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:

Amazon
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

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,
America!

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!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For

This week’s fiction comes to you courtesy of something called an Archetype Card. This card belongs to a set of 80 cards, each with a different “archetype” or pattern of behaviour and shows both the light and dark aspects of these archetypes. They’re actually kind of fascinating and I think they’d make a really handy writing tool.

If you’re interested, you can find a description and walk-thru by Tiger’s Abyss HERE  or by Truth in Story HERE

Anyway, the card I drew was the Detective and the description was as follows:

Light Attributes:
Great powers of observation and intuition
Desire to seek out truth
Shadow Attributes:
Voyeurism
Falsifying information

And here’s the story I came up with from the prompt:

Be Careful What You Wish For

I knew it was a bad idea from the moment the woman approached me. It was the same old story: girl meets boy, girl and boy get married before they really get to know each other, boy spends long hours at the office, and girl suspects he’s cheating and hires a detective to follow him. That’s where I come in.

I hate these kinds of cases but I have to eat and things have been pretty slow lately. So when the not-so-young woman (she had to be in her 40s) darkened my door one gloomy morning, I didn’t figure I could turn the case down.

“Money’s not a problem,” she assured me. “In fact, that’s why I need to be sure. My assets are, shall we say, considerable.”

“You never had him sign a pre-nup?”

“It was such a whirlwind romance,” she said, blushing slightly. “It just didn’t occur to me.”

I just barely refrained from rolling my eyes. Love is no excuse for ignorance. But a buck is a buck.

“All right,” I said. “I’ll take your case.”

She gave me his picture, where he worked, that sort of thing, and left in a flurry of patchouli.

He looked like a decent enough guy, a little younger than her but who am I to judge? Anyway, after two months of tailing him, I was kind of feeling sorry for the guy. She may have been holding the purse-strings, but he was the one who was filling that purse. He worked a lot of overtime, yes, but that’s exactly what it was – work.

He stopped for an after work drink once, maybe twice a week with the guys, but that’s all it was. One drink and he was headed for home to his “loving” wife. Funny thing though, any time he was at a bar he was approached by a woman, but he turned them down every time. Even the one who accidentally spilled her drink on herself and asked him to help clean it off. She was a real looker, I’ll tell you, but all he did was offer her his hankie.

His wife came to my office to receive my report, and just sat there in the chair, lips pursed, when I finished reading it to her.

“You’re sure he’s not meeting anyone? No encounters with a woman at that bar he sometimes stops at?”

“You seem almost disappointed,” I said, as she confirmed the suspicions I was starting to have about her.

“It’s just…” She turned all coy and demure, then after a slight hesitation for effect added, “How much extra would it cost to make it look like he really had been seeing someone?”

“You mean falsifying my report?”

At least she had the decency to wince. “I just want to make sure I come out of this with what’s mine. You know the old saying, marry in haste, repent in leisure.”

“Or maybe you’re the one who had to sign a pre-nup, only now you’ve met someone with even more money. You want to have your cake and eat it too.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Interesting that you’d use the phrase “marry in haste, repent in leisure,” that’s exactly what your husband said when he hired me.”

I laid a series of pictures on the desk in front of her. Not only was the man she involved with older, he was richer too. “There’s another old saying that applies here. “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” And you’ll certainly be getting your divorce.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fatras

When someone loves the structure a poetry form provides as much as I do, the fatras is kind of scary. It has no rhyme, no rhythm, no set number of syllables…so what the heck is it?

This somewhat obscure form comes to us from medieval France. Early examples were humorous, sometimes obscene, and usually satirical. Very few fatras survived the test of time, which is why so little is known about them, although many of them were attributed to the poet Watriquet de Couvin

It begins with a couplet (sometimes, but not always, lifted from a more serious poem) that sets the tone of the poem. The first line of the couplet is repeated, followed by nine lines of the poem, and ending with the second line of the couplet. A fatras double can be created when two eleven line stanzas are formed (the original couplet remaining only at the beginning), with the lines of the couplet reversed in the second stanza.

I wanted to try and stay as traditional as possible, so I opened my big book of English and American poetry and picked two lines at random. My starting couplet is from The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde. And for some reason humor seemed to escape me, so I went with satire.


Silently we went round and round
And through each hollow mind

Silently we went round and round
Like bugs caught in the current of a pool
Kicking our feet and getting nowhere
Listening to the news from the south
Where the orange menace seems to be
Losing what little mind he ever had
Determined to go down in history
As the anti-Christ, the new Hitler
His words knocking down his followers
In one ear and out the other
And through each hollow mind

And through each hollow mind
Where brain has been replaced by jello
Or some other such substance
That has no nutritional value
The collective I.Q. is falling
Like a chocolate soufflé does
When you open the oven door
We don’t have the answers
Any more than you do
As just like the bug in the pool
Silently we went round and round

Monday, June 25, 2018

Baby Steps

Wow, I wasn’t kidding a couple of weeks ago when I said it was going to be hard to break the solitaire addiction and do more writing. It’s been really hard.

I’ve made a little bit of progress in the addiction part of it – I’m only at risk if I already have my lap top open. I won’t boot it up just to play solitaire (like I was before). Now if I need to relax my mind and the computer is shut down I’ll pick up a book and read a chapter instead. However, it’s still really hard to avoid solitaire when I have my lap top open, I still just naturally default to it.

It would be nice if I could just close the lid of the lap top and pick up a book when I feel the urge to play (kind of like drinking a glass of water when you feel the urge to snack), but if I do that with the new lap top I have to wait for it to boot up and then sign in again. My old lap top I could just close it, it would go to sleep, then I’d open it and it’d wake up at the exact spot I left it.

You might think that reading isn’t much better than playing games – it’s still not writing – but I’m able to control my reading (mostly) and oftentimes it seems to inspire me to pick up a pen or turn on the Neo.

The good news is, the site I go to for solitaire has a bunch of different games but I’ve played them so much they don’t present much of a challenge anymore. Would it be too much to hope that this particular addiction has just about run its course?

As for getting back into the writing habit…you might recall I mentioned my whirlwind visit to New Brunswick a few weeks ago. I adjusted so easily to New Brunswick time when I was there that I kept to those hours once I came home again – I’m going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.

This means extra time in the morning for writing – theoretically at least. But it also means less time at night. Nine times out of ten you’d find me typing away between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., getting a blog post or two finished to be scheduled for the following day. Now that I’m going to bed around 11, I don’t get that 2 hours so I end up using my early morning writing time for blog posts and email, etc.

I have managed some writing in the afternoons, a few (very bad) poems and I’ve been working on a couple of short stories. But even when I do make it to my office after babysitting I’d rather read than write. And forget sitting outside – outside is just too distracting what with its trees, and birds, and nature and all.

So this week’s focus will be to get my blog posts done earlier in the day (afternoons) so that I can do other writing in my big chunk of time in the mornings (usually at least two hours). And I think one of the ways to do this will be to spend more time in my office or at the dining room table, and less time in the recliner.

Wish me luck – I think I’m going to need it.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Forest Realm

Today we have the third of my Seven Realms excerpts, this one (as the title suggests) is from the beginning of the forest realm story. If you missed the other two, you can find the jungle realm HERE and the desert realm HERE.

In a nutshell… three friends on their way to a vacation catch some teenagers hassling a little old lady – of course they come to her rescue. But it turned out the little old lady was a fairy godmother and granted them a wish as their reward. It was to be used for something personal, and the three wished to meet the men of their deepest desires.



Fiona could hear birds chirping. She opened her eyes, frowning when she realized it was still dark out. Blinking rapidly she sat up, feeling around for her glasses. She could feel dirt and leaves and small sticks, but no glasses. They were heavy enough that she'd know if she was wearing them. God, she hoped she hadn't lost them, they were expensive as hell.

The last thing she remembered was sharing a bottle of wine around the camp fire with her friends. Or was it two bottles of wine? It certainly wasn't enough alcohol to cause her to wander off by herself into the woods. She was more careful than that.

Wait, there was something else ... that old woman they helped earlier in the day. What was her name? Estella? Esperanza? No ... Esmeralda, that was it!

They saw a falling star and for some weird reason they could hear the old woman's voice. Something about being given a wish to use on a star ... "To reward your kindness I promise you this: whatever wish you make tonight upon that star will come true. But mind it's a personal wish, something frivolous that will benefit only you. None of that world peace nonsense."

