Jan 31, 2012

Spreading the Love

Noteworthy posts:

Rattles Flash Fiction has a new picture prompt up. Check it out – you have until March 16 to submit a story of between 800 and 1000 words.

John A. Betcher, at Self-Publishing Central has the results from his free book promotion. If you’re self-published or thinking of self-publishing, you should really read this.

Chuck Wendig has 25 Things You Should Know About Story Structure. Helpful stuff!

Don’t forget to check out Tuesday Tales. Some of these are stand alone stories, many of them are works in progress and it’s worth taking the time to check out the back links to read the full stories. :-)

Looking for something fun to do? Try the A to Z Challenge. It’s not until April but there’s already over 300 people signed up already.

Inky Girl has some great comics and helpful advice for anyone attending a writer’s conference for the first time. Yes, I know it’s geared to the SCBWI conference, but it can apply to any writing conference.

Blogs and Websites:

Language is a Virus
This site has so much cool stuff I don’t know what you should check out first. Oh, wait. Yes I do. Click on the “Writing Games” tab on the upper left and have some fun.

One Word
Feel like writing but you don’t know how to start? Try One Word. It gives you a one word prompt and 60 seconds to write whatever pops into your head. Great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Seriously, this is the coolest webcam ever! I’ve seen a bunch of different animals, but you have to be patient. :-)

1000 Words A Day
If you need a challenge to get your writing done, sign up here. It doesn’t have to be 1,000, you can set your goal lower if you like, but it will still give you a boost.

Jan 30, 2012

Microphagous Monday

microphagous ~ feeding on small creatures or plants

I noticed on Saturday that I had a lot document files sitting on the screen of my laptop, so I decided it was time to back them up. I’ve been a little slack in the backing up department lately. So I pulled out my trusty USB key – actually I pulled out five of them – and realized they were utterly disorganized. So . . . I set about organizing them. This will be the subject of a special post on Thursday (on Random Writings).

One of these keys is just for my writing and it occurred to me that not all of my writing was backed up onto it. I had a bunch of document files still on floppy disks (that’s the 3 ½ inch floppies). So I fired up my ancient computer (which sounds like a lawnmower when you turn it on) because it has a working A drive. Then I spent the next few hours transferring files from 60 (yes, that’s right 60!) floppy disks onto a USB key. And the sad part? It was a 2 gig key and I still had a gig of space left when I was finished. Boy how times have changed!

Pictured below is my box of disks and the USB key I copied the files onto in front of the box. And yes, that is a sonic screwdriver to the right of them, with a Grumpy mug behind it. :-)

Anyway, one of my projects for the coming week(s) will be going through these files and organizing them. I took a look at a few of my old writing files and found a really cool idea I had for a contemporary novel written in three points of view. Who knows what other treasures I may find?

Other than the reading I did for my editing, I only read one book last week, Mercenaries by Angela Knight. Yummy!

My posts all got written last week, although my instalment for Shades went up much later than I expected. I don’t know what happened there, but it was a real struggle to get it written. I’ve really got to try and start these things earlier in the week.

I actually confused myself last week, which led to a series of late nights. Tuesday I was thinking about the post I had to write for Wednesday, but I kept thinking it was supposed to be the instalment for Water. So, when I finally got a chance to get writing, it took my mind a while to adjust to writing the instalment for Shades. Then Wednesday I was thinking about my posts for Thursday and I forgot that I moved my poetry to Fridays, so I got my poetry post done before I started working on Water, which made for another late night. At least that meant I was ahead of the game on Thursday night. :-)

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

TuesdayMore blog posts and website suggestions to keep you out of trouble.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) is the next instalment for Shades, in which hopefully Jessica figures out what to do next. And don’t forget the Hump Day Hunk (on Random Thoughts).

Thursday will be Chapter Three of Water (on Random Thoughts) where we find out what’s the matter with Nereida. And On Random Writings I’ll be doing a post on the importance of taking your time when backing up.

Friday I keep forgetting to set up some poet interviews, so you’re stuck with more of my poetry on Random Writings. On Random Thoughts it’s Flash Me Friday and I’ll probably be doing another picture prompt.

Jan 27, 2012

Flash Me Friday

For my prompt this week I opened up a book of quotations at random, closed my eyes, and point. The quotation I landed on was this:

The "kingdom of Heaven" is a condition of the heart - not something that comes "upon the earth" or "after death." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Houses in Heaven

Cindy was dry eyed as she stood outside her mother's house, her house now. It looked exactly the same as always. Loreen's death didn't seem to touch it at all. Unlocking the side door she smiled faintly. Even now she didn't use the front door, the door reserved for special occasions and guests. She couldn't even be sure the lock on it would still turn.

The kitchen still smelled faintly of fresh bread and cinnamon. On baking days the entire house would be redolent with fresh scents - apple and spice, bread and pastry. Cindy hesitated on the threshold, half-expecting Mama to be busy at the stove wearing one of her enormous, white, frilly aprons. Instead, the door burst open behind her and her three boisterous children tumbled into the kitchen.

"Mama, Pauly won't push me on the swing!"

"I'm tired of pushing her!"

"Mama, can we go to heaven?"

"Quiet, all of you," Cindy's voice rose above theirs. "First of all, shoes off in the house, you know better than that."

"But Grandma isn't here, why do we have to take our shoes off?"

"Because I said so! Paul, you three came with me because you promised not to get under foot."

"But Mom ..."

"You three play in the backyard for a bit, then I'll fix lunch."

"What about heaven?"

"After lunch we’ll see."

