Feb 28, 2012

Prophets and Prophecy - Part One
Prophets of Islam – Part I

According to Islamic tradition, Allah has sent prophets to humanity since the beginning of time to communicate His message. The prophets taught the people around them about faith in Allah, and how to walk on the path of righteousness.

Islamic scholars, believe there have been over 240000 prophets in Islam, although only twenty-five prophets are mentioned by name in the Qur'an. Muslims beliefs require belief in all of the prophets and messengers.

1. Adam
Allah created Adam from clay taken from different lands, so that mankind would have white, red, black and yellow forms. He (Allah) taught Adam all the names of everything. (Ch 2:31 Qur’an).

2. Idris (Enoch)
Idris was the the 5th generation of Adam, the first of his descendants to be given prophethood. He is described as: Verily! He was a man of truth (and) a prophet. We raised him to a high station. (Ch 19:56-57 Qur’an). He is also credited to have invented the basic form of writing.

3. Nuh (Noah)
Nuh was sent as a messenger to the people to warn them of what would happen if they didn’t mend their polytheistic ways: "O my people! Verily, I am a plain Warner to you, that you should worship Allah alone, be dutiful to Him and obey me, He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins and respite you to an appointed term. Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you but knew." (Ch 23 Qur’an) Few of them believed and were consequently washed away in the great flood.

4. Hud
Hud was sent by Allah to the people who lived in Ad (the area between Yemen and Oman) because although they worshipped Allah, they worshipped other gods as well. The people would not listen to his warnings and were destroyed. And as for Ad, they were destroyed for a firious violent wind which Allah imposed on them for 7 nights and 8 days in succession, so that you could see men lying overthrown (destroyed) as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees! (Ch 69:6-7 Qur’an)

5. Salih
The tribe that succeeded Ad were also idol-worshippers and were sent the prophet Salih. The people asked for a clear sign from Allah, but even after they were given it they still refused to believe. In the end they told him: "O Salih! Bring about your threats if you are indeed one of the Messengers (of Allah)." So the earthquakes seized them and they lay dead, prostrate in their homes. Then he (Salih) turned from them, and said: "O my people! I have indeed conveyed to you the Message of my Lord, and have give you good advise but you like not good advisers." (Ch 7 Qur’an)

6. Ibrahim (Abraham)
He was born in Babylonia, well known for its idol worshippers, but was endowed with spiritual understanding of Allah from an early age. He did his best to get his people to worship in Allah alone, but few of them would listen. Then one day he went into the temple and destroyed all but one of the idols. In retribution, the people created a great pit of fire and threw him in. He was, however, saved by his faith in Allah. "O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham." (Ch 21:69 Qur’an)

7. Isma'il (Ishmael)
Isma’il was Abraham’s son, by Hajar. Allah instructed Abraham to take Isma’il and his mother Hajar and leave them in a desolate place. Through the striking of a heel in the earth, a spring appeared and the city of Makkah was built around it. Following divine instructions, Abraham and Ishmael built the Ka’ba, in Makkah, a house of worship for Allah. Upon completion the call went out and people from all over made the pilgrimage to Makkah. It is one of the essential obligations of the faithful to go to Makkah and perform the ritual Hajj at least once during his life time.

8. Ishaq (Isaac)
Ishaq was born to Sarah the first wife of Ibrahim nine years after the birth of Ishmael to Hajar. He lived in Kin'an and was appointed prophet towards his people by Allah. His descendants were men of high spiritual rank and character. He was inspired to do noble deeds and establish right worship, and was generous at heart.

9. Lut (Lot)
Lut was Abraham’s nephew, born in the city of Ur. Lot accompanied his uncle in his travels and when Abraham finally settled in Kin'an, Allah appointed Lut messenger to the people inhabiting the northern valley of River Jordan, specifically the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of this region were morally corrupt and defied the teachings of Lut, often ridiculing and torturing him. Abraham asked for assurances of the safety of Lut and his family, and two angels were sent who warned Lut to leave the region with his family. So we saved him and his family, all, except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Then afterward We destroyed the others. We rained on them a rain of torment. How evil was the rain of those who had been warned. Verily, in this is indeed a sign yet most of them are not believers. Verily! Your Lord, He is indeed the All Mighty, the Most Merciful. (Ch 26:170-175 Qur’an)

