Friday, June 24, 2022

Gone Fishin’

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That was definitely me yesterday when I fell victim to an internet scam that not only compromised the security of my computer, but also my bank accounts.

After a trip to the bank to close our current accounts and open new ones, our money is safe. My compromised lap top, the fairly new Lenovo, is at Staples for a security check up. I still have to get in touch with my other bank, my credit card company, my cell phone company, and PayPal, and then I have to figure out how to set up one of the automatic payments I get again.

Fun stuff. Not!

So I’m taking a mental health holiday for the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be checking my email and Facebook (the msi Apache wasn’t compromised), but I’m not going to be blogging. My heart just isn’t in it.

The only good news in all this mess is, because I stubbornly refused to sync my devices, the Lenovo is the only one that was affected.

Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get Magickal Mayhem finished while I’m on my break.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Parody



One of my favorite poetry forms is the Parody. This is where you take a familiar, or well-known poem or short piece of prose and change the wording to make it humorous. You get this comic effect by using exaggeration, or spoofing the piece, keeping to the original structure as much as possible.

The first Parody I ever wrote was in high school. To teach us about rhyme and rhythm, our English teacher had us picking a poem with a strong rhythm, I believe the example he used was “How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix” by Robert Browning. We were to write a minimum of three verses using the rhythm of the poem we selected.

For my poem, I chose “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service. Only I didn’t just write three verses, I rewrote the entire thing, turning it into a Parody and calling it “The Refrigeration of Sam McGee.” The actual assignment wasn’t to write a Parody, just to capture the rhyme and rhythm – what can I say? It was a lot of fun. And I’ve been writing Parodies ever since.

Now, I have a funny story for you. The second poetry reading I ever did took place at a retirement residence. I was so excited that I thought I should write a brand for the occasion. I decided to do a Parody of Shakespeare’s “To Be, Or Not To Be,” turning it into an anecdote about dying my hair. It wasn’t until years later that someone pointed out to me that it might not have been the best poem to read to an elderly audience. The title of my poem? “To Dye or Not To Dye.” Oops!

For my example, I chose Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this classic poem, I’ve included it below.


The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


The Dessert Not Eaten
By Carol R. Ward

Two desserts lay on the yellow table
And sorry I could not eat them both
And not gain weight, I was unstable,
Staring at cake, dark as sable,
Chocolate, I could never loath.

The other, lemon, sweet cream filled,
Was like to make a dead man drool
Because it was so nicely chilled
And stacked in layers by one skilled;
Truly, each dessert a jewel

And both that morning equally lay
In splendor on that table bright
Oh, to keep one for another day
But no, indulgence starts that way –
my pants are already much too tight.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two desserts upon a table lay, and I—
Rejected both, with a heavy sigh,
And that rejection made all the difference.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Priorities



I learned that we can do anything, but we can't do everything... at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.
— Dan Millman

Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.
— H. L. Hunt

Deadlines aren't bad. They help you organize your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it.
— Harvey Mackay

Keeping regular office hours sounds good in theory, but I’m seeing it’s a little harder to put into practice than I thought it would be. Especially when you spend more than half a day at a social function, a bunch of unexpected family stuff pops up, and you take a road trip with your daughter (that while fun, lasts an entire day).

The root of my problem is that I suck at setting priorities. Not just in my writing, but in my crafting as well. Ironically, when it comes to more mundane things, like gardening or housekeeping, I do much better. I don’t know why that is, unless it’s the fact that the mundane things don’t matter as much. Does that make any sense?

I used to make a lot of lists, breaking things I had to/wanted to do into easy to manage increments. It worked really well for the more mundane things I had to do, not so much for the more creative things.

In fact, listing the creative tasks, even breaking them down, ended up having the opposite effect. I found the list intimidating, I didn’t know where to start, and so I didn’t.

It doesn’t help that I have plenty of time at my disposal, that just makes it easier to put things off. My time management skills could also use some honing – I don’t make good use of my time. I’m a procrastinator. And I get distracted easily – I need to learn to focus better.

Another thing I’m having to overcome is my upbringing. I’m an old-fashioned gal. I was raised to put everyone else’s needs before my own. I set aside time to do something for myself but then other people’s priorities conflict with mine and I always seem to come out the loser.