Cindy smiled as the three raced back out the door. Her smile faded as she looked around the kitchen. Everything was in its proper place, but coated with a thin layer of dust. Mama would have had kittens. Dust was her personal enemy, her nemesis.

"A house never looks unkept if you keep it dusted," she'd say. "It doesn't matter how many newspapers are left on the table or whose toys are lying around. It's dust that makes a house unclean."

Cindy shook off the memory and went back to the car for the boxes. She was only taking a few things, mostly pictures and mementoes. Everything else was to be sold at public auction, for which she would not be staying.

The first thing that greeted her in the living room was her graduation picture on the mantel. Next to it was her wedding portrait.

"You're a woman now," Mama told her that day. "You'll have children of your own someday."

Mama had never doubted, even when it took five years for Cindy to conceive. Loreen told her to have faith, God would know when the time was right for a baby. She was there for the birth of her grandson, laughing and crying right along with Cindy.

A shout from outside had her glancing out the window. Paul had the twins both in the tire swing. He pushed until he could run under the swing, laughing as the girls screamed with delight. He was such a blessing.

Cindy's smile faltered. And to think she'd almost lost him to the carelessness of a drunk driver.
It was a day she'd never forget, the day she opened her door to a white-faced neighbour who told her Paul had been hit by a car. Cindy couldn't remember the frantic race to Paul, but she'd never forget the sight of the still little body, his life leaking slowly out onto the road.

She thought the tears she shed then would never end. She cried at the scene of the accident, she cried in the ambulance, she cried in the waiting room of the hospital. Then Loreen arrived, a tower of strength, and told Cindy to stop crying. Pauly was going to be all right. And Mama never lied, not even when it was what you needed to hear.

Paul Junior recovered but their joy was short-lived. Just after that Paul Senior died. Cindy shed her widow's tears in private, but the floodgates opened wide just after the funeral when she found out she was pregnant again.

Again Loreen came to salve the hurts, to comfort and console. But after the twins were born and Cindy was on her feet she left, saying it was time Cindy learned to walk alone.

Mama had always been a tower of strength, even in the face of Death. She had been diagnosed with cancer three years ago. The best the doctors could offer was a chance of prolonging her life, a cure was out of the question.

Loreen had drawn herself up proudly and said it was God's will and she wasn't going to let some doctor stick her in the geriatric ward in the hospital, just so he could make her last days miserable. She'd die as God willed it, and in her own bed, surrounded by her family.

Though the doctors and even some of the family tried arguing with her, she'd gotten her way in the end. Just as it should be.

She was right of course.

Cindy sighed as she realized she was curled up in her favourite wing chair, clutching her wedding picture. She glanced at her watch. Almost time for lunch and so little had been accomplished.

A light summer breeze wafted in the window as she stood at the counter in the kitchen making sandwiches. Cindy closed her eyes. She could smell freshly cut grass, and a mixed perfume from the garden. Summer beckoned.

"Why not?"

She wrapped up the sandwiches and dug around under the counter for the old plastic picnic bag. Sandwiches, apples, paper plates, an old blanket ... what else? Opening the fridge she discovered a tetra pack of apple flavoured drink boxes.

Hefting the bag over her shoulder, she stepped outside.

"Come on, kids, lunch is ready," she called.

"What're you doing with that old bag?" Paul asked, first to reach her.

"I thought we'd have a picnic."

"In heaven?" Merry asked, ever hopeful.

"In heaven," her mother agreed, smiling.

Heaven was located just up the street. The day after they'd moved into this house, Cindy and her mother went on an exploring walk together. They followed a path just down the street from the house, up a wooded hillside. At the top stretched a broad, flat meadow, covered with sweet peas in full bloom.

They had spun around and around until they were dizzy, and laughing fell into a cloud of blossoms.

"This is heaven!" Cindy declared, and heaven it remained.

Cindy felt her mood lift. Countless bad poems had been composed amidst the flowers of heaven during the angst of her teenaged years. Hundreds of bouquets had been picked, until her mother had pleaded, laughing, for her to stop before people mistook their house for a florist shop.

The children skipped on ahead. The woods were cool and peaceful, filled with the scent of cedar and pine. Cindy started up the hill slowly, savouring the anticipation of the meadow.

"Mama, mama! There's houses in heaven!"

Cindy was just about bowled over by the twins as they raced down the path towards her.

"What are you talking about?"

They began tugging her up the path. "Come see!"

She did indeed see when she got to the top of the hill. All life's pleasure seemed to drain away as she stared at the churned up earth and the framework of several houses.

The fledgling subdivision spread out over the entire meadow. Heaven was pushed back to a small strip of land at the edge of the wooded hill. A large sign in the centre of a bare patch of earth declared: "Welcome to Vistaview Estates".

Debbie tugged at Cindy's sleeve. "Is grandma going to live in one of those houses?"

"What?" Cindy asked, startled.

"You said grandma went to heaven, which house is hers?"

"Oh, baby," Cindy knelt and drew her daughter close.

Small fingers touched her face. "Mama," Merry whispered, "Why are you crying?"

Cindy pulled her other daughter close too. They were still young enough to hold in the security of her arms.

"It's because they're digging up heaven, isn't it?" ten-year-old Paul wisely declared.

"It's because I love you all so much," Cindy said softly.

The girls wriggled in her arms and she let them go. One day, she'd have to let them go for good, just as her mother let her go. But that day was still in the future. Today they had each other, and the sun, and a picnic to devour in what was left of heaven.

