Monday, December 31, 2018

On the Cusp of the New Beginnings



Just as Friday was the time for recapping last year’s goals (and how I did on them), today is the time for setting new goals for the year ahead.

This year’s goals started out as a list I made in my writing journal. When I was done I looked them over and then grouped them into categories, each category having several goals. Call me crazy, but I think presenting them this way will make it easier for me to follow – I can pick and choose and do a bit at a time at different things instead of doing the whole goal at once.

The one goal that is not included here is to set up a workable writing routine. This is something that’s been my goal for several years now, and every year it’s a fail. A regular routine would be a lovely thing, but it never lasts for more than a week or two, maybe a month, before something comes along and upsets the applecart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that planning on something invariably leads to disappointment, if not outright disaster.

Without further ado, my goals for 2019:

Publishing
Wandering Wizards should have been out two Christmases ago. That’s the first on my list to get done. And for Christmas 2019 I want to have an anthology of my short stories finished. Also under this category is sending out my short fiction and/or poetry to be published. Friends and fellow writers tell me they enjoy my work, let’s see if magazines do too.

Organizing and indexing
Both my poetry and my fiction files are scattered hither and yon between different computers, USB sticks, and hard copy files. I want to set up a searchable database for my poetry, complete with cross indexing, and have only one hard copy and one electronic copy of each poem. I probably won’t do hard copies of my short fiction (or maybe I’ll do a hard copy when I consider a story finished), but I do need to gather up all my electronic copies of various stories and start deleting the repeats that occurred during my “when in doubt, save every draft” phase. Perhaps I might dedicate a writing journal just for story notes. It wouldn’t hurt to finish moving my files off my old computer and organize my photos too.

Writing
More writing – kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it? Previously I’ve set myself word goals, anywhere from 250 to 1,000 words a day. This year I’m setting myself a time goal of a minimum 30 minutes a day. It’s surprising how much you can do in 30 minutes – or even two sets of 15 minutes. As well as finishing Wandering Wizards and getting an anthology together, I also want to finish at least the first draft of my NaNo novel, Shattered, and I really need to make a start on the final elemental book, An Elemental Spirit.

Lifestyle
Here’s where I remind myself to do more reading and less mindless surfing/socializing/gaming. To spend some time doing things that don’t involve the computer. And to give my health more of a priority. This last one is especially important. I started out last year with my weight down by 10 pounds and my A1C (diabetic glucose level) down a whole point. 2019 is starting out with that 10 pounds back and my A1C back up. My eating habits aren’t to blame, it’s the lack of exercise, which I think is a problem most writer’s face.

So there you have it, my list of goals for the coming year. The betting is now open as to how many of these will be wins. ;-)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Almost the End

2018 was a pretty up and down year, mostly down, and I can’t say as I’m unhappy to have it almost over with.

Now’s the time I take a look at my goals for year and how close I came to reaching them. And just so you know, I’m not feeling very optimistic. ;-)



The goals for 2018 and how I did on them:

1. Write every day - at least 500 words
Fail
Not only did I not write 500 words a day, there were many days when I wrote 0 words.

2. Less time gaming and checking social media
Fail
Both gaming and social media still take up a large part of my time – mostly doing online jigsaw puzzles and checking email and Facebook. It’s like an addiction.

3. Shut down by 11 p.m., 12 at the latest
Easy win
I went to visit my sister in New Brunswick in the spring and ever since I got back I’ve been going to bed earlier. So not only do I shut down by 11 p.m., I also go to bed around then.

4. Spend more time doing crafts
Fail
The idea here was to spend more time doing crafts in the evening instead of playing games and this just didn’t happen.

5. Make better use of my Neo
Win
I forget, at times, now much quicker the writing goes on the Neo, but I used it a lot more over the course of the year and I credit the use of it for my NaNo win.

6. Organize my poetry
Fail
I did, somewhere along the way, make a half-hearted attempt, but there’s so much of it and it’s so disorganized that I didn’t get very far.

7. Journal more often
Win
I’m very pleased with the amount of journaling I did last year, and it should be even better this year because my last Speculative Fiction class was all about keeping a journal.

So there you have it, the goals for 2018 and how I did. There were more fails than wins, but the nice part about the new year is it’s a good time to reset and start again.

Join me Monday when I lay out the goals for 2019.