10. Ya'qub (Jacob)
Ya’qub was born at Palestine, one of the twins sons of Isaac. He is noted for carrying on his forefathers legacy of peace and wisdom, and the appointed prophet towards his people after the death of his father. He had four wives and twelve sons who became the progenitors of twelve tribes of Israel. "We gave him Ishaq and Ya'qub. Each of them We made a Prophet. And We gave them of Our mercy and assigned to them a high and true renown." (19:49,50 Qur’an)

11. Yusuf (Joseph)
Yusuf was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and granted the gift of vision at a young age. And when he (Joseph) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good. (Ch 12:22) His brothers were jealous of the fact he was his father’s favourite and plotted to get rid of him. He ended up a slave in Egypt, where he endured many trials but continued to spread the word of Allah. Yusuf lived for one hundred and ten years. He was buried in Egypt according to the rituals of the land, and when Musa finally took the children of Israil out of Egypt, he took the coffin of Yusuf to Kin'an, to be buried alongside his ancestors.

12. Shu'aib (Jethro)
Shu'aib was appointed prophet by Allah to the people of Midyan and Aykah, who lived on the east of Mount Sinai. He preached to these morally corrupt peoples, but they wouldn’t listen. The people of Midyan were destroyed by roaring thunder and violent earth quakes. The people of Aykah were covered with darkness that emitted fire, destroying most living beings. Only Shu’aib and a handful of true believers survived these calamities.

Be sure and stop by next week for the remaining Prophets of Islam.

Feb 27, 2012

Monolatry Monday

monolatry ~ worship of one god without excluding belief in others

Wow . . . I was seriously unmotivated last week. I got my posts done, but that was pretty much it as far as writing went. I went to both my poetry group and my writing group meetings and was empty handed both times. Totally shocked my poetry group. Even when I don’t have a new form to share I at least have a new poem or two.

That’s not to say I haven’t been having ideas, I just haven’t managed to get them out of my head. You know what I mean? I work out an idea in my head and it sits there saying, “write me, write me,” but when I sit down at the computer with a blank document screen in front of me, my fingers stray to the internet and the next thing I know I’m playing Fashion Solitaire on Shockwave. (Hey, don’t judge me until you’ve tried it! :-p)

Anybody watch the Oscars? I used to be an avid Academy Awards watcher but over the years my interest has waned considerably. I don’t know if it’s because I so seldom go to the movies any more or maybe I’m just tired of a handful of people deciding which movies are award worthy. All I know is the whole thing is rather “meh” to me now.

I keep finding books to download onto my Kindle, but the good news is that I’ve started reading more of them. Still, the ratio of downloading versus reading is skewed heavily in favour of downloading. Even if I did nothing but read all day it’d take me years to catch up. ;-)

I started doing the research for my Prophets and Prophecies series last week and I was surprised by some of the things I found. The series is not as I’d envisioned it, but I think it will still be pretty interesting. I love ferreting out information on esoteric things and this series really fits the bill.

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

Tuesday On Random Thoughts We have Part One of Prophets and Prophecies, which turned out to be part I of the Prophets of Islam. On Random Writings I’ll be continuing to Share the Love.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Well, Jessica’s done her good deed for the day. Just shows her she’s got a long way to go when it comes to magic. And on Random Thoughts there’ll be another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday In chapter seven of Water (on Random Thoughts) I think it’s time to move the compound.

Friday We have Passion For Poetry on Random Writings and on Random Thoughts it’s Flash Me Friday where I’ll be doing another picture prompt.

Feb 24, 2012

Flash Me Friday

The Chosen

Our people had been nomads, following the herds across the hills and wastelands. We lived in tents of hide that were carried with us, along with what little we possessed. It had been thus for generations, right up until the day we came to the edge of the sea. There we found a new way of life and gave up our wandering ways.

No longer were the tribesmen burnt brown from the sun, no longer did they have the patience to track prey through the desert. Instead their hands and faces became hardened by the sting of the salt air. They became skilled in the ways of nets and canoes. The women learned to dry fish and weave cloth from the beaten reeds of the salt marsh. And so the tribes prospered.

