May 29, 2009

Creative Friday

I really don’t know how I would categorize this story. Folk tale? children’s tale? fable? Take your choice. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I had some vague idea of writing a series of stories from a story-teller’s point of view. . . Not too sure where I was going with them, but here’s the first in the series. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

Night and Day

In the beginning it was light all of the time. But one day the light vanished and the world became cold and bleak. The herb-wives and wise-men made charms out of the strongest magics they knew, but there was no relief from the darkness.

In this village dwelt a boy named Todos, who was the orphaned son of both an important herb-wife and a powerful wise-man. Because of this, he thought himself better than most. After the herb-wives and wise-men ran out of magic and still had not brought back the light, Todos scolded them.

“Aren’t you fine magic-workers, you can’t do a simple thing like bring back the light. Even I could do that.”

The herb-wives and wise-men grew very angry at this and they drove Todos from the village.

“Then don’t come back until you do,” they called after him.

Todos ran into the woods, all the way to the cave where his Aunt Nahara lived. She was the keeper of a magic fire that held all the answers to the universe, which made her the oldest and wisest woman of all.

“Where has the light gone and how can I bring it back?” Todos asked.

Nahara stared into her magic fire for a long time.

“An old man has stolen the light. Why, I know not. To find the light you must travel far to the north. You will know you are in the right place when you get there.”

“Thank you, Aunt,” Todos said respectfully, and left the cave.

He traveled for many days in the dark and cold. Every place looked the same for everywhere there was nothing but snow and darkness. At last, far in the distance, he saw a ray of light.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Todos traveled onwards. At last he came to a tall hill of snow. One side of the hill was bright with light, the other side lost in darkness. In front of the hill was an old man shoveling snow.

Todos hid behind a pine tree on the dark side of the hill, trying to figure out a way to get the ball of light away from the old man. At last he approached the old man.

“What are you doing?” he asked

The old man stopped shoveling and replied, “I am digging a chasm in the snow. The job is much easier now that I have this ball of light with which to see. Now all my chasms will look the same. Who are you and where did you come from?”

“My village is so very dark and cold that I did not want to live there any more,” said Todos. He peered into the hole the old man was digging. “It doesn’t look all that deep to me.”

“I will prove to you how deep it is,” the old man said, and jumped in.

The moment the old man disappeared from view, Todos snatched up the ball of light and ran.

The old man shouted at him but by the time he had climbed out of his chasm, Todos was gone. From that time onward he was forced to dig his chasms without the aid of the light, which is why chasms of snow in the arctic are all different shapes and sizes.

The ball of light seemed to grow heavier and heavier as Todos traveled southward. So he broke of a piece and threw it away, making day. He continued onwards but the ball began to grow heavy again, so again he broke off a piece and threw it away making another day.

Todos continued to travel, breaking off pieces of day as he went, until he reached his own village. Triumphant, he threw the last of the ball into the sky where it became the sun.

“There!” he said. “I have brought back the light. Now we will have light and then dark, day and then night.”

And from then on, in Todos’ village, day and night followed each other, but the lengths of each varied for sometimes he traveled a long way without throwing any light away, and sometimes only a short distance. And that is why sometimes our days and nights are very short, and sometimes they are very long.

May 28, 2009

My Oasis

Okay, this post is totally Ben Solah's fault. (Just kidding Ben!) He started a really cool thread over on AW inviting everyone to post a picture of their writing space. A great number of people have also been posting their pictures on their websites and blogs and who am I to buck the trend? :-)

First, we have the view from in front of the desk (just click on it for a bigger version). Yes, there's two computers (lap top and desk top) and two printers (inkjet sorta above the back of the chair, and color laser in the back of the closet). The plastic bin in the back left corner of the closet? That's the one the cats take turns sleeping in. It used to hold my Christmas wrapping paper. And yes, this is the cleaned up version of my office. Just in case you were wondering.

And this is the view from behind my desk. Doesn't the book case under the window look nice? And the books are all alphabetized, too. You can just see the edge of the new bookcase on the far left, one of three identical ones if you remember from the floor plan in a previous post.

That's pretty much it. If I had a camera of my own I might have taken another couple of shots from behind the desk so you could see the entire scope of books I have in here. But I was using a borrowed camera so I didn't really check the pictures after I took them.

I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but the desk is built to fit into a corner. Originally it had a hutch on top and the only way it really worked had me sitting with my back to the window. This drove me nuts. I just couldn't create with my back to the window. So I ripped the hutch off and rearranged things the way you see them here. This is my oasis of peace and calm and creativity.

On Procrastination . . .

This is a really cool link for anyone who (like me) is a procrastinator. I never knew there was so much information about it. Of course I never got around to looking before . . .

I’m not sure where I found the link, probably on AW somewhere. Do I sound a little scatterbrained today? That’s probably because I’m feeling a little scatterbrained today. Thank you for noticing.

Now this link is also cool and I have no idea where I found it. I thought it came from the procrastinating site, but I just checked and it didn’t . However, it doesn’t make it any less cool. One word, so little time features a new word every day and you get one minute to write about it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Notice the sad and pathetic word counts for yesterday.

I blame the poem I sent for inclusion in an anthology. Even though they say you won’t hear back for two weeks minimum, they sent me an e-mail rather quickly asking for a couple of changes. Two lines in the first stanza, one line in the fifth.

Three freaking lines. Took me all morning yesterday, right up until school, to fix them. I ended up re-writing the first verse completely, which didn’t take long and I think it actually works better. The single line, however. Argh! The rest of the stanza looked good, it was just that one line. Again I say, Argh!

Then, in the interest of tightening up the whole thing, I deleted the fourth stanza because I think it was really just saying the same thing as the third, just in a different way.

After all that, I don’t feel bad about the lack of other writing I got done yesterday. Plus my predictions about the headache came true. It turned into a real killer.

May 27, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

Sorry folks, not feeling very whimsical today. Woke up with a bad headache and from the looks of it it's going to get worse before it gets better. Even my eyes are having a hard time focusing this morning.