Monday, December 24, 2018

It’s the Night Before Christmas … Literally

In keeping with my personal holiday tradition, today I’m posting Christmas videos from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If you’ve never seen them before then you’re in for a treat.

And just to save you the trouble of checking out my other blog, I’m posting this to both of them so no one misses out. :-D

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wizards of Winter



Christmas Canon



Christmas Eve in Sarajevo


Friday, December 21, 2018

Counting Down

It’s the Friday before Christmas and all through the house . . .

People were watching Christmas videos!

Today we have a few not as humorous Christmas songs, and come back Monday for my all time favourites.


Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas



Carol of the Bells – Celtic Woman



Baby It’s Cold Outside – Bing Crosby and Doris Day (couldn’t resist!)



The Little Drummer Boy – Bowie and Crosby (one of my all time favourite Christmas videos)


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Almost There…

It’s not quite the night before Christmas, but we’re getting close. So what better poem to offer today than the most famous Christmas poem of all? But that’s not all. Right after the original version is the one I came up with about ten years ago. Plus I’ve provided a link to more parodies.



A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


* ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Visit From the Computer Tech

By Carol R. Ward

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, just the optical mouse;
The cords were all strung to the PC with care
In hopes the technician soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of interwebs danced in their heads;
The wife couldn’t take any more of this crap
So she went to bed while I took a nap.
When there on the screen there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the keyboard I flew like a flash,
Grabbed up the mouse and gave it a bash.
The monitor gleamed with a brilliant blue glow
Seeming to mock me as I loudly moaned, “No!”
And what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a security warning that made my eyes tear.
With an attack on my drivers, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment my computer was sick.
More rapid than eagles the popups they came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now Trojan, now Wormy, now BankerFox vixen!
A technician’s coming, my computer he’s fixin’
By installing protection, a router, a wall!
And then he’ll delete you, delete one and all!”
And then, in a twinkling, as I thought to despair,
A van entered my driveway and parked with a flair.
I opened the door with a feeling profound,
And into the house came the tech with a bound.
He was dressed all in blue from his head to his toe
And his jacket was covered with a sprinkling of snow.
A box full of tools was grasped in his hand
And he looked like an angel, come down to land.
His eyes, they were bloodshot, his face was unshaven
From his pocket he pulled a business card graven.
He was balding and old, and he started to sneeze,
Then, spotting the cat said, “I’ve got allergies.”
The stump of a cigar he held tight in his teeth
And he caught his hat on the door, in the wreath.
A squint of his eye and a shake of his head
Soon gave me to know the bill I would dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
And in a few moments pulled the plug with a jerk.
“The mother board’s fried,” he said, shaking his head.
“And the rest of your hard drive looks like it’s dead.”
Then he packed up the tower and picked up his tools
“Gotta watch these old ‘puters, they’re stubborn as mules.”
He walked to his van, my computer in hand
I had to admit, this did not go as planned.
And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, no more surfing to-night.”



If you love a good parody as much as I do, then you’ll want to check out the poems found HERE.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ho Ho Humbug!

It’s really hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s so warm you’re forced to wear a tee-shirt instead of a flannel shirt, and you look outside and see rain instead of snow.

The tree is up and decorated, the presents have been bought and wrapped and the out of town ones were sent out last week. All that’s left is the baking, which I have procrastinated against doing by writing instead. LOL

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been using the writing as an excuse not to get any baking done, although Christmas is coming fast so I don’t know how much actual writing I’ll get done this week. The big bag of baking supplies I keep tripping over in my kitchen says it’s time to take off the writing hat and put on the chef’s hat, at least temporarily.

I can’t even use my sinus cold as an excuse because the antibiotics the doctor gave me are finally starting to kick in.

However, I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead, and I’ve got a few ideas percolating. Plus I have something that promises to be fun (I hope!) coming up near the end of February, but I’m keeping it a secret for now. So there’s your incentive to come back in the new year even though I’m all doom and gloom right now. :-D

So in an effort to keep things merry and bright, I have a couple of funny Christmas videos for you today. Wednesday I’ll once again have a couple of Christmas poems, and Friday I’ll be switching to some more traditional Christmas videos.