"Can we pick flowers after lunch?" Debbie asked.

"Yes," Cindy agreed, "We can. We can go put them on grandma's grave. She'd like that."

"Can we come back again?" Merry asked.

Cindy started to shake her head in denial, then hesitated. Not all changes in life had to be bad, or abrupt.

"We'll come back again in the fall to collect some seeds," she said. "Then in the spring we'll find a spot at home to plant them and make our own heaven."

"Would grandma like that?"

"Yes," Cindy said, smiling. "I think she would."

Jan 24, 2012

Spreading the Love

Noteworthy posts:

If you’re still unsure about the whole Amazon KDP Select issue, The Open Vein has a well done post on the subject. You can read Part I HERE and Part II HERE.

Don’t forget to vote for me on You Gotta Read Covers. Actually, credit for the cover goes to Heidi Sutherlin, artist extraordinaire, but please vote all the same!

Sarah Bella, from She Likes It Verbal has some great tips for creating character bios.

Lone Swing posted a piece I found interesting on accepting criticism. I have a pet peeve with people who ask for my opinion and then argue with me about it.

An interesting post on the importance of characters from Antagonists Needed.

Fantasy Faction is running a short story contest. If you’re a writer of fantasy, you really should check it out.

Blogs and Websites:

Mithril Wisdom
For the hard-core fantasy lover, you don’t want to miss the reviews on this blog.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
The great thing about this is, if you miss a day they have an archive so it’s easy to catch up. I’ve saved a ton of these pictures and currently have them set as a desktop slide show on my other computer.

Think Geek
Where do I begin? Yeah, I come to this site every year to make out my Christmas wish list. :-) They’re currently sold out of the vanishing Tardis mugs, but they still have the Tardis tea mugs with the lids . . . Just sayin’. ;-)

Mount St. Helen’s Web Cam
What? You mean no one else has a thing for volcanoes?

Snow Days
This one’s just for fun. If I can’t get snow the regular way, I’ll do it one flake at a time. :-)

Jan 23, 2012

Mugwump Monday

mugwump ~ one who is neutral politically

Gong hoy fat choy!

Today is the Chinese New Year, heralding the Year of the Dragon. As many of you know, I have a soft spot for dragons – I’ve been collecting them for years. Little ones, big ones, medium sized ones . . . made from glass, ceramic, wood, plastic, pewter . . . yeah, it’s a pretty extensive collection. :-)

I always wished I’d been born in the Year of the Dragon, but alas, I was not. I was born in the Year of the Dog (which doesn’t come around again until 2018). For the longest time I thought I’d been born in the Year of the Boar, but that’s because I was following the westernized version of the Chinese Zodiac, which is very different from the real thing. So if your birthday falls in January or February, you may want to check out THIS LINK to find out what Chinese Year you were actually born in.

And a note to my sceptical friend Jamie, according to the Chinese horoscope, you were born in the Year of the Tiger and not only are Tigers very compatible with Dogs, one of the best career choices for them is “writer”. :-p

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Last week went pretty good until Friday, when I missed my poetry post. Sorry folks, but it just wasn’t happening. I did start one. I was going to recycle a post about everyone’s favourite, the Haiku. Only a funny thing happened when I started working on it . . . it started to turn into a rant. I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to poetry forms. Some forms have rhymes schemes, some have syllable counts, some have both, and some include a specific tone or subject you need to keep in mind when writing your poem. Such is the case with the Haiku, a fact that very few people seem to be aware of; hence, my post that turned into a rant. I didn’t want to offend any lovers of Haiku so I’ve abandoned my post until such a time as I can un-rantify it.

I hope you caught the first chapter of Water last week. Despite the fact that I sort of set the tone with the prologue, I still didn’t know where I should start the actual story. Should I continue on with them as infants? Should I skip their childhood and get right to the good stuff? I actually started out just before their mother dies, and about halfway through I realized that’s not where I wanted to start. Nor did I want to skip their childhood completely, because growing up in the compound is integral to the story. So I compromised and made them 10 years old.

I got lots of reading done last week, but nothing that can be added to my reading challenge list. I got a sneak peak at the stories for the next issue of Rattles Flash Fiction. Who knew an Old Sofa could be so inspiring? I also got a story delivered to my inbox that needs editing. You know, this is one of the perks of being an editor – finding out how something ends before anyone else. :-)

You may (or may not) have noticed my absence from Twitter and Facebook last week. My sad old lap top really doesn’t like Twitter and only barely tolerates Facebook. *sigh* And yes, I suppose I could use the desk top computer, but I don’t have my bookmarks on it and I can’t sit in the recliner with it and watch T.V. while I do so. And the screen doesn’t face the right way for socializing. Yes, that’s right. I don’t like facing the wall when I’m socializing and because the monitor on the desk top is one of those thin jobs, it’s set up against the wall in my office so the cats don’t knock it off my desk. So, to make a long story short, it sucks to be me. LOL

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

TuesdayI’ve expanded my Sharing the Love segment. Sometimes I come across a noteworthy website, not just a single post, so I thought it only fair to include a few of them as well.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) is the next instalment for Shades, in which we accompany Jessica on a tour of Castle Ghren. And don’t forget the Hump Day Hunk (on Random Thoughts).

Thursday will be Chapter Two of Water (on Random Thoughts) where we find out a little more of what life is like in the compound for the twins before bad stuff starts happening to them (probably next week).

