers. Happy couples tend to think about one another when they're apart, which has the effect of psychologically maintaining the relationship. We imagine sharing good news with them, along with our successes and failures. Unhappy couples daydream about arguments and ruminate about conflict while happy individuals think positively ahead."

Boost productivity. Allowing yourself a few minutes for daydreaming can help you to be more productive in the long run.

Boost creativity and achieve goals. The beauty of daydreams is that nothing is impossible. You can aim high in daydreams and end up working harder to make your dreams a reality.

Relieve boredom. People with monotonous jobs, like factory workers and security guards, often use daydreaming to keep their minds stimulated and to get them through the day.

* * * * * * *

Almost all people daydream, although the frequency of daydreaming varies considerably from individual to individual. Similar to dreams experienced during sleep, daydreams occur in cycles set by biological cycles of temperature and hormone levels. Psychologists estimate that the average person daydreams about every 90 minutes, and peak around the lunch hour (noon to 2 P.M.).

Daydreaming first occurs for most people during childhood, sometime before age three, and these early daydreams set the pattern for adult daydreaming. Children who have positive, happy daydreams of success and achievement generally continue these types of mental images into adulthood; these daydreamers are most likely to benefit from the positive aspects of mental imagery. Daydreams become the impetus for problem-solving, creativity, or accomplishment.

On the other hand, children whose daydreams are negative, scary, or visualize disasters are likely to experience anxiety, and this pattern will carry over into adulthood as well. A child's daydreams may take a visible or public form-the daydreamer talks about his mental images while he is experiencing them, and may even act out the scenario she or he is imagining. After age ten, however, the process of internalizing daydreaming begins.

Although most psychologists view daydreams as generally healthy and natural, this was not always the case. In the 1960s, textbooks used for training teachers provided strategies for combating daydreaming. Sigmund Freud felt that only unfulfilled individuals created fantasies, and that daydreaming and fantasy were early signs of mental illness. By the late 1980s, most psychologists considered daydreams a natural component of the mental process for most individuals.

Studies suggest that daydreaming is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives. It is not unusual for a daydream, or series of daydreams, to precede an episode of creative writing or invention. At their best, daydreams allow you a range of possibilities which, in the hard cold light of reality, aren't possible.

So let’s nix the negative stereotypes and become, in the words of The Monkees, "daydream believers."

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Robert E. Howard

I confess I haven’t been writing much poetry lately, and I’m getting a little tired (as I’m sure you are) of recycling my old stuff. But rather than abandon my Passion For Poetry Wednesdays, I decided to alternate my old stuff with some of my favourites written by other people.

Most of you will be familiar with Robert E. Howard as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, and as the father of the swords and sorcery genre. But few realize that as well as being a prolific writer, Howard was also a prolific poet.

I have lived in the Southwest all my life, yet most of my dreams are laid in cold, giant lands of icy wastes and gloomy skies, and of wild, wind-swept fens and wilderness over which sweep great sea-winds, and which are inhabited by shock-headed savages with light fierce eyes. With the exception of one dream, I am never, in these dreams of ancient times, a civilized man. Always am I the barbarian, the skin-clad, tousle-haired, light-eyed wild man, armed with a rude ax or sword, fighting the elements and wild beasts, or grappling with armored hosts marching with the tread of civilized discipline, from fallow fruitful lands and walled cities. This is reflected in my writings.
~ Robert E. Howard 1906-1936

I love his poetry almost as much as I love his stories, but the following two poems are my favourites.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *


I have not heard lutes beckon me, nor the brazen bugles call,
But once in the dim of a haunted lea I heard the silence fall.
I have not heard the regal drum, nor seen the flags unfurled,
But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world.

I have not seen the horsemen fall before the hurtling host,
But I have paced a silent hall where each step waked a ghost.
I have not kissed the tiger-feet of a strange-eyed golden god,
But I have walked a city's street where no man else had trod.

I have not raised the canopies that shelter revelling kings,
But I have fled from crimson eyes and black unearthly wings.
I have not knelt outside the door to kiss a pallid queen,
But I have seen a ghostly shore that no man else has seen.

I have not seen the standards sweep from keep and castle wall,
But I have seen a woman leap from a dragon's crimson stall,
And I have heard strange surges boom that no man heard before,
And seen a strange black city loom on a mystic night-black shore.

And I have felt the sudden blow of a nameless wind's cold breath,
And watched the grisly pilgrims go that walk the roads of Death,
And I have seen black valleys gape, abysses in the gloom,
And I have fought the deathless Ape that guards the Doors of Doom.