I don’t know if setting priorities is something you’re born with or a skill you need to learn, but it’s definitely something I need to work on going forward, especially if I’m going to make my limited office hours work. The ability to prioritize effectively would also help in all the other aspects of my life.

I signed up for a free download of an interesting looking book about prioritizing, but something called Bitly wouldn’t let me. I don’t even know what Bitly is, but it decided the download might be potentially harmful. Isn’t that always the way? But I also bookmarked a bunch of helpful articles to read. It’s a start at least, and I’ll share what I learn about setting priorities here, next week.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

WORDAGE REPORT

You know, I’m kind of getting tired of this. Last week was another one of those weeks that quickly spun out of control. However, at least I got my blog posts up and on time (except for Friday, but that wasn’t my fault), so there’s that at least.

I started out on track with my office hours, but life and a bunch of family stuff had a way of de-railing even the most loosely held schedule.

NEW WORDS:
Blog Posts – 1,567+763+351+870=3,551
Poetry – 351 (included in blog post)
Other words – 385 (bonus blog post)

Total words: 3,936

Goals For Next Week:
Give the office hours another try and get my s**t together.

EDITING:
0 pages
Well. That was disappointing. I wasn’t able to manage even an hour or so of editing. At this rate I’m never going to be done Magickal Misfire. Which I’ve been considering changing back to Wandering Wizards because of a line I rewrote.

Goal For Next Week:
Get back to work on Magickal Mayhem.

MARKETING MONDAY:
I’m starting to think it doesn’t make sense to limit marketing to just one day. So next week I’ll be removing Monday from the title here.

Goal For Next Week:
Submit two flash stories and one poem.

TECHNO TUESDAY:
I’m thinking it might be time to let go of the tech. I mean yeah, I want to learn how to use my little gizmos properly, but they’re obviously not a priority. Instead, I think I'll try setting aside time to learn new skills. Maybe even start one of the online courses I signed up for.

Although, that being said, I couldn’t help but notice all my posts on my other blog have become italicized. And several posts from this blog have done the same thing. I have no idea what happened, but I need to figure out what’s going on and fix it.

Goal For Next Week:
Learn something new.

POETRY WEDNESDAY:
Being kind of crunched for time last week, I went for a poetry form I offered previously. The actually wording of the post was new, but the poem itself was an old one. But ironically, I’ve already started the post for this week – not a new form, at least to me, but definitely a new poem.

Goal For Next Week:
Find a new form to share on my Wednesday blog post.

CRAFTING:
I did do a ranty post about cross stitch on Monday. I still can’t believe something so tiny took me so long to create. And when I sewed the little cross stitch into the felt needle book I made the discovery that felt liked to stretch, so it looks a little crooked. Might be a new a new rant in the making. ;-)

Someone in the family was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, so looks like it’s time to start another cancer blanket. I’ve already got the yarn, now all I have to do is find the pattern.

Goal For Next Week:
Start a new afghan. Start work on the granddaughter’s dress.

WHAT I’M READING:
When I was reading the three-in-one, Growl, I realized I’d missed the book in between it and one I read previously from the same series. So I ordered in online. While I was waiting for it to arrive I read Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. Then Wild arrived and I read Catch A Tiger By the Tail by Eve Langlais, Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, and Her Perfect Mates by A.C. Arthur. Then when I was grocery shopping on Friday I treated myself to Murder At Sunrise Lake by Christine Feehan, and I’ve just started reading it.

Funny how I can always seem to make time for reading but not other stuff.

Goal For Next Week:
I did a little better at slowing down my reading, but I think I can do better.

GOAL REVIEW:

I got my blog posts up, and on time, although my actual Friday post was a day late. I did cheat a bit by recycling for my Wednesday post, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Despite getting my needle book done in time for my guild meeting, I didn’t make time for any other crafts last week.

I’ve got a new week ahead of me and I can only hope I find a way to start making my office hours work for me.

Happy writing.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Pond

After much (way too much) consideration, I’ve decided to start a new serial. True to form, I have only a vague idea of how long its going to be, but at least I have a vague idea of what it’s going to be about.

I’m basing it on what I thought was a story length piece, but is actually only 1500 words. At first I was a little disappointed there was so little to work with. However, when I read it over I realized that while it kind of failed as a story, it wasn’t bad as an outline for a longer piece. I’d stripped so much of the detail away from the original, that I was left with what amounted to a laundry list of events.

