Jan 28, 2010


Qasida (also spelled qasidah) is a form of poetry from pre-Islamic Arabia. It typically runs more than 50 lines, and sometimes more than 100. The classic form of qasida maintains a single meter throughout the poem, and every line rhymes. These poems are considered some of the most elaborate in the world.

In his 9th century Kitab al-shi'r wa-al-shu'ara' (Book of Poetry and Poets) the Arabic writer ibn Qutaybah says that (Arabic) qasida are formed of three parts: - They start with a nostalgic opening in which the poets reflects on what has passed, known as nasib. The second section is rahil in which the poet contemplates the harshness of nature and life away from the tribe. Finally there is the message of the poem, which can take several forms: praise of the tribe, fakhr; satire about other tribes, hija; or some moral maxims, hikam.

After the 10th century, Iranians developed qasida greatly and used it for very different purposes other than praise or nostalgia as did Arabs originally for the tribal and nomadic life. For example, Naser Khosro used qasida extensively for philosophical, theological, and ethical purposes. Even Avicenna used qasida to express philosophical ideas.

In the Persian style, the opening is usually description of a natural event like seasons (spring, fall, etc) or a natural landscape, or an imaginary sweetheart. If it's about the spring it's called 'baharieh' (in Persian Spring Poem), if it's about the fall it's called 'khazanieh' (in Persian Autumn Poem). Then there comes the 'takhallos' (disengagement or escape or the main purpose) where the poets usually address themselves by using their pen name. Then the last section is the main purpose of the poet in writing the poem. Because, after all, 'qasideh' literally means intention and it was used to ask for support from a patron or to state a petition.

After the Mongol invasion and starting in the 14th century, Persian poets became more interested in ghazal and the qasideh declined in status. Ghazal was originally developed from the first part of qasideh where the poets praised their sweethearts.

I only managed a 40 line example – and trust me, you’re lucky to get that much because I found a mono-rhyme rather tedious after awhile. I'm not sure how well I stuck to the form either. Normally I search for examples of the form I'm working in to keep me on track - it helps to see it as someone else did it - but although I was able to find information on the Qasida, I wasn't able to find any that anyone else had written or interpreted, just links to books. So, if you want to see a bona fide Qasida, you'll have to search your local library. :-)

Dreamer’s Tale

I tell a tale of what may be -
Wait, before you disagree,
Hear my tale that you may see
The dream I dreamed beneath the tree
That stands within the mountain’s lee
Where rich enchantment captured me;
It caught me up, then set me free.
What seemed a daunting task to me
was not set in reality.
I was aware, to some degree
But still I did not disagree
Knowing there’s no guarantee
To life’s immense uncertainty.
A storm is coming, wait and see,
Though there are some who disagree,
They have not dreamt beneath the tree.
The world is such a potpourri,
Earth and fire, wind and sea,
And we, the guardians, meant to be
Have lost our way, to some degree.
The warnings come by two and three
Ignored by those too blind to see.
Earthquakes leave behind debris,
Broken souls no longer free;
Lives in shambles, spirits flee;
And hear the wailing of banshee.
The winds arise, so too, the sea,
And mortals to the heavens plea.
The heavens weep unnaturally,
The churches fill with bended knee,
Demands are made for guarantee
That life goes on with certainty.
But here is my reality
We are, none of us, free
True freedom is a rarity.
This I know, this is the key,
I tell you now so you may free
Yourself from your mortality.
For I have dreamed that you may see,
I dreamt a dream beneath a tree.

Jan 27, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday

God's country and proud of it!

A photographer on vacation was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read '$10,000 per call'.

The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for.

The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God.

The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.

He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was.

She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God.

'O.K., thank you,' said the American.

He then traveled to Indianapolis, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.

In every church he saw the same golden telephone with the same '$10,000 per call' sign under it.

The American, upon leaving Vermont decided to travel up to Canada to see if Canadians had the same phone.

He arrived in Canada, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read '50 cents per call.'

The American was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign. 'Father, I've traveled all over America and I've seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to heaven, but in the US the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?'

The priest smiled and answered, 'You're in Canada now, son ... it's a local call.'

Jan 26, 2010

Still Dreaming

. . . And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity; . . .

From The Dream, Lord Byron

The tune for "Yesterday" came to Paul McCartney in a dream . . .

The Beatles were in London in 1965 filming Help! and McCartney was staying in a small attic room of his family's house on Wimpole Street. One morning, in a dream he heard a classical string ensemble playing, and, as McCartney tells it:

"I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, 'That's great, I wonder what that is?' There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th -- and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot, but because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it. I thought, 'No, I've never written anything like this before.' But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!"

* * * * * * * * * *

* During REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement; dreaming), our bodies have a physiological response that causes sleep paralysis. Our dreams can seem so near reality that nature has developed temporary paralysis as means to keep us from acting out our dreams.