So, again, I'm having the LOL cats bail me out. I think the last one pretty much sums me up today. :-)

May 26, 2009

By Guess and By Goalie

No, that’s not a typo in the post title, I don’t mean “golly” I mean “goalie”. As in goal. As in setting of them.

It’s come to my attention that I’ve been paying a lot of lip service to setting goals lately. For every reason someone can give me to set them, I find two excuses why I can’t. In fact, I started this post yesterday with every intention of saving it for next Monday. You know, the old start something new at the beginning of a new week ploy.

Of course then I realized it for the sad excuse it was and decided to do something about it.

Now, all that being said and good intentions aside, I have a real problem with personal goals, both the setting of them and the keeping of them. Which is why I’m not so much setting goals as making myself accountable for my progress (or lack thereof).

So, you may have noticed that I’ve removed the progress bars on the right (not that they’ve been showing much progress lately) and replaced them with three new headings: New Words, Edited Words, and Other Writing.

Each morning, when I update my blog, I’ll update the previous day’s progress in these areas. For instance, the numbers that are up this morning are the numbers from yesterday. Admittedly they’re not great numbers, but I didn’t have this epiphany until after supper so as far as I’m concerned yesterday’s numbers aren’t bad. Every Monday I’ll post the totals from the previous week as an incentive to do better.

New Words is just that, new words I’ve written in a work in progress, or something new I’ve started. Edited Words are words that have been changed or added to a finished draft that has graduated to the editing stage. Other Writing . . . this one’s a little tougher. I think I’m including poems in here, as well as journaling and letter writing. Yes, letter writing. I wrote a 4400 word letter to my sister over the weekend and trust me, those words count! I am not, however, including the words I post on my blogs.

As an added incentive (as if posting daily word counts isn’t enough!) I signed up for the Page-A-Day Club over on AW. Although my poetry is going well, my fiction needs a boost. A page a day is a step in the right direction. A baby step maybe, but still a step. There’s also a Summer Challenge where the idea is to have a rough draft of something by the end of the summer. Sort of like Nano, but a longer time frame. We’ll see how the page a day goes before I commit to something more extensive.

Now, if you’re in need of a laugh, skip on over to my every day blog and read about what I learned in school yesterday. And just so you know, I've been using a computer since, well, let's just say it's been a very long time!

May 25, 2009

What Happened?

Jeez, is it Monday already? Where’d the weekend go?

After the somewhat frantic pace of the previous week, I got off to a slow start on Saturday. But after catching up on my email and blog reading I settled down to work on some poetry.

Friday night all I could think of was a poem I wanted to write. Unfortunately, I was at my husband’s bowling banquet at the time. A few of the lines kept running through my head though and I was able to jot them down when I got home. :-)

I also worked on a sonnet for an AW challenge, and a poem for my poetry group’s homework assignment. Yes, I joined the Cobourg Poetry Workshop group and once a month someone gets to choose a “homework” assignment from a bouquet of poetry prompts. This is just for fun, but who am I to refuse a challenge?

I also wrote a nine page (typed, single space) letter to my sister, and in the midst of that had another idea for a poem which stopped my letter writing long enough to write out. Poetry appears to be taking over my writing life, which is not a bad thing, I just need to make some room for fiction as well.

Last night I started organizing my school notes in a binder, and got a second binder for my poetry. A lot of people in the poetry workshop print out copies of the poem they’re reading for everyone at the meeting, so I thought saving them in a binder would keep them from wandering off. Then I realized that most of my poetry was still in electronic format, so I printed my poems off and put them in another section of the binder.

I’m getting so organized it’s scarey!

I was going to post some goals for the week, but I don’t think I can really do that effectively until I’ve settled into school. The next two weeks are afternoon classes where we are introduced to the computer.

Yes, that’s right. Here’s the blurb from my schedule:

Computer Fundamentals:
Designed to introduce the student to keyboarding skills, basic computer hardware and operating systems, file management, and information sharing.

It’s going to be a longggg two weeks!

May 22, 2009

Creative Friday

I have to confess, I’ve been a little scattered this week. There was so much going on that sometimes I felt like I was running in place. It wasn’t just getting my office organized and starting school, I also went to the poetry group meeting on Tuesday night and then the public reading last night. It’s been all I could do to keep up with my blog posting. :-)

Today’s not shaping up to be much better. In a few minutes I have to take the daughter to a doctor’s appointment in Peterborough and hopefully get home in time for school. Then after school I have about an hour to catch my breath before I get to go to the bowling banquet for the husband’s bowling league. Bad news is, I can’t take my lap top with me. Good news is, I get to see my shopping buddy and we’re having a book exchange in the parking lot.

I’m hoping I can find the time this weekend to apply some of the time management techniques I’m learning in school to the rest of my life. In the meantime, for this week’s creative offering I give you another excerpt from my WIP Magic.

Just a reminder about the story-line . . . Annalisse has had a run of bad luck culminating in being evicted from her apartment. She moves into her grandmother’s cabin out in the woods and begins having a run of increasingly erotic dreams. Oh, and please keep in mind this is still in the first draft stage. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *
Annalisse woke and stretched, almost purring like a cat. Who’d have thought a walk in the woods would have led to the best sex of her life? She reached for Lance and frowned. Opening her eyes, she sat up and looked around. Her jaw dropped.

She was back in her own bedroom, in her own bed. And she was dressed in the over sized tee shirt she normally wore to bed.

“No,” she said. “No-no-no-no-no! This can’t be happening! This can’t be another bloody dream!”

Throwing back the covers she jumped out of bed and checked her closet. The outfit she wore yesterday was there, no sign that she’d ever fallen into the swamp.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” she muttered. “I washed those clothes at Lance’s. They just cleaned up real good, that’s all.”

She pulled some clothes on and headed to the door. Her shoes were a little weather beaten, but not covered with goo like they should have been if they’d been in the swamp. Gritting her teeth she pulled them on and let the door slam behind her as she headed down to the water.