I have not seen the face of Pan, nor mocked the Dryad's haste,
But I have trailed a dark-eyed Man across a windy waste.
I have not died as men may die, nor sin as men have sinned,
But I have reached a misty sky upon a granite wind.

Thor´s Son

Serpent prow on the Afric coast,
Doom on the Moorish town;
And this is the song the steersman sang
As the dragonship swept down:

I followed Asgrimm Snorri's son around the world and half-way back,
And 'scaped the hate of Galdjerhrun who sank our ship off Skagerack.
I lent my sword to Hrothgar then; his eyes were ice, his heart was hard;
He fell with half his weapon-men to our own kin at Mikligard.

And then for many a weary moon I labored at the galley's oar
Where men grow maddened by the rune of row-locks clacking ever more.
But I survived the reeking rack, the toil, the whips that burned and gashed,
The spiteful Greeks that scarred my back and trembled even while they lashed.

They sold me on the Eastern block; in silver coins their price was paid;
They girt me with a chain and lock, I laughed and they were sore afraid.
I toiled among the olive trees until a night of hot desire
Blew me a breath of outer seas and filled my veins with curious fire.

Then I arose and broke my chain and laughed to know that I was free,
And battered out my master's brain and fled and gained the open sea.
Beneath a copper sun adrift, I shunned the proa and the dhow,
Until I saw a sail uplift, and saw and knew the dragon prow.

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Getting Up Again

Words from sprints:
Magic II -1,815
Untimed words added:
Wandering Wizards – 1,191
Total New words:

6:47 hours on Wandering Wizards

As you can see, I kind of fell off the wagon a bit last week. I started out strong, but then about Wednesday it started falling apart. From Thursday on the only words that got added were during editing. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time for a word sprint or two, it’s that I needed to edit what I already had so I could figure out what to add.

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but the editing process is not a great way to judge how many new words are getting added to a WIP. The untimed words for WW were uploaded from my Neo in two chunks, but I deleted almost as much as I added when I edited them into what I already had, giving me a plus of about 78 words when the editing dust settled.

I was so focused on WW that Magic II kind of fell by the wayside. A couple of weeks ago I had a great idea for when my main characters meet in real life towards the end of the book so I wrote it out (that was the 2,000 extra words I wrote in one, untimed session) and I’ve been alternating added to it and continuing on from the beginning. I suspect I’m going to end up meeting myself in the middle somewhere, and won’t that be a mess?

In any case, I set aside some time on Sunday to work on the edits for Magic II, but before I could settle down to it life reared its ugly head. I went to make the salads for supper (okay, Friday when it was still hot out I promised the daughter, who comes with her hubby and the grandbaby for dinner every Sunday, that we could have BBQ sausages, potato salad, and mac salad, and just because the weather turned insanely cold I saw no reason to change the menu) I discovered the two bags of tomatoes my neighbour brought me that needed to be dealt with.

I don’t wish to appear ungrateful, but these tomatoes ranged in size from golf ball to walnut, and I’m not sure they were worth the trouble. I had to skin them and de-seed them, and I can’t vouch for how ripe they actually were. Between the skins, seeds, and hard centers, I probably threw out as much as I saved. But in any case, that’s what happened to my editing time yesterday.

Today my priority is get Magic II edited so I can see where I’m at, and hopefully start sprinting ahead with it again. Wandering Wizards is ready to have another section of old stuff added to it, after which I’ll edit that to the point where I can add some new stuff. It’s been a rocky road for Jessica and Dominic, and although I think they’ve pretty much dealt with their personal issues, there’s still plenty of trouble in store for them.

My current theme song (chosen mainly for the first couple of lines):

Friday, September 7, 2018

More Dreaming

Wouldn’t you know, last week’s post on being just a dreamer was actually the first in a series of three posts. Far be it for me to break up a set, so here’s the second part. :-)

. . . And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity; . . .

From The Dream, Lord Byron

The tune for "Yesterday" came to Paul McCartney in a dream . . .

The Beatles were in London in 1965 filming Help! and McCartney was staying in a small attic room of his family's house on Wimpole Street. One morning, in a dream he heard a classical string ensemble playing, and, as McCartney tells it:

"I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, 'That's great, I wonder what that is?' There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th -- and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot, but because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it. I thought, 'No, I've never written anything like this before.' But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!"

* ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

* During REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement; dreaming), our bodies have a physiological response that causes sleep paralysis. Our dreams can seem so near reality that nature has developed temporary paralysis as means to keep us from acting out our dreams.

* During the Roman Era, some dreams were submitted to the Roman Senate for analysis and dream interpretation. They were thought to be messages from the gods. Dream interpreters even accompanied military leaders into battles and campaigns.

* Many lucid dreamers focus on enjoying the thrill of flight in their dreams (think Superman or Peter Pan). Many more focus on enjoying thrills of a more passionate nature.

* In a trend that matches well to studies of sexual 'prime' in men and women, men tend to have sex dreams most frequently between late adolescence and their early twenties. Women's proclivity for sexual dreams actually increases with age until about age 40, where it plateaus, then starts to decline around age 55.

* Results of several surveys across large population sets indicate that between 18% and 38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive dream and 70% have experienced déjà vu. The percentage of persons that believe precognitive dreaming is possible is even higher, ranging from 63% to 98%.1

* ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

President Abraham Lincoln recounted the following dream to his wife just a few days prior to his assassination:

There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?

I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.

'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers "The President" was his answer; "he was killed by an assassin!" Then came a loud burst of grief form the crowd, which awoke me from my dream."

* ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

* Within 5 minutes of waking you forget half of what you dreamed about. Within 10 minutes you forget 90%.

* People who became blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are blind from birth dream just as much, and as vividly, as everyone else, however, their dreams are formed from their other senses such as touch, smell, taste, sound and emotion.

* Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder). If you think, you are not dreaming, you just forget your dreams.

* Our mind is not inventing faces – in our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces throughout our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

* A full 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s maintained that the majority of dreams were in black and white, but these results began to change in the 1960s. Today, only 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white. Recent research has suggested that those changing results may be linked to the switch from black-and-white film and TV to color media.

My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom
Of these two creatures should be thus traced out
Almost like a reality -the one
To end in madness -both in misery.
From The Dream, Lord Byron

For the full text of the poem The Dream, go HERE

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Pair From PAD

A bunch of years ago I participated in Writer’s Digest’s PAD (Poem A Day) challenge. The idea was to write a poem a day for the month of April, which is National Poetry Month.

As you can see by the two I’m sharing today, they aren’t exactly award-winning, but I had a lot of fun with the challenge.


Thank God it’s Friday,
the end of the week!
My job is the pits and
my boss is a freak.
My co-workers hate me
my workspace? a joke;
who can see clearly
surrounded by smoke?
I finished my typing
with nary a sigh
and that’s when some moron
drops a stack off this high!
Home’s not much better
the kids are all sick,
the cat has a hairball,
my husband’s a dick.
So thank God it’s Friday,
I can rest for a while
and then greet my Monday
with a coffee and smile.

On Writing Haiku

A strain on my brain.
Writing haiku’s insane!
Three lines to make sense
(with no recompense)
and the syllable count,
something else to surmount!

How many was that?
Twenty-seven, oh drat!
Carve away ten . . .
start all over again.
Now that word won’t do,
I’ve still twenty-two.

What’s a one syllable word
for something absurd?
I sigh and I fret,
nothing written as yet.
I stare into space
whilst making a face.

Wait! That line is five
I really think I’ve
got the hang of it now.
Next is seven somehow . . .
Five more and I’m done!
Break out the bourbon!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Now THIS Is Progress!

Words from sprints:
Wandering Wizards – 1,071
Magic II -1,457

Untimed words added:
Wandering Wizards – 441
Magic II - 3,348

Total New words:
Wandering Wizards – 1,512
Magic II – 4,805

Wandering Wizards - 8:53 hours
Magic II - 0:40 hours

For anyone who’s interested, the word counts go from Sunday through Saturday. Since I’ve been trying to at least do a 30 minute word sprint once a day, I’m keeping track of the daily numbers for them as well as which WIP I wrote them for. The extra words are from untimed writing sessions as well as words added during editing. Magic II got a big boost last Sunday when I sat down and wrote a 2,000 word scene, and then I had another untimed session during my writer’s group on Thursday night.

If you’re doing some mental math (and more power to you if you are) and trying to figure out how the progress bar for Wandering Wizards can jump from 6% to 23% when I only added 1,500 new words, I might remind you that I mentioned last week I was trying to use as much of the old version as possible along with the new words.