* During the Roman Era, some dreams were submitted to the Roman Senate for analysis and dream interpretation. They were thought to be messages from the gods. Dream interpreters even accompanied military leaders into battles and campaigns.

* Many lucid dreamers focus on enjoying the thrill of flight in their dreams (think Superman or Peter Pan). Many more focus on enjoying thrills of a more passionate nature.

* In a trend that matches well to studies of sexual 'prime' in men and women, men tend to have sex dreams most frequently between late adolescence and their early twenties. Women's proclivity for sexual dreams actually increases with age until about age 40, where it plateaus, then starts to decline around age 55.

* Results of several surveys across large population sets indicate that between 18% and 38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive dream and 70% have experienced déjà vu. The percentage of persons that believe precognitive dreaming is possible is even higher, ranging from 63% to 98%.1

* * * * * * * * * *

President Abraham Lincoln recounted the following dream to his wife just a few days prior to his assassination:

There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?

I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.

'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers "The President" was his answer; "he was killed by an assassin!" Then came a loud burst of grief form the crowd, which awoke me from my dream.

* * * * * * * * * *

* Within 5 minutes of waking you forget half of what you dreamed about. Within 10 minutes you forget 90%.

* A full 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s maintained that the majority of dreams were in black and white, but these results began to change in the 1960s. Today, only 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white. Recent research has suggested that those changing results may be linked to the switch from black-and-white film and TV to color media.

* People who became blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind dream just as much, and as vividly, as everyone else, however, their dreams are formed from their other senses such as touch, smell, taste, sound and emotion.

* Our mind is not inventing faces – in our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces throughout our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

* Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder). If you think, you are not dreaming, you just forget your dreams.

My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom
Of these two creatures should be thus traced out
Almost like a reality -the one
To end in madness -both in misery

From The Dream, Lord Byron

For the full text of the poem The Dream, go HERE

Jan 25, 2010

Meandering Monday

I had a pretty productive week last week, although writing wise it seemed to be all about the blogging - each of my blogs got at least one new post. I only got a tiny bit of editing in and worked on some poetry.

In the non-blogging realm I went to a Northumberland Scribes meeting on Monday, a poetry reading (that ran late) on Thursday, and I had to stay late at school twice for the job search module.

You might notice I made some minor adjustments over on the right – both the book list and the chapter list were shortened up because they were taking up way too much space. I don’t think I’m going to have any problem reaching my 52 book goal for the year. I’m already up to 9 and we’re still in the first month!

This weekend I also finally got my poetry organized – a project I’ve been trying to complete for some time now. You want to know something? I’ve got a lot of poetry!


Let’s see, what were my goals last week . . . random facts about day dreaming; humour about day dreaming; poetry form of Cywydd; Chapter 23 of Space Opera; and cleaning house for my sister’s visit.

I’m pleased to say I met every one of my goals except the humour about day dreaming. I looked, but I couldn’t find anything. Instead I posted a heart warming story about a man and an elephant. And I still can’t believe you guys fell for it! :-)

Goals For This Week:

Tuesday will have some random facts about dreaming – things you may not have known about dreaming and the dream state.

Wednesday I will have another funny story for you, courtesy of the BFF. And I’d like to just take a moment here to thank my BFF for her endless spam. :-)

Thursday’s Passion For Poetry will explore the form of Qasida.

Friday will be Chapter 24 of the Space Opera, where we may (or may not) find out who’s following the intrepid crew of the Burning Comet.

Ever since revamping my Random Writings blog I’ve been looking with a critical eye at this one. I think I could live with the green and purple font, but the header really bugs me. I’m probably going to replace it at some point, but I’m going to take my time finding the right one.

Random Thoughts

Yesterday I did a post over here about the Fight Scene Blogfest. Don’t forget to check it out, it should be a good for all.

I’m once again a link in the AW blog chain and at the speed at which people are posting I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see my turn come up this week. In any case, I’d like to at the very least get some flash fiction posted. The Little Black Dress story I did last week reminded me how much fun flash could be.

So, that's my week in a nutshell, what about you? Anything interesting going on? Read any good books lately? Inquiring minds want to know!

Jan 21, 2010


Cywydd (cuh’-with) is a flexible verse form with four variations. It was developed by Dafydd ap Gwylym , leading Welsh poet in the fourteenth century and one of the foremost poets of medieval Europe. The cywydd was the leading Welsh poetic form from the 14th to early 17th centuries, experiencing revivals in the mid-18th century (thanks to Goronwy Owen and others of the classical school of Welsh poets) and again in the 19th century. It still finds favour with contemporary Welsh poets.

There is no accurate translation for the word cywydd, but the cywydd forms have been among the most popular in Welsh poetry. The measure gave its name to the whole group of 13th and 14th-century poets, who became known as the cywyddwyr or cywydd-men.