“This is the place, I know it is,” she said, fifteen minutes later when she’d reached the edge of the swamp.

It was boggy and leaf filled, but there was no indication that anyone had slipped off the bank, nor could she find the path she and Lance had taken to his cabin. She followed the edge for a few hundred yards, but the woods were the same as they always were. No mysterious path, no sexy forest ranger.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “It was so real!”

The unfairness of it all welled up inside her until Annalisse did the only thing left to her. She plopped down on a moss-covered rock and burst into tears.

* * * * * * * * * *

“I think I’m going crazy Mags,” she said in a small voice. After she finished her cry she went back to the cabin and gave her friend a call.

“You’re not going crazy toots.”

“It was just so real . . .”

“You’re just suffering from an over active imagination and maybe a touch of cabin fever. You said it was pretty isolated out there. Maybe you just need to be around people more.”

“I don’t think it’s that simple Mags.”

She could hear Maggie moving around her apartment. “Maybe your grandmother’s bed is haunted.”

“What?” Annalisse sat down in one of the chairs in front of the fireplace.

“Well, think about it. It’s big and old, and this keeps happening to you when you’re asleep. Maybe that’s why your grandmother still goes up there, for the thrills.”


“Just sayin’, toots. Look, has anything really bad happened as a result of these dreams?”

“Not unless you count sexual frustration when I wake up alone,” Annalisse muttered.

“Well, you and Brad were pretty hot and heavy and you haven’t been with anyone since . . . this might just be a way to scratch an itch.”

“I just need to know. . .” Her voice trailed off. “I guess I need to know why this is happening to me.”

“Here’s a thought. Why don’t you give lucid dreaming a try?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s where you consciously try to direct your dream.”

“What’ll that prove?”

“Well, if your able to direct your dream you could ask whoever shows up what’s going on.”

Annalisse pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at it. Giving her head a shake she held it up in time to hear Maggie continue. “– cool to talk to someone I dreamed about. What do you think?”

“I think you’re crazier than I am.”

“No, really, think about it. Isn’t there some larger than life character you’d love to meet?”

“You mean like Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean?”

“Ooo, good choice!”

“Only I’d want him taller,” Annalisse said, trying to get into the spirit of things. “And sober. Maybe a little cleaner looking too.” She could practically hear Maggie rolling her eyes at her. “But definitely a pirate.”

“So tonight, when you go to bed, think about your pirate captain and see what happens.”

“Okay Mags. I’ll give it a try.”

They chatted for a few minutes longer before Maggie had to leave to go to work. After hanging up the phone, Annalisse got up and put the kettle on for some tea.

“I really would love to hook up with a pirate,” she mused. “A tall, dark, swarthy buccaneer to sweep me off my feet and ravage me.”

She smiled and shook her head at her fancies. Taking her tea with her, she went outside to contemplate life from the adirondack chair on the porch.

May 21, 2009

Depression and the Writer

I was on AW last night and I happened to see a question someone posed concerning writers and depression. Impressed by the number of responses to the thread (it’s always good to know you’re not alone) I decided to do a little research. I found some very interesting statistics and a few surprising confessions.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail myself, my goal here is just to make people aware. Depression can happen to anyone, but it seems to happen more easily to writers.

From the Horror Writers Association I found this:
On an afternoon in September of 1994, I sat by myself with a razor blade in my hand. Outside, the weather was hot and still. But in my head a storm raged. Dozens of disordered voices howled in the wind of that storm. Most of them were of the opinion that my work had no value; that I would never succeed as a writer, and thus would never realize my most cherished dream; that the pain of my existence had made me a liability to myself and to my family; and that I would be better off dead.
You can read the whole thing HERE

Angela Knight wrote on her blog:
I felt as if I was losing myself. One day I went in the closet and got out Mike's gun. It wasn't because I wanted to die -- it was because I felt I was already dying. Imagine being swallowed by a giant python, feeling yourself being slowly digested. Now imagine you've got a gun. That's what a suicidal depression is like. It's not that you want to die -- you just want to save what's left.
Read the whole thing HERE

Holly Lisle wrote:
I have faced the abyss of self-destruction once, when things were very bad, but managed to walk away. I've suffered from serious depression on a couple of other occasions, also from situations and events that were unbearable, and unfixable.
Read the whole thing HERE

And Elizabeth Moon wrote a very comprehensive article on depression and creativity, and why it’s a good idea that if you think you’re suffering from depression you should seek help.
. . . if you wanted to make a cheery person with no predisposition to depression depressed, you could stick him in front of a typewriter or computer for hours a day--feed him a typical writer's diet--forbid him to exercise, isolate him from friends, and convince him that his personal worth depended on his "numbers." Make him live the writer's life, in other words, and watch him sag.
Read the whole thing HERE

Now that you’re aware of some of the pitfalls of writing and depression, I want to leave you with this bit of advice from Monty Python. This isn’t meant to be frivolous, honest. I’ve been to cognitive therapy and one of the things they tell you is to always look for the good that can come out of what you may feel is even the worst situation. Trust me, it works.

May 20, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

One benefit the cats quickly noticed about having my desk cleaned off is there’s more room for them! So this day’s whimsy is dedicated to my fur babies:

May 19, 2009

Office, Sweet Office

Just when I thought I was making headway in the cleaning/organizing of my office, I decided the new bookcase would look better on the opposite side of the room. Which of course meant I had to empty not only it, but the shorter bookcase I was switching it with. You’d think being shorter it would have less books, but unfortunately this was my “to be read” bookcase and three of the rows were doubled up.

Part of me says: Way to waste an afternoon you could have spent writing! But the other part of me says: It was worth it! Now the messy office is cleaned up and the book cases are organized and it creates an atmosphere far more conducive to writing.