Man, oh, man, what have I gotten myself into? I think I've added two or three chapters worth of new words to WW, and I think it makes for a better book, but integrating the old and the new is taking some creative editing. God bless the person who invented the computer and cut and paste!

This week I want to kick up the pace editing WW – the total editing hours looks good, but not so great when you spread it out over seven days. Less gaming, more editing at night. And I’d like to see if I can add in a couple of extra word sprints through the week.

Gotta keep those progress bars moving!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Just A Dreamer

In my search for something fun to post for Friday, I came across this post that I did on a now defunct blog about 10 years ago. I thought it was interesting enough to repeat here – and just so you know, the last line still holds true.

Some men see things as they are and ask, “Why?” I dream things that never were and ask, “Why not?” George Bernard Shaw

A long time ago (and we’re talking a very long time ago), someone I was very close to told me I was nothing but a dreamer. At the time, the comment hurt. It was a careless comment made to a child, and yet it stuck with me for years.

But is being “just a dreamer” really such a bad thing?

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was inspired by a dream.

In the summer of 1816, nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover, the poet Percy Shelley (whom she married later that year), visited the poet Lord Byron at his villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Stormy weather frequently forced them indoors, where they and Byron's other guests sometimes read from a volume of ghost stories. One evening, Byron challenged his guests to each write one themselves.

Mary's story, inspired by a dream, became Frankenstein.

"When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think... I saw -- with shut eyes, but acute mental vision -- I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.
...I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. ...I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story -- my tiresome, unlucky ghost story! O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!"
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, from her introduction to Frankenstein

* * * * * * * * * *

The novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) described dreams as occurring in "that small theater of the brain which we keep brightly lighted all night long."

Stevenson said of his now classic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it was "conceived, written, re-written, re-re-written, and printed inside ten weeks" in 1886. And was conceived in a dream as he describes:

"For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterward split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers."

His wife related picturesquely how one night Louis cried out horror-stricken, how she woke him up and he protested, "Why did you waken me? I was dreaming a fine bogy-tale!" She also related how he appeared the next morning excitedly exclaiming, "I have got my schilling-shocker -- I have got my schilling-shocker!"

Stevenson wrote extensively about how his passion for writing interacted with his remarkable dreams and said that, from an early age, his dreams were so vivid and moving that they were more entertaining to him personally than any literature. He learned early in his life that he could dream complete stories and that he could even go back to the same dreams on succeeding nights to give them a different ending. Later he trained himself to remember his dreams and to dream plots for his books.

* * * * * * * * * *

Novelist Stephen King describes how dreams affect his writings in an interview with UK reporter Stan Nicholls:

Nicholls: "If the inspiration for Misery didn't come from a real-life incident, where did it come from?"

King: "Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream. In fact, it happened when I was on Concord, flying over here, to Brown's. I fell asleep on the plane, and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. His skin, the writer's skin. I said to myself, 'I have to write this story.' Of course, the plot changed quite a bit in the telling. But I wrote the first forty or fifty pages right on the landing here, between the ground floor and the first floor of the hotel."

"Another time, when I got road-blocked in my novel It, I had a dream about leeches inside discarded refrigerators. I immediately woke up and thought, 'That is where this is supposed to go.' Dreams are just another part of life. To me, it's like seeing something on the street you can use in your fiction. You take it and plug it right in. Writers are scavengers by nature."

* * * * * * * * * *

So there you have it. Yes, I confess. I am a dreamer. And proud of it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

John Keats

I think the most surprising thing about Keats, to me at least, is that his poetry career only lasted three and a half years. He wrote more than 150 poems in that short time – just think what he might have accomplished had he lived!

His parents died when he was 15 and the following year he was apprenticed to an apothecary-surgeon. Keats found the medical profession not to be his liking and published his first volume of poetry in 1817. The following year wrote and published Endymion, which was based on the Greek myth of the shepherd beloved by the moon. His final volume of work was published in 1820, and he died of tuberculosis early in the following year.

There are actually two versions of the poem I’ve chosen for today. The first was penned by Keats in 1819, and the second was the published in 1820 and it’s somewhat of a mystery as to who changed it or why. But never fear, I’m only going to include one version here.

A couple of things worth noting, La Belle Dame Sans Merci translates to beautiful lady without mercy and the original version was included in a letter to Keats’ brother George. Also, the famous pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse was inspired by the poem to create one of his most famous works.

Original version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1819

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful – a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said –
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! –
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried – ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Progress! I Have Progress to Report!