The four cywydd forms are:

Awdl Gywydd

Pronounced ‘owdl gow-widd’. Seven syllable quatrains with end rhymes and couplet binding. Mid-line rhymes a and c can be various forms of rhyme but the end of line rhyme b should be perfect rhyme.

xxaxxxb (a can be 3rd or 4th syllable)
xxcxxxb (c can be 3rd or 4th syllable)

Cywydd deuair hyrion

The most common variation is the cywydd deuair hyrion (cuh’-with day’-air her’-yon). It is made up of rhyming couplets of seven syllables each, with the accent differing on the rhyming words. This differing accentuation is called cynghanedd, which is a term for a system of alliteration and internal rhyme. There may be any number of couplets. The first line finishes with a stressed syllable and the second with an unstressed syllable. There is no set length.

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

Cywydd deuair fyrion

This form is very rarely seen outside manuals. It consists of couplets of four syllable lines. There is no set length.

x x x a
x x x a
x x x b
x x x b
x x x c
x x x c

Cywydd llosgyrnog

A sestet consisting of an eight-syllable rhymed couplet followed by a seven-syllable line that has cross-rhyme to the couplet in the middle and rhymes with the sixth line of the couplet followed by another eight-syllable couplet and seven-syllable line with cross rhyme to lines four and five. According to one authority, the cross-rhyming must be in the middle of lines three and six. According to others it can shift slightly, probably from the third through fifth syllables.

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x a x x x b
x x x x x x x c
x x x x x x x c
x x c x x x b

For my example I chose the Cywydd deuair fyrion - four syllable lines with rhyming couplets. At first glance it may seem like I chose the easiest version, but I actually find it harder to write shorter lines than longer ones.


The way began
much sooner than
I had hoped for,
yet still it tore
my spirit free
and now I see
what lies ahead
without the dread
that kept me bound
to flesh newfound.
My soul explores
the distant shores
of other realms.
It overwhelms
my purpose here.
I have no fear
of how this ends -
my soul ascends.

Jan 20, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday

Every once in awhile I come across a heart warming story that is so moving that I just have to share. This is one of those times.

In 1986, Dan Harrison (see picture above) was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Dan approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Dan worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Dan stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Dan never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Dan was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Dan and his son Dan Jr. were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Dan, lifted its front foot off the ground, and then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Dan couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Dan summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Dan's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Jan 19, 2010

Daydream Believer

I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering. ~Steven Wright

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it. ~Neil Gaiman

Call someone a daydreamer and you may as well call them a flake, a space cadet, or a slacker. Daydreams, and daydreamers, have got a bum rap over the years, and I’m here to change all that.

Psychologists estimate that we daydream for one-third to one-half of our waking hours, although a single daydream lasts only a few minutes.

Specifically, daydreaming helps you:

Relax. Like meditation, daydreaming allows your mind to take a break, a mini-vacation in which to release tension and anxiety and "return" refreshed. It's also very useful for controlling anxiety and phobias.

Manage conflict. Organized daydreaming -- or visualization – can be used to curb anxiety and is also useful for personal conflicts.

Maintain relationships. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially among daydreamers. Happy couples tend to think about one another when they're apart, which has the effect of psychologically maintaining the relationship. We imagine sharing good news with them, along with our successes and failures. Unhappy couples daydream about arguments and ruminate about conflict while happy individuals think positively ahead."

Boost productivity. Allowing yourself a few minutes for daydreaming can help you to be more productive in the long run.

Boost creativity and achieve goals. The beauty of daydreams is that nothing is impossible. You can aim high in daydreams and end up working harder to make your dreams a reality.

Relieve boredom. People with monotonous jobs, like factory workers and security guards, often use daydreaming to keep their minds stimulated and to get them through the day.

* * * * * * * * * *
Almost all people daydream, although the frequency of daydreaming varies considerably from individual to individual.

Similar to dreams experienced during sleep, daydreams occur in cycles set by biological cycles of temperature and hormone levels (psychologists estimate that the average person daydreams about every 90 minutes), and peak around the lunch hour (noon to 2 P.M.).

Daydreaming first occurs for most people during childhood, sometime before age three, and these early daydreams set the pattern for adult daydreaming. Children who have positive, happy daydreams of success and achievement generally continue these types of mental images into adulthood; these daydreamers are most likely to benefit from the positive aspects of mental imagery. Daydreams become the impetus for problem-solving, creativity, or accomplishment.

On the other hand, children whose daydreams are negative, scary, or visualize disasters are likely to experience anxiety, and this pattern will carry over into adulthood as well. A child's daydreams may take a visible or public form-the daydreamer talks about his mental images while he is experiencing them, and may even act out the scenario she or he is imagining. After age ten, however, the process of internalizing daydreaming begins.

Although most psychologists view daydreams as generally healthy and natural, this was not always the case. In the 1960s, textbooks used for training teachers provided strategies for combating daydreaming. Sigmund Freud felt that only unfulfilled individuals created fantasies, and that daydreaming and fantasy were early signs of mental illness. By the late 1980s, most psychologists considered daydreams a natural component of the mental process for most individuals.