Since I still don’t have a camera to take pictures, let me see if I can draw a layout for you :

Okay, that’s a really sad example of my computer drawing skills (just click on it if you want to see a bigger version) but it gives you an idea of the layout (this is so not to scale!). The three bookcases in a row are 70 inches tall, while the long one sits under a window that runs the entire width (96 inches). On top of the filing cabinet (just a two drawer one) is my ink jet printer and beside that (not shown in drawing) is a smaller desk that I keep my paper in. Beside it (which makes it directly behind the desk) is a cabinet with my laser printer on top and the rest of my office supplies inside.

This room used to be the master bedroom so the printing alcove is the closet (sans doors) and I was already wired for cable and phone. I even have the wiring in place for a second phone line, should the need ever arise.

Okay. Enough boasting of my organizational prowess. Time to write!

May 18, 2009

Happy Victoria Day

It’s the 24th of May
the queen’s birthday
and if we don’t get a holiday
we’ll all run away.

Okay, so can someone tell me why this was the holiday weekend when the 24th is actually next Sunday? Just wondering . . .

I started out having a productive weekend. And technically, the weekend isn’t over yet because today is a holiday Monday.

I finished and *gulp* submitted my poem for the anthology. Hopefully it’s in the right format, they said standard manuscript format, so that’s what they got. I have no idea if there’s a different format poems should be sent in or not as the only other poem I’ve ever submitted was the one for the contest and it was just to be included in the body of an e-mail.

I bought my new bookcase Friday night and put it together Saturday morning. Then I spent about an hour and a half in the Wal Mart garden center (in the rain, no less) waiting for them to find the patio set they promised they called to say they had. After that I spent a goodly portion of the day de-hairing the books in the long bookcase under the window in my office, and alphabetizing them. Along the way I discovered no less than three books I have doubles of. Oops!

Needless to say, I didn’t really get any writing done on Saturday and, due to circumstances beyond my control, Sunday was pretty much a write-off (pardon the pun).

My office is about half cleaned up. The junk and extra books are out of the corners, the long bookcase looks really good (if I do say so myself), and a lot of the books that were stacked up on various surfaces around the room have found a home in the new bookcase.

Today I’d like to see if the building supply store is open so I can get another couple of shelves for my new bookcase (five shelves is never enough) and finish getting my office cleaned up/organized. Maybe I’ll even get some writing done. :-)

May 15, 2009

Creative Friday

Friday’s here again. Where has the time gone?

Oh, I know where it’s gone. I’ve been spending way too much time on the poem I want to submit to the anthology. I’m not used to poetry being this hard. Even that thrice-bedamned sestina wasn’t as stubborn as this poem. So far I’ve got three solid verses, and a whole slue of single lines. Good thing I have until the end of June to get it finished.

This week’s creative offering is a story I’ve been editing. Though short for a story, it makes for a rather long post. So without further ado, I give you:

Aunt Mae Gets A Cat

It was not that Aunt Mae didn’t like cats, when I was a child I never saw her without one,
it was just that she didn’t want to be thought of as one of those old women who spent their days watching soap operas and talking to their cats. Ridiculous notion really, though you couldn’t tell her that. My brothers and I knew she didn’t like the soaps, it was the game shows she was devoted to.

Aunt Mae and Uncle Sam raised my brothers and me, I was just a baby when our parents passed away. Despite that, and the fact that I was the only girl, Aunt Mae saw to it that I wasn’t spoiled in the least. Which is not to say she was overly harsh with me, I just didn’t get any extra favors.

Anyway, it was Thanksgiving. Jeff and Mike were home from college and I was taking a holiday from the insurance firm I worked for as a secretary. No sooner had we all arrived and taken our coats off than Jeff and Mike were sent outside to rake leaves and I was muffled in a large frilly apron and firmly ensconced in the kitchen.

I was just opening the oven door to check on the pies when there was a shriek behind me and the clatter of baking dishes being dropped.

“What is it?” I asked, whirling around so fast I barked my shin on the oven door.

“Close that door!” Aunt Mae demanded. She stooped down to pick up the pans she’d dropped.

“It was nothing but a mouse. Just startled me, that’s all.”

“A mouse?” I glance around the kitchen and edged closer to one of the chairs.

“A mouse. And in my kitchen too. Nervy little beggar.”

Suicidal little beggar, I thought.

The mouse wisely choose to stay hidden the rest of the day and supper went on the table with no further incidents.

“Aunt Mae has a mouse,” I announced after grace had been said and everyone had a full plate.

“A mouse?” Mike and Jeff asked at the same time.

“No fair, Aunt Mae,” Jeff said. “You wouldn’t let me have a mouse when I was a kid, how come you get one now?”

“We never had a problem with mice when Buttons was around,” Uncle Sam put in. Buttons was Aunt Mae’s tabby that died several years ago. She liked to pretend he hadn’t meant that much to her, but she refused to get another cat.

“Esther Holland has kittens,” I told her. “She stopped me on the street yesterday to see if I’d be interested in one.”

“That’s enough!” Aunt Mae never was much of one for teasing. “It’s just one pesky rodent that’s taking liberties in my kitchen.”

“You always said, where there’s one pest there’s bound to be more,” said Mike. “If the house is getting overrun with mice you’ll have to get a cat.”

“No I won’t, Sam will set a trap for it,” Aunt Mae said calmly.

My brothers and I stared at each other. Sam? As in Uncle Sam? The man who rewired a toaster and blew out the kitchen window? The man who cut the brake lines on the car when he was trying to change the oil? The man who was not let near a hedge or garden with the clippers?

Sam, at the head of the table, smiled slowly. “I’d be right happy to get rid of that critter for you, Mae. I have just the thing for it.”

Aunt Mae’s determined look faltered just a little, but she rallied. “You can get to it right after the dishes are done.”

Uncle Sam was true to his word. He did have just the thing for that mouse. A trap.

“Won’t that make a bit of a mess?” Mike asked. “I mean, that thing’s for a rat, and you’re only going after a mouse.”

“That’s the biggest rat trap I’ve ever seen.” said Jeff.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about boys, this here trap is just right.”

Uncle Sam set the rat trap on the counter and wouldn’t allow anyone else to help him. We stood outside the kitchen door, listening to him mutter to himself.