The priests, who were our teachers and also keepers of our records, warned that these changes did not find favour with the gods. The old ways should not be cast so easily aside. But a settled people had no use for gods who seemed always to take, giving nothing in return, and fewer and fewer people heeded the words of the priests. With each generation, the old ways became more distant in memory.

The day that brought the judgment of the gods upon us started much like any other. The men went out in their canoes to cast their nets and the women went to the marshes to gather reeds to beat on the rocks. When the men returned, it was with little to show for their trouble. This was the fifth day the catch was not good. The priests approached Dranin, our chief, for the gods share of the catch but for the first time he refused to give it to them.

“Why should the gods benefit from our hard work while our families starve?” he asked. “These gods of yours are desert gods who know nothing of the ways of the sea and the fisherfolk. Tell them to seek out those who still dwell in the desert. What use are desert gods to fisherfolk?”

Seath, the priest, did not grow angry, but remained calm in the face of Dranin’s words. “The gods are gods over all and must be appeased. They have already grown tired of your miserly ways and chased the fish away from your nets. Spurn them at your own peril.”

But Dranin would not be moved. He had long resented the tradition that expected the best portion of each catch going to the temple for the gods. He had no use for the priests and their gods. Let them catch their own fish.

The people were uneasy. Though many of them not longer paid homage to the temple as their ancestors did, they were still a superstitious lot and the priests were the mouthpieces of the gods. But Dranin was chief and they were used to obeying him.

The next day there was a storm such as the people had never seen before. Black clouds boiled in the sky. High waves pounded the shoreline. Wind and rain lashed at the village. The people shut themselves up in their huts and huddled together in the dark.

The next day the villagers emerged cautiously from their homes. The damage was terrible. Wreckage from several of the canoes littered the shoreline. Nets were ripped and torn, and the communal hut the dried fish was stored in was gone. The salt marsh was churned up, the reeds broken and useless.

Dranin ordered the women and children to scour the shore for what could be salvaged. He and the rest of the men repaired the canoes that were left relatively intact, and then took them out to fish.

Fishing was always good after a storm, but when the canoes returned hours later, the nets were empty. Dranin went to where Seath awaited him on the shore.

“There are no more fish – not for the gods, not for our hungry bellies. I was wrong, and the whole village suffers for it. What can we do to appease the gods?” he asked.

An ordinary man might have gloated at the defeat in the chief’s tone, but Seath was a priest and took no pleasure in the downfall of another. “The gods grow weak on their diet of fish, they need red meat.”

“And where are we to get this meat?” Dranin asked. “There is not one among us who remembers the ways of the hunt, that task belonged to our ancestors.”

Seath looked at him gravely. “Then you must choose from among the people. The sacrifice must be untouched, pure of body and spirit.”

Dranin paled, but bowed his head.

My sister, Jessil was the one Chosen. She was fair and pure, and had just come into her womanhood. A feast, with what little we could gather, was given in her honour. Many gifts were given to her to take with her to the gods.

They dressed her in white and Seath gave her a potion to ease her passing. Then Dranin paddled them both so far out they were just a speck on the horizon. When the canoe returned, only Dranin and Seath were in it.

Within a day the weather cleared and the fish returned. New shoots were seen in the salt marsh, it was only a matter of time before the reeds would be fully grown again. It was declared by the priests that the sacrifice must be made each year. The Chosen one would have a year of plenty – beautiful clothes, the best of the food and drink, and many fine gifts. A great feast would be held in their honour and their name would be remembered for all time.

I can’t wait until it’s my turn.

Feb 21, 2012

Prophets and Prophecy – Introduction

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
~from The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Welcome to my new series on Prophets and Prophecy

The word prophecy is of Greek derivation, prophecy means speaking before. In modern English it usually implies foretelling the future. Originally, however, this was not a prophet’s essential function. He was the human spokesman of a god (pre-eminently of Yahweh, the God of Israel) and therefore a transmitter of divine messages, which might concern the future or might not.