Kalina Christoff, of the University of B.C., headed a study that placed study participants inside an MRI scanner, where they performed the simple routine task of pushing a button when numbers appear on a screen. The researchers tracked subjects' attentiveness moment-to-moment through brain scans, subjective reports from subjects and by tracking their performance on the task.

Until now, scientists had thought that the brain's "default network," which is linked to easy, routine mental activity, was the only part of the brain that remains active when the mind wanders. But in the study subjects, the brain's "executive network" — associated with high-level, complex problem-solving — also lit up.

The less subjects were aware that their mind was wandering, the more both networks were activated.

"This study shows our brains are very active when we daydream — much more active than when we focus on routine tasks," Christoff said.

This suggests that daydreaming is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives.

It is not unusual for a daydream, or series of daydreams, to precede an episode of creative writing or invention. At their best, daydreams allow you a range of possibilities which, in the hard cold light of reality, aren't possible.

So let’s nix the negative stereotypes and become, in the words of The Monkees, "daydream believers."

Jan 18, 2010

Magnificent Monday

As you may have noticed, I kind of fell off the blogging wagon last week. I’m back now though and even my lap top is back. Despite some setbacks last week, I still firmly believe this will be a better year for me.


Tuesday I posted about some literary randomness. It was an interesting post to research and fun as well. Wednesday was an oldie but goodie from the email vaults. Thursday was a total miss. The Cywydd isn’t a particularly hard poetry form, it just didn’t happen. Friday was a miss as well, but I did get chapter 22 up on Saturday.

Got some reading in last week, not much editing though. And despite the mother of all migraines, I think I did pretty well on my Bookkeeping exam.

After I got my chapter up on Saturday I caught up on my blog reading/commenting and dipped my toe in the Twitter waters. If you want to look me up I have no idea how you do it, but I go by MysteMaker on Twitter. :-)

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday will have some random facts about daydreaming. The lovely Jamie suggested the day dreams as a part of a dreams post I was working on, and before I knew it, I had enough information about day dreams for a post of its own.

Wednesday I’ll see if I can find some day dreaming humour.

Thursday we’ll try once again for the poetry form of Cywydd. Also on Thursday there’s a poetry reading sponsored by my poetry group that I really must attend. I don’t think I’ve been to one since October. Bad poet!

Friday will be Chapter 23 of the Space Opera. I also need to get the house cleaned up because my New Brunswick sister and her hubby are stopping in for the night.

Random Writings

I’m hoping to get one or two posts up on this blog, so check it out once in awhile. Yesterday I posted about being a dreamer. It’s worth a look, if only for the Ozzy video. :-)

Tonight I’m going to my second meeting of the Northumberland Scribes, where I will be reading my very short flash fiction from the prompt LBD. I’ll do a post about it on Tuesday.

Other posts on this blog will occur with extreme randomness, less so if someone wants to give me a topic to blog about. :-)

Wow, it looks like I’ve got a lot on the go this week. How about you?

Jan 13, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday

A burgler broke into a house one night. He shone his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying:

"Jesus is watching you."

He nearly jumped out of his skin! Hands shaking he clicked his flashlight off and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head and promised himself a vacation after the next big scor. Then he clicked the light back on and began searching for more valuables.

Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard:

"Jesus is watching you."

Totally rattled, he shone his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.

"Did you say that?" he hissed at the parrot.

"Yes," the parrot confessed, then squawked, "I'm just trying to warn you."

The burglar relaxed. "Warn me, huh? Who do you think you are anyway?"

"Moses," replied the bird.

"Moses," the burglar laughed. "What kind of stupid people would name a parrot Moses?"

The bird promptly answered. "The same kind of people that would name a Rottweiler Jesus!"

Jan 12, 2010

Literary Randomness

The oldest surviving poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh, from the 3rd millennium BC in Sumer (in Mesopotamia, now Iraq), which was written in cuneiform script on clay tablets and, later, papyrus.

The Indian epic poem the Mahabhrata is eight times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.

Only seven poems by Emily Dickinson were published during her lifetime.

General Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur, published in 1880, was the first work of fiction to be blessed by a pope.

Books on religion outnumbered works of fiction by a 2 to 1 margin in 1870 England. Sixteen years later, novels surpassed religious works.

There are 48 Gutenberg Bibles still in existence. Two of them were in Germany during World War II and are missing, but many book collectors believe them to be in private collections.

The Bible is the best selling book of all time with approximately six billion books sold. The second-best selling book is Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung with about 800 million sales.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first novel ever to be written on a typewriter. Mark Twain typed it himself on a Remington in 1875.

Sigmund Freud's major work, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), garnered him only $209. It took eight years for the entire first printing of 600 copies to sell.