After hearing Esmeralda's voice the three of them had laughed it off, deciding to wish for their dream lovers to come to life, or some such rubbish. Fiona didn't know what the others wished for, but she'd always had a thing for the elves in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings movies, so it seemed only natural to wish for an adventure to help a dispossessed Elfin lord who would fall madly in love with her.

Fiona snorted. "As if."

The birds continued to chirp and she could hear a breeze rustling the leaves above her. She tilted her head back to look up and listen. How deep into the woods had she traveled? Surely she should see at least a hint of the stars or moonlight. Why was the dark so all encompassing?

Squelching down a sudden frisson of panic, she got to her feet. It was just clouds, she told herself firmly. There was a storm front moving in, that's all. Dark, heavy clouds were obscuring the moon and stars. It happened all the time.

Then why were the birds singing, a niggling little voice asked her. And where was the smell of moisture in the air?

"Taylor? Eva?" she called, ignoring the voice. If she was out here then her friends couldn't be too far away. "Guys? I hope one of you has a flashlight, it's dark as hell over here. Wherever here is. Guys?"

All at once she remembered her watch. Raising her wrist to eye level, she pressed the little button that would activate the light. Nothing happened. Holding the watch to her ear, she listened to the faint ticking and then tried again. Still nothing.

"Guys? I'm in real trouble here."

Fiona shivered, despite the warm breeze. This time she was unable ignore the panic starting. Hands held out in front of her, she shuffled forward a few steps, stopping dead when she felt the sun on her face.

"No," she whispered. "It's too soon. I'm not ready."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Finnovarr paused to get his bearings. This is what came of taking a shortcut. First he lost his horse, and now ... it was a shameful thing for an elf to admit, but he appeared to be lost. Somehow he'd left the narrow trail he'd been following and now he had two choices: continue in the direction he was going and hope he picked up the trail again, or retrace his path back the way he'd come.

Having no idea how far back he'd wandered from the trail, retracing his path was out of the question. He'd already been out here too long, he couldn't afford the time. As long as he kept heading east, he should still be able to find the shrine in time.

A flash of blue caught his eye and he frowned. Too big for a bird, but what else could it be? He became more cautious, keeping watch for anything untoward. Then he scented it.

Finn's head snapped up and went on full alert. Magic. He could smell it on the air. Why would he be smelling magic out here?

He found out a few feet later when he stepped into a clear space in the trees. There, in a shaft of sunlight, a woman slumped next to a tree.

Her long curly hair shone with a fiery glow in the sunlight. The style of her clothing was strange, dark blue trousers and a brighter blue, the blue he'd glimpsed through the trees, strangely designed tunic that clung to her like a second skin. She reeked of magic but it was fading.

He stood in the shadows provided by the trees, watching her. Whatever trouble she was in, he couldn't afford to get involved. He was on a mission; he didn't have time. And yet he lingered, unable to just leave her there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Slipping Away

I have a twofer (two for one) for you today. I wrote these poems about 25 years apart and although the styles are quite different the message is pretty much the same. I’d like to think I’ve matured a bit as a poet over the years - what do you think?


SLIPPING AWAY

Regrets for things I’ve never done
Sad sighs for words I’ve never said
Dreams of battles not yet won
Escape - my future’s filled with dread

Wishes, longings, fantasies.
This world of mine is not quite real.
Cold and dark obscurities
Confuse my vision with their steel.

Myths and legends come to life,
Yet I bury things that are.
Sorrow cuts me like a knife,
And yet this road has led me far.

Worlds of people take their toll.
The music slips away.
Loki comes to steal my soul,
There goes my sanity.



SLIPPING AWAY – REDUX

I’m slipping away
losing myself
in what others demand
of me

I’m losing myself
my dreams
popping one by one like
soap bubbles

I’m vanishing
disregarded
just an afterthought in
others’ lives

I’m like a ghost
insubstantial
that face in the mirror
isn’t mine

I’m slipping away
bits and pieces
scattering behind me until
I’m gone

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Doing the Math

I was in the shower this morning (the best ideas always come to you in the shower, don’t you know) and I starting doing some math to try and figure out where all my time goes. The shower is a terrible place to be if you’re trying to write things down, so I clung to the idea like a limpet to a rock until I was dried off and sitting at my lap top.

We start with 24 hours in a single day, multiplied by 7 days in a week, which is 168 hours. So…let’s break down the rest of it so it’s easier to see, shall we?

Sleep – lately I’ve been in bed by 11:30 and I’m up between 6 and 6:30, so that makes 6 ½ to 7 hours a night. Times 7 nights puts about 49 hours lost to sleep.

Morning Routine – feeding the cats, feeding the fish, exercise, shower and breakfast – this takes between 1 ½ and 2 hours every day, depending on how ambitious I am with the exercising and breakfast. We’ll say 2 hours, which makes it 14 hours a week.

Babysitting – most people have a job outside of the home, mine is babysitting on week days. The times vary, but on average I spend 24 hours a week at this.

Meals – this includes prep time as well as eating time. Breakfast was included in my morning routine, so we’re just talking lunch and supper. Lunches are usually easier, except on Wednesdays and Fridays when the grandbaby has lunch with us, so I’m going to average it out to an hour a day. Dinners…a little more time consuming, especially Sunday dinners when I like to serve a proper meal. During the week, however, I sometimes get away with something that just basically needs to be thrown into the toaster oven so I’m averaging it out to be between 1 ½ to 2 hours, which gives us a total of 21 hours a week.

That brings us to a grand total of 108 hours a week. When you subtract that from the original 168 hours, I’m still left with 60 hours unaccounted for. What else do I do?

Well, there’s grocery shopping on Fridays, that’s good for at least 2 hours. There are always errands to run – I’m going to allow about 10 hours for this. This past weekend I went thrift store shopping with a friend (4 hours), and the movies (2 hours), and I have my writing group on Thursdays (4 hours including travel time). I’m not really all that sociable, so I’m going to say 10 hours a week total for being sociable. Then there’s T.V. watching with the hubby – he says probably 20 hours a week. Altogether, that adds another 42 hours, bringing the grand total of accounted for hours to 150, leaving me with 18 hours unaccounted for.

Except they’re not really unaccounted for, I know exactly what I’ve been doing with them – online games, particularly the mindless ones. Lately it’s been playing solitaire on www.solitaireonline.com. I especially love the Tripeaks and Pyramid solitaire games, and there’s a Secret Double Klondike that is a little challenging.

Playing mindless games is my go-to activity for when I want to relax my mind. The problem is, I also have an addictive personality, so once my mind is relaxed I just keep going until my eyes are burning. I know I play a lot more than just 18 hours a week – I play when I’m watching T.V., or while I’m eating breakfast or dinner. This is why I stay away from the more complex, role playing games online. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to give them a try, but I’ve seen what they can do to normal people, I just don’t trust myself enough to be able to stop once I get hooked by them.

So this week’s goal is to try and break out of the solitaire addiction so I can get back to the writing. I have been writing (although not enough to include it in my time usage breakdown), I just need to be writing more.

I swear, this is going to be harder than cutting back on my snacking!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Jungle Realm

Last Friday I introduced you to my seven realms series, starting with the desert realm. This week I’m sharing the beginning of the jungle realm. It’s the same premise, just a different setting.

Three friends were on their way to a vacation when they caught some teenagers hassling a little old lady – of course they came to her rescue. But it turns out the little old lady was a fairy godmother and granted them a wish as their reward. It was to be used for something personal, and the three wished to meet the men of their deepest desires.



Evangeline Covington couldn't remember the last time she'd had such a wicked hangover. She groaned, but didn't feel up to opening her eyes yet. It wasn't like they'd had that much to drink last night, two bottles of wine between the three of them - she must be getting old.

She felt damp. There was something digging into her back and the distinct smell of greenery in the air. She had a sneaking suspicion of where she was. Cracking her eyes open slightly, she slammed them tightly shut again, her suspicions confirmed. They hadn't made it back to the cabin last night - she'd slept outside.

"Fi? Taylor? You guys awake?" Even the sound of her own voice made her wince.

There was no answer. With another groan she rolled to her side so the sun wasn't in her face and tried opening her eyes again.

Frowning, she stared at the bright red flower in front of her nose. She didn't remember there being flowers blooming in the woods, especially not such exotic looking ones.