Words from sprints
Monday – 526 Wandering Wizards
Tuesday – 675 Magic II
Wednesday – 445 Magic II
Thursday – 731 Magic II
Friday – 529 Magic II
Total: 2,906
Blog Posts: 1797
Editing: 1 hour, 5 minutes

I wasn’t sure about breaking down the word sprints (and FYI, it’s only a word war if you’re writing against someone; if you’re just writing against the clock then it’s a word sprint) but I found the range of wordage kind of interesting.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking pretty much the same thing I am. Wow, 2900 words for a whole week isn’t really that great. But it’s better than I’ve been doing all year, so shut up. Plus a word sprint is 30 minutes, so those daily totals are for 30 minutes of writing each.

The weekend was supposed to be for editing, and as you can see I only did a little over an hour’s worth of it. I’ve been trying to adjust to a new medication and it seriously knocks the stuffing out of me for at least a day, which was Saturday, and then Sunday I kind wrote over 2300 words (which will be added to next week’s total) instead of editing.

What can I say? The ending of the new WIP I’m working on came to me as I was falling asleep Saturday night and it was good enough that I remembered most of it in the morning.

And you notice I’m calculating my editing by time spent instead of pages finished? It just seemed to make sense. And I have to admit to being a little curious as to how much time I spend editing something. I’ll bet the total time when I’m done will staggering.

To help in this I downloaded a nifty little program called TraxTime. With it you can log the amount of time you spend on your different projects, whether it’s writing or editing. Not only will it keep track of each day’s progress, it’ll keep a running total for you too and you can generate reports, if you’re so inclined. You can try it yourself for free for 30 days, just go HERE  and if you want to keep it, it’s only $39.00.

I hope you also noticed I fixed my progress bars to the right. As you can see, I took Wandering Wizards all the way back to the beginning. I’m combining both the old words and new as I see fit, which is going to make keeping track of the new words a little problematic. One of my problems last week was that I wrote down my daily word counts, but forgot to make note of which WIP they were for, so when it came to updating my progress bars I was a little uncertain. However, I’ve made a chart to fill in on a daily basis, so hopefully that won’t be a problem any more.

I would have liked to have added more words to Wandering Wizards last week, but what can I say? Sometimes it’s nice to work on something completely different, and the words just seem to be coming fast and furious for Magic II. So fast, in fact, I kind of wish I could have saved it for NaNo – I would have rocked NaNo with it. Oh, well. There’s always Magic III. ;-)

This week: carry on and keep writing!

Friday, August 24, 2018

The List of Fours

I wanted to do something different for my Friday posts, so I’m starting with a meme I did about 10 years ago. But just so you don’t think all I’m doing is copy/pasting, most of the answers have changed over the years. :-)

1. Four shows that you watch (only four??):
NCIS – NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans
Criminal Minds
Big Bang Theory

2. Four things you are passionate about:

3. Four phrases you say a lot:
Shut the f**k up! (to Taz when he starts howling at me – so annoying!)
Crappy doodles!
Get the @#*& out of my way you dumb ass! (this is usually said while driving)

4. Four things you’ve learned from the past:
He who hesitates is lost
Life’s seldom fair, you just have to deal with it and move on
If at first you don’t succeed…keep trying.
It is better to be pissed off than on (yes, I know this from experience – don’t ask)

5. Four places you would like to go:
New Orleans
British Columbia
Isle of Man

6. Four things you did yesterday:
Made tomato chowder for the grandbaby and I
Gathered up stuff to be donated to charity

7. Four things you are looking forward to:
Watching the grandbaby as she grows
Making money from my writing
The crisp autumn weather
Lowering my blood sugar

8. Four things you love about winter:
Snow, and lots of it!
Hot chocolate with a splash of Bailey’s in it.
Seeing the Christmas lights
Stew in the crock pot

9. Four bloggers who should share their list of fours:
Rather than single out four people who may, or may not do this, I’d like to invite anyone who wants to give it a shot to . . . um . . . give it a shot. :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It's Baaaack...

As part of the new and improved writing me, I figured it was time to get back to my passion for poetry on Wednesdays. Until I'm really back in the writing groove these posts will probably be a little random - sometimes old poetry, sometimes new, sometimes a form, sometimes a favourite written by someone else - but at least it's a start. Today I'm feeling a little nostalgic . . .