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, originated from a game he played with his stepson. Drawing a treasure map for his stepson on a rainy day, Stevenson was urged by the child to make up stories to go along with the drawings. Stevenson liked the stories so much that he wrote them down, and they became the basis for his novel.

There are no female characters in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island because he was following the instructions of his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, for whom he wrote the book. Llyod wanted a story "about a map, a treasure, a mutiny and a derelict ship...No women in the story."

Washington Irving got his idea for Rip Van Winkle from the story of the Cretan poet Epimenides, who lived around 600 B.C. While hunting for sheep at his father's behest, Epimenides took a nap in a cave and awoke 57 years later. On awakening, he began looking for sheep again. When he came home, he found his younger brother had become an old man.

William Shakespeare used a vocabulary of 29,066 different words. By way of comparison, the average person uses about 8,000 different words.

The word "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," from the movie Mary Poppins, was added to the Oxford dictionary in 1964

According to L. Frank Baum, the name Oz was thought up when he looked at his filing cabinet and noticed one drawer marked A-G, a second tagged H-N, and a third labeled O-Z.

Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter was reported to have said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language. This isn't a kindergarten for amateur writers."

There really was a Cyrano de Bergerac. He lived from about 1620 to 1655, had a big nose and dueled. He was also a science fiction writer who was the first person in history to suggest that a rocket could carry someone into space.

On April 25, 1889, The Kansas Times and Star was the first newspaper to use the phrase “bestseller.” On that day the newspaper listed six books as the “best sellers here last week.”

D. H. Lawrence enjoyed taking off his clothes and climbing mulberry trees.

George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984, wrote under a pen name. His real name was Eric Blair.

Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, has been translated into more languages than any book outside of the Bible.

The most expensive book or manuscript ever sold at an auction was The Codex Hammer, a notebook belonging to Leonardo da Vinci. It sold for $30.8 million.

In literature, the average length of a sentence is around 35 words.

Jan 11, 2010

Malformed Monday

It seems kind of silly to post a week's worth of little goals right after my post about my long term goals, but that's what Mondays are for, so here I am.

There's no word on my lap top yet. *sigh* But since I decreed the start of a new year full of luck yesterday, I will not dwell on the downside of my lap-topless status. Instead, I'll focus on the upside.

1. I got all my Christmas "stuff" put away.
2. Cleaned the house (and as a bonus it was just in time for my in-laws to stop by).
3. Got a few more rows done on an afghan I'd started.
4. Finished watching the Dr. Who DVDs I got for Christmas.
5. Had time to read.
6. Actually sat down and got some editing done (the pages were already printed out).

So, I guess every cloud has a silver lining after all. :-)


When all is said and done, last week was a pretty good week. I got all but one of my goals accomplished (didn't get to the Greek poetry reading). Got my posts all up, even the one the lap top ate that I had to recreate for Friday. Survived my first week of Bookkeeping Level II, though just barely. Pretty much finished playing around with my Random Writings blog - for now I'm using it as an overflow blog. Like, when I have something writerly to say that doesn't really fit into one of my regular posting days here. Or, if I have a excerpt or flash piece I want to share.

I checked out the local writer's group: Northumberland Scribes and had a great time. I got some editing done and some reading done, I even got my office picked up. Like I said, it was a pretty good week.

This Week's Goals:

I'm working on the premise that I might not get my lap top back until later in the week or maybe even on the weekend. Using the desktop probably won't kill me, but I do miss my microsoft programs and my bookmarks.

Tuesday will bring more randomness. One of these days I need to sit down and come up with some kind of structure for this day. After doing the series on the Deadly Sins, I feel like all I'm doing now is just finding obscure facts and throwing them out there.

Wednesday will be another bit of whimsey from the vaults. I stumbled across it when I was looking for something else and it still gave me a chuckle.

Thursday I will be exploring the Welsh poetry form of Cywydd. I just hope it's not as hard to write as it is to spell and pronounce.

Friday will see chapter 22 of the Space Opera. I'm going to have to try and get this done ASAP because Friday is also an exam in Bookkeeping.

Other than that, I'll be reading, editing and napping writing.

How's your week shaping up?

Jan 10, 2010

Goals for 2010

This post is appearing both on Random Thoughts and Random Writings. I'll tell you why further down.

Seeing as I was able to do my serial chapter without the use of my lap top, I guess there's no excuse for not doing my promised post about this year's goals, is there?

I'm going to remind myself that the temporary loss of my lap top isn't all bad. It gave me time to get the Christmas stuff put away and the house back in order, I got some more reading done, and I got a lot of editing done. Well, maybe not a lot of editing, but more than I would have otherwise.

I've improved, over the last year, in setting goals for myself. Starting out Mondays with a set of goals for the week certainly helps to keep me focused, and accountable because the following Monday I fess up as to whether or not I've met my goals.

Herein lies my problem setting goals for the whole year. December 31 is a long way away, at least it seems that way right now. So how can I make sure I'm staying on track when I've got a whole year to work on this list?