Feeling a slight chill, she levered herself into a sitting position and took a good look around. "What the hell?"

Hangover forgotten, Eva got to her feet and stared around in disbelief. This was not the woods full of pine trees surrounding the cabin on the lake. In fact, this wasn't a forest at all, it was more like a jungle.

Several different varieties of palm and other exotic trees towered upwards, hung with trailing vines. The undergrowth seemed to be filled with broad-leafed shrubs and ferns. An endless variety of colorful blossoms rioted around her.

Eva staggered, reaching out to steady herself by holding on to the trunk of a palm. "Where am I?" she whispered.

More importantly, how did she get here? The last thing she remembered was sitting around the camp fire with Fiona and Taylor. They were drinking wine and made a toast to friendship. Then she'd spotted the evening star and . . .

"Esmeralda!"

She remembered hearing the old woman's voice, something about making a wish. They'd treated it like a joke and decided to wish for their perfect mate.

All her life Eva had loved adventure stories, especially ones set in exotic locations. Her favorites were by the old romantic fantasy writers - Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard, A. A. Merritt - with their tales of lost cities set in the jungles of the world. In her deepest fantasies, ones she'd never shared with even Fiona or Taylor, she'd dreamed of being swept away by her very own jungle lord.

"This is crazy!" she said firmly. "Hello? Anyone?"

People didn't just wish for something like that and have it happen. Someone was playing a joke on her. A very bad, practical joke. There must have been something in the wine that knocked her out so someone, or a couple of someones, could transport her to the nearest zoo and leave her in the middle of the African exhibit.

Eva leaned against the palm tree for support. Which was just as likely as being transported to an actual jungle. What else had Esmeralda told them?

"I'm a fairy godmother, but no one believes in magic anymore, more's the pity."

"Magic," Eva repeated, trying the word on for size. Esmeralda was right. People didn't believe in magic any more. Maybe if they did she wouldn't have such a hard time believing in it now.

A cool breeze swept through the jungle and she shivered, her damp clothing amplifying the chill. The tops of the trees were starting to wave and when she looked up she caught a glimpse of dark clouds building.

"This is so not fair!"

She needed shelter from the oncoming storm and fast, judging by the smell of rain in the air. With any luck she could curl up and go to sleep, awakening to find this was nothing more than an alcohol induced, very vivid, dream.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Birds of Passage

I’m making a slight change to the line-up here. Two reasons: 1. It’s my blog and I can do what I want, and 2. After four days off I found myself unprepared to present a new form today. So, starting today, the first Wednesday of the month I will share a favorite poem written by someone else, and the last Wednesday of the month will be a new form.

That being said, I have to admit that this was not the poem I had planned on presenting today. There is a poem that was written about what it was like to be the child of a merman, but I could not for the life of me remember who wrote it. This is going to frustrate the heck out of me, and I swear I will find it someday, just not today.

Instead I will offer this one from one of my all-time favorite poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I love the lyrical quality of his poems and the way they flow. I even used a quote from one of his poems at the beginning of the first book I ever attempted to write. This is not that poem. ;-)

Birds of Passage

Black shadows fall
From the lindens tall,
That lift aloft their massive wall
Against the southern sky;

And from the realms
Of the shadowy elms
A tide-like darkness overwhelm
The fields that round us lie.

But the night is fair,
And everywhere
A warm, soft vapor fills the air,
And distant sounds seem near;

And above, in the light
Of the star-lit night,
Swift birds of passage wing their flight
Through the dewy atmosphere.

I hear the beat
Of their pinions fleet,
As from the land of snow and sleet
They seek a southern lea.

I hear the cry
Of their voices high
Falling dreamily through the sky,
But their forms I cannot see.

Oh, say not so!
Those sounds that flow
In murmurs of delight and woe
Come not from wings of birds.

They are the throngs
Of the poet's songs,
Murmurs of pleasures, and pains, and wrongs,
The sound of winged words.

This is the cry
Of souls, that high
On toiling, beating pinions, fly,
Seeking a warmer clime.

From their distant flight
Through realms of light
It falls into our world of night,
With the murmuring sound of rhyme.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, June 4, 2018

Home Again, Home Again

Yup, I'm home again. When the daughter was little we used to take her up to Owen Sound a lot (up north/west of here) and when we got home we'd always tell her: Home again, home again, hot diggity dog! Which was our version of the rhyme:

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, jiggity jig
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog
Home again, home again, jiggity jog

I had a wonderful four days (which was really only two full days) visiting my sister. It's amazing how much you can do in just four days. I think I'm going to do a separate page to chronicle my visit (since vacations away from home happen all too rarely) so I'll save all the good stuff for that. Keep watching for either the page tab at the top or the link to it.

Seriously, you didn't really expect me to get any writing in while I was gone, did you? Silly you!

So today's post is just a short one, but if I get back on track the way I'd like this week, then watch out next Monday!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Seven Realms

Nothing new this week I’m afraid, but I’ve been revisiting a series I started developing a couple of years ago with the idea of it being the next WIP after I finish the Moonstone Chronicles and the Ardraci Elementals. Or maybe I might even start working on it before I’m done with the others.

At any rate, I thought you might like a preview. To set this excerpt up…Taylor and her two friends were on their way to a vacation when they caught some teenagers hassling a little old lady – of course they came to her rescue. But it turned out the little old lady was a fairy godmother and granted them a wish as their reward. It was to be used for something personal, and the three wished to meet the men of their deepest desires.



The sound of a bird screeching brought Taylor awake with a start. She sat up cautiously, expecting a shaft of hangover pain, but nothing happened. Not that she was trying to borrow trouble, but if she drank enough wine that she passed out on some beach somewhere, why didn't she have a hangover? It was as puzzling as to the fact she'd passed out in the first place. They'd only had two bottles of wine between the three of them.

"Somebody must have spiked one of those bottles," she said, getting to her feet. "It's the only possible--where the heck am I?"

With the sand beneath her she'd assumed she'd wandered onto the beach at the resort about half a mile from the cottage, but looking around herself all she could see was sand. There was no hotel, no water, no ... anything. Just sand.

Taylor sat down again. She must still be drunk. The nearest desert was hundreds of miles away. There was no way she could just magically appear in the middle of one.

Magic! What was it that little old lady they'd helped said? Something about being a fairy godmother and no one believing in such things any more.

There was more ... she remembered sitting by the fire, passing the bottle of wine around, and she'd been just about to get up to get the makings for some s'mores when Eva spotted the evening star.

"No, that's ridiculous!"

When they saw the star they heard the old woman's voice again: "... whatever wish you make tonight upon that star will come true. But mind it's a personal wish, something frivolous that will benefit only you. None of that world peace nonsense. You will be touched by magic."

"Touched by magic," she repeated. They decided then and there to wish for their perfect mates. "No way!" she said, a little louder.

If there was one thing Taylor loved, it was old black and white movies, the older the better. And her absolute favourites were the silent movies. Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish, Buster Keaton ... but the one she'd had the biggest crush on was Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik. So without even thinking about it, when it came time to make her wish she wished to be swept away by a desert prince.

"This can't be real," she said, getting to her feet for a better look around. There were no deserts in Canada, nothing even resembling a desert in the woods she had started out in. But there was no denying the fact that she was in the middle of an unknown desert. No sheik in sight, she was utterly alone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Found Poem

Yes, I know I said I’d post my purple “not quite as creepy as the story poem” but I’ve decided it’s a work in progress so you’re just going to have to wait until I finish playing around with it.

In the meantime, I found a Found Poem that I wrote a few years ago. A Found Poem is pretty much what it sounds like – a poem that’s “found” in other writings. It’s created by taking words, sentences, or whole sections from prose sources and making changes in spacing lines, turning them into a poem.

My poem was “found” in the introduction of a psychology textbook called Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. It’s a really fascinating book, and I’m not normally a fan of non-fiction. Anyway, this is the poem that spoke to me from those words:

The Wild Woman

We may have forgotten her names,
we may not answer when she calls ours,
but in our bones we know her,
we yearn toward her;
we know she belongs to us and we to her.

A sense of her comes through vision;
through sights of great beauty.
I have felt her when I see
what we call in the woodlands
a Jesus-God sunset.
I have felt her move in me
from seeing the fishermen
come up from the lake at dusk
with lanterns lit,
and also from seeing my newborn baby’s toes
all lined up like a row of sweet corn.
We see her where we see her,
which is everywhere.

