Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Shadow On The Stone
by Thomas Hardy

While I really enjoy Thomas Hardy’s poetry, I have to admit I’ve never read any of his novels and I don’t believe I’ve read any of his shorter fiction either. Maybe one of these days I’ll look him up on Project Gutenberg . That site has everything. ;-)

In the meantime, for today’s passion for poetry I’d like to share my favourite Thomas Hardy poem. It was written shortly after the death of his first wife, Emma. He wrote a whole series of love poems for her, regretting how much they had grown apart in the later years of their marriage.


The Shadow On The Stone

I went by the Druid stone
That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
That at some moments fall thereon
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
Threw there when she was gardening.

I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
Though how do you get into this old track?’
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Readin’ and Writin’

Short Fiction - 762
Long Fiction - 2043
Poetry - 152
Total Words - 2957
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 3

Despite the fact my numbers are higher than they’ve been previously, I have to admit to being a little disappointed. Granted I had a few health issues going on last week, but there were several times when I had a choice between reading and writing and I chose reading. Yeah, I know. Bad author!

But there were a couple of steamy shifter books on the e-reader that were really hard to put down, and I started to really get into Stephen King’s The Dark Half. I love when his characters are writers. And if you’re writing under a pseudonym you really need to read this one.

The good news is, I’ve started a collection of military based romances on my Kindle that aren’t quite as riveting, and I finished The Dark Half and needed something a little more ordinary in the tree book department, so I’m reading a Regency Christmas anthology. Don’t judge. :-p

I surprised myself by not only writing a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt, but coming up with it early. The deadline is Friday at midnight and you can usually find me hard at work on it at 11 p.m. But this one was finished on Thursday! If you’re curious, you can read it HERE. And I thought it was pretty ironic that the day it was posted it was hazy in the morning, got hotter by lunch, and then some clouds started to roll in. Of course these clouds just rolled on by and it never cooled down, but still ...

I often get together with a writing friend on Saturday mornings for coffee and a thrift store run, but this weekend we brought our coffee in thermoses and packed a couple of lawn chairs in the car. We parked on the pier and sat in our chairs facing the harbour and pulled out our notebooks to write. I should clarify - Catherine wrote; I kept getting distracted. This is the view I had:



The water was so calm it looked like you could walk on it. There wasn’t even a hint of breeze. It was beautiful. There was a flock of seagulls on the other side of the barrier that keeps pedestrians from walking out to the lighthouse and even they were quiet. Then all of a sudden there was this loud splash as a huge fish leaped out of the water and smacked down again. He did this three times and then moved on to a different spot. He seemed to be making a circuit of the harbour - always leaping three times before moving on - and I couldn’t help but wonder what his deal was.

This was one of those times when I tried to bend the writing to my will, which never works and I really should have known better. I had my heart set on doing a story for the BSB prose prompt, but I could not for the life of me come up with a reason why someone would send hate mail to a weatherman when the weather was good and fan mail when the weather was bad. Of course now I have about three different ideas that would work, but it’s too late. LOL

Anyway, after spending way too much time getting nothing done on that I turned to my own prompt, the picture of the month. And started re-writing the story I’d already started from the beginning. A page or two into that I got a couple of ideas that I had to write down, so I abandoned my story and didn’t get back to it. And then it started getting freakishly hot so we packed it in.

So while I didn’t get the 12 pages written that Catherine did, I got enough accomplished that I don’t feel like I wasted my time. Next time I’d like to be better prepared - maybe with a clearer idea of what I want to work on. I kept thinking I should have taken my Neo with me and next time I will.

And sun screen. Lots of sun screen. ;-)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fiction Friday - The Wishing Stone

By the time I’m ready to write my wordage report on Monday, I should have a significant number of new words added to my current WIP, Wandering Wizards, just not yet. I have added a few hundred so far this week, but there’s not really enough for an excerpt. Instead of working on my WIP I got a jump start on the story for my picture prompt, and then I wrote a poem for the Brazen Snake Books prompt.

So once again I dipped into the vault, this time pulling out a story that is the first in a planned series of five stories revolving around a crystal necklace. I’m not sure why I abandoned it - I like what I have of it and I think I’ll be moving it up on my list of stories to return to in the future. And though it’s a series, each story is a stand-alone. While some of the characters know each other, the only real connection is the necklace.

At any rate, our heroine, Annalise, has had an incredible run of bad luck so her grandmother gives her the wishing crystal (without telling her what it is) and sends her off to the cabin no one in the family knows she has where she is supposed to fulfill her dream of becoming an author. Only the magic in the necklace manifests itself in ... unusual ways.


The Wishing Stone

The shriek of some animal dying rent the night. Like a switch being thrown, the night was suddenly still. The quiet lasted for several seconds and then the crickets began chirping again followed by the bull frogs.

All at once the night lost its magic. Annalise scrambled to her feet, suddenly chilled to the bone. She stumbled on the path back to the cabin. The moon was behind her now, casting ominous shadows. There was a rustling in the woods beside her. She halted, staring blindly into the underbrush.

The brush rustled again but she couldn’t tell which side of the path. She had the strangest feeling of being watched.