Friday I am killing two birds with one stone. The “poemwork” for this month from my poetry group was to write a Burns Sonnet in honour of Robbie Burns day. So I’ll be talking a little bit about Robbie Burns and his interpretation of the sonnet on Random Writings. On Random Thoughts I thought I’d try something a little different for my flash fiction prompt. I have a book of quotations and I’m going to pick one at random and then base my story on it. I’d pick the quote right now, but the book is in my office some where and I have a cat curled up on the end of my recliner. :-)

Jan 20, 2012

Flash Me Friday

The Thirteenth Day

“What are you doing?”

Gihar squeaked and just about fell off his perch. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that!”

Meniha shrugged, unrepentant. “Maybe you shouldn’t be so focused on the view that even a clumsy child could approach without you being aware.”

She sighed as she realized she’d already lost his attention again. “What is it you find so fascinating?”

“Down there,” Gihar pointed. “Do you see?”

Meniha peered over his shoulder. “I see the forbidden lands and the wizard’s tower, same as always.”

“Look closer. Do you see them?”

Everything looked the same to her. The same stretch of beach, the same abandoned tower that had withstood gods only knew how many seasons of neglect. She was about to tell Gihar so when she saw them, two forms wheeling gracefully in a circle around the tower.

“What are they?” she asked in wonder.

“I don’t know, but this is the third day they’ve appeared.”

They watched together, in silence, for a time. Meniha finally stirred. “We need to tell the elders about this.”

“No!” Gihar grabbed her arm as she stood to leave. “You can’t tell anyone. Promise me!”

Meniha had known Gihar all her life and never once seen him so desperate. Fear curled in her belly like a snake. There was a wrongness to this that she couldn’t put a name to.

“All right, I promise,” she told him. “I won’t say anything. But you are not the only one who ventures near the forbidden places, the elders will find out eventually.”

She waited for him to say something, but his attention was already back on the strange creatures circling the wizard’s tower. Shaking her head, she made her way slowly back to the village.

The creatures appeared for three more days, and for three more days Gihar crouched in the opening to the forbidden place, a gaping hole left in the forest wall where a tree had been uprooted, Meniha by his side.

Though at first she couldn’t understand Gihar’s fascination with the creatures, Meniha soon became as captivated as he by the sight, perhaps even more so. She wondered what it would be like to stand in sunlight that wasn’t dappled by the leaves. She wondered what it would be like to soar over the vast stretch of water. When she began to wonder just what was in the wizard’s tower, she knew she was in trouble.

On the fourth day they waited in vain for the creatures to appear. They did not appear on the fifth day either, and on the sixth day Meniha waited alone. With the creatures gone, Gihar no longer felt the pull of the forbidden lands. Such was not the case with Meniha.

On the seventh day her obedience to the laws warred with her desire to have a closer look at the wizard’s tower and see what might be in it. Why was it called the wizard’s tower? Why was it so tall and round, unlike their own homes set in the trees? Why was it forbidden to set foot outside of the forest?

The desire to see the wizard’s tower grew stronger with each passing day. On the tenth day Meniha was joined by one of the tribal elders.

“It is said that in the Long Ago there dwelt a wizard in that tower,” he said, standing beside her where she crouched. “A fearsome creature was he. He wielded power over life and death, creation and dissolution. It is said he created our kind.”

That caught her attention. “Truly?” she asked. “What happened to him?”

“It is said he died, as all things must die, and his bones lay bleached by the sun on the top of his tower. We are creatures of the dark forest,” the elder said. “The light is not for us.”

He let his words sink in for a bit and then melted back into the forest, not comfortable even looking out onto the forbidden lands. Meniha was not even aware of his leaving, her focus was once more on the tower.

If she climbed to the top of the tower, would she be able to see the creatures that had circled it so gracefully? Were they more of the wizard’s creatures, come back to their home? Questions and always more questions, and never an answer. If she sought out the answers to her questions would she be punished? Banished? Worse?

On the eleventh day, Gihar came to her. “Come away, please Meniha,” he begged. She paid him no mind. “The wizard’s tower is a cursed place, it has you in its thrall. How can any good come of such a thing?”

Meniha paid him no mind. His words were like gnats, buzzing around her head.

“I curse the day I first came to this place!”

On the thirteen day, Meniha stood, knowing what she had to do. Placing one foot carefully in front of the other, she walked out into the sun.

Jan 17, 2012

Spreading the Love

Noteworthy posts:

From the Write Stuff, an interesting post on Networking Know-how

For those who are self-publishing, here are 7 Steps to Make Your Self-published Book Look More Professional

Sarah Makela had a guest poster who share some tips for Revising by Post-its.

Mooderino has an informative post on The Joys of Rewriting

The Great Publishing Review blog has 20 Economical Book Marketing Techniques

Irrational Propensity has a great post on Procrastination

Luke Romyn talks about the Path of the Writer

Don’t forget to go to You Gotta Read Covers to check out my book cover. You may have to scroll down a bit – I’m number 15.

Recommended blogs:

Marian Allen
I like Marian for the variety of post topics as well as the fact she gives a writing prompt at the end of each post.

From Sarah, With Joy
I’ve only been following this blog for a little while, but I find Sarah very entertaining.

Tea On Tap
Who knew there was such an amazing variety of teas out there?

Jo and the Novelist
I like Jo’s pithy posts. :-)

Journal Addict
Do you keep a journal? Ever thought about keeping a journal? Then you really need to check out this blog.

Jan 16, 2012

Mirabiliary Monday

mirabiliary ~ miracle worker

The edits are done! The edits are done! Woo hoo!

At least they are for now. We’ll see what my dream team has to say when they’ve read my book and sent it back to me.