It took him two hours to set the trap. There’d be silence, then a rattle, then a sudden snap and a curse. When he finally came out he seemed surprised to see us all standing there.

“Uh, get the trap set, Uncle Sam?” Jeff asked.

“Course I did. No trouble at all.” He pushed by us. “I’m going to bed.”

We decided the best thing to do would be the same.

The next morning I made my way blearily to the kitchen for my morning coffee. Jeff and Mike were there already, which should have warned me.

“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” Jeff said.
“Why not?” I glared at them. “You two drink all the coffee again?”

“Aunt Mae isn’t up yet, there’s no coffee made,” said Mike.

“You been away at college so long you forgot how to make coffee?” I put my hand on the kitchen door, but Mike stopped me.

“You don’t want to go in there.”

I looked from one to the other, finally starting to understand. I lowered my voice. “Did Uncle Sam’s trap work?”

“And how!” Jeff said. I was spared the details as Aunt Mae came bustling down the hallway.

“I don’t know what possessed me to oversleep,” she was muttering. She stopped when she saw us standing there. “What’s the matter, forget how to make your own coffee?”

“I really don’t’ feel like coffee this morning,” I said.

“Aunt Mae,” said Jeff with his winning smile, “Maybe we should go out for breakfast this morning.”

Mike was a little less subtle. “You don’t want to go in there. Uncle Sam caught the mouse.”

“It’ll take more than a dead mouse to keep me out of my own kitchen,” she said, and pushed open the door.

I never did find out how bad it was in there. Aunt Mae couldn’t have been in there for more than a few seconds before she was back, white-faced and wild-eyed. She took a couple of deep breaths and then for the first time in my life I heard her raise her voice at Uncle Sam.

“Samuel Eugene Atkinson, get down here this minute!”

Uncle Sam rushed down the stairs, bathrobe askew and shaving cream over half his face. We backed away to give him room.

“I am going out,” said Aunt Mae in a firm tone of voice. “I want every trace of that mouse removed from my kitchen before I get back.”

She didn’t wait for an answer, just picked up her purse and coat, and slapped her hat on her head. She actually shuddered as she glanced at the kitchen door before leaving.

I decided that this would be a good morning to go shopping, and escaped before Uncle Sam could appeal to me for help. Even at the best of times I’m squeamish. Jeff told me later that it took the better part of the morning, with all three of them pitching in, to get Aunt Mae’s kitchen back in order. In fact, they finished just as I arrived home.

Aunt Mae didn’t arrive until lunch time. Sam greeted her cheerfully with a kiss on the cheek. We already had a pot of soup on and sandwiches made.

“Discovered a hole where that mouse of yours got into the kitchen,” Sam said. “Bet there’s more of the little critters. I’ll need to get me some more traps.”

A shudder went through Aunt Mae.

“That won’t be necessary, Sam.” She set the brown paper shopping bag she was carrying onto the floor. Out scampered a lively, orange-striped kitten. We watched as it explored every inch of the kitchen.

“What are you going to name him, Aunt Mae?” Jeff asked. He always was the brave one.

“His name is Killer.” You could see the dare in her eye as she said it.

No one even cracked a smile.

May 14, 2009

Editing Stuff

I found this cool little video that I just had to share. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s worth the time it takes to watch it. I just may have to search out the others in this series.

Writer Crash Test

* * * * * * * * * *

You know, if you read the same advice enough, eventually it starts sinking in. I read a short piece about opening hooks (and I can’t for the life of me remember where, otherwise I’d quote directly from the article) and I don’t know how it happened, but something finally sunk in.

That’s what’s been missing from Driving Into Forever, an opening hook. It’s all so simple, and it’s been staring me in the face all along. I’ve read this same advice hundreds of times. Start with action to pull the reader in. That’s why I changed the first prologue (one with the MC packing up after music practice) to the second prologue (where the MC is at a bachelorette party at a strip club). But the problem with both was the same. They weren’t necessary to the plot.

I scrapped both versions of the prologue from DIF and started it where is should have started in the first place, with my MC driving home in the fog. (I know that sounds just as ho hum as the other two, but this is most definitely necessary to the story). I don’t know if I’d describe it more as a light bulb appearing above me, or a Homer Simpson “D’oh!” slap to the head, but whatever it was, it worked.

That’s probably why I like the second DIF book better (I’m about 20,000 words into it). There’s no prologue. It starts with the MC’s best friend worrying about her, and then going off into danger herself.

All I can say is, “D’oh!”

May 13, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

I figure this is a good day to talk about secret identities. Batman has one, Superman has one, even I have one. Of course I’m not putting myself in the same category as a superhero, but I find the whole concept of a secret identity interesting.

Way back when the internet was young and people were using clunky dial-up modems, I was told by my daughter that I had to come up with a user-name if I was going to surf the internet. Who was I to argue with the wisdom of a thirteen-year-old. Especially one who regularly surfed to a chat room in Hawaii to talk with her friends from school.

Choosing a name was a lot harder than I thought it would be, especially trying to find a name that wasn’t already in use. Finally, the daughter suggested Nite Orchid, which was actually the title of a time shifting romance I was reading at the time. And so I became Nite Orchid. I used it as my ICQ identity (anyone remember ICQ? Is it even still around?), I used it for my e-mail address and I even created a web site. I’m sorry now that I let the site lapse. It was pretty big, with many pages linked together and had all kinds of interesting information as well as a good sampling of my writing. I learned to do html coding, and to animate gifs; I even did a lot of my own backgrounds.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here. Fast forward about ten years to my first blog called “the Long Road to (In)Sanity” and I can’t even remember where I had it listed - it wasn’t Blogspot, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t MySpace. My identity at this time was Earth Mage. I have no idea why.

When I signed up on Absolute Write, I became Lady Cat. And honestly? I have no idea why I chose that name either. I think the first couple I came up with were already being used and I was starting to panic.