Hence, the reason this is getting posted on both my writing blogs. I'm going to add a monthly feature to my Random Writings to show how I'm doing when it comes to achieving my goals for the year. At the first of every month I'll do a post about my Long Term Goals and how they're coming.

Okay, now on with the list (in no particular order):

Design a book database
Yeah, I know there's a lot of pre-designed databases out there, but I like Microsoft Access and if you don't use a program, you lose it. And I don't want to lose it. Once the database is done I want to spend part of every Saturday catalgouing my books. There's a lot of them and it would be nice to be able to keep track of them.

Organize my poetry
At first I was thinking of a database for this as well, but a lot of my shorter poems aren't named, so I'm not sure how that would work. I just realized the other day that by doing a new form of poetry every week, that gives me 52 new poems each year. I've also been doing at least one poem a month for my poetry group. Add to that the poems I've written over the years before this and it adds up to a lot of poetry. I need to get these poems organized and maybe even submit some of them. I'm thinking they need to be printed off and put in a binder and then I can make notations on them as to where (and when) they've been sent.

Lose 30 pounds by August
Okay, truthfully, I'd like to lose a lot more than 30 pounds, but thirty seems like a nice, round number. Why by August? 'Cause I will be reading my poetry, in public, on August 18. Being thirty pounds lighter will be a nice boost to my confidence.

Actually finish one of my novels
I have three full drafts finished. Time to fish or cut bait. I'm starting with my first NaNo novel, Driving Into Forever. I've been pretty unfocused when it comes to my fiction writing in the past, letting myself get distracted too easily, working on multiple projects and getting nothing done on any of them. I'd like to say that I'll have my edits done on DIF by the summer so I can start submitting by the fall, but it's a real mess, so I won't know for sure until I get further into it. But yeah, the goal is to get this sucker finished and out there this year.

Read 52 Books
Lost Wanderer did a post HERE challenging all comers to keep a record of what they're reading for the year. The idea is to set a goal of the number of books you'll read for the year and then keep track of them. My ongoing list is in the sidebar, with links to my book blog where I'll tell you a little bit more about them.

Find a job
This might seem counter-productive in the realm of writing, but I need a job. I need to be able to eat and pay my bills. VISA and Mastercard would really like me to get my cards back under their limits. The town would really like us to be able to start paying off our back taxes so they don't have to take our house (we'd really like this too!). And the truth of the matter is, I'm more productive when I don't have a lot of time on my hands. Does that make sense? I was off work for a year before I started back to school and looking back I find it down right embarrassing, the amount of time I wasted. I started back to school in May and by April I was doing the PAD challenge with my poetry, joined a poetry group, started taking my writing more seriously. I won the NaNo challenge in November, despite my heavy course-load. The draft I ended up with was the cleanest one yet. I can only hope that a job will allow me to relax (financially) and enjoy my writing even more.

Little Goals
Figure out Twitter - yes, I'm a bona fide Twit now. My screen name is MysteMaker - I tried many variations of my real name but they were all taken. So were all the cool writing related names. I settled on MysteMaker because the Myste is an important part of my first, finished, draft novel and, well, I made it up so I'm the Maker. :-) I've been on Twitter a couple of times since I joined and I'm still very confused. This is one of the things I need to work on.

Figure out my iPod - my wonderful husband gave me an iPod for Christmas two years ago and I have yet to use it. Right now it's still got all the music on it from the daughter's wedding (we used it instead of a DJ). What I'd like to do is get her music off of it, and load music from my CD collection onto it. The reason I'd asked for an iPod in the first place was to use it on the midnight shift where I was working. Only just after I got it, they got rid of the midnight shift. D'oh! When I'm in the living room with my lap top, I have the T.V. on; when I'm in my office I have a CD player. Hence, the reason I've never really sat down to figure my iPod out. I'm hoping that having something to listen to might inspire me to get out walking more.

Journal on a regular basis - it's really feast or famine when it comes to my journaling. I recently tried amalgamately my writing journal into my daily journal to inspire me, but the experiment has not gone as well as I'd hope. This is something I'd like to work on in the new year. Maybe not daily entries, but try to update it at least once a week.

So there you have it. My plan for 2010.

I might mention here that I've been crying moaning whining mentioning the streak of bad luck I've had lately. I declare the streak ended and that today officially starts the new year. What better day to start than the anniversary of my birth? :-)

Jan 8, 2010


No, I don't mean "Ar Maties" - talk like a pirate day is in September. I mean "Argh!" as in, my lap top has a virus. AGAIN! I'm thinking you get what you pay for and that the IT guy at school was not worth the $50 I paid him.

Sorry about this folks, but due to circumstances beyond my control, Chapter 21 will be delayed.

What really frosts me is that I can't even access the part I was working on and so I'll have to start over - from scratch. After school. It took me forever to figure out how to start it, and it was almost finished. Again I say, ARGH!