And, um, I’m talking about Book II of the Ardraci Elementals, An Elemental Fire, just in case you were wondering. :-)

For all I felt like I was a slacker last week, I got a lot done.

Blog posts:
Serial #1, Shades of Errol Flynn is moving right along.
Serial #2, Water, had its debut instalment.
A new poetry form, the Sevenling, was introduced.
A new flash piece using a photo as a prompt was up on Friday.

As well, I finished my submission for Rattles Flash Fiction and got it sent off just under the wire. It took me a little longer than I planned on because the story took a different turn than I’d planned on and I had to re-read Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, to find out what the name of the plant was the villain used to kill his wife.

And did I mention I finally got the edits finished on Fire? It was the journal entries that were holding me up. When I serialized Fire on my blog, I started each instalment with a journal entry, making 56 journal entries. When editing, I was using two instalments per chapter, making 28 chapters. I thought it would be a simple matter of doubling up on the journal entries at the beginning of each chapter, but that’s not the way it happened. Over half of them had to be re-written, and the first and last ones were totally new.

What’s Up This Week:

The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

More interesting posts from last week so check out tomorrow’s list.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) will see Jessica paying a visit to Castle Ghren. And this week’s hump day hunk (on Random Thoughts) is inspired by our (finally) seasonable weather

Thursday will be the second instalment of Water (on Random Thoughts) and I have no idea what’s going to happen because I haven’t written it yet. ;-)

Friday will have something poetic on Random Writings, and again, at this point I have no idea what, and a new flash written from another picture prompt on Random Thoughts. I like pictures. I have a big collection of them, both on the computer and ones I’ve cut out from National Geographic and put into files. I figure it’s about time I started using them for something, hence the flash fiction using picture prompts.

Jan 13, 2012

Flash Me Friday

This picture is of the Neversink Pit in Alabama. It's fascinated me since the first time I saw it, although I don't think I'd like to try descending into it. You can click on it for a larger view.

The Voice of the God

It was beautiful.

She stood on the edge, looking downwards, and her breath caught at its splendour. The sunlight only penetrated a short way of course, but it was enough to make out the moss covered rock, the ferns and flowers clinging tenaciously to the sides.

There was a face in the rock. She could see it quite clearly – it looked like a man’s face, a man with shaggy hair and a drooping moustache. The Wise Man of the Depths. The god who could grant dreams . . . or take them away.

A cool breeze, fragrant with the smell of moss and violets, wafted up from below. The god’s breath. She’d heard of this, but never thought to feel it herself. She shivered as she stood there in her thin white robe, unadorned save for the waterfall of long, blond hair.

The breeze circled the mouth of the god, but gently, softly. If she focused her attention, she could almost see the others who had come before her. They stood in a circle around the rim of the mouth of the god, watching and waiting. Were they waiting for her to succeed, or fail?

Such fancies. She shook her head as though to dislodge the worthy thoughts.

Further down in the mouth she could see the mist. It was said the swirling mist below was made up of the souls of former priests and priestesses, that the god swallowed their spirits, mingling them with his own essence before exhaling them again.

Inside the mouth of the god all was green and damp, while just a few yards behind where she stood the land was ravaged by a drought. This is why she was here. To ask the god to save their land.

Taking a deep breath she moved closer to the edge, peering downwards. A tendril of mist rose up, wreathing her in white, and she shivered again.

Only the purest, the truest of believers could hope to see the images in the mist, to determine what must be done to save what was left of the village. It was no small thing to be able to interpret the words of the god.

To be a Voice was a solitary thing. She had been sequestered for days and now stood alone on the rim. It had been a long time since a Voice had been required; she was too young to remember who had been the last to be honoured or what had happened to them.

Best not to think of such things, she told herself firmly. There was nothing to fear, the god was both kind and wise. The village had been turning to him for answers in times of trouble for generations.

She inched forward again, concentrating on the swirls and eddies below. There was a pattern, she was sure of it. There, just below the surface – was that another face she saw?

Stepping forward just another inch her foot slipped and she fell headlong into the god’s mouth. It happened so fast she didn’t even have time to cry out.

The god had spoken.

Jan 10, 2012

Spreading the Love

My top picks for this week come from a variety of sources. Some are blogs I visit on a regular basis, some are links from Facebook, and a few are links from Twitter.

First we haveWriting With Shelly and Chad, and I’m sorry to say I can’t remember whether I got this link from Facebook or Twitter. But for all you Mac users out there, the best Self Control aid ever! I only hope that they come up with a version for PC users soon!

Then we have a quick look at Moody Writing where you can always find some interesting advice

Next up is the most cheerful person I know Tara Tyler. She’s got an amazingly positive attitude and she always brings a smile to my face. But watch out, she’ll be tempting you with various blogfests and challenges. :-)

Don’t forget to check out Jamie DeBree’s new flash prompt on the Variety Pages. And if you want to see what she came up with last week, all you have to do is scroll down a bit. A very thought provoking story!

Chuck Wendig had an interesting piece up last week called 25 Things You Should Stop Doing to Yourself that you should take a look at. Heck, just go ahead and bookmark his main site, and visit often.

The Huffington Post had an interesting article trying to figure out Are eBooks Too Cheap?

Looking for some great, on-line reading? Go visit Neither Here Nor There and check out the tabs at the top. (My personal favourite is Serverus the Rogue)

If you crave something a little darker in your reading, I highly recommend Raven Corinn Carluk.