As you know, I’ve been writing poetry for a long time – some good, some bad. I didn’t really get going with poetry until Grade 8, when our Language Arts teacher gave us a prompt each Friday to inspire us to write creatively. Today I thought I’d share a few of the poems I wrote from those prompts.

In response to a slide show of underwater shots:

Dreamy Sea

The sea in all its splendour stood
Before me in my dream;
Beneath the emerald blue salt waves
Lies the earth of sandy cream.

Like silver flashes fishes swim
Among the rocks of purple hue,
And plants that look like octopi
Stretch their long grey arms to you.

The shells with striking beauty lie
In patterns where this splendour reigns,
The starfish and the shark they guard
The tomb where King Neptune’s lain.

Yet, as all dreams, this one must end.
The tomb, the shells, the fish must fade.
The peaceful sea, its life below
Are now just part of one dream made.

I don’t know whether I did this on my own or we were prompted by a form, but this poem illustrates the Acrostic verse form:

Frost upon the window pane
Eerie winds along the streets
Blue-grey skies across the lane
Rosey red ‘most frozen cheeks
Underneath the snowy skies
And as thermometers go down
Returning once again, surprise!
Yes you’re right, it’s Jack Frost’s frown.

This one was prompted by a short film about the Nahanni River:

The Spirit of Nahanni

The spirit of Nahanni
Haunts its every bend,
The roaring, crashing of the waves
Seem to have no end.

The evil taunting of the walls
Tell many tales of gold;
Beckoning men every day
To search its every hold.

The men that had once tried and failed
Had lost not only gold,
The skeletons without the heads,
Tell tales of men so bold.

What took their lives, and heads as well
No one seems to know;
But the spirit of Nahanni
Knows what laid them low.

The spirit of Nahanni
Haunts its every bend,
The roaring, crashing of the waves
Seem to have no end.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Secret Is In the Timing

No great epiphanies this week I’m afraid, just some kinda interesting stuff going on. Probably more interesting to me than you, but hear me out and you can decide for yourself.

I actually spent more time reading blogs than playing games last week, and while it might not seem like much of an improvement (because I really should have been writing) at least there’s a chance I might learn something from a blog. There’s not much that can be learned from a game, other than the fact that on-line games cheat.

Anyway…on a whim I checked out a few of the early posts on my other blog, and by early I mean when I first started it ten years ago. Man, those were the days! The posts were short and random, and I had about three works in progress going at the same time.

One of those WIPs was something called “Magic” and I had no idea what it was referring to. Nowhere did I give enough detail as to what it might have been, just word counts and progress reports. And there was nothing titled “Magic” in my old files. It took several more posts before I finally had an “Ah ha!” moment that let me know what I’d changed it to and then all of a sudden I started thinking up all these details for the sequel that never got past the “thinking about it” stage.

So Friday, the illustrious Jamie had the day off (she had Thursday off as well, but the torpedoing of that day is her story to tell) so I challenged her to a word war. We actually did two of them, 30 minutes each, and I was pretty amazed at how much you can write in 30 minutes. The first one I started Magic 2 (for want of a better title) for 816 words, and the second I worked on Wandering Wizards for another 689. Pretty good for someone struggling to get her blog posts done on time, eh?

But Jamie and I both agreed that the secret is in the timing. It is far easier to accomplish respectable word counts when you tell yourself, “Okay, I’m going to write without stopping for 30 minutes” than it is if you set yourself a goal of X number of words.

That being said, I didn’t get any writing done on the weekend, but yesterday, despite being interrupted a couple of times, I still managed 526 words. And seeing as my daily goal is 500 words, that’s a pretty good way to start my day.

Of course that’s also why this post is a day late. Yesterday I sat outside on the deck for my breakfast, which kind of put me way behind everything else, and this post kept getting moved down the priority list. But, today I decided to get this done first, then do my word sprint, and now I’m done so off I go.

Look at it this way, I’ll finally have some words to report on next Monday’s post! ;-)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Epiphanies, Lists, and Routines…Oh, My!

I had another epiphany last week. I figured out where I was went wrong with Wandering Wizards. It wasn’t that I wrote the first 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo, it’s that I wrote it before the previous book was finished. I had no idea what was happening/going to happen to Jessica before the end of Lucky Dog so I really didn’t know what my jumping off point was supposed to be.

**Advice for anyone who wants to write the second (or third or fourth) book in a series before the previous book is finished: DON’T DO IT!!**

After mapping out where my characters have been, I did a second word map to figure out where they’re going, and while it’s not a pretty as one of the spiffy maps I drew years ago, it’ll give me an idea of what goes where (or maybe that should be who goes where). One of these days I may get around to doing an actual map, but it’s not a priority.