Bad for the story, good for me to turn it into something longer. But still, there was something missing. It was supposed to be a creepy story, with vaguely otherworldly or supernatural undertones. So then I got all caught up in an introduction to set the tone of the tale, which really bogged me down until I realized it wasn’t necessary.

I ditched the intro, discovered what the core of the story was, and started over. Whether it turns out as creepy as I’m hoping remains to be seen because I did not have time to plot the whole thing out.

Without further ado, for better or for worse, here’s the first installment of my new online serial, The Pond.



Chapter One

No one was sure where they Anton family had come from. Nicholas Anton, born Nikolai Antonovich, simply appeared one day and had a massive house built, set back in the woods. Built of heavy timber and quarried stone, the house was every bit as imposing as Nicholas.

He was a tall, barrel chested man, with black hair and a bushy black beard, and habitually wore a scowl on his face. Those who worked for him claimed he was stern, but fair. Still, no one wanted to get on his bad side.

But if they had a healthy respect for Nicholas, the respect was fueled by fear for his wife Izolda. She was tall and thin, sharp featured, and her titian hair was worn in a severe bun. There was a room in the top floor of the house that she kept locked – no one was allowed in there, not even to clean. Sometime strange light could be seen flickering in the single window of the room.

This, of course, had rumors flying as to what she could be up to in that room. No one dared voice the word “witch” lest she overhear and take offence. But looks passed between the matrons and men made the sign against evil or crossed themselves when she passed by.

Safer speculation was where their money came from. Bit by bit Nickolas had bought up the land along both sides of the North River, right to base of Mount Saint Ana. He held the rights to a sliver mine, and one of copper, and built a mill on the banks of the Northern River. Gradually the village of Sweetwater grew up around it.

There was a fortune to be made in timber, but Nickolas refused to allow the old growth forest to be touched. Villagers were free to haul away the deadwood for their fires, but they were not to cut the trees themselves.

A man from a logging company came to Sweetwater, and was invited to dinner at Briarwood, the name Nickolas gave to his house. One of the serving maids reported that the man wanted to form a partnership with Mr. Anton, and start cutting down the massive trees.

Nickolas refused.

“Why not?” the man asked, obviously both surprised and angry. “With so much land, you’d hardly miss a few hundred trees.”

“The trees stay.”

“Transporting them would be simple with the river right here.”

Nickolas slanted a look at Izolda, who sat there stone-faced. “The trees stay,” he said, with a voice of finality.

Izolda said not a word to the logging man. Not a word of greeting, not a word of farewell, nor did she respond when he tried to engage her in conversation.

“If you could have seen the way she looked at him,” the maid said with a shudder. “I don’t know why, he seemed rather pleasant. But there was something about him seemed to fill her with rage.”

A light flickered in the locked room that night, but no one gave it a second thought. They’d long ago become used to the strange doings in Briarwood. But when Izolda put in an appearance the next morning, the serving maid couldn’t help but notice how pale and drawn her mistress looked.

A few weeks later, word reached the village that the logger had died while cutting wood further up the mountain. He apparently misjudged the angle of the tree he’d been cutting and it fell on him, crushing him.

By a strange coincidence, Izolda chose that moment to announce she was with child.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Post Delay

I was all set to offer up the first instalment of a new serial story today, only a funny thing happened on the way to getting that post written . . .

Okay, so it’s not so funny. I had it three quarters of the way finished yesterday, but then I had to step away from the computer. My new computer mind you, not the one I’m dashing this off on.

I was longer than I expected so of course it went into sleep mode. Then I just let it be while I went on to do a few more things so it was a couple of hours before I was able to get back to it. I should have suspected something was up because the keyboard was still lit up.

Usually the screen will go dark first, but the keyboard will stay lit up and you just have to jiggle the mouse to get the screen back again. Sometimes you have to sign in again, sometimes you don’t. It depends on how long it’s been dark. After a certain amount of time though the keyboard will go dark too, which means you have to press the start button.

Because the keyboard was still lit up, I tried jiggling the mouse, but nothing happened. I pressed the start button, nothing happened. Not even the snarky message to try another finger. So then I did a hard shut down, waited a few minutes, then started it up again. The keyboard’s lit up, but nothing else. *sigh*

This happened once before, only the fan had been running fast and I just had to do a hard shut down and let it cool off before it would work again. This time the fan’s not running, but I’m hoping that if I do a hard shut down and let it sit for a couple of hours it’ll work again.