12 Pains of Christmas




Chimpmunks Roasting on an Open Fire



And one of my personal favorites: I Am Santa Claus


Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas is Coming…

And that means this is the last Fiction Friday post for the year. Next week I’ll be posting Christmas videos and the week after that I’ll be exploring goals for the new year.

So once again, you’re getting an excerpt from my NaNo novel. This scene is about halfway through the book. The hero, Ethan (whom you met last week) has been the reluctant host to Bella, who crashed on the moon where he’d fled to recuperate from his injuries.

This is just after an extremely powerful electrical space storm has passed over the area. The house they’re staying was protected by an energy field, but Bella’s ship was too far away. Now they’re off to check out the damage.



In less time than he expected, Bella joined him.

“This is an EX903,” she said, delight in her voice. “I was reading the technical manual on this last night.”

“You read technical manuals for fun?”

“When I can hide them from my mother.” She ran her hand over the side of the land skimmer and then flashed him a smile. “Technical manuals are not proper reading material for ladies.”

“I take it you were raised to be a lady,” he said. Somehow that didn’t surprise him in the least. Although what was a lady doing flying a star jumper?

“My sister and I both.” She was back to admiring the skimmer.

“No sense putting it off,” he said, gesturing to the passenger seat.

She nodded and climbed aboard. He waited until she was settled in her seat before taking off.

“How far is it to my ship?” she asked over the noise of the engine.

Ethan was only half listening to her; the engine was sounding a little rough. “It’s about 20 minutes out, more or less.”

Thankfully she lapsed into silence after that.

Just in case the ship still had a residual charge from the storm, Ethan took the precaution of parking on the other side of the clearing. They got out of the skimmer and Bella looked at the ship, a look of relief on her face.

“Thank the lords,” she said fervently. “I was almost afraid it wouldn’t be here.” She looked at him a little sheepishly. “This ship means a great deal to me.”

“I can see that,” Ethan said, suddenly filled with misgivings. There was scoring along one side and a large burn mark near the nose of the ship. It was obvious the ship had suffered multiple lightning strikes. And it wasn’t a good sign that the hatch was still open, even if the computer was offline it should have closed automatically.

“How can we tell if it’s safe?”

Ethan looked around and then bent down and picked up a stick. Straightening up again, he tossed it at the ship. It bounced off the side and dropped to the ground. “Seems all right,” he said.

Bella stared at him open mouthed. “What kind of test is that?”

He shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it? There was no shock when the stick hit the ship, that means it’s safe.”

Shaking her head in amusement, she moved forward and headed into the ship. He had to give her credit, she didn’t even hesitate. He followed slowly at her heels. He had a bad feeling about this.

“Computer.” Bella said from just inside. She started up the corridor. “Computer?”

There was no answer. Ethan followed her to the cockpit and almost ran right into her back when she stopped suddenly.

“By all the lords,” she whispered.

He peered over her shoulder and gave a low whistle. The cockpit looked like a fireball had been bouncing around in it.

“By all the lords,” she repeated, a little numbly.

“Maybe it’s not as bad as it looks,” he said, sounding lame even to himself. It wasn’t as bad as he feared, it was worse.

Slowly she moved to the central panel that housed the computer core. Taking a deep breath she opened it up. The unconscious moan she made told him all he needed to know. The computer core was fried. And without a working computer core, the ship was never going to get off the ground again.

“You didn’t have shielding around the computer core?” he asked gently.

She shook her head. “This is an older model star jumper and it wasn’t part of the original specs. I was going to upgrade it but never got around to it.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, sincerely. “I’ll wait outside if you want to take a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” she said.



He was sitting on a fallen tree at the edge of the clearing when she finally exited her ship, surreptitiously wiping her tears away. Noticing him watching, she came over and sat beside him, facing her disabled ship.

“It’s not so bad really,” Ethan told her, trying to be reassuring. “There are a lot of salvageable parts in there. With what you get for the metal alone you could buy a newer, safer ship.”

She was on her feet in an instant, whirling to face him, hands balled up into fists. “I built that ship practically from scratch. I had to sneak away from my family and work in secret and you have no idea what that ship means to me.”

“It’s just a ship,” he protested. “It’s easy enough to replace it.”

“You entitled rich boys are all the same. You think every problem can be solved if you throw enough money at it. Maybe if you actually had to work at something for a change you’d realize there’s more to life than getting your own way.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Just look at yourself, hiding out here on a deserted moon, making your masks and feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Now wait just a minute!”