And if you’re looking for some awesome on-line serials, look not further than
Alex Westhaven’s thriller Animal (updated each Wednesday)
Jamie DeBree’s romantic suspense Falling In Public (updated each Friday)
Or her latest Fantasy Ranch story, The Minister’s Maid (updated on Tuesdays)
And for something a little spicier, try Trinity Marlow’s latest Working Stiffs story the Paramedic (updated on Thursdays)

Jan 9, 2012

Myristicivorous Monday

myristicivorous ~ feeding upon nutmegs

Well how about that. Not only did I get all my posts done last week, I got them up in time as well. :-)

I made a start on my long-term goals, specifically figuring out where all my time goes during the day. And actually, because I was keeping track, I found I didn’t waste as much time as I normally would have. I’m slowly settling into a routine which includes spending a lot less time on the internet, which I’ve found to be the biggest time sink. I’ll still be checking my e-mails in the morning, and a quick check of Facebook, but I want to try and cut back on my gaming/socializing/surfing during the day.

As promised, I got the page up on Random Thoughts to keep track of what I’ve been reading, and I finally updated my What I’m Working On page on Random Thoughts. Now I just have to keep them updated.

Reading wise I re-read a couple of my favourite Charles de Lint books last week, and a bunch of stories I downloaded for free onto my kindle. The stories are not going to get put on my reading list unless they’re in an anthology. The list is for full length books only.

I was an editing machine last week and all I have left to edit on Fire is the journal entries, which I should have done in the next day or so and I can send it off to my readers. Be warned guys – it’s coming. ;-)

What’s Up For the Rest of the Week:

The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

I’ve found some really interesting posts last week so check out tomorrow’s list.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) I think it’s time to see what Paran and Thackery are up to again. They’ve been kind of random in the serial, but I have big plans for them when I get to the edits. :-)

Thursday will be the first instalment of my newest serial, Water (on Random Thoughts).

Friday will have the poetry form of the Sevenling (Random Writings) and a new flash written from a picture prompt (Random Thoughts).

Jan 6, 2012

Flash Me Friday

Welcome to a new feature, Flash Me Friday. Each Friday I’ll post a new flash fiction piece – sometimes using a picture prompt, sometimes using a word prompt, sometimes just using my imagination.

The prompt for this piece came from the Absolute Write horror forum. In a nutshell, there had to be a preternatural evil involved and your character could only have one sense – sound, touch, taste, or smell. They were not allowed to have sight.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Touch of Darkness

She awoke in silent darkness, unable to see, unable to hear, unable to move.

Where was she? How did she get here?

She couldn’t remember.

Sensation returned slowly. Her tongue felt too thick for her dry mouth. Her arms and legs tingled as feeling began to return to them. She was aware that her chest rose and fell as she breathed, but she could see nothing, hear nothing. She could feel, but she couldn’t move.

It was like being in a sensory deprivation tank. Wait . . . how did she know that? What else did she know? Her thought process was jumbled, it was hard to think.

She could tell she was lying on her back, in the dark and the silence. There was a feeling of space around her. A warehouse? A cave? Beneath her was . . . earth. Packed earth. A cave then, or some place underground. But she still had no idea how she got here, unable to move, unable to see, unable to hear.

Holly. Her name . . . her name was Holly. Her memory was starting to return. Her name was Holly and she was a reporter. She’d gone to the park to investigate the strange disappearances that had been going on for several weeks.

There’d been no witnesses to the disappearances. Police were baffled. The hookers and drug dealers faded into the background, unwilling to get involved. No one else was talking. But people were going into the park and not returning.

Mostly she’d interviewed street people. Their stories ranged from government conspiracies to vampires and werewolves. All except that last man, the wino, only he’d been stone cold sober when he told her that what was taking those people was far worse than any government, more ancient than any vampire or werewolf. Then he’d warned her to stay away from the birch grove in the park and she’d laughed . . . until his eyes began to glow.

She shivered in the dark. The old man had done something to her, pulled her in with his eyes. The world around her had spun, faster and faster until her only anchor had been the light of his eyes.

* * * * *

Cool air kissed her skin causing goose flesh to rise, making her aware again. She was naked. Naked and alone in the dark and the silence. Was she alone? Was there something out there watching her? She opened her mouth to speak, but there was no sound. Was her voice stolen, or just her hearing?

She was sure she could feel another presence nearby, maybe she wasn’t alone. Maybe there was more than one – she couldn’t see, she couldn’t hear, there could be thousands of people or creatures staring at her. She could feel their eyes on her. Or maybe it was just her imagination, running in circles.

No, there it was again. The heat of another body, moving, circling her. She could feel the faint vibration of its steps. Did it know she was here? Was it able to see her? She might have whimpered, but she couldn’t be sure.

Her body jerked involuntarily as a tongue rasped across her skin, hot and moist. Human? Animal? She had no way of knowing, could only quiver in fear. Tears leaked from her eyes as the tongue rasped again, this time across her breasts, then again, lower.

Two tongues now, touching her, tasting her fear. No, wait. The second one was dry and scaly, like a reptile. It moved across her skin sinuously, like a snake or a . . . tail. It slithered across her legs and up onto her belly, resting just below her breasts.

The fiery tongue licked the sides of her face, tasting her tears. There was a writhing sensation as something, many unidentifiable somethings, worked their way into her hair, holding her head fast. The tongue rasped across her eyes, its touch abrasive.

Panic set in. She could feel her heart race, threatening to burst out of her chest. Her mouth opened and a scream ripped through her, but there was no sound. Just implacable, utter, silence. She strained against her unseen bonds, but there was no escape.