Meanwhile, all my notes and partially written post are stuck in cyber space. I just hope it automatically saved my document and the newly written notes on it too.

So . . . the post might be up later, or it might be up tomorrow. We’ll see how cooperative the Lenovo is going to be.

I really have to start using my USB keys to write from.

*sigh*

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ghazal



The Ghazal (pronounced "ghuzzle") originated in Arabia in the 7th century, evolving from the Qasida, another, much longer, Arabic form. It gained prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries thanks to the Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, and was often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians.

To truly understand the Ghazal, there are a few terms you need to know:
Sher is a rhyming couplet that can stand alone as a poem itself.
Matla’a is the first Sher.
Radif is a repeating word or phrase.
Qaafiyaa is the rhyme scheme.
Maqtaa is the final couplet.
Beher is the syllable count and length of each line.

A traditional Ghazal consists of a collection of Shers, usually seven but you can have anywhere between five and fifteen. The rhyme scheme, or Qaafiyaa is AA BA CA DA, EA, and so forth. The Matla’a sets the tone of the Ghazal, as well as the Radif and Qaafiyaa. The Radif must be included in both lines of the Matla’a. The Maqtaa may contain the poet’s name or signature, but this is left to their discretion. The Beher should be the same throughout.

I found it odd, and a little disappointing, that in the course of my research I found many well-known poets have written what they called Ghazals, but they did not follow the rules. I hope I’ve done a better job of it.


My example:

Wind whispers softly in the trees,
listen, hear the sighing trees.

Autumn changes all the leaves
a forest filled with crying trees.

A slender birch is bent to dance
a wood nymph glorifying trees.

A secret is not safe at all
when told beneath the spying trees.

I see a thousand shades of green
when I look upon the sighing trees.

A sunset paints the mountainside
liming rocks and dyeing trees.

The loggers come and cut their swath
and all around are dying trees.

Note: this Ghazal does not contain a signature in the Maqtaa. :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Flux In-capacitator



It's not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.
— Miles Davis

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
— Barack Obama

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have found in traveling in a stage coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place.
— Washington Irving

Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.
— Mandy Hale

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been pretty scattered lately. I feel like I’m in flux, like I’m going through some kind of inner change. And I really hope that when I come out on the other side everything will settle into place.

I know they say that change is good, and that a change is as good as a rest, but I don’t like change. I never have. And these last few years with the pandemic and all have been nothing but change.

I get overwhelmed easily when there are too many changes and my go-to to escape (as you also may have noticed) is to crack open a book and just hide in there. Living in a world someone else has created is so much easier than dealing with reality.

Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” If that’s true then I guess my intelligence is also in flux. Some days I can handle change better than others, but throw too much change at me too quickly and back I dive into the safety of a book. Like I did this week.

At least I was reading new books instead of clinging to the comfort of old ones. Of course, that had the downside of having a harder time to put them down than I would with familiar ones. Bottom line is, I really need to find a better way of dealing with stress than reading. And don’t say crafts, because it was doing cross stitch that sent me there in the first place.

What’s brought things to a head (so to speak) is that I was looking up some information on an author who’s fairly new to me, and I was a little taken aback at what I found. This woman has published 150 books in 12 years. One hundred and fifty! Even if she started writing 10 or even 20 years before that first one was published, that’s still a lot of books.

I know you should never compare yourself to another author and I’m really not – while I enjoy reading her books, they’re not the kind of book I’d write – but I still can’t help feeling like a bit of a slacker.

I was whining about this telling a friend about this and she wisely pointed out that writers that are this prolific – Lynsay Sands, Nora Roberts, Christine Feehan, Eve Langlais, Debbie Macomber, and their ilk – have made writing their job.

Writers like my friend and I have other sources of income. We started writing because we wanted to, not because we had to. Of course, there’s a whole argument to be had on the urge to “have to write” and not having a choice, but that would be a post for another day.

But the point was made. I started writing because I wanted to, not because I have to. No one is pointing a gun to my head, I don’t need to write to keep from starving, I write by choice, not necessity. And if the writing doesn’t get done? No big deal. There’s always tomorrow. Those other writers? It’s their job and they treat it as such.