“So the universe threw something unexpected at you, does that mean your life is over? No! It means you need to take a good look at what you’ve got and then do something with the rest of your life, preferably something meaningful. Just because you’ve had one setback doesn’t mean you can’t have a good life.”

“I don’t have to sit here and take this!” Ethan was on his feet as well, with no real idea how he got there.

“Then don’t. Go hide in your house the way you’ve been hiding from reality.” She turned and stalked away, body stiff with anger.

Ethan couldn’t believe her audacity. Who was she to judge him? She knew nothing of what he’d suffered. Angrily to stalked over to the skimmer and climbed in, pushing the vehicle beyond its safety limits as he took her advice and went back to the house. She could damn well walk.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Waxing Poetic About Christmas

I don’t know about you, but I really love the old, traditional Christmas carols. They remind me of my childhood, and going to the midnight service on Christmas Eve with my mother. They just evoke a lot of good memories of Christmases past.

Perhaps it’s because I remember Christmas through a child’s eyes, but Christmas these days just isn’t the same. The trees are more artificial and come in a variety of colours (seriously, who needs a black Christmas tree?) and the persnickety lights my father used to fight with every year have been replaced by tiny twinkling ones. And does anyone remember putting icicles on the tree? I’m not talking about the plasticky one either. I’m talking about the real foil ones that would break apart if you looked at them the wrong way. My mother would place each strand carefully and had such a gentle touch we’d be able to use the same icicles year after year.

In keeping with the fading traditions of Christmas, I’d like to share another couple of more traditional Christmas poems.



Christmas Carol

By Sara Teasdale

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

The Three Kings

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.

“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar,
“Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews.”

And the people answered, “You ask in vain;
We know of no King but Herod the Great!”
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.

And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king.”

So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn;
Yes, it stopped—it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David, where Christ was born.

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human, but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body’s burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone,
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David’s throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

Monday, December 10, 2018

All Good Plans…

Let me start by saying I did get some writing in last week, just not enough to include in a proper wordage report. And as I promised to be honest here I have to admit it wasn’t so much that I was busy (which I was) it was more that I got lazy and doing online jigsaw puzzles is much more fun than writing.

Plus I’m sick. *cough, cough* I have a really bad, over the counter medicine resistant sinus infection and a dry cough. But the good news is that I already had an appointment scheduled with my doctor for Wednesday so hopefully she’ll give me some antibiotics to knock it right out of me.

I am also forced to admit that despite my vow not to worry about how messy my office was I spent the first couple of days last week cleaning it up. But after shopping and doing a minimalist indoor decorating job for Christmas, it now looks like this again:



Here’s my white flag of surrender office, I promise not to try and clean you up again until the holidays are over.

But I hope you noticed that I did get all my blog posts done last week, so I think I deserve a pat on the back for that, don’t you? And I didn’t once revert to my old stand-by for December and fill my post with holiday music videos. I’ll save that for next week. :-D

I’ve already started thinking of a few goals for next year. One is to finish Shattered, another is to finish Wandering Wizards which really should have been out for last Christmas. I’m also determined to gather up some of my shorter stuff (and there’s a lot of it because I’m a sucker for a good writing prompt) and put together an anthology.

Last year I embraced the Icelandic tradition of jólabókaflóð, or Christmas Book Flood. I sent a book and tea/hot chocolate to a select list of friends and family as a present to be opened before Christmas so they could enjoy both on Christmas Eve. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to send everyone on my list my own anthology next year? I just have to get it done in time. LOL

If you’d like to learn more about the Christmas Book Flood, go HERE.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday Already?

Is it just me or did the week just zip by? And now here we are with Fiction Friday. Good thing I just finished NaNo so I have an excerpt from my latest novel to offer. ;-)

To set this up…Ethan is a rich, entitled young adult. He and his mother (who’s the head of the family business and generally holds the purse strings) have just had a major argument about the way he’s living his life. She wants him to settle down and become a responsible citizen, he’d rather party and pretty much just have a good time. After the argument he flies off (literally) in his experimental air car and is involved in an accident.



Pain. So much pain.

Ethan struggled to come fully awake but it was as though a great weight was holding him down.

Sirens, voices – too indistinct to make out individual words.