Why is this happening to me?

It was her last coherent thought before the pain boiled through her and carried her away.

Jan 5, 2012

Introducing Water

Starting January 12, the third instalment of the Ardraci Elementals begins, this time featuring Water. In Fire we were introduced to the evil Dr. Arjun and his quest for building a better elemental through his breeding program. We only had a brief glimpse of life inside Arjun’s compound, as our story was about a handful of children who’d been rescued from the breeding program and who had grown up with no idea of where they’d come from.

Water tells the tale of what it was like to grow up inside the compound. It’s a darker, grittier story than the other elemental stories. This is the story of AE-03-89-05 – aquatic elemental, third generation, eighty-fifth result, power level five. The children inside the compound are not given names, only designations, although AE-03-89-05’s mother calls him Kairavini in secret.

From birth, through growing up, through being introduced to his role in the breeding program, we follow the path of Ravi’s life. And before we’re done, we’ll watch as he falls in love, and how it affects his future.

Each Thursday a new chapter, in draft form, will be posted. Be sure and stop by.

Jan 4, 2012

Jan 3, 2012

Spreading the Love

Okay, here’s the deal. The idea was to take Tuesdays off from blogging and use the time to visit other blogs, then recommend some of these blogs to you. In reality, I do my posts the night before, so I’m really visiting blogs late Monday night. At least I did this week.

In any case, I’ll still be spending the time on Tuesdays visiting other blogs, but I’ll be reporting on them the following week. And on any other interesting posts I stumble across in the course of the week. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the blogs I visited last night:

My first stop was at Poetry and Persistance. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this site, but I keep coming back for the poetry.

Next I just had to pop over to Neither Here Nor There to see what Ralfast came up with for the No Kiss Blogfest. :-) I’ve participated in this blogfest in the past, but none of my characters wanted to participate this year.

Then I checked A Low Profile to see what trouble MikiSquirrel has been up to lately. There was nothing about the squirrel, but my favourite roofing author did a review of the new Sherlock Holmes and Mission Impossible movies.

Next up was The Variety Pages to see what the Monday flash prompt was. Jamie DeBree has come up with 52 prompts for the year, which will result in 52 stories. I can’t wait to start reading them!

I also checked out an interesting post by Holly Lisle entitled, Do You Support Slavery.

And of course no blogging day is complete without a visit to Dean Wesley Smith. You could spend days on this site reading everything he has to offer.

Then I stopped by Writer Revealed to check out the latest instalment of Dolly Garland’s series, Bookshelf Snooping. Dolly always comes up with great ideas for interview series!

This being the start of a new month, I stopped by You Gotta Read Covers. Each month, from the 1st through the 20th they feature a new book cover each day. After the 20th you get a chance to vote for the cover you like best. I’ll be revisiting this site a few times and I’ll let you know when it’s time to vote. My book’s cover is up on the 15th. :-)

Jan 2, 2012

Welcome 2012

First of all, if you’d like to read the draft copy of my latest Ardraci Elemental book, Fire, you have until the end of the week. This weekend it will be removed from my blog. And to make it easy for you, I’ll even provide the chapter links:

Draft Serial Novel - Fire
Ch. 1~Ch. 2~Ch. 3~Ch. 4~Ch.5~Ch. 6~Ch.7~Ch. 8~Ch. 9~Ch. 10~Ch. 11~Ch. 12~Ch. 13~Ch. 14~
Ch. 15~Ch. 16~Ch. 17~Ch. 18~Ch. 19~Ch. 20~Ch. 21~Ch. 22~Ch. 23~Ch. 24~Ch. 25~Ch. 26~
Ch. 27~Ch. 28~Ch. 29~Ch. 30~Ch. 31~Ch. 32~Ch. 32~Ch. 33~Ch. 34~Ch. 35~Ch. 36~Ch. 37~
Ch. 38~Ch. 39~Ch. 40~Ch. 41~Ch. 42~Ch. 43~ Ch. 44~Ch. 45~Ch. 46~Ch. 47~Ch. 48~Ch. 49~
Ch. 50~Ch. 51~Ch. 52~Ch. 53~Ch. 54~Conclusion

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. A new year means new changes, and I’ve got a new blogging schedule to share.

Monday – Weekly recap and goals. This post will be posted simultaneously on both Random Thoughts and Random Writings.
Tuesday – Spreading the Love on both blogs. I’m taking Tuesdays off blogging to visit a few of my blogging buddies, and I’m going to posts a short list of blogs I think you should visit. If you’re lucky, I might even tell you why.
Wednesday – Hump Day Hunk on Random Thoughts; Serial post on Random Writings
Thursday – Serial post on Random Thoughts
Friday – Flash Me Friday on Random Thoughts; Poetry on Random Writings. I used to write flash fiction on Fridays and I’ve been thinking for a while now I’d like to get back into it. As for the poetry, it may be a form, it may be a random poem, it may even be a guest poet.

Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to remember all that. In the next day or two I’ll put it up on the side bar. :-)

The new year also means a new set of goals, which are as follows:

1. Organize my days
2. Publish three books
3. Get more involved with the business of publishing
4. Do more self-promotion
5. Find a writing schedule I can live with and stick to it
6. Websites
7. Eat healthier
8. Exercise more
9. Crafts
10. Read a better variety of books

1. Organize my days
A couple of weeks ago I thought about keeping track of what I did during the day and how much time I spent doing it. Well, this week I’m going to actually do that. By this time next week I’ll have a good idea of where my time goes and I can set up a schedule of sorts to get myself organized. I might even post the results of my tracking.