She comes to us through sound as well;
through music which vibrates the sternum,
excites the heart;
it comes through the drum,
the whistle, the call, and the cry.
It comes through the written and the spoken word;
sometimes a word, a sentence or a poem or a story,
is so resonant, so right,
it causes us to remember,
at least for an instant,
what substance we are really made from,
and where is our true home.

The longing for her comes
when one happens across someone
who has secured this wildish relationship.
The longing comes
when one realizes one has given scant time
to the mystic cookfire
or to the dreamtime,
too little time to one’s own creative life,
one’s life work or one’s true loves.

We eventually must pursue the wildish nature.
Then we leap into that forest
or into the desert
or into the snow
and run hard,
our eyes scanning the ground,
our hearing sharply tuned,
searching under,
searching over,
searching for a clue,
a remnant,
a sign that she still lives,
that we have not lost our chance.

The Wild Woman has no name,
for she is so vast.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Almost There

Like the post title says, I’m almost there – there being back on track with the writing. Although I guess that seems a little ironic considering I missed last Monday’s post, especially in the face of Monday being a holiday.

But I’ll tell you something. Deciding to do something and actually being able to do that something are two totally different things. It’s all well and good to say “I’m going to devote X amount of time to writing every day” but there are still chores to be done – meals to make, laundry, and now that it’s summer the grass to cut – shopping and errands to run, and people dropping by to visit the hubby.

I was in my office last week, congratulating myself on finally getting some writing time, and I’d no sooner opened a notebook to work on something than the hubby’s parents stopped by for a visit. I was fully prepared to stay hidden in there but one of the cats dropped a stink bomb in the litter pan outside my office door, effectively gassing me out of the room.

It’s the little things, but the little things tend to add up pretty quickly.

Now the weekend would have been prime for writing – I was able to do my grocery shopping on Friday and I had nothing else planned. However, I’m going away Thursday (at the obscenely indecent hour of 4:30 a.m.) and I won’t be back until late Sunday. So the weekend was all about preparing for my trip. Also preparing for the fact I'll be babysitting the grandbaby full time the first part of the week.

But part of that preparation was getting my blog posts written and scheduled for the week. Not just this one and the one on my other blog, but the Wednesday and Friday posts as well. And I didn’t just get my blog posts done, I also got a brief synopsis of the seven realms I’ll be writing about in a new series I’m working on, in hopes of sweet talking the nephew I’ll be seeing into creating maps.

Now yes, that wasn’t getting any work done on my current WIPs, but the fact is I was able to fit all that writing in while doing a whole bunch of other stuff as well. I proved to myself I can do it, it’s just too bad I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see if I can do it with my regular writing.

And for the record, I’m taking my writing bag with me on my trip. We’ll see if I’m able to actually get any writing in. ;-)

Friday, May 25, 2018

I Dream the Colour Purple

This week’s prompt was to write about a colour (the secondary prompt was going back and changing one thing in your past but I think that’ll be a story for another day).

I actually came up with a flash piece and a poem this time around – both need a bit of work. The flash story is still in its first draft and the poem, while not as dark as the story, is missing something, I just don’t know what. I'm going to save it for my Wednesday post, so if you're curious come back then. :-D




I Dream the Colour Purple

I dream the colour purple; landscapes made purple by the light of dusk and dawn. I wish I could live always in one of them, in the shadow times. There is purple in the way the ocean swells in a sunset storm. It’s there in the backlight you see in the sky right before a lightning strike. You found it frightening but the colour speaks to me like no other.

I dream the colour purple. We walked through a field of lavender and you made some remark on the smell, ignoring the colour spreading from our feet all the way to the horizon. How could you not want to wrap yourself in it? You were even less impressed by the vineyard, when we stopped to taste the sweet, warm burst of flavour from grapes fattening on the vine in the summer heat.

I dream the colour purple. The purple-hued circles under your eyes were beautiful to me. Makeup could only partially disguise them; I don’t know why you tried. Even more beautiful was the colour of the bruises you wore from a punishment done just right.

I dream the colour purple. The piercing hue of the amethysts we found when I took you rock hunting; the wonder of finding a geode with its hidden treasure. It was our last outing together. You never should have tried to run.

I dream the colour purple. It was the colour of your eyes – just like Elizabeth Taylor’s. I always loved your eyes. It was the only thing I loved about you which is why I plucked them out to add to my collection.

I dream the colour purple. It is the colour of royalty to some, of death to others. You didn’t understand my love of purple, but you do now. It is the colour of your corpse as it lies cooling at my feet.

I dream the colour purple. There is a carpet of violets, deep in the heart of the dark wood. Your final resting place; you and others like you. Rest easy, knowing you will feed the colour purple. And my dreams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Silent Sentinel

Today I’ve got another oldie but (I hope) a goodie, although it’s only about five years old. I love writing about the supernatural or the mythological, and you’ll often find them as themes running through my poetry.



Silent Sentinel

I remember my birth
torn from the quarry
then found to be unfit for the stone circle.

I remember the superstitions,
the Wild Hunt's ride, sacrifices to beg a boon
the dancing and the Green Man's bride.

I remember the poets,
who spent years perfecting the faultless rhyme
that would make of them heroes

I remember the old gods
no longer worshipped, not knowing why,
turning their backs on man.

I have felt the passage of time
felt the reshaping of my limestone form
awakened in my new home atop the cathedral

I have watched the world turn
the pleasure and the sorrow of man
the life and the death. Oh, so much death.

I have watched the city rise and fall
the new replacing the old until only I remain
keeping your secrets carved in stone.

Friday, May 18, 2018

How Does Your Garden Grow?

There’s a kind of funny story behind this story.

Last week I got the title as a prompt, the idea being to writing around 500 words on it. It was supposed to be done for today. Naturally I put it off. And put it off. Finally, a couple of days ago, I got an idea.

Actually, I got three ideas and I liked them all. But I only needed one, so I was forced to choose. And then the words dried up.

But today I finally went to the walk-in clinic about the cold I’ve had for the last 6 weeks or so, and I deliberately left my book at home and took a notebook instead. During my 2 hour wait, I wrote the following story.

And just so you know, I got home with just enough time to type it up before I had to leave to meet up with my writing group where I received some excellent feedback. The story below, however, is my original one. Unedited. :-)



How Does Your Garden Grow?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

Julia stiffened at the slightly mocking, singsong voice. “My name’s not Mary,” she snapped, jabbing the spade a little more forcibly into the ground than was strictly necessary.

“It might as well be.”

Julia ground her teeth just the slightest bit as the shadow of her neighbour, Richard, fell over her.

“You act like the virgin Mary,” he continued. “You never go anywhere or do anything fun. I could show you a real fun time – all you have to do is say the word.”

Was he watching her that he knew what she did and didn’t do? That was over the line creepy. “The word is no.” Julia gathered up her gardening tools and got to her feet. “And just because there’s a hole in the hedge doesn’t mean you’re welcome in my yard.”

The smarmy grin on Richard’s face slipped. “I’m starting to lose my patience.”

“I have some place I need to be,” Julia said evenly. “Please leave the way you came.”

“Have it your way,” Richard said with a careless shrug. “But you’re only delaying the inevitable. I always get what I want.” He turned to leave but glanced back, giving her a leer. “And I definitely want you.”

Julia gave a faint shudder as she watched him leave.

The hole in the hedge bothered her. She’d been called away for an overnight trip and when she came home again there was the hole. Richard claimed it had been an accident – something about a party and someone falling through, but her gut told her he was lying.

When dusk fell Julia turned off the lights in her house before slipping outside into her back yard. She inhaled the fragrant scents of the night blooming flowers and felt the cares of the day slip away.

One of the reasons she chose this house to live in was the relative seclusion of the backyards. The houses in this neighbourhood were built low, and the hedges grew high giving the illusion of privacy.

She went over to examine the gap in the hedge more closely. The gap was substantial and looked more like someone had hacked away at it than fell through it. Something needed to be done about it but Richard would notice if it filled in too quickly.

Music began blasting from the house next door. Her lips tightened. He was like a blot on the neighbourhood. If it wasn’t his parties or hitting on his neighbours, it was the music he had blasting away in complete disregard to anyone preferring peace and quiet.

As though her thoughts summoned him, he appeared in the gap in the hedge. “Changed your mind?” he asked with a grin. “I knew you would. It was only a matter of time.”