So never fear, Chapter 21 is coming, just not until later today.

Have I mentioned that 2010 does not appear to be starting out well for me?

If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all!

Jan 7, 2010

Monchielle Poetry Form

Finally, I found a poetry form that is neither from the troubadours nor the orient! :-)

The Monchielle form was created by Norwegian poet, Jim T. Henriksen. Somehow, when I think of Norway, poetry does not immediately spring to mind.

It consists of four, five line stanzas.
The first line in each stanza is a refrain.
Lines three and five rhyme, the others do not.
Traditionally, there are six syllables to a line, but this is not a strict observance.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? In fact, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked at first glance. The hardest part was actually coming up with the first line, which is repeated at the beginning of each stanza.


I long to live a dream
In dreams I can be free
To wander where I will
A troubadour of old
Living by my skill.

I long to live a dream
In dreams we can be free
Unfettered by the past
Ghosts all laid to rest
And time will ever last.

I long to live a dream
In dreams my life’s my own
I’m fit to no one’s mold,
Restrictions touch me not,
No longer be controlled.

I long to live a dream
In dreams my spirit soars
No fear of the unknown
Nor cowering in the dark;
No longer all alone.

Jan 6, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday

Two funnies for you today, both brought to you from deep within my e-mail vault.

Try to have a little fun each day...

I went to the store the other day, and I was in there for only about 5
minutes. When I came out there was a damn cop writing out a parking ticket.

So I went up to him and said, "Come on, buddy, how about giving a guy a

He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. So I called him a
pencil-headed Nazi. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for
having worn tires! So I called him a piece of horse crap. He finished the
second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

Then he started writing a third ticket! This went on for about 20 minutes...
the more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

I didn't really give a hoot. My car was parked around the corner.

I try to have a little fun each day. It's important.

* * * * * * * * * *

An older lady was somewhat lonely and decided she needed a pet to keep her company. So, off to the pet shop she went. She searched and searched. None of the pets seemed to catch her interest, except this ugly frog. As she walked by the jar he was in, she looked and he winked at her.

He whispered, “I’m so lonely, too. Buy me and take me home, you won't ever be sorry.”

The old lady figured, what the heck! She hadn't found anything else. So, she bought the frog. She placed him in the car, on the front seat beside her.

As she was slowly driving down the road, the frog whispered to her, “Kiss me and you won't be sorry.”

The old lady figured, what the heck, and kissed the frog.

Immediately the frog turned into an absolutely gorgeous, sexy, young, handsome prince.

The prince then returned the old lady's kiss.

Suddenly the old lady felt herself transforming from his kiss.

Now can you guess what the old lady turned into?
Come on guess!

Ooooooohhhhhhh come on -- dont be a poop!
She turned into the first Holiday Inn she could find!!!

She's old....... Not dead !!!!!

Old ladies rock

Jan 5, 2010

Really Random

Last night, while attending my first meeting with the Northumberland Scribes, there was a flurry of discussion over the meaning of the word “yahoo”. Before it became a search engine/email server, the yahoo had quite a different role.

A Yahoo is a legendary being in the novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift.

Swift describes the Yahoos as vile and savage creatures, filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver, who finds the calm and rational society of intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms, far preferable.

The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with "pretty stones" they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term "Yahoo" has become synonymous with "cretin," "dinosaur," and/or "Neanderthal."

American frontiersman Daniel Boone, who often used terms from Gulliver’s Travels, claimed that he killed a hairy giant that he called a Yahoo.

Serial killer David Berkowitz referenced yahoos in a lettter sent to New York City police while committing the "Son of Sam" murders in 1976.

* * * * * * * * * *

To make a one-pound comb of honey, bees must collect nectar from about two million flowers.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ever wonder how the idea that cats have nine lives started?

According to Brewer's Dictionary Of Phrase & Fable, a cat is said to have nine lives because it is "more tenacious of life than many animals."

But why nine? Nine, a trinity of trinities, is a mystical number often invoked in religion and folklore. The cat was once revered in Egypt, and this is probably where its nine lives began. The priesthood in On - known to the Greeks as Heliopolis and now a suburb of Cairo - worshipped Atum-Ra, a sun god who gave life to the gods of air, moisture, earth and sky, who, in turn, produced Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.

These gods are collectively known as the Ennead, or the Nine. Atum-Ra, who took the form of a cat for visits to the underworld, embodied nine lives in one creator. A hymn from the fourth century BC says, "O sacred cat! Your mouth is the mouth of the god Atum, the lord of life who has saved you from all taint."

Vestiges of this ancient, cat-worshipping religion lingered in Europe until at least the middle ages. The cat was no longer divine but was still regarded as magical and otherworldly. The ailuromorphic gods are long forgotten, but the cat's resilience still inspires fascination, which is why the myth of the cat's nine lives has endured for so long.

Jan 4, 2010

Man, It's Monday!