My blog at that time was Earth’s Fire, to go along with the Earth Mage. Then I changed my blog to Firecat’s Lair and it’s been that ever since. That’s also my MSN identity. One of these days I’ll change my AW identity to Firecat too, but I just haven’t got around to it yet.

Confused yet? How about this: as you know, I have a list of blogs I visit on a daily basis, my own two included. My every day blog shows up about number three, while my writing blog shows up about halfway down my list. I comment as Firecat on the blogs preceding my writing blog, and as myself on the blogs following.

About now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with Whimsical Wednesday. Okay, you were probably asking that after about the first paragraph, but now I’m ready to answer.

When the daughter and her fiancé were over for dinner last weekend, the daughter told me about this website you can go to to register your superhero identity. Seriously! So of course I had to check it out.

Just to pique your interest, I’ll even quote directly from the site:

A Real-Life Superhero must meet the following minimum criteria to be considered for the registry:

Costume: The purpose of a costume is not simply to protect the identity of the Real-Life Superhero from criminals that might seek revenge, but to make a statement both to the evil-doers that you fight against and to the world at large: you are not simply someone who happened upon crime or injustice and made an impulsive decision to intervene. You have vowed to actively fight for the betterment of humankind and to serve as an example for others. The costume of a Real-Life Superhero must be of sufficient quality to show some care went into it's creation.

Heroic Deeds: The purpose behind becoming a Real-Life Superhero must be for the benefit of mankind, and the Heroic Deeds must be of sufficient degree as to exceed normal everyday behavior. If proof of Heroic Deeds is not present, a listing may still be added to the Registry, however, it may be marked as "inactive" or "unconfirmed" in the description.

Personal Motivation: A Real-Life Superhero cannot be a paid representative of an organization, not even a benevolent one. The motivation to become a Real-Life Superhero must come from the individual: not an advertising gimmick or a public relations campaign.

Now that you know about the registration, you need a proper Real-Life Superhero name. I checked out several different generators and THIS ONE was the best pick. According to them, my superhero name is The Tartalum Kitten. Trust me, it’s much better than some of the ones the other generators came up with, like The Enigmatic Suicideette, or Fabulous Stink Ferret :-)

Avoid the rush! Register your Real-Life Superhero name today! Go HERE

May 12, 2009

Puttering Along

First of all, I would like to announce that I iz a winner! I placed second in a poetry contest I entered a few weeks ago. The prize is $15.00, which is the first money I’ve ever received for any of my work. Suddenly, I get the urge to start submitting more of my poems. :-)

Writing-wise, yesterday was not a bad day. Not a great day, but not bad. I got a rather late start and then I got distracted a couple of times, but I still managed to start a few things, even if I didn’t manage to finish them. I started a spring-time poem for last week’s writing prompt on Poetic Asides, I started going through my collection of short stories with an eye to improving them and picked one to work on (and because most of these were written before I had a computer, I had to type it out too), and I started a poem for submission to an anthology.

When the poem started giving me a headache, I took a break and went over to Absolute Write for a while. The usual threads I visit weren’t all that interesting, so I started visiting a few of the other threads I’ve been ignoring, which is where I found out about the anthology.

I’ve decided that updating my blogs counts as writing, even though I won’t count it in my daily total (when I’m keeping track). It’s writing, sometimes it’s very creative writing, especially when there’s not much going on and I want to try and sound like my life is interesting. :-)

Today I’ll be working on my poems some more, working on the short story with an eye to submitting it, and working on Driving Into Forever (hopefully). Got lots to be writing, I just need to get to it.

May 11, 2009

All Is Write . . .

Yes, my friends. I have my lap top back. All is right with the world again. :-)

This post is appearing much later in the day than usual, isn’t it? Well, that’s because I’ve decided to encourage myself to get up earlier in the morning by not engaging the scheduling option for my blog posts (you know, where you can write the post the day before and then schedule it to appear at a specific time/date). I updated my other blog first, and then I started to update this one before I remembered I had to run up to the mall. Then I had lunch, then I remembered I still hadn’t updated this blog. Hopefully I’ll be earlier tomorrow.

* * * * * * * * * *

So much for last week’s goals. Did not make my word count obviously, nor did I get my poem written, though I did get a start on it. Since this is my last week before school starts I think I’ll keep my goal simple: more writing and less time-wasting.

One good thing about the lap top not working was that I broke my game-playing habit. After the first day, I didn’t even miss the games. And I also got in the habit of working in my office again, which is also a good thing. Well, mostly a good thing. The leaves are starting to come out on the trees again so the view from the window has improved. However, to see out the window I still have to look at the junk that’s piled up in one corner (two boxes of useless computer parts and a couple of pillows) and the bags of books sitting in the other corner.

The good points about my home office:
** It has a proper desk to sit the lap top on
** I’m surrounded by my books and other writerly stuff
** I can print stuff out if I need to
** The fountain in the dining room is a soothing noise rather than something akin to the Chinese water torture

The bad points about my home office:
** It’s messy and cluttered
** Can’t watch T.V.
** There’s a kitty litter pan just outside the door and every once in a while one of the cats drops a stink bomb

And seriously? The bad points really don’t have a lot of substance. The mess and clutter can be cleaned up, television is distracting, and soon it’ll be warm enough that I can have the window open for some fresh air.

* * * * * * * * * *

Though I got my lap top back on Friday, I didn’t really do anything with it until this morning because we were in Hamilton all weekend. I took a couple of notebooks with me but was too busy to get any real writing done, although I did manage to jot down a couple of ideas for poems.

We gave a ride to a friend of the husband (the guys were going to Hamilton for a two-day bowling tournament, I was going for the shopping) and this guy happens to write poetry. We chatted about poetry on the trip up and he invited me to the next meeting of the local poetry group he belongs to. They only meet once a month, but it’s something to look forward to.

* * * * * * * * * *

This hasn’t been a very writerly post, but then I haven’t been very writerly the last couple of days. Guess I’d better go take care of that so I have something to blog about tomorrow. ;-)

May 8, 2009

Creative Friday

It was tempting to give Creative Friday a pass because my lap top is still under the care of the computer doctor. That's not to say I haven't been doing any writing, I just haven't been writing on the computer.