Movement, sending a fresh wave of agony through him. Ethan gave up the struggle to make sense of it all and let the darkness carry him away.



“Shouldn’t he be awake by now?”

Ethan started to swim out of the darkness, hearing his brother’s voice. I’m awake, he wanted to say, but his voice and his body wouldn’t obey his mental commands.

“Dr. Alexander said it should be any time now, but not to be worried if it takes longer than we expect.”

Mother, that was his mother’s voice. Why were his mother and brother both here? And why did they sound so worried.

“There! Did you see that?” Douglas asked, excitement in his voice.

“What?”

“I thought I saw his finger move.”

“I’ll call the nurse,” his mother said.

Nurse? Why would she need to call a nurse? Where was he?

There was a sound of movement, but before he could figure out what was happening, the pain hit again. Had he been able to, Ethan would have screamed.

“Ethan moved his finger.” His mother’s voice floated over top of the pain.

“It was probably just an involuntary nerve impulse,” a new voice said. There was a pause, then, “And no wonder. His pain blocker is wearing off. Just let me adjust this.”

Ethan felt a flood of warmth run through him, taking the excruciating pain with it.

“There, that should do it,” the strange woman’s voice said. “Dr. Alexander wants to keep him on pain blockers for another few days, to give the healing process a chance to get a good foothold, but then we’ll have to start weaning him off of them.”

“Is he going to be in a lot of pain?” Douglas asked.

“His injuries are very serious, he’s going to be a long time recovering.”

“Thank you nurse,” his mother said.

What injuries, Ethan wanted to ask. What’s happened to me? But he couldn’t break through the fog that was enveloping him. As he drifted off into the darkness again, the last thing he heard was his brother saying, “She never answered my question about the pain.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Merry Post-NaNo!

It’s Wednesday, which is poetry day, and it’s also post NaNo which means I have no excuse for not offering up a poem or two. But seeing as Christmas is just around the corner, I can use the busyness of the season as an excuse for not writing my own. ;-)

So I looked up Christmas poems on my good friend Google and imagine my surprise when it spat out a whole pile of them. Who knew some of my favourite dead poets waxed poetic about Christmas? Granted a few were the lyrics of Christmas Carols, and at least one of them (my favourite) was way too long to post on a blog, but I managed to find several others that fit the bill nicely.

We start off with E. E. Cummings and Robert Frost, both who write eloquently about Christmas trees.



[little tree]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Christmas Trees

BY ROBERT FROST

(A Christmas Circular Letter)
The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Life After NaNo



Well, I did it. I finished my 50,000 words before midnight on November 30 and won the challenge. Actually, I reached my goal Thursday night but I wanted to add more words on Friday to get my "update your wordcount 30 days in a row" badge. And my reward? One more unfinished novel to add to my collection. LOL

That seems to be my pattern. I reach my 50,000 by the end of the month and…stop. NaNo’s over so I deserve a break right? My novels are usually in some stage of being close to finished. Some just need a scene or two, some more, but all of them need more work. Hence me my having 8 or 9 unfinished novels sitting around collecting dust.

The other thing I’m in the habit of is coming up for air at the end of NaNo, realizing Christmas is just three weeks away, and set the writing aside until the holidays are over. Inevitably, January rolls around and I’ve lost all desire to write and it takes weeks before I manage to get it back.

So this year I’ve decided two things.

First of all, I’m going to continue working on my NaNo novel. It’s one hot mess, and I’ve jumped around a bit, but I’m going to continue working on it until it is ready for editing. I figure another 15-20,000 words ought to do it.

When I ran into problems early on, I skipped ahead a couple of times, and then had some interesting ideas for the ending so I skipped to the end and wrote about 10,000 words for it. I did close the gaps in the first part, but there’s a good 15,000 words to bridge the beginning to the end. And then I just have to finish the very end – which may or may not include an epilogue.

The thing is, I like this story. And it’s a stand alone, not attached to any series, so there’s no reason I can’t make it available by next Christmas.

The second thing I’m going to do is keep writing throughout December. As in write every day. Magic II is going on the back burner for now – I don’t even have Magic I finished yet so there’s no rush for the sequel. It was more just to fill in the ‘what can I write’ gap when I ran out of steam with Wandering Wizards.

It’s always good to have more than one project on the go, that way if you just aren’t feeling it for one story, you can switch to the other. No sitting around trying to figure out what to write today.