The Old Testament sometimes employs the term prophet very loosely. For instance, Abraham is a prophet because he is the friend of God. Moses and his brother Aaron are called prophets, and their sister Miriam a prophetess, each for a different reason: Mosses as the appointed mouthpiece of the divine laws, Aaron as their translator into practice, Miriam as a leader of song and dance in God’s praise. The common factor in these four instances is a special relationship with Yahweh.

Prophets exist throughout history in almost every culture. But not all of them are religious, many have been described as prophets in the sense of foretelling the future (as opposed to foretelling a religious message).

There are far too many prophets to attempt to cite all of them here, so I have narrowed the list down to an even dozen prophetic subjects. We start next week with the Old Testament Prophets. In the weeks that follow I’ll also be exploring the following prophets:

The Prophets of Islam
Buddha Siddharta Gautama
The Norse Volva
Edgar Cayce
Mother Shipton
Baba Vanga
Erik Jan Hanussen
Potuluri Virabrahmendra Swami
False Prophets

I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoy doing the research for it. See you next week.

Feb 20, 2012

Mandorla Monday

mandorla ~ oval panel containing a work of art; elliptical halo around holy person

If you live in Canada or the U.S., then you probably got to sleep in today because it’s a holiday. In the U.S. it was decided that February being such a dismal month, a holiday weekend was needed. And what better excuse reason for a holiday than to celebrate the lives of presidents both past and present, and so President’s Day was born. Not to be out done, Canada decided it needed a holiday in February too, however Prime Minister’s Day just didn’t have the same ring to it, so they decided to celebrate families instead, and so Family Day (which has since been changed to Heritage Day) was born. So happy holiday, whichever one you get to celebrate. And for the rest of the world . . . sorry, sucks to be you. Maybe you should start up petitions or something – more holidays for all!

In celebration of Family Day, my sisters came to visit. Okay, they didn’t really come to celebrate Family Day, one of them had some time to kill before she went to join her husband for a holiday in New Zealand, and the other one had a couple of days off, so they decided to come torment me for the weekend. :-) I got back at them by making them watch Star Trek with me Saturday night, but then they got the last laugh by making me go to Church with them Sunday morning. *sigh*

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I was only late with one post last week, and that was the chapter for Water. I got about halfway through it and then had to re-think it. This is one of the hazards of being a pantser rather than a plotter – sometimes your story takes an unexpected turn. Normally this isn’t a problem. You can always go back and change the pertinent parts of your story so it will make sense. Unfortunately, when you’re writing a serial you have to pretty much just keep going, so basically all you can do is make notes for when you get around to revisions.

I didn’t get much reading done last week, although I have been downloading some free books onto my Kindle. I love it when authors offer up their books or short stories for free to jack up their stats on Amazon. :-)

One of the free books I read through was a recipe book for breakfast tacos. I wouldn’t have thought you could find enough recipes for tacos, breakfast or not, to fill a cook book, so I admit I was curious. There were recipes for everything from making your own flour tortillas, to salsa, to Mexican sausage; there were descriptions of breakfast tacos available from a variety of restaurants; but nowhere was there a recipe for putting together the tacos themselves.

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

Tuesday On Random Thoughts I’m starting a series on Prophets and Prophesies. You know, just to prepare for the end of the world on December 21. ;-) On Random Writings I’ll be continuing to Share the Love.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Aw, Jessica’s such a nice person, helping that kid. Hope it doesn’t cause more harm than good. And on Random Thoughts there’ll be another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday In chapter six of Water (on Random Thoughts) Ravi and his friends are going to learn a little more about why the compound is being moved.

Friday I think it’s time for a new poetry form on Random Writings, I just don’t know which one yet. On Random Thoughts it’s Flash Me Friday and I’ll be doing another picture prompt.

Feb 17, 2012

Flash Me Friday

Storm God

From the empty void it came, seeping into the amorphous world. It had no purpose as such, it was merely a traveller. It had journeyed a great distance and its journey left it weak, scattered. Formless, it surrounded the world it found, drawing strength wherever and however it could.

For a time it rested, recovered, drawing energy passively. Its intelligence was vast and it sought to add to its knowledge but this world was too new, it offered little of consequence. It amused itself, if such a term could be applied to it, by restructuring the world. Land masses were raised, or lowered, with little disbursement of energy. Water filled the gaps between.