The desk top computer I'm using right now is not my friend. There's something wrong with the refresh rate on the monitor because I can only look at it for so long before my eyes go buggy and I start getting a headache, and the mouse . . . *sigh* you have to click the mouse button in just the right way or it either works too well (like instead of opening one window it opens three) or it doesn't work at all. And forget trying to copy/paste from a document! I learned that when I tried to post a poem over on the Poetic Asides site.

Anyway, today's story is just a short one I wrote based on a local legend. There is a cemetery on Beagle Club Road in the Northumberland forest, and Willie and his mother are buried together near the tree. There's more written on the headstone, but I've always been too chicken to go back to find out what. Something bad might happen if I do. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

The Legend of Weird Willie

"Oh children now as you pass by
Repent in time for you must die
Heed this rhyme no time delay
For I in my prime have passed away."

So it says on the grave stone for the one known only as Weird Willie. Legend has it that if you pass by his grave at midnight, or if you visit his grave but three times, then you will join him in eternity.

The stars do not shine above the graveyard where Weird Willie lies. Nor do insects enter the boundaries or birds fly over it. Your flashlight will only work for as long as it takes to read the tombstone, then you will be left in total darkness . . .

Weird Willie, to the best of anyone's recollection, was a half-breed Indian. He lived with his ma in a shack at the edge of the highway. He didn't have much schooling, spent most of his days fetching and carrying for his ma. She was something of an herb woman. Knew all sorts of cures and such made from plants.

Saturday nights would find Willie sitting on the rickety old front porch, with his ma in her rocking chair, watching the cars go by on the highway. Willie's ma ruled him with an iron glove. She loved her boy, didn't want him to come to no harm. Just so long as she was alive she'd see to that.

Now Willie had a secret, a secret that not even his ma knew about. He and the neighbor's girl up the highway had been keeping company. Someday, Willie figured, he'd make her his wife.

Well, Willie's ma got wind of what was going on, secrets don't last long round these parts, and she didn't say a word. They just sat there that next Saturday, her in her rocking chair and Willie sitting beside her, and they watched the cars going by. She didn't even say anything that week when Willie was too busy with his girl to fetch her some plants from the woods.

But next thing you know, Willie's ma ups and invites his girl to come visit. It's a real shame, she told the girl, that Willie has to be working, but no reason you and I can't get acquainted. So Willie's girl comes over to visit and Willie's ma makes her a cup of tea and serves her up a piece of her famous cherry pie.

That night Willie's girl took sick. Died the next morning.

Willie, he didn't say a word. Walked into town and got himself a bottle of whiskey. Took him the better part of the day to drink it all, out there in the woods all by his lonesome. He staggered on home 'round about sunset and his ma was sitting on the porch in her rocker. Willie went on into the house and came back with his shotgun. Before his ma knew what he was up to he short her right through the heart. Folks say they could hear his wild laughter ringing through the woods as he started taking pot shots at the cars going by on the highway.

Next morning, when everything was quiet, they found Willie's ma, still in her rocking chair, dead as a stone. They didn't find Willie until later, hanging from the tree in the graveyard where his sweetheart was buried.

They say on a clear night, but only on a Saturday night, you can still hear Willie's laughter rining through the woods, and if you're not careful, you might hear the sound of his shotgun. The last sound you'll ever hear.

May 6, 2009

Wicked Wednesday

No whimsy today, I'm afraid.

My precious lap top caught the swine flu last night (AKA a virus of epic proportions). It had a melt down, taking the posts I had created for my two blogs, plus the last two days worth of writing with it.

Could have been worse. At least I backed up all my important files a couple of days ago, so I haven't lost everything. But the one thing I didn't think to back up were my bookmarks. And I had a bunch of stuff saved in my outlook express.

*sigh* Isn't technology wonderful?

I feel so lost without my bookmarks. . . . How will I know what blogs to surf to without my bookmarks?

Okay, time to channel my cognative therapy. Look for the good in the bad. Hmm. Well, at least I have the desk top computer, clunky as it is (nothing a new mouse, keyboard and monitor wouldn't fix). Umm, what else? It'll force me to start working in my office . . . although I spent most of yesterday working in here writing those two super duper posts that are now lost forever!

This isn't working. Excuse me while I go curl up in a corner and whimper.

May 5, 2009

Humdrum Tuesday

Is humdrum supposed to be one word or two? Meh, guess it doesn't really matter.

I’m bored. The lazy-itis of Sunday has settled in for a visit. This is not good. Don’t feel like reading, don’t feel like writing . . . . certainly don’t feel like doing any of the million other constructive things I could be doing. It’s just one of those moods I have to acknowledge and hope it moves on.

Not surprisingly, yesterday was a struggle, as far as writing went. I fell short of my goal by about 300 words. I’d like to think I’ll make it up today, but I’m not making any promises. The weather has turned dismal and we all know what that does to my ambition.

* * * * * * * * * *

I had coffee with a friend last week and I was telling her about the PAD Challenge and she asked: “So what do you get if you finish?” The question took me by surprise because she’s a writer too (though not of poetry) and I figured she’d understand.

I found myself on the defensive, pointing out the best poems would be published in an e-book and someone would be chosen Poet Laureate of the Poetic Asides site for a year. She seemed satisfied with my answer but it took the chance of being published to justify it to her.

As much as I whined about some of the prompts, I really enjoyed the challenge. I revitalized myself as a poet and stretched myself as a writer. What did I gain? How about thirty new poems to add to my repertoire and countless new insights to apply to my other writing. It encouraged me to start critiquing poems on the AW poetry forum. It gave me the courage to submit my poem to a contest where I won fifth place.

Of course this is the friend who doesn’t understand why I do the NaNoWriMo challenge every year either. ;-)

* * * * * * * * * *

I think if the writing doesn’t go well today I’m going to try cleaning up my office and go back to writing in there. It’s a little too comfortable in the living room, which is where I’ve been writing. Not that I need to be uncomfortable to be able to write, but what’s the point of having a home office if I never use it?