So maybe that’s what I need to do. Treat my writing like a job. At first it might be more of a part time one with flexible hours, but I need to have set hours to be in my office and stick to them. And if something interrupts me, like a medical appointment, then I’ll need to make up those hours later.

And maybe once I’ve got my schedule figured out, I can include it in my wordage report – time spent in my office and what I accomplish.

This all sounds good in theory, let’s see if I can put it into practice.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

WORDAGE REPORT

This was just one of those weeks that was filled with distractions, and Friday was such an incredibly bad day that I think I’d just rather forget all about it.

Skipped Monday’s blog post, got the rest up, even Fiction Friday although I didn’t start a new serial. I kinda got overwhelmed by life. It happens, but it still sucks when it does.

NEW WORDS:
Blog Posts – 1,760+430+949= 3,139
Poetry – 430 (included in blog post)
Other words – 0 (though not for lack of wanting to)

Total words: 3,139

Three-minute words – 0

Goals For Next Week:
Get my s**t together.

EDITING:
29 pages
Not as much as I’ve been doing in the previous weeks, but I’ll take it. The more I work on Magickal Mayhem, the more I want to get it done. If for no other reason than I can start working on something else. :-D

Goal For Next Week:
Keep up the good work on Magickal Mayhem.

MARKETING MONDAY:
Nope, once again it just didn’t happen.

Goal For Next Week:
Submit two flash stories and one poem.

TECHNO TUESDAY:
I might have to reconsider this whole techno Tuesday thing. I mean yeah, this is stuff I need to work on, but I haven’t been and what purpose does it serve to highlight my failure to do so week after week?

Goal For Next Week:
Do something technical or educational (like access one of my tutorials).

POETRY WEDNESDAY:
I enjoyed the Linking Pin Sonnet more than I thought I would, especially given my dislike of sonnets in general. I received a very nice email from the creator of it, thanking me for helping to spread the word about his form, but he never mentioned whether he liked my example or not. ;-)

Goal For Next Week:
Find a new form to share on my Wednesday blog post.

CRAFTING:
I finished that devil spawn of a cross stitch and made my needle book. My sister and several ladies in my stitchery guild tell me that cross stitch is very relaxing to work on – I beg to differ. I found it incredibly slow and frustrating, especially when I was working with metallic thread. I might even do a ranty post about it for Monday.

I’ve got a couple of big projects lined up, so I can’t let myself be distracted by the little stuff. One of them is a ball gown for my 7-year-old granddaughter to wear to the father/daughter ball at the end of the month. That’ll be my first priority. And the second is a baby quilt that just needs to be sewn together.

Goal For Next Week:
Figure out, once and for all, if my sewing machine needs to be replaced. Start work on the granddaughter’s dress.

WHAT I’M READING:
Oops! Looks like I went back to the other extreme again. Remember those last four books from the Freakin’ series, by Eve Langlais, I got? Yeah, well, I read them. All of them – Human and Freakin’, Jungle Freakin’ Bride, Freakin’ Cougar, and Freakin’ Out. Then I started on a three-in-one book called Hunger and I read The Alpha’s Mate, by Eve Langlais, Dangerous Passions, by Kate Douglas, and Bound to the Wolf, by A.C. Arthur.

Guess we know one of the reasons I didn’t get much done last week. :-D

No reading on the Paperwhite. (Gee, I wonder why?)

Goal For Next Week:
Stop buying Eve’s books. Stop ignoring the Paperwhite.

GOAL REVIEW:
I spent a lot of time last week trying to get my head into writing, but not succeeding very well. Hence the excessive amount of reading. This included a couple of out-of-town day trips, some serious family stuff, and I took myself to the movies to see Dr. Strange.

Friday I must have really pissed off the bad luck fairy because it was just one thing after another. I missed Monday’s post, but I got the others up, and on time. Didn’t start a new serial story, but I did write a new poem.

Finished that annoying little cross-stitch and got my needle book made. Did a bunch of mending for my father-in-law too, but while time consuming, I guess that doesn’t really count.

I’m really hoping that once I get things sorted out, treating my writing like a job, keeping regular hours, I’ll be able to report more successes than failures. Guess we’ll see.

Happy writing.