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:
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


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?


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.


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
just an afterthought in
others’ lives

I’m like a ghost
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 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 . . .


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.