So, that’s my plan, anyway. And that being said, I did no writing (except blog posts) on the weekend – I went Christmas shopping one day and present wrapping the next. But since this post and my other one were scheduled Sunday night, I’ll be starting my day off right – with time spent writing.

To do so I’ll have to ignore the mess my office has become. I’d hoped to get it cleaned up over the weekend but there just wasn’t time. But it doesn’t matter where I write, just so long as I write.



Monday, November 19, 2018

I Warned You

Yup, I did. I warned you last week that you probably weren’t going to get any posts out of me other than Monday, and I was right.



I was kind of struggling with the words last week, falling a little more behind each day. Okay, on Tuesday I fell behind by a lot – only did 763 words, but I made up for it with words to spare on Wednesday and Thursday. But then Friday, which is always a bad writing day for me, I only managed 749 words.

And then I started coming down with a cold – stuffed nose, sore throat, the whole nine yards.

*sigh*

So, seeing as I had no where to go, I declared Saturday a pajama day and spent pretty much the entire day curled up in my chair alternating dozing, writing, and popping cold pills. I don’t know if it was the cold, the cold pills, or the fact that I was in my pajamas, but I was really tired that day, so it was a pleasant surprise when I added up the words at the end of the day and found I’d written a whopping 2,943!

Sunday I was still sick from the cold, but I sucked it up and got dressed for the day. I still spent most of the day in my cuddle chair, but I also did laundry and made the regular big Sunday dinner for the daughter, son-in-law, and grandbaby.

Normally on Sunday nights I watch Supergirl (which I like), followed by Charmed (which I can take or leave) but last night they ran the newest Tarzan (the one with Alexander Skarsgard) movie after Supergirl. I’m a big time Tarzan fan, so I opted to watch the movie instead of Charmed and kept on writing.

When I finally came up for air I had a total of 3,362 for the day giving me a grand total of 6,205 words for the weekend. Not bad, if I do say so myself. :-D

That means, that even if I only write my allotted 1,667 words today I’ll still only be 647 words behind. And if I just happen to write 2,314 words today I’ll be all caught up. Be still my heart.



So . . . how’s your NaNo novel coming?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Is It Over Yet?

A funny thing happened when I was working on my NaNo . . . I fell right out of love with my story. I liked the characters, I liked the idea, but it was becoming way too complicated and I really needed to just sit down and figure out where it was going. But this is NaNo, and I don’t have time for things like that. So…



At the end of October I sent a couple of friends a list of synopses (and yes, that is the correct spelling for the plural of synopsis – I looked it up) of ideas I had for NaNo. They were all stories I intend to write eventually, I just couldn’t decide which one to use. They ended up picking the same idea, but I chose to ignore their sage advice.

I went with a different one because I knew more about the general story, I had a couple of pages of notes, and I’d even named the characters. Ironically, I’m finding it easier to write the new one (that my friends picked) because I came into it with no idea of what I was doing. I had about a dozen lines outlining the plot – boy is a bit of an asshat and is disfigured in an accident, boy goes off alone, boy meets girl, boy and girl must part, boy and girl get together again in the end.

But while the writing is coming easier, I’m still struggling (mainly with distractions). Including the words I need for today I’m about 4,000 words behind, 9,000 if you count the words from the original story (which do count because they were written for NaNo). I would like to use only the words from the new story, like I did the other year when I switched stories, but we’ll have to see how fast I write.

I went to another write-in up in Peterborough, this one at the same café where my writing group used to meet, but although I wrote about 1,000 words I think I’ll give the rest of the café write-ins a pass. The atmosphere just seemed a little off and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the library.

Once again I skipped Friday’s post and unless I can get myself organized better I’m probably going to skip both the Wednesday and the Friday posts this week. Writing blog posts is a tad time consuming, and I need that time for my NaNo novel. Sad, but true.

So . . . how’s your NaNo novel coming?


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

National Novel Writing Month

There’s no date on this poem, so I’m not sure when exactly I wrote it, but it has to be at least a couple of years ago. Anyway, given I’m knee deep in my NaNo novel, I thought this was rather appropriate for today’s post.



NaNoWriMo

This is not for the faint of heart
A novel, written in thirty days
November first is when we start.

Just thirty days to do your part
The writing comes in such a haze
This is not for the faint of heart.