Time had no meaning to it. It had been from the beginning and it would still be until the end. It became aware of sparks of creation on the world below, and at first it ignored them. Of what use were such sparks to one so all encompassing? But the sparks continued, expanded, and it learned something new – curiosity.

The sparks were crude, incomplete, yet they gave off an energy that it found intriguing. It tried communicate with them, with wind and rain and lightning, but they lacked the means to understand. Instead they gave it many names, Shri Indra, Tarhunnas, Adad, Ishkur, Hadad, Thor. Such names meant nothing to it.

It continued to gather itself, sometimes hoarding its energy like a miser, sometimes expelling the excess, unmindful of the chaos it created below. This place was not its home and it had little care for any damage done to the surface. The sparks continued to evolve and change, but it had already lost interest in them. They lasted only an instant in time.

As it circled the world it felt a ripple in its being. It became aware of a strangeness, of unnatural constructions crawling on its skin, moving through its essence. It did not like this feeling, the heaviness of the stratosphere, the impurities of the troposphere. It sought the source of the intrusions and turned its attention once more to the sparks of life below.

Unchecked, the sparks had spread like an infestation across the surface. It raised the wind and rain, bleeding its own energy to cleanse the world, but it was spread too thin and could only purify one small section at a time. It tried the reverse, pulling energy instead of using it, and though the world below would shift and fracture it was never enough to deter the sparks. Always, the sparks returned.

The sparks served no purpose. What energy they possessed was insignificant compared to its great reservoir. They were nothing more than an annoyance that appeared each time it rested on a new world

This place was not its home, it never had been, it was never meant to be. The sparks rendered this place impure. It was time to move on. It seethed and boiled with the energy it had achieved and reached out, away from the world below.

Back into the empty void it returned, ready to journey forward, ready to seek a new world. It gave no thought to the world it left behind, no care for the damage its leaving caused to the mesosphere, the thermosphere. Most of all it gave no thought to the sparks of life it was leaving behind.

Feb 16, 2012

Post Delay

Sorry folks, I didn't get today's installment of Water finished last night. Hopefully I'll have it finished and up by noon.

Feb 15, 2012

Feb 14, 2012

The Origins of Valentine's Day

When someone mentions Valentine’s Day, most of us have visions of hearts and cupids dancing in our heads. And if you ask the average person how Valentine’s Day got started, they’ll probably mumble something about Hallmark cards coming up with the idea.

The truth is, Valentine’s Day is rooted in the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, celebrated from February 13 to 15. Priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. The hides from the sacrifices would then be cut into strips and dipped in sacrificial blood. Then the priests would slap both women and crop fields with the hide strips. The woman believed the touch of the hides would make them more fertile for the coming year.

Next came a match-making lottery. All the young women in the city would place their names into a jar and the young men would each draw the name of their prospective lover. These matches would last until the next festival and often ended in marriage.

The rise of Christianity saw many pagan holidays being renamed and dedicated to Christian martyrs. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with Saint Valentine’s Day. Instead of men and women taking the names of lovers in the lottery, they were to draw the name of saints, who were to be their moral and spiritual guides for the year.

No one knows for certain why Valentine was chosen for the patron saint of the day. There were actually three men named Valentine who were martyred on February 14. One was a Bishop from Terni, and one was a priest from Africa. But the most famous Valentine, and the most likely candidate, was a Roman priest who lived during the reign of Claudius II.

The Roman Empire was in turmoil when Claudius became emperor. In an effort to raise more men for the Roman armies, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements, believing marriage made men weak with their emotional attachments. Valentine, who was a bishop, refused to respect the ban and started marrying couples in secret. It was only a matter of time before he was caught and thrown into prison.

According to one legend, while in prison Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and just before his death wrote her a letter signed, “From your Valentine,” the phrase that’s still used today. Although the truth behind this is murky, there is no doubt this legends accentuates his appeal as a sympathetic and romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Feb 13, 2012

Myrmecophagid Monday

myrmecophagid ~ of, like or pertaining to anteaters

So . . . I’ve been doing some thinking recently. Yes, I know, me thinking is a dangerous thing. But bear with me. Call me crazy (several of you who know me already do) but it seems kind of silly to do duplicate posts on both Monday AND Tuesday. And to be honest, I kind of miss doing my non-fiction series. So I’m thinking about starting a new non-fiction series this Tuesday.