Moonlight shone down on them. With a start she realized the moon was full. And it was midsummer. She smiled, and had Richard not been so sure of a conquest, that smile would have sent a shiver down his spine.

“Your place or mine, baby,” he asked, grin growing wider.

“Why not right here?” Julia said, taking a few steps closer. Her hands began moving in the moonlight, almost like she was trying to weave it.

Richard watched, puzzled, then looked at her face again. “What—” His eyes widened in fear as he tried to move. “What’s going on?”

Julia moved another step forward, the moonlight giving her skin a greenish cast, her hands moving more rapidly. New growth from the hedge snaked through the gap. Slim branches slide effortlessly beneath Richard’s skin.

“What’s happening to me?”

“You put a hole in my hedge,” Julia said reasonably, “Now you’re fixing it. I didn’t have enough resources of my own, but yours will do nicely.”

“What are you?” Richard’s voice was an agonized whisper.

“I’m a dryad of course. And it’s never a good idea to piss off a dryad.”

There was no answer from the Richard-like shape now filling the gap in the hedge. By morning there would be no sign he’d ever been there.

“And you should never mess with a dryad’s garden.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quatern

Today’s poetry form is the Quatern. As you might guess from the title, it has four verses of four lines each. This French form does not have a set meter, but each line must have eight syllables. There is also a descending repeated line throughout the poem. Line 1 repeats as line 2 in the second verse, as line 3 in the third verse, and as line 4 in the fourth verse.

Even though this form isn’t required to rhyme, my example just seemed to do so naturally. What can I say, rhyming’s in my blood. ;-)



Moonsong

On summer nights the moonlight sings
And seeks you out on phantom wings
Inviting you to come and play
Beneath the stars till light of day.

No matter what tomorrow brings
On summer nights the moonlight sings.
Will you deny the siren’s song
As it entices you along?

Feel the grass underneath your feet
Its wafting scent is summer sweet.
On summer nights the moonlight sings
And promises fantastic things.

The air is warm, the moon is bright
Can any soul resist this night?
In far-flung lands, in faerie rings,
On summer nights the moonlight sings.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Back to Basics

First of all, just to get it out of the way, a few weeks ago I posted the saga of trying to find a reading chair for my office and I promised to post a picture. It turned out not to be the chair I had intended to buy, it’s a much fancier chair and one that will be great for sitting in both to read and to edit.



And now that I have my chair to sit in for editing, I need something to edit.

If I’ve gotten off track with the writing this year, then the last couple of weeks have opened up a chasm where the track stops short. Time to find a new train to board.

I started thinking about this late on Sunday afternoon while I was trying to finish an email to my best bud. Emails and blog posts being the exception, I haven’t been writing much this year.

Oh, I’ve made notes and plans and even the odd prompt story or poem, and I at least made attempts at my in-class assignments, but I have written pretty much next to nothing on my big WIP, the novel that should have been ready for release at Christmas.

I’ve been taking my writing bag with me when I go to babysit, but I don’t get much writing done. Truthfully, lately by the time the grandbaby goes down for a nap I’m ready to nap too. Either that or I end up continuing to read the book I bring to read while I’m eating lunch.

I work better with a goal. So my goal this week is to spend one hour in the morning working on my novel, preferably in my office, and work on shorter stuff – poems, short stories, editing – during nap time when I’m babysitting. I’ll start bringing my tablet instead of a novel and start listening to the Dean Wesley Smith series on originality during lunch. And when I’m finished that series there’s a bunch of other videos and pod casts he’s made too.

I want to write next Monday’s post and be able to include my wordage report like I used to. And on Friday I want to post new words, not regurgitated words.

That being said, it’s easy to feel all fired up with ambition when I’m typing this on Sunday night, barely able to keep my eyes open. But the light of day will be the true test, with all its distractions illuminating my weak will.

Can she do it? I guess only time will tell.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Alternate Universes

This was the final class in my speculative fiction course. I’m sad the classes are done and look forward to the next session, which won’t be until the late fall. I met some great people and I even learned a few things.

Now, the class was a little more than a week ago and my notes are a little incomprehensible disjointed sketchy, but we’ll give it a try.

First there was a lively discussion on what exactly was meant by alternate universes. According to my notes, the first thing we discussed was Schrodinger’s cat. At first glance this might be a little puzzling because what does quantum mechanics have to do with alternate universes, but the idea of the cat being both alive and dead segued into the multiple worlds theory.

This theory suggests that there are many worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time as our own. If you’re a fan of any of the super hero shows on TV these days, particularly The Flash, then you’re probably already familiar with this concept.

This, in turn, led to a discussion of dichotomies, and how there are many more choices than just left or right and how each decision made splits into a different reality with more choices.



We also touched on the butterfly effect, how the simplest of actions can have disastrous effects, and assumptions, the danger of assuming things happen only in one way.

The floor opened to suggestions of favourite times in history, and we settled on the roaring twenties for our example, listing many of the most noteworthy events from that era. Then we were asked to pick a point of departure (POD) and speculate on how things might be different here in the future if something had been changed at that point. What if the 19th Amendment hadn’t passed and women weren’t given the right to vote? What if Yankee Stadium hadn’t been built? What if Lindbergh hadn’t completed his transatlantic flight?

Finally, we were asked to pick an era, find our own POD, and write a story. See if you can guess what era I chose. ;-)

Molly worked her way across the open space in the park, looking for a place to spread her hand woven hemp blanket. Her eye was caught by a frantically waving hand and faintly over the buzz of the crowd she heard her best friend Jasmine calling her name.

Moving carefully so as to avoid stepping on the limbs spread out from various blankets that were also hand woven – some from hemp, some from cotton, some from wool, but all made from natural fibres – she waded through the sea of humanity.

By folding her blanket into quarters she could just fit it on the small square of grass Jasmine was saving for her.

“Can you believe this crowd?” Jasmine asked as Molly eased her bulk to the ground.

“I’m not surprised,” Molly said, puffing slightly. “How often do we get free concerts here?”

“Hey!” a chipper voice called out. “Is there enough room for me too?”

“Hey Rainbow,” Jasmine called back, scooting closer to Molly. “Pull up some grass,” she giggled.

“Have you heard the news?” Rainbow asked, plopping down beside them.

Molly shook her head as Jasmine asked, “What news?”

“Kennedy. Someone tried to shoot him.”

Molly’s eyes widened and Jasmine gasped.

“Why would anyone want to do that? Is he okay?” Molly asked, feeling a little ill.

Rainbow shrugged. “I don’t know. They missed him though and got his wife instead.”

“Jackie’s dead?” Jasmine’s voice rose loud enough that several heads turned to stare.

Rainbow looked at her, contrite. “I’m sorry Jazz, I forgot how much you admired her.”

Jasmine and Molly stared at each other as the tears started to flow. The world would never be the same.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dreamers of Dreams

My poems are a disorganized mess. I really need to find some way of organizing them and keep track of which ones I’ve shared already and which ones I haven’t. At one time I had a blog dedicated to poetry forms and I was writing one a week, but I found the pace a little hard to keep up and the poems suffered because of it.

Last year I only wrote 25 new poems but I like to think it was quality over quantity. This year I unfortunately haven’t been keeping track, so I can only guess that I’ve written about a dozen or so. Again, I need to find a way of keeping track.

At any rate, if you write poetry the chances are good that you also read a lot of poetry, like I do. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than discovering a new poem or poet. So I’ve decided that I’m going to start sharing some of my favourite poems once a month, starting with a today.

I’m pretty sure a lot of you have read this poem before, but even if you haven’t I’m sure you’ll all agree that you don’t have to be a poet to enjoy it. Whether you write poetry or not, I think all writers are dreamers of dreams.

Ode

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

Monday, May 7, 2018

Extenuating Circumstances

Well for once I have a legitimate excuse for missing posts and getting zero writing in last week.

A week ago Thursday I had to take my husband to the emergency department of the hospital where he was admitted and then four days later had a hemicolectomy. My time was pretty much divided between babysitting the grandbaby and going to the hospital.

It was one of those times when it doesn’t pay to have a writer’s imagination. I’d go home to an empty house and my mind would start working overtime. Sitting waiting for the surgery, which took seven hours, all I could do was try not to think of why it was taking so long.