Writing itself is quite an art
E’en when done in such a blaze
November first is when we start.

Winning this sets us apart
Writing without hope of praise
This is not for the faint of heart .

Some will not finish what they start
Others have their secret ways
November first is when we start.

What wisdom is there to impart
A secret, key, a magic phrase
This is not for the faint of heart
November first is when we start.


Villanelle form

Monday, November 5, 2018

It’s NaNoing Time!


Words achieved: 5814
Where I should be: 8335
Words + or - : - 2521

I missed my Friday post. Whoops. What can I say, I was busy writing. At least I was for most of November so far. Yesterday I kind of fell off the wagon, which was a little ironic because I’ve been using the crappy weather as my excuse for not getting any writing done and yesterday was beautiful outside. But rather than take advantage of that gorgeous weather and go out and actually do something, I was huddled in my chair with a migraine on top of sinus pain and an allergic attack and a wonky stomach.

And I’m no longer sure the idea I chose for NaNo is the one I want to work on.

Sucks to me be, doesn’t it? LOL

The changing my mind thing is not new. I take heart in the fact that I did that once before, only I was 10,000 words and 1 week into NaNo when I changed my mind. And I still managed to win with the new story – I didn’t even need a boost from the original 10,000 words, which would have been perfectly acceptable because any words written during NaNo count.

Of course I was much younger then. ;-)

I finally sucked it up and went to one of the NaNo write-ins in Peterborough, and I’m glad I did. The new library up there is beautiful and the room they gave us to use was big and bright and airy. I met up with a great bunch of people and if at times we did more talking than writing it was because we were all so enthusiastic.

So yeah, even though it’s a pain in the butt to have to drive to Peterborough two or three times a week (I still have my speculative fiction class on Tuesdays), I’ll be going to more of these write-ins. Maybe I’ll even get a decent chunk of writing in.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy All Hallows Eve!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!


It’s that time of year when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and who better to help us celebrate than the father of horror himself, Edgar Allan Poe?

Believe it or not, when I was first introduced to Poe, it was as a poet. Imagine my surprise, and pleasure, when I discovered he wrote prose as well. The Raven is probably Poe’s best known poem, and what poem could be more appropriate to share on Halloween?


The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!


I really wanted to share a video of Vincent Price reading this poem, but I couldn’t find one with decent audio quality. I’m sure you’ll agree though, James Earl Jones makes a wonderful substitute.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

No words in the last couple of weeks, so it follows there’s no wordage report.



I think you should know, this is not an isolated incident. This sort of thing happens to me every year about this time. The words seem to dry up in the month of October and I can only assume it’s my brain preparing itself for NaNoWriMo. You know, saving up the words for November.

It’s just so weird – September was such a good month writing-wise. I was establishing good writing habits, making progress on not one but two WIPs, getting some editing done, and then along comes October and . . . nothing.

And of course it doesn’t help that instead of beautiful autumn days where it’s crisp and cold, yet bright and sunny, we’ve had an unnaturally long series of grey, dismal, gloomy days. Sometimes with drizzle, sometimes with high winds. And if that’s not enough to depress a weather driven person (like me) I don’t know what is.

However . . . after a really bad end to last week I indulged in some shopping therapy on Saturday which seems to have revived my spirits somewhat. I have actually decided on my idea for NaNoWriMo this year. I sent a selection of five synopses for potential NaNo novels to a couple of writing buddies, but before I heard back from them I started getting ideas for one of them. And ironically, my friends both picked the same idea and it is not the one I’m going with. LOL

Seeing as NaNo starts at midnight on October 31, it’s pretty safe to say I’ll have words to report next Monday. Maybe even an excerpt to share on Friday. AND I already have a poem picked out for Wednesday from an author who’s better known for his prose than his poetry.

Wait a minute, what’s that? You’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo? You must be new to the blog. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The best way to describe it is as writers from around the world joining together (figuratively, not literally) to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

It’s free to join and the prize is 50,000 (or more) words you wouldn’t have had otherwise. If you’d like more information and/or to sign up, click on this LINK. And if you do sign up, look me up on their site and add me as a buddy! You won't regret it, I promise. It's the most fun a writer can have.

Writers . . . start your lap tops!


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



Editing:
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.



Editing:
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.



Editing:
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.