I’d like to take a minute to apologize to my fellow bloggers out there whose blogs I read but don’t comment on. For those who are fairly new to this blog, my lap top is old. (For those of you who’ve been around for awhile and don’t want to hear me whine about my lap top again, this would be a good place to go get that cup of tea, or coffee, or whatever.) Not only is my lap top old, it’s getting a little worn out. There’s a bite out of one corner (I have no idea how that happened), it’s missing the ‘B’ key (yeah, I know exactly how that happened), the spacebar only works if you hit it dead center, the ‘K’ key only works when it feels like it, the left shift key only works if the planets are in alignment and you hit it just right, and the screen is starting to go pink. Other than that it works pretty good, unless you’ve got a web browser open, then it slows down to a crawl. Sometimes I have to click on a site two or three times before it will reluctantly appear, even if I have it book-marked. Sometimes it gets bored and drops my internet connection altogether. And commenting on a blog post takes an extraordinary amount of patience, which I don’t usually have much of. We won’t even go into how lappy feels about Twitter and Facebook. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I have been reading your posts, and you all are a very interesting bunch indeed!

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I’m happy to report that I had no super late nights last week. In fact, I even got to bed at a normal (for me) time one night. And again, I got my days mixed up and got my poetry post all written Wednesday night, then realized it wasn’t being posted until Friday. The post for Water went swimmingly (har har) and I had a little extra time to work on Friday’s flash.

Once again I only read one book last week, at least one book that’s been published. :-) This time it was Desert Heat, by Jamie DeBree. Yes, I know I’ve read it before, but this time I took my time, savouring it. It’s my favourite of hers (to date). I love the characters and I love the whole suspense/drama of the story line.

I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but thanks to the impending Valentine’s Day, there were a lot of chick flicks on television over the weekend. I love me some good chick flicks! One of them I happened to catch was the Prince and Me. The reason I mention it is because it was one I’d been avoiding, thinking it was the old standard clichéd story. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, they did fall in love before she realized he was a prince, and then one of them made a sacrifice so they could be together, but the ending redeemed the whole cliché. And I’m not saying who did what, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself. ;-)

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

TuesdayWe have a bit of a change in the line-up here. On Random Thoughts we’re going to have a look into the origins of Valentine’s Day, and next week I’ll be starting a new series on Prophets. You know, just to prepare for the end of the world on December 21. ;-)On Random Writings I’ll be continuing to Share the Love.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) So, Paran and Thackery are going to help Howard help Jessica. Is this going to be a good thing or a bad thing? And I’m switching back to a picture of Errol Flynn ‘cause I’m tired of looking at my dismal attempt at illustration for this serial. Yes, I know the story doesn’t really have anything to do with Errol Flynn, but his name is going to crop up eventually. :-) And the Hump Day Hunk (on Random Thoughts) will be something appropriate for the day after Valentine’s Day.

Thursday In chapter five of Water (on Random Thoughts) we will catch a glimpse of what the ‘bad thing’ Nereida thinks is coming. And while they are starting out fairly young, after the ‘bad thing’ happens they’re going to start aging ‘cause the really good stuff happens when they’re a little older. ;-)

FridayAny poets out there want to do an interview/guest post? If so, drop me a line at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com. Otherwise you’re stuck with more of my poetry on Random Writings. On Random Thoughts it’s Flash Me Friday and I’ll be doing another picture prompt.

Feb 10, 2012

Flash Me Friday

Final Exam

“Today is your final exam in shapeshifting. Those who pass – yes, Raphael,” the wizard said with a sigh.

The redheaded lad at the end of the row lowered his hand. “What happened to Gordie?”

“Gordie did not pass the last part of the test—”

“But we practiced together and he could turn into a fish real easy.”

“Nevertheless, he—”

“I’m sure going to miss him, he was lots of fun.”

There were a few murmurs of agreement from the other boys.

The wizard’s teeth ground together. “There are three parts to the shapeshifting exam – animal, fish, and fowl.”