Anyway, now that I know what I’m doing (more or less), I’m starting over with Wandering Wizards. I have a clean document file in which I will cut/paste the sections of the previous version that are usable (surely some of those nearly 60,000 words are worth saving) while at the same time adding new stuff that will help the whole thing make sense. The only problem I foresee is having to edit as I go because the old stuff will need to be changed somewhat to fit with the new and that’s not a job I’m going to want to tackle when the whole thing is done.

As of the end of last week I’ve added about 1500 new words to the first couple of chapters and I must say – so far, so good. The section in between still needs some editing, but not too much (I hope). The old section was an entire chapter and I might have to split it up – actually, it might read better split up so I’ve got the old and the new twisting around each other so you’re not getting big chunks of either. Hmm….

I function better when I have a routine to stick to. I know this, and yet I continue to waste a lot of time that could be put to better use if I just had an idea of what to do with it. I’m not just talking writing, either. I’m talking about all the mundane things we have to deal with. I need to go back to making a list.

I like lists. I really like being able to cross things off of a list. But a list not only lets you see at a glance everything that needs to get done, it’s also a reminder that you have better things to do than sit there playing Bubble Mouse for hours on end (or is that just me?). I’m actually going to need two lists: one made on Sunday nights for what I want/need to accomplish in the week ahead, and one made at the end of the week for what I want/need to accomplish on the weekend.

But back to routines…. It’s just cool enough in my office that I can work in there for a couple of hours in the morning, Both times I worked in my office in the morning last week I got words done on WW., so office time is going to be part of my morning routine.

I was checking out some old files and I’m kind of appalled at the amount of flash fiction I have. Enough to fill a couple of volumes I’d say…if they were finished/polished. So as part of my new routine I’m going to pick one flash story a week, finish it, polish it, and – here’s the hard part – shop it around. If nobody wants it but I still like it, I’ll set it aside until I have enough to do an anthology. One way or another, these stories have to start earning their disk space.

So. We have spending mornings in my office, finishing up one story a week, and making lists. I’m sure it looks easier than it’ll be, but I’m going to give it a try.

Great ambitions for a Monday, don’t you think? :-D

Monday, August 6, 2018

Progress Report

Anybody still out there? Sorry it’s been so long but to be quite honest up until now there hasn’t really been much to report. Writing has been slow, when it’s been going at all, and it’s been mostly unfinished flash pieces for my writers group. In fact, if it wasn’t for my writers group I probably wouldn’t even have that much to report.

This has been one of the longest dry spells I’ve ever suffered (and anyone who writes will tell you that you do suffer when you’re not writing). It pretty much started right after NaNo. First there was the rush of having completed the challenge, followed by the inevitable let down when you finish a novel. Hard on the heels of that was the realization Christmas was only three weeks away and I was totally unprepared.

I had about two weeks over the holidays (Christmas and New Years) free from babysitting, but because my family is pretty scattered I spent most of that time still working on Christmas – baking, gift buying, wrapping, travelling. Then I got sick. Then life got kind of complicated and well, here I am, eight months into the new year with precious little to show for it.

So I thought this would be a good time to maybe take a look at some of the goals I set for this year. Maybe things aren’t quite as bad as I thought.

Write every day – at least 500 word: Fail
Most of the time I was lucky if I was writing 500 words a week.

Less time gaming and social media: Semi-fail
It’s an ongoing struggle – some days are more successful than others.

Shut down by 11 p.m., 12 at the latest: Semi-fail
The idea here was to give myself an hour to read before bed, but since I’ve started to go to bed earlier so I am shut down by 11, I can’t really count this as a win.

Spend more time doing crafts: Fail

Make better use of my Neo: Fail
When I’m using my Neo the writing seems to flow effortlessly, but it’s just actually sitting down to use it that seems to be a problem here.

Organize my poetry: Fail

Wow. No wonder I’m having such a dry spell. But hopefully that’s all behind me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading (old favourites for inspiration), and I decided it was way past time to fish or cut bait. So I pulled out what I had of Wandering Wizards (the third in my Moonstone Chronicles), skimmed over it to see what I had, and then took the time to figure out where it was going. Then I went through the previous book to track down where my character had been so I could figure out the starting point to continue on.