It was pretty exhausting, but the hubby is home now and doing much better.

But as we sat waiting yesterday for the doctor to get around to discharging him, I couldn’t help but think of all the story possibilities that had presented themselves over the last week.

Like…the conversation I overheard while the hubby was out of the room. His roommate from the first room he was in was an older gentleman with some kind of respiratory ailment. A well dressed man came in to talk to him about his options – there were only a few treatments available, and only a couple would make him more comfortable, none would really help in the long run. He was dying and there was nothing they could do.

And then the man offered something that took me completely by surprise. Euthanasia. He explained it was fairly new in Canada, but it was a viable option. The patient could end his suffering and choose the day and time to do it. I left my husband a note and left the room.

Then there was the woman in the room across the hall after my husband had his surgery and was moved to a different room. At first I thought she was in the final stages of cancer – she was thin and frail seeming, and she had a large room to herself. She had a great deal of family that came, mostly in groups.

But on the hubby’s last morning in there I couldn’t help but notice she had a nurse and I think the man was a physiotherapist. They were asking her questions and helping her sit up, moving her limbs and checking for feeling. Then the man went out and came back wheeling a large mirror. They positioned it in front of her and asked if she could recognize herself.

I didn’t hear the answer but my mind was filled with infinite possibilities of what put her in the hospital in such a state.

And then there was the screaming man…

I never did find out what room the screaming man was in, it sounded like he was out in the courtyard that all the rooms overlooked. But he kept up an almost constant barrage of screaming – not so much screaming in pain as just angry words. The daughter swears he was yelling: “Land ho!”

I kind of felt sorry for him and I was dying to know his story. I did find out from a nurse that he wasn’t going through detox, but that’s the only thing I was able to find out. What was he so angry about? Why was he there? Why didn’t they just sedate him so the other patients could sleep?

So as trying as the last week was, it’s nice to know that despite the fact I wasn’t writing I was still thinking like a writer. :-D

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Inspiration From Dreams

There was probably as much, if not more, talking than writing in this class, for what are writers if not dreamers?

We started out this class by going around the table and sharing some of our dreams. A lively discussion ensued over some of the particulars, and some of the common aspects to be found in dreams.

Maybe it was because we’re all writers, but I was a little surprise that there were a lot of common themes in our dreams. Our dreams also tended to be vivid and a little on the dark side. And of course we were given time to write down a dream to share. Here’s mine:

A pandemic virus was systematically wiping out mankind. Only those with a certain genetic marker would survive. I was in Toronto with my granddaughter where we were supposed to be able to get help – my daughter had stayed behind to look after her father and her husband.

There was rioting in the cities. Most of them were gone. I don’t know why Toronto, or at least the part of it we were in, was still accessible.

We were wandering the halls of a hospital – it was very crowded. I’m not sure how I knew, but I realized the nice people who appeared to be helping everyone, were actually separating those that appeared to have the genetic marker from those who didn’t.

There was an overly friendly woman – like one of those falsely, overly cheerful people who want you to join their cult. She wanted me to take my granddaughter to this compound. She assured me we’d be safe there, but I somehow knew they were gathering people for experimentation.

I pretended to be excited about the prospect, and persuaded her to let me go back for my daughter and other (non-existent) female members of my family. I guess they got credit or something for anyone they coerced into getting on one of the buses because she was more than happy to wait for me to bring the rest of my family.

It wasn’t easy to leave the city. Abandoned vehicles lined the streets and we had to avoid military like patrols who were searching for survivors to take to the compound. We weren’t the only ones who knew the compound was a bad place, we came across other healthy people who were also avoiding the patrols.

We made our way back home only to find the males of our family were dead – my husband and all of his family, and my daughter’s husband. We knew we weren’t safe where we were and decided to make our way to New Brunswick where my sister was. For some unknown reason, it was a safe haven.


After sharing the dreams we wrote down, we talked about methods for remembering dreams and ways dreams can aid in the writing process. Here are a few things we came up with:

Keep your story in mind as you fall asleep.
Use lucid dreaming techniques
“Sleeping on it” really can solve problems.
Set an alarm to wake yourself up during REM sleep.
Look for the elements in your dream that work – a theme or a feeling. You don’t have to use every part of your dream.
When you wake up, you have only a few seconds to remember your dream before it’s lost. If you leave the bedroom, “passing the threshold” as it were, you won’t remember. So stay on this side of the threshold.
Write down your dream while you’re still in bed.
Dream imagery can provide the weirdness that takes a story in a new direction.
Day dreaming can be used as a space for writing.
There is a lot of overlap between how to write and how to dream.

If you’d like to delve a little further into the subject of dreams and writing, here are a few links to check out:

How to Use Your Dreams to Inspire Your Fiction
Dream a Little Dream: Using Dreams in Literature
Deep Lucid Dreaming – wake up in your dreams for a happier, more creative life
Do You Dream In Paragraphs? Mine Your Dreams For Writing Ideas
Use Your Dreams to Be Endlessly Creative


Bartelomeo Cristofori dreamed ... and invented the piano.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Iroha Mokigusari

Yowsa! This form was a bit of a challenge. But then I kind of like a challenge.

Some of my favorite forms are the Japanese ones. Even though they usually have a strict 5/7 syllable count, at least you don’t have to worry about rhymes. All you need for most of them is a good thesaurus that includes the number of syllables in a word. :-)

The Iroha Mokigusari is an ancient Japanese form and seeing as I can neither read nor write Japanese I have to trust the western interpretation of it. It’s described as a perfect pangram, meaning it contains each character of the Japanese syllabary once only.

For our purposes, its best described as a Japanese alphabet poem. It differs from our western alphabet poems (in which each line starts with a letter of the alphabet starting with A and continuing in descending order) in that it follows the normal 5/7 pattern of syllables, and the first and last letter of each line follow the alphabet.

The structure looks like this:

axxxb
cxxxxxd
exxxf
gxxxxxh
ixxxj
and so on…

One example I found of this form was called Nonsense, a fitting title because it’s almost impossible to write a poem under these restrictions that makes sense.

My attempt has no title.

A question that’s dumb,
Can you fly like a buzzard?
Even without proof,
Given your innate hutzpah,
I believe in Raj –
Knew you were always playful,
Maybe brave even.
Only watch for a breakup –
Quicker than ever,
Starlight is shining at night
Under an improv
Winter moon; like a phoenix
You shine like glitz.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The End…Almost

I don’t think I’ve been complaining about the weather too much here, I’ve been saving it mostly for my other blog. Suffice it to say we’ve been enduring a long string of grey, wet, snowy, grey, icy, wet, grey days for what seems like forever. However, that changed late on Friday when this strange light appeared in the sky. It was round and yellow, and gave off not only light, but warmth! It was…awe inspiring!

But while everyone else seemed to spend as much time as possible outside soaking up vitamin D on Saturday, I spent most of my time in my office. This was the big push to get my office organized. I moved the bookcase that was against the wall behind my desk to its new home under the window – it’s just slightly shorter than the window ledge and it fits under there nicely.

I had tried the desk closer to the window, but it just didn’t feel right, so on Saturday I tried butting it up against the wall and that was a little better, but was still a little off. After last Monday’s post, I actually looked up feng shui for an office, and I recalled that several of the floor plans had the desk set at an angle (to face both the door and the window). So keeping that in mind, I gave it a try.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Not only does it give me extra space behind my desk, it makes it feel like there’s more space in front of it too. Fuelled by my success, I dragged the box holding the parts of my newest bookcase into the living room and put it together. It turned out to be a little narrower and a little higher than I’d expected, but it works on the wall where the other bookcase had been.

My large boss’s chair was still a little big for that space, so I gave it to the hubby – he was spending more time at his desk anyway so it seemed only fair – intending to use the somewhat rickety secretary’s chair he’d been using until I could find something better. Only he had a rather nice pair of office chairs in the music room and with the way his equipment was now set up he only had room for one. It’s actually a lot more comfortable than I expected and is just the right size.

So. The desk area is set up to my satisfaction, but I didn’t have enough time left to get the reading area sorted out. I’m getting rid of the wooden filing cabinet my tea station was on – I wasn’t really using the drawers for anything, it was more just something to fit the tea station on. It’ll fit just as nicely on top of the tiny book case in the reading area, and it makes more sense to have it there. Now all that’s left is a reading chair.