Raphael looked like he wanted to say something else, but the boy beside him poked him in the ribs and told him to be quiet.

“Each of the shapes we have studied has its own unique aspects. The animal was easiest, can anyone tell me why?”

Raphael jumped up and down, waving his hand in the air but the wizard called on Alfred instead.

“Because with an animal, all we have to change is our form. With the fish we also had to learn how to breathe underwater and with the fowl we need to learn to fly.”

“Very good, Alfred.”

Raphael shot Alfred a scowl.

“And can anyone tell me why it’s important that we be able to fly when we shapeshift into a bird?”

The boys shuffled in place, looking at each other.

The wizard allowed himself a slight smile. “Perhaps this is something you’ll learn while taking the test.”

He led them to the gorge that bordered the forest. “You must not only be able to transform into the bird of your choice, you must be able to hold the shape and make your way back to the school.”

Again there was murmuring from the boys as they looked at each other.

“Don’t forget, choose wisely. You will not be graded on speed, but you will be graded on clarity of form.”

One by one, the boys approached the edge of the gorge. The first boy chose a robin for his shape. He peeped once and then fearlessly leaped from the edge. Next was a ragged-looking sparrow, followed by a crow. The crow took three tries before he was able to make it into the air. Alfred chose a canary, but was unable to hold the shape.

He turned back into a boy and blushing, asked to be allowed to try again. The wizard nodded and this time Alfred chose the much plainer cowbird. With only a slight hesitation he spread his wings and soared away towards the school.

Raphael couldn’t make up his mind what kind of bird he should become. He wanted to impress the wizard, but in the end he decided play it safe. There was one form he and Gordie had practiced a lot, dreaming of one day carrying messages too and from the battlefield.

He moved slowly to the edge of the gorge and concentrated hard. In seconds he transformed himself into a pigeon. He was so busy congratulating himself on a job well done that he failed to notice the spotted owl swooping down behind him.

Back at the school, the rest of the boys waited for the wizard to return.

“Where’s Raphael?” Alfred asked.

“I’m sorry Alfred, but Raphael didn’t pass the test. Now, you boys go along to lunch. I’ve already eaten.”

Feb 8, 2012

Hump Day Hunk

This one is a special request for my friend Sue. There you go, Sue. Hairy enough for you? ;-)

Feb 7, 2012

Sharing the Love

Noteworthy posts:

Tired of the e-book/print book argument? Then THIS POST is for you!

Good E-Reader has some helpful advice on How to Market Your Indie Book Via Press Releases.

Don’t forget Tuesday’s Tales. This week there are twenty authors linking a story.

Mooderino has some very helpful tips on What Do You Love About Your Dialogue?

And you don’t want to miss Chuck Wendig’s post 25 Reasons That Writers Are Bug-fuck Nuts

We all have favourite words we use when writing, but have you ever wondered if you use a favourite word a little too much? Maybe you need to check out WriteWords.

Blogs and Websites:

Confessions of a Fat Woman
CL Bevill’s blog never fails to put a smile on my face. And she illustrates her posts too – her illustrations are almost as funny as her words. And as an added bonus, she’s an amazing writer. You can also check out her books HERE.

Split Fiction
Two authors chronicle their adventures writing a novel together.

News of the Weird
I don’t know about you, but I love reading about weird stuff.

Project Gutenberg
If you love the classics and older books that are maybe not so classic, then this is the site for you. You can either read online or download to your computer or favourite e-reader.

Feb 6, 2012

Mercurial Monday

mercurial ~ volatile; fluctuating

Did you watch the Super Bowl yesterday? We went to a Super Bowl party last night, and I’m happy to report that I did not see any of the game. My kind of party! :-)

My friend and I sat in the kitchen drinking tea and talking while the guys were in the man cave watching the game. It was a win/win situation for everyone. I’m not a big sports fan, never have been. It’s been a long time since my friend and I have gotten together so we had a great time without the beer or the game or the man noises.

Again, I only read one book last week. This one was Unmasking the Maverick Prince, by Kristi Gold. This was from an older, Silhouette Desire line. I pulled it off my to be read shelf at random and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Has anyone notice I’ve been keeping my Reading Challenge (on Random Thoughts) and What I’m Working on (on Random Writings) pages up to date? Of the two pages I must say the Reading Challenge is easier to update. It doesn’t have any progress bars. Although now that I think of it, I could add one, couldn’t I? Hmm . . .