2. Publish three books
The first will be Fire, the second is science fiction adventure romance called the Faery Heart, and the third I’m hoping will be Shades of Errol Flynn, which is about half done at this point.

3. Get more involved with the business of publishing
Yes, I have a novel published. But I’m very confused as to the whole process of how it was done. Writing it was the easy part. Editing it was a little more difficult. The rest of the process is a complete mystery and it’s time I learned what’s what.

4. Do more self-promotion
This means being more pro-active on Twitter and Facebook, especially when it comes to my writing, and seek out other venues for promotion. I’d also like to start doing author interviews a couple of times a month, so if you have a book you’d like to promote, let me know at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and we can arrange a date.

5. Find a writing schedule I can live with and stick to it
Once I’ve got the whole schedule thing worked out, I need to set a daily word goal for myself. Something less than NaNo but more than most days currently. I'm also going to select a specific project (or two) and work on it until it is finished. Progress for said project will be recorded on the Random Writings blog on the Works in Progress page.

6. Websites
I have a business called Creative Expressions. It used to have a website that was not that great, so I wasn’t sorry when the hosting ran out. I really need a new website. And an author’s website wouldn’t hurt either. Websites are easy, so I’m told, and if I don’t find them easy, there are lots of people I can call on for help.

7. Eat healthier
Due to health reasons (ie. being diagnosed with diabetes) I need to pay better attention to what I’m eating. I’ve made quite a few changes actually, but there’s always room for improvement.

8. Exercise more
I started walking at the end of the summer and although my stamina has improved a bit (I walk the same distance but take less time) walking doesn’t really get me into shape. I need to supplement my walking with other forms of exercise. I’ll be trying out a few different things to see what kind of exercise best suits me.

9. Crafts
I made about a dozen snowflake bookmarks to give as Christmas presents this year, and as I was crocheting them I realized it had been a long time since I’d sat down and worked at any of my crafts. I have a lot of crafts. More to the point, I have a lot of craft supplies. I need to either start doing something with all these supplies, or start getting rid of them. My craft closet is a hoarder’s dream come true.

10. Read a better variety of books
It’s pretty much a given that I’ll be reading a lot. I signed up for Dolly Garland’s Reading Challenge, but this year I dropped my goal down to 75 books for the year. The reason for this is that I want to read a greater variety of books. To this end, I would like to read one classic book a month and one non-fiction book every two months. AND to keep track of this, I’ll be adding a page to Random Thoughts with an ongoing of what I’ve read. As well, I’ll be keeping track on Goodreads as well.

So there you have it. My plan for the year ahead. Of course anything can happen, so you’ll want to check back often. :-)

Jan 1, 2012

2011 Wrap-up

So . . . here we are at the beginning of a New Year.

Okay, yes, I said last week that I wasn’t going to post until January 2, but I was planning on doing my wrap up post separately from my 2012 Goals post, and if I waited until Monday for this post, then my goals post would be Tuesday, and even though I’m not sure what, if anything, I’m posting on Tuesday, that would throw my whole schedule off.

Still with me? Good.

Last year was a real roller coaster for me with all the ups and downs. Yeah, I had some really bad stuff happen, mostly health-wise, but I had some really good stuff happen as well, so I refuse to look back and call it a bad year.

As this is the wrap-up post, let’s start with last year’s goal. I was pretty easy on myself as far as goals went at the beginning of the year:

1. Do better on my goals than last year.
2. Use the database I created.
3. Stay on top of my poetry.
4. Be amore productive writer.
5. Lose weight.
6. Make good use of the social networks.
7. Read judiciously.

Let’s see how I did.

1. Do better on my goals than last year.
Hmm. Maybe we should leave this one for the end.

2. Use the database I created.
This was definitely an epic fail. The database in question was one I created in 2010 to catalogue my books. Not only did I not make use of it, I forgot all about it. I might even have lost it. Oops!

3. Stay on top of my poetry.
While I did not stay on top of keeping my poetry organized I did put together a chapbook to have ready for sale for my September reading. For a while I had a separate blog for just my poetry, but since I was just duplicating posts that were on my other blog, I didn’t see the point.

4. Be a more productive writer.
This is definitely a win. I published my first novel; I published a chapbook of poetry; I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge once again; and I have not one, but two serials on the go. If that’s not progress I don’t know what is.

5. Lose weight.
This was a kind of up and down thing. I’d lose a little, just to gain it back again. In August my health took a downward turn which forced me to start taking care of myself. I managed to lose 10 pounds in the fall, but I was a real slacker in the month of December and gained 5 of it back. *sigh*

6. Make good use of the social networks.
I’m still a little intimidated (okay, a lot intimidated) by Twitter, but I’m working on it. When it comes to tweeting the spirit is willing but the lap top is weak. For some reason my lap top slows down to a crawl when I’m trying to tweet. It’s so frustrating! So I’ll keep trying, but I probably won’t be an avid twit until I can afford a new lap top. Facebook is much easier for me to handle. I even have an author’s page there now: Carol R. Ward, Author

7. Read judiciously.
Last year I took Dolly Garland’s reading challenge and had a goal of reading 80 books in 2011. I ended up reading 110 and kept track on Goodreads (look me up as Carol R. Ward and be my friend!). So, I’d call this one a definite win.

Which brings us back to Number One. I had to check back to see how I did on my goals in 2010 to see if I did better. Over all, I’d say I definitely did better at reaching my goals than last year.

To see what this year’s goals are, come back tomorrow.