Yesterday the hubby and I made a pilgrimage to Peterborough in search of a chair. We didn’t find a chair, but we did find a new dining room set. LOL I did see my dream chair, but it was way too big for the space I have. And it wasn’t as comfortable as I remember it being. So today, after babysitting, we’re going up to Ikea in Toronto to get the chair I almost bought a couple of weeks ago. Only this time it’s on sale. :-D

With any luck, next week’s post will have pictures.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Speculative Poetry

Speculative fiction and poetry – what an interesting combination!

We started out this week’s class by reading some poetry by Sandra Kasturi to give us an idea of just what was meant by speculative poetry. It’s pretty much the same thing as speculative fiction, albeit in poetic form – words embracing the fantastic, the mythic, and science fiction themes.

This was followed by a discussion of what kind of elements can be found in a speculative poem, and this in turn was followed by some free writing time. The idea was to keep some of these elements in mind as we tried to write a speculative poem. I have to be honest here, I really hate being rushed when it comes to poetry. I like to be able to take my time and mull an idea over. This is the unedited poem I came up with in the allotted time:

bitter rain lashes the darkness
on the deck railing, mourning doves huddle
feathers puffed out
the others come, one by one
summoned
chickadee, sparrow, grackle
they gather, like crystals of ice
summoned
the others come, one by one
thrush, cardinal, blackbird
summoned
the tree above becomes weighted down
the others come, one by one
summoned
nuthatch , swallow, jay
they speak with one voice
their voices weave together
great wings sheltering
necromancer raven
cast your spell,
cast your spell


This is what happens when you rush me. :-)

The next exercise was a little more fun. The instructor introduced the class to erasure poetry. It’s very similar to blackout poetry, except instead of blacking out the text around the words, you erase it. We weren’t able to do any actual erasing, what we did instead was circle the words for our poems. We were also asked to give our poem a title. I found mine in the text, it means “happy meeting place.”

Here’s a picture of what mine looked like on the pages:



And here it is written out so you can actually read it:

Yarrawarra

Questions asked in a deeper understanding
had no boundaries.
Conversations and stories intersect;
ink and bottle showed a broken domestic story.
Uncovered interest objects –
thus, story was kept contextualized.
The history of stories exchange meanings.
Each story is recognized –
universal conversation can describe stories,
embed the meaning of place and history.
Distinct knowledge happens.
Evidence of a girl studying,
understanding the unexpected.
There remains artefacts, living fragments,
of corrugated experiences.
Parallel stories support example.


The final exercise was my favourite. The instructor had us break up into pairs so we could collaborate on a poem, taking turns writing each line. It was actually a lot of fun:

I beg you please
To listen to my words
For each, and every, means something
Different to the individual being
Birth, a start
And life, a continuance
Of wonder, mistake and love
Of joy and happiness
Death, an end
Which itself is only the beginning
For memories, we have a many
To buoy us up when we would fall
To sail away, from each and every tempest
And find a safe harbour
Land, I beg of you please
To listen to my words


If you’re still curious about speculative poetry, check out the following links:

Liminality (a magazine of speculative poetry)
Locus Online
Strange Horizons

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Clogyrnach

There’s nothing worse than staying up late to schedule a poetry post and then have it somehow disappear. I don’t know what happened – I checked the preview before scheduling last night and it looked fine but this morning when I looked all I had was a title. I'm glad I checked!

I had really hoped to present a new (to me) form each Wednesday through the month of April, it being National Poetry Month and all, but poetry can be time consuming to write at the best of times and some forms even more so. That pesky thing called life got a little busy last week and I just didn't have the time for a new form so I had to settle for one I've already given a try.

You may recall me mentioning the codified Welsh meters in last week’s post, so I figured this week I’d share one of the few I’ve tried. There are 24 codified meters in Welsh poetry, divided into three categories: the Englynion, the Cywydd, and the Awdl. Today’s form is the 16th, an Awdl, called the Clogyrnach (clog-ír-nach). Despite it being one of the easiest ones you don’t see it used much these days, but in ancient times the Awdls were the territory of the chief or master bard.

The Clogyrnach contains thirty-two syllables in a six-line stanza. The first two lines have eight syllables each; the second two, five; the third two, three. The last two lines may be written as a single, six-syllable line. There are only two rhymes per stanza, and there can be any number of stanzas.

Technically, it looks like this:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b
x x a

If you join the last two lines together to make one six-syllable line, it's important to keep the rhymes in the same place, so if you do that your last line will have the b rhyme in the middle:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b x x a

Of course I used the traditional format for my example. I found the five syllable lines to be the most difficult, especially following the eight syllable lines – I kept wanting to write four syllables or six syllables instead.


Dreamscape

An earthen sky of amber hue
A canvas on which dreams may brew
A zephyr blowing
Past rivers flowing
Unknowing
You pass through.

A stormy sea of hopes and dreams
Where nothing is quite like it seems
Reality skewed
Sanity unglued
Changing mood
Endless themes.

No order to the chaos here
Where wisdom’s just a thin veneer
Passions are higher
Truth is a liar
Misfire
Wake from here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened…

… on the way to becoming more productive. AKA excuse #0573 for not writing.

The way my new office is laid out, the desk throws a shadow on itself. I have a desk lamp, and of course my spiffy new lap top has a back lit keyboard, but there’s just something about that layout that bugs me. I keep wanting to turn and face west, which puts the desk on my left.



So I spent most of Saturday rearranging my furniture. It’s not as though I could go anywhere, after all. We were in the midst of a raging ice storm. It started out as rain, moved on to ice pellets, then by noon it was freezing rain. In the morning the water on the tarp covering the pool was clear, but as the day continued I watched the steady progression of the ice until it was fully covered. It was kind of neat, although I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought so if I’d had to leave the house for anything.

Laugh if you want, but I think there’s something to be said for the idea of feng shui. I didn’t consult a book or Google it or anything, but I can’t help feel that if I get my office set up in just the right way, I’m going to start being more productive. Maybe I’m crazy, but there you go.

And that is how I ended up spending most of my Saturday cleaning the stuff off my desk and cursing and swearing as I moved stuff around. I stopped when it started to get dark because I wasn’t sure how long the power would last and I didn’t want to be in the middle of something if the lights went out. Although I enjoy the romance of candle light, it’s not exactly the safest thing around stacks of papers and books.

But while I didn’t trust the power to stay on to work in my office, I had no problem with it staying on so I could start binge watching the new Lost In Space series on Netflix. :-D

I loved that show as a kid, and in fact I have the complete series on DVD. I enjoyed the movie with Matt LeBlanc in it too. Normally I don’t like when they make a lot of changes to old favourites – don’t get me started on the changes made to Battlestar Galactica – but I have to say, I love how they’ve updated Lost In Space. I don’t even mind that they turned Dr. Smith into a woman.

But I digress.

None of the changes I made to the arrangement of my desk felt right so in the end I moved everything back the way it was. Of course I’m not ready to give up quite yet, I had another couple of ideas on Sunday, but it was so late in the day by that time that I didn’t have a chance to test them.

After all, I had blog posts to write. ;-)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Adjectives and Adverbs



If nothing else, I’m having fun with these Wednesday night writing classes. You wouldn’t think something like adjectives and adverbs would be fun, but it was. :-)

Of course you all know what they are, right?

***crickets chirping***

That’s okay, far be it for me to judge. For most people the parts of a sentence rank right up there with calculus and algebra – you have a vague recollection of learning them in high school, declared “when will I ever use this in real life?” and upon graduation promptly forgot everything you ever knew about them.

An adjective modifies, or describes, a noun (person, place or thing) – the old woman, the green grass, the frozen wasteland. An adverb modifies, or describes, a verb (an action word) – walk quickly, search frantically, sleep peacefully.

Our first exercise was just twenty minutes of free writing. You could hear the sighs of relief around the table at not having to dive right into the lesson. LOL

I actually work better from a prompt than being told to just write whatever you want, and I just happened to have this month’s prose prompt from Brazen Snake Books with me: A man running to catch a train/bus/cab drops a red rose. A woman picks it up, and finds a note wrapped around the stem.

Here’s what I came up with in the allotted time:

The train station was busy as usual. Catherine kept a death grip on her purse as she was buffeted by the sea of humanity.