I had a busy week (writing-wise) last week, despite the fact the grey weather really started to drag me down. I had one super late night, and the next day I had a nap during which I dreamed about how tired I was. I wonder what that means? Of course part of that dream was also that it was “take your husband to work day” in a grocery store I once worked in. Yes, I know I’m weird. ;-)

I spent a lot of time last week struggling to write a blurb for the back cover of Fire. At the rate I’m going it’s going to take me almost as much time as the novel itself, which is not a good thing! Distilling an entire novel down to just two paragraphs is no easy task, especially when there’s a lot of action. *sigh*

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

TuesdayI think we’re going to be a little short on blog post/web site recommendations this week. I haven’t had a lot of time for surfing.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Last week Jessica found out that Ghren isn’t the happy kingdom she thought. But what’s she going to do about it? And the Hump Day Hunk this week is a special request (on Random Thoughts).

Thursday will be Chapter Four of Water (on Random Thoughts) where we find out a little more about the virus and if Nereida makes a full recovery.

Friday I still haven’t set up a poet interview, so once again you’re stuck with more of my poetry on Random Writings. On Random Thoughts it’s Flash Me Friday and I’ll be doing another picture prompt.

Feb 3, 2012

Flash Me Friday

The Bluebell Road

Only the desperate sought out the witch in the wood, and Grace was desperate indeed. She had been raised on a farm and had no experience in woodcraft, but still she undertook the journey deep into the heart of the clawthorn woods, keeping vigil by the waterfall for three days and two nights before the witch deigned to grant her an audience.

Grace pleaded her case passionately, if not eloquently, and was heartened when the witch listened without interruption. When Grace finally ran out of words the witch stared at her for several minutes without speaking. She tried not to fidget under that unwavering stare, but she was tired and hungry and the witch seemed to see right through to her soul.

From the mystery surrounding her, Grace had thought the witch would be a more imposing figure. It was surprising how ordinary the she was in appearance; she could have blended in with the people of the village with ease. She was neither young, nor old, face unlined and just a single streak of grey threading through her chestnut hair. But she wore her power around her like a cloak, and that alone was enough to make a smart person wary.

At last the witch held out her hand. Grace felt a surge of hope. She reached into her travel cape and pulled out the small leather pouch that held the total sum of her life’s savings, including what little she’d made from the sale of all her worldly goods. Without hesitation, she placed it in the witch’s palm.

“Look for the bluebell road,” the witch told her. “You will find what you seek at its end.”

“Bluebell road? I’ve never heard of such a place. Where—”

But the witch had already vanished.

Grace searched for a year and a day, travelling from village to village, following up any rumour that might lead to the bluebell road. She slept in stables and barns, and all too often wrapped up in her cloak and huddled at the base of a tree. Sometimes she was able to trade work for a sleeping spot by the fire and a bite of bread for supper at a farm or tavern, but as the weeks slipped by these were harder to come by.

Soon the villagers began to shun her, some even driving her away with stones. Grace gleaned what she could from the forest, sometimes foraging from the edge of a farmer’s field under the cover of darkness. Her clothing became tattered and ragged and there was a hint of madness in her eyes.

When she was taken ill, a compassionate soul left her at the door to an abbey. The nuns nursed her back to a semblance of health but she was still much too thin and the wildness never quite left her gaze. They had nurtured a hope they could persuade her to stay with them, but Grace slipped away from them during the night.

She had been searching for the bluebell road for so long that for a moment she didn’t even recognize it when it appeared before her. She stopped in her tracks, mind still not fully registering what she saw.

Filtered sunlight highlighted the blue carpet beneath the trees. The track led straight ahead, vanishing into the shadows. Grace was frozen in place. Her mind flashed back to the reason she’d begun this journey, to everything she’d given up, everything she’d suffered.

“Look for the bluebell road,” the witch had told her. “You will find what you seek at its end.”

Mind clear at last, Grace lifted her foot and took the first step down the bluebell road.