Moving forward, my goal is to write every day. Wandering Wizards has been sitting around long enough, time to get it finished. And if I need a break from the magic and mayhem, I have about a dozen or more flash stories in various stages of being done. I want to pick one a week and polish it up. Maybe even start trying to sell the darn things. What good is a story if no one reads it, right?

If all goes well, starting next week I’ll be able to post my weekly word counts again. If all doesn’t go well… *shrugs* Then I guess I’ll just keep trying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Creation and Creator

As you may or may not know, I used to belong to a local poetry group. Aside from doing readings, the group would gather in the upstairs of a local pub once a month where we would read poems in progress, have a drink, and generally chat about poetic things. We also had “poemwork.” This is purely optional, but most of us participated because one, it was fun, and two, sometimes you end up with an unexpected poem. Today I’d like to share one of these assignments.

Poemwork: Make a poem out of a collection of dictionary definitions.

Merriam-Webster On-line dictionary
Family Word Finder – Reader’s Digest Books, 1976
Words looked up: underworld, creation, provident, fanatic, skeptic, heaven, hell

creation and creator

in the nether realm of the devil and the demons
lies the place of departed souls
a social sphere below the level of ordinary life
a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness

it lies on the side of the earth opposite to this one
the nether world in which the dead continue to exist
the damned suffer everlasting punishment
in these regions of Hell

the Norse goddess of death
is bringing the world into ordered existence
the Deity’s all-foreseeing care over the cosmos
has her acting without a prearranged script or plan

other goddesses, whose worship involved frenzy
descend in one way or another
not seeing beforehand
the act of creating, the act of making

a person disposed to skepticism
can make ready for the future
but absolute knowledge is unattainable
and judgements must be continually questioned

with God, sin is absent over the earth
there is a spiritual state of everlasting communion
in the arch of the sky, the dwelling place of the Deity
the world under Heaven is a condition of utmost happiness

Friday, July 6, 2018

Fiction Friday - An Elemental Wind

I thought I’d switch things up today and instead of a flash piece or an unfinished piece, I’d share an excerpt from a completed work. In this case, that work is An Elemental Wind, my first book.

In this scene, the vehicle our heroes Nakeisha and Chaney were using has been disabled by a sand storm and they’re forced to spend the night out in the desert. This is one of my favourite scenes in the book. :-D

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

It was almost too dark to see by the time they settled themselves on the sand-filled hollow. Nakeisha lay with her head pillowed on Chaney’s shoulder. Together they watched the stars appear, then the moons of Anchyre started their journey across the night sky.

“Do you know the story of the moons?” Chaney asked.

“They have a story?”

“The large one is called Kandor and the small one is Shinandu. Early in its history, Anchyre was ruled by a powerful warlord in the North and an equally powerful queen in the South.”

“Their names wouldn’t happen to be Kandor and Shinandu would they?”

“Yes. Now don’t interrupt. The two were desperately in love, but a curse kept them apart.”

“A curse?”

“It was believed that should Kandor and Shinandu ever come together, a disaster of epic proportions would befall Anchyre.”

“What happened?”

“They may have been rulers, but they were only human after all, and eventually Kandor could stand it no longer and went to his beloved in the dark of night. She tried to resist, but was unable to withstand his charm. Their joining caused a cataclysmic explosion that blew them into the sky and caused Anchyre to become giesthenis.”

“You made that up,” Nakeisha accused, raising her head slightly to look at him.

“See for yourself,” Chaney said. “Every night since, Kandor has chased Shinandu across the sky. It’s said if he ever catches her, Anchyre will be restored to its former glory.”

“It’s a lovely story,” she said, laying her head back down. “I hope some day Kandor catches Shinandu.” She yawned and made herself more comfortable.

“Look,” Chaney pointed. “A shooting star. My people believe them to be good omens.”

“Hmm?” she murmured sleepily. “Mine make wishes on them.”

“What did you wish for, Nakeisha?” he asked softly.

There was no answer. He turned his head to look at her and her eyes were closed. The day had finally caught up to her and she was asleep. With a contented sigh, Chaney, too, closed his eyes and went to sleep.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

If I’ve piqued your curiosity and you’d like to read more, you can get your copy of An Elemental Wind by clicking on one of the following links:

Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let America Be America Again

Though Langston Hughes is a somewhat more modern poet than the ones I usually enjoy, there’s no doubt that the man knew his way around a poem. I chose this particular poem of his in celebration of my American friends because today is their Independence Day. It’s a little long, but worth the read.

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!