“Oof!” One elbow jab to the side was particularly sharp. She opened her mouth to yell at the man who’d jostled her so rudely, but he was already too far away to hear. He was tall and dark haired, a business man by the look of him. He must be in an almighty hurry to get to wherever he was going, she thought, watching him elbow his way to the waiting train. Probably late for a meeting or something, although that was no excuse.

“Ha! Serves you right!” she said.

He’d tripped on the edge of the platform as he boarded the train, nearly losing his newspaper. Something else fell instead, something that had been nestled in the paper’s folds, and her last glimpse of him was the resigned look on his face as he stared down at the platform as the train pulled away.

The crowd was beginning to thin and curious, she worked her way towards the edge of the platform.

It was a long stemmed rose. She glance around but no one else appeared to notice it. Or if they did they didn’t care. Hesitantly, she bend down and picked it up. There was a note wrapped around the stem. With a shiver of excitement, she unfolded the paper.


I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the next part of the assignment was to underline (using different kinds of lines) every noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. It made for quite a messy page, but it gave each of us an idea of the number of them used in our pieces.

What followed was a spirited discussion of words and word usage and upcharging a verb plus adverb. Example: instead of “she ran very fast,” you could simply say “she raced.” Or instead of “he talked very loudly” you could say “he shouted.”

Word choices, too, can be important because many words have more than one meaning. Like bark. It can mean the outer layer of a tree, or the noise a dog makes. Novel can be a book or something new – a novel experience.

When it comes to adjectives and adverbs, you need to keep three things in mind:
1. Are they needed?
2. Do they add to the story?
3. Could they be taken away?

For the next exercise we came up with a list of nouns and in a second column an adjective for each – shoe, expensive; bar, shiny; tea, green; watch, broken; space ship, dusty; table, solid; universe, limitless. Then the instructor mixed it up a bit by rearranging the order of the adjectives so we had: broken shoe; dusty bar; expensive tea; green watch; limitless space ship; shining table; solid universe. Then we were asked to chose two or three pairs of words and write a short piece.

You know me, I love a challenge. I managed to use all the pairs. But I’ll warn you, it makes better sense if you know who Doctor Who is. ;-)

I swaggered up to the dusty bar and ordered an expensive tea. The waiter who brought my drink over to the shiny table was wearing a broken shoe. I checked my green watch and realized I was out of time. The Doctor would be waiting for me in his limitless spaceship. Tossing back my tea, I threw a couple of bills onto the table and hurried away, eager to explore the solid universe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Canzone

The Canzone comes to us from medieval Italy. Once upon a time I thought the most difficult form I ever stumbled across was the Sestina. Then I discovered the 24 coded Welsh metres. *shudder* The Canzone isn’t quite as bad as the Welsh poetry forms, but it definitely beats out the Sestina.

With the Sestina you have six key words that are each used to end one line in each of the six verses in a prearranged pattern. The Canzone only uses five key words, but each of the five verses has twelve lines, with a five line envoi at the end. You see the problem? There’s a lot of repetition.

The layout is as follows:

Stanza 1: abaacaaddaee
Stanza 2: eaeebeeccedd
Stanza 3: deddaddbbdcc
Stanza 4: cdcceccaacbb
Stanza 5: bcbbdbbeebaa
Envoi: abcde

My words: dream moon night grave soul

My poem:

The Waking Dream

The night calls to you in a dream…
High above shines bright the moon –
Embrace the path within the dream,
Immerse yourself into the dream.
The moon, a beacon in the night
Guides you through the land of dream,
Illuminates the waking dream.
Seek the truth beyond the grave
There must be more than just the grave.
The truth is hidden in a dream
You know this in your deepest soul,
The silent longing of the soul.

The night holds hostage to your soul
As you continue in your dream.
A secret longing fills your soul
Of things forgotten by your soul
Remembered only by the moon
Whose light shines down upon your soul,
The cool, pale stream that soothes your soul
As you wander through the night,
A shining beacon in the night.
The lustre comes now from your soul
Which comes from far beyond the grave –
You’re not quite ready for the grave.

The look upon your face is grave,
You stop and contemplate your soul.
The end is more than just the grave
So cold and alien, the grave –
Or so it seems within the dream
That blindly leads you to the grave.
With nothing else beyond the grave
That lies beneath the shadowed moon
You seek the peace within the moon –
And find yourself beyond the grave
That lies here in the darkest night,
Strange vision of the tortured night.

And here you are, lost in the night
Now searching for that shadowed grave
Within the dark and empty night,
A deep and dark and mystic night
That spills into your very soul
To show you what is truly night
Before you pass into the night
And leave behind your waking dream –
No memory left, merely the dream
That calls you to embrace the night
Beneath the silvered hunter’s moon –
Stand up straight, drink down the moon.

Ah, gentle, passive, mother moon
A beacon in the darkest night.
A haunting sight, the gravid moon
Yet shadows long cast by the moon
Fall upon the empty grave.
Another aspect of the moon
Here in the dark night of the moon
That calls out to the willing soul,
Enticing those who have a soul
To worship peace and seek the moon
As it appears within the dream,
But only in the waking dream

Perhaps this is the end of dream.
Fill your cup, drink down the moon
And leave behind the darkened night
Find your truth beyond the grave
There is a cleansing of your soul.

Monday, April 9, 2018

State of the Stuff Address



I thought that sounded cooler than “Progress Report.” Hey, what do you want from me? It’s early and I’ve only had one coffee so far. LOL

There’s really only two things I want to report on – the progress of my office, and the progress of Wandering Wizards (the 3rd Moonstone Chronicle). If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you already know I seem to be back on track with Passion For Poetry Wednesdays and Fiction Fridays.

So first, the office. When I get my office finished (if that ever happens) I will create a new page at the top to chronicle my journey. However, that day is not even close yet. I’ve run into a bit of a snag when it comes to clearing out the pile of “stuff” in the corner where I want to put a comfy reading chair.

First of all, my (spoiled) 18-year-old cat discovered the shag carpet in the bottom of the storage closet and has taken to sleeping in there during the day. Which means I can’t rearrange the stuff on the shelves to make room for the stuff in the corner because I don’t want to disturb him.

And I don’t want to hear from any of you non-cat/animal lovers telling me to just move the cat or shut the door or whatever. He’s 18, and the other two cats kind of pick on him, and he doesn’t ask for much except a comfy place to sleep. Not only am I keeping the closet door open for him, I’m keeping the office door open for him, despite the fact that one of the other cats got his nose out of joint and sprayed the canvas board I had leaning up in front of the small bookcase. Twice. Which is why the pile of stuff is now safely tucked under a plastic cover and access to the rest of the room is limited.

At some point I’m going to get a baby gate for the door (no worries about anyone jumping the gate, they’re too old and fat) so I can have the door open but don’t have to worry about anyone’s indiscretions in there. It’s a southern exposure so there’s no way I can keep the door shut in the summer. But…I can’t do that until Taz finds a new favourite place to sleep. Which he will eventually, he likes to move around.

I’m at the point where I can use my desk, although I need a new desk chair because the space is a little cramped with the big one from my old office and I keep knocking stuff over on my desk and the bookcase behind me every time I move. Loving my new computer, although the delete key is in a different spot which kind of throws me off and I’m still not happy with Windows 10. I know, suck it buttercup, it had to happen sooner or later.

On the weekend I set up the new laser printer and now I can connect wirelessly to it and the inkjet in the other room. Go me! And in the process of trying to install it onto the hubby’s lap top I inadvertently fixed whatever the problem was he was having to connect wirelessly to the ink jet printer. Which was really weird because I couldn’t install the laser – for some reason his autorun isn’t working and I couldn’t find the DVD drive (he has Windows 10 too).

As you know, I’ve been struggling with the second half of Wandering Wizards for some time now. There was something off about it and I just couldn’t figure out what. Well, I finally figured it out. And I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good because I figured it out, but it’s bad because it’s going to take a lot of work to fix it.

To put it simply, it’s still Jessica’s story, but there’s very little Jessica in it. Until she meets up with her friends again on page 129, she only appears twice, and only for about a page each time. So yeah, she needs to have a bigger presence – keep adjusting to her powers, come to terms with her new life, maybe have a fight or two with Dominic, whatever.

So there we have it. The state of the “stuff” I’ve been working on and will be working on this week. Wednesday’s class is Inspiration From Dreams, so be sure to check back Friday to see what I came up with.

For that matter, check back Wednesday too to see what my poem for National Poetry month is. :-D