Okay, let’s be honest here. The reason I’ve been avoiding my office is because of all the junk that’s been piling up in it. I’ve got papers and bills and books stacked all over the place, most of them covered with cat hair. Cleaning it up is one of those tasks I always put off and the sad part is it probably isn’t as onerous a task as I think it will be.

May 4, 2009

Apres Weekend

I did a silly thing over the weekend. I hurt my shoulder.

As much as I’d like to say I did it gardening, ‘cause I did spend some time out in the garden on Saturday, that’s not what happened. What happened was the two day book sale at St. Peter’s Church. Yes, that’s right. I hurt my shoulder carrying copious amounts of books to my car.

I bought some reference books, a few novels, and even a couple of books of poetry. I even bought an "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computers" for my sister, who's technologically challenged (she was afraid to use MSN messenger because it said "Live Messenger" and she didn't want to be live on the internet). I bought so many books I haven't even had a chance to go through them all yet. Lord only knows where I'm going to put them!

I confess. I’m a book-a-holic. And proud of it!

* * * * * * * * * *

Even though I don’t usually post to my blogs on the weekend, I do still try to get some writing done. My focus kind of narrowed to poetry while I was doing the PAD challenge, and I neglected my fiction writing shamefully.

To be honest, I didn’t get as much accomplished as I hoped to, writing wise, this weekend and I really have no one to blame but myself. Saturday I kept letting myself be distracted by other things and Sunday I had an attack of lazy-itis.

So late Sunday night I decided that what I need, though I hated to admit it, are goals. I’ve been talking about them, I’ve been reading about them. Time to start setting them. So, here they are:

Daily goal: 2,000 words (blogging and letter writing do not count)
Weekly goal: 1 new poem (if I can do a poem a day for a month, a poem a week, to keep my hand in, should be a piece of cake)
Monthly goal: submit no less than one piece of work (probably poetry)

Yeah, I know it’s not much, but it’s a start. Sometime I’ll add an editing goal in there but right now I’d like to focus on the word count. I’d also like to dust off my short story files. I’ve got a lot of stories tucked away and some of them aren’t too bad. I’ve grown a lot as a writer since I last took a look at them, it will be interesting to see what I make of them now.

May 1, 2009

Creative Friday

Big sigh of relief - I’ve completed the poetry challenge.

As I’ve said before, some days were more challenging than others, but all in all I enjoyed the challenge. It let me flex my poetry muscles and it rejuvenated my creativity. I don’t envy Robert Brewer the challenge of having to choose the winners for each day.

Some industrious soul created a tool that can be used to track your poems, but unfortunately all I was able to get it to do for me was tell me I had 29 poems posted, which in retrospect didn’t surprise me because some days it took several attempts to get a poem to post. But it meant, you guessed it, I had to go through each and every day to make sure my poem was there.

I spent seven (7!) hours scrolling through each day’s poems. All my poems were there. The only good thing about it was catching the odd flattering comment about one of my poems. If I take the challenge next year, I will not only save each day’s poem, I will record the day and time I posted it as well so it’s easier to check.

And now, a selection of my remaining PAD poems.

Day Twenty-two we were to write a work related poem:

Laid Off

I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.
I’ve heard this many times you know.
But right now I am unemployed
which really makes me quite annoyed.
The bills are piling super fast,
it’s crazy how much debt’s amassed.
My unemployment cheque’s a joke
I’m teetering on the edge of broke.
Jobs are scarce, so what to do?
Looks like I’m going back to school
and when I’m done I’ll find some work,
I hope a job with lots of perks.

Day Twenty-five the challenge was to write about an event. I chose the event I look forward to every year. Once which, coincidentally, is today. ;-)

Saint Peter’s Book Sale

I wait through winter dark
anticipating spring
I watch the ice recede,
leftover snow melting.
The days extend their length
the sun stays in the sky
the wind warms up the air
we bid the cold goodbye.
But for me the greatest sign
of spring is without fail
the lawn sign that proclaims
Saint Peter’s Book Sale.

Day twenty-eight (as I've already whined about) was the sestina.

Drinking Down the Moon

the night wind holds my spirit
as I drink down the moon
bathed in shards of light
with memory and dream
unleashing deep desires
of perfect inner silence

I revel in the silence
of a buoyancy of spirit
while fire burns my desires
still haunted by the moon
deep within a dream
becoming purest light

splinters, fragmented light
shivers in the silence
waking from the dream
with a longing of the spirit
worshiping the moon
as destiny desires

I follow my desires
they lead me to the light
in the shadow of the moon
where everything is silence
and hollow is the spirit
within the waking dream

embrace the way, the dream
fulfilling all desires
unfettering the spirit
and encompassing the light
where all around is silence
at peace to seek the moon

the dark night of the moon
illuminates the dream
while a symphony of silence
suppresses dark desires
with strands of silver light
spilling into spirit

I call the spirit of the moon
drenched in the light of a dream
suppressed desires wake in silence

And last but not least, Day Thirty, which was a poem about a farewell. An image popped into my head when I read this prompt. It was the final scene from a movie and since I couldn't shake it I decided to write a poem about it. See if you can guess which movie it was and you can win a copy of the anthology Hotter Than Hell, edited by Kim Harrison. Twelve stories of the paranormal featuring such authors as Kerri Arthur, L.A. Banks, Susan Krinard, and Marjorie M. Lui. Post your guess in a comment or shoot me off an e-mail. I'll leave the contest open until I go back to school on the 18th.

I'll even give you a hint. It's a science fiction movie.


I faced my mortality
with no prospect of
a future.

I sought the answer
to the question
no one asks.

I tried to escape
my destiny
in dreams.

I ran from the truth
until exhaustion
claimed me.

I let fate embrace me
because it was my
time to die.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I can tell you the one thing I won't be doing, and that's reading poetry!