So how’s everyone enjoying the New Year so far? I see lots of resolutions posted on blogs . . . I find resolutions too easy to break, but I do have some goals for the New Year. I’m doing a special post for them on Sunday, and I’ll tell you why . . . on Sunday. :-)

I have to say that my New Year has not gotten off to a stellar start. I’m back to having to force-feed one of the cats, although I find I’m getting much better at it. I also got stranded at the mall when my gas line froze (I ended up taking the bus home ‘cause the husband was away at a bowling tournament), spent way too much time downloading and trying out new templates for my Random Writings blog, signed up for Twitter and have no idea how to use it, and I over did the crocheting and could barely move my right arm on the weekend.

It can only get better from here, right? RIGHT???


On the plus side, I got my post up about the origins of New Year’s, found some New Year’s themed whimsy for Wednesday, struggled to get an original Trolaan poem up on Thursday (have you noticed how the more I struggle with a poetry form the darker the poem turns out?), and I got Chapter Twenty of the Space Opera done for Friday. I even managed to do a post on Saturday for the No Kiss Blogfest.

As for my other goals, figuring out the new phones, editing, and reading . . . I got the phones set up, even programmed a few numbers into the speed dial. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much editing or reading done as I’d like, although I did get in some of both.

Goals For This Week

Tuesday I’ll have some new random facts for you. In fact, they’re so new I don’t even know what they are yet. :-)

Wednesday I will be digging deep into the vaults for something whimsical.

Thursday’s Passion For Poetry form will be the Monchielle.

Friday, of course, will be Chapter Twenty-one of the Space Opera. I believe it may be time for Chaney and Nakeisha to get a little physical, only maybe not in the way you might think. ;-)

Sunday, I’ll be doing a special post about my goals for the New Year, which I’m still working on.

Other than that, it’s back to school for me this week. Today we’re starting Advanced Bookkeeping. Oh goody! *insert sarcasm emoticon here* Tonight I’m going to check out a local writer’s group I just found out about over the holidays and Thursday night is a special poetry reading by a Greek poet.

And did I mention that editing and reading are also on my “to do” list? I also want to finish fixing up my Random Writings blog, maybe even move a few of the links from here over.

Whatever else you can say about my week ahead, at least I won’t be bored! How about you, what does your week have in store for you?

Jan 2, 2010

No Kiss Blogfest

Happy No Kiss Blogfest Day!

It was just my good fortune that the designated day was today, Saturday, so it didn’t mess up my weekly posting schedule. :-)

For those who missed my blurb about this on Tuesday, those who participated in the Kissing Day Blogfest last week had so much fun that Frankie Mallis decided to host the No Kiss Blogfest on her site Frankie Writes .

It’s not too late to sign up! Go HERE for the original post and to join the fun! C’mon, you know you want to!

My scene is from this year’s NaNo novel. It’s a cross between science fiction and fantasy – Simon’s ship was shot down and he crashed on Arianna’s planet. She’s a Faery, but she was able to pull him from the wreckage because his ship didn’t have an iron in it.

“There were marks on your ship, as though it had been fired upon. What reason would anyone have to fire upon you, Simon?”

“To be honest, I’m not sure. I was in a probe ship – it’s a very long range exploration vessel. Normally probes are left alone. It’s understood that they don’t carry weapons and are used only for exploration.”

“And yet someone felt the need to try and destroy you,” she mused. A cold chill went down her spine at the thought of this man alone in space, defenseless, and under fire from an unknown enemy.

He shrugged, more casually than he felt. “It happens, not often, but it does. Especially since the war’s been over. You know about the war, right?”

She smiled. “Yes, Simon. Though the war did not reach our small corner of space we were well aware of it.”

Flushing slightly he said, “I’m sorry, it’s just this world seems so removed from everything.”

“It is I who am sorry,” she said, touching his arm lightly.

His eyes heated up at her touch sending another shiver down her spine, this one for an entirely different reason. Their gazes locked for a moment, then his head dipped slowly towards hers.

Before they could meet there was an unholy shriek from the woods. Simon released her, jumping up and assuming a defensive posture before the sound had completely died away.

“Did you hear that? Are we under attack?”

The noise came again, growing closer. He glanced around wildly but couldn’t tell what direction it was coming from. He was further confused when Arianna started laughing.

“Don’t you think we should take cover?”

Still sputtering with laughter, she pointed towards the bank of the stream where a small, purple bird-like creature was making its way along the edge. As he watched, the thing opened its mouth and gave another unholy call.

Simon’s mouth dropped open. “I don’t believe it.”

It was such a small creature for such a ghastly noise. He shook his head ruefully and his laughter joined Arianna’s as he dropped back down beside her. Together they watched the creature continue following the stream towards the lake, still making its noise.

“We call them shriekers,” Arianna said, after she caught her breath. “They use sound to drive away predators.”

“An effective defense,” Simon said dryly, which sent her into peals of laughter again.