“Hello? Is someone there?”

A bird shot out of the brush, right across the path in front of her. Annalise gave a shaky laugh. Just a bird, nothing to get nervous about. She took another step up the path, stopping when she heard a growl.

“Whoever this is, this isn’t funny!”

Glowing, yellow eyes stared at her from the underbrush.

Annalise backed away a step, then another. Again she heard a low growl. The breeze shifted and the growl became something else. A cloud slid across the face of the moon, taking what little light there was with it.

More movement in the brush, coming closer. Almost before she realized what she was doing, Annalise turned and fled up the path towards the cabin. She could hear something behind her but was too terrified to look back to see what it was.

Sobbing with relief, she saw the cabin, just ahead. She was almost there when she tripped on a protruding root. Before she could scramble to her feet, whatever had been chasing her caught up to her. It landed on her back, planting her face in the dirt again. Her breath left her in a whoosh. Whatever it was it was large and heavy. It snuffled the side of her face and neck.

Rapid fire thoughts shot through her as she lay there, waiting to be torn apart. This was it, she was going to die. They’d find what was left of her body eventually and Grams would blame herself for sending her up here in the first place when really it was her own stupid fault for not being more careful. Or maybe the creature was going to drag her off and they’d never find her body and they’d always wonder what happened to her.

The creature, however, did not tear her apart but continued to snuffle the side of her face, her hair. Its breath blew out in harsh huffs. Her knees and hands started to sting where she’d tried to break her fall, she shifted minutely. The creature growled, low in its throat, but shifted as well.

Any relief she felt when its weight left her was short-lived as she felt herself being flipped over onto her back. No sooner had it done this than it was on her again. Though she struggled, he held her down easily. She could tell it was a man now, laying his full length on her to keep her still.

“What do you want?” she sobbed. “Why are you doing this?”

The moon slipped from behind the cloud and in that instant she could see the glowing yellow eyes and the long, furry muzzle with sharp, white fangs reaching for her. Annalise opened her mouth to scream.

She woke with a start, heart still pounding as though she really had been chased through the woods.

“I can’t believe I fell asleep at the typewriter.” She took a deep breath and let it out again.

Covering the typewriter for the night, she glanced at the pages she’d typed out earlier. Gathering them up, she tossed them into the fireplace.

“I’m thinking werewolves are just a little too paranormal for my taste,” she said. With a yawn she headed up the stairs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Poet Tree



About four years ago I was invited to join a group of poets who were giving eulogies to a tree. Yes, that’s right, a tree. This wasn’t a protest, this was saying goodbye to the last elm tree in Victoria Park before it was cut down. The occasion was even videoed and uploaded to YouTube. Good luck finding it. ;-)

Afterwards we tucked our poems beneath a string wound around the tree so that passersby could read them. I just recently saw in our local news that the first of several benches made from the wood of the tree are ready to be placed in the park. Apparently the wood needed to season before it could be used.

At any rate, this is the poem I came up with for the occasion:


The Poet Tree's Tale

Hear my tale that you may see
The dream I dreamed beneath this tree
Whose rich enchantment captured me;
While I was sitting in its lee.

There was a sweet tranquility
Of visions that were sent to me
By this majestic poet tree
Whose life is filled with history.

Ages of serenity
Years passed by in harmony
Such innocence and purity
It caught me up, then set me free.

"But peace no more," alleged the tree,
"The world has changed, and so have we.
Life is just uncertainty -
A storm is coming, wait and see."

"Earthquakes leave behind debris,
Earth and fire, wind and sea,
The heavens weep unnaturally,
For what is past and still to be."

"The warnings come by two and three
Ignored by those too blind to see.
And you, the guardians, meant to be
Abandoned us, ignore our plea."

And when I woke, beneath the tree
I wept for what would come to be
I wept for all life's frailty
And the dream I dreamed beneath this tree.

Monday, September 11, 2017

An Embarrassment of WIPs

New Words - 557 + 1051 + 617 + 397
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 2622
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 4

So ... despite last Monday being a holiday, I finally started to ease into that much needed writing schedule I’ve been yearning for. I wrote 500+ words on Monday, twice that on Tuesday, nothing except updating my journal (a week’s worth) on Wednesday, and Thursday ... Okay, Thursday I did park my butt in my office at the appointed hour, but that was it. And no poetry at all last week.

I did print out some stuff to work on during nap time (which didn’t happen - the writing, not nap time). I just kind of ground to a halt. The mind was willing but the fingers were weak. I got hit by a dose of writer’s apathy and I’m still struggling with it. And while I did lose three days to the writer’s apathy, I did start to rally on the weekend and get a few more words in.

But there’s another reason I didn’t get as much done as I could have last week and I can’t for the life of me decide if this is a good excuse or a really stupid excuse, but here goes. You be the judge:

I have too many projects to choose from.

I have a folder on the desktop of my computer that’s labeled Working On. In this folder is 28 document files - all stories that are in various stages of being done. Some just need a little tweeking, some need a lot of work. A couple are stories I started for the weekly BSB prompt and never got off the ground, but I want to finish anyway.

But wait! There’s more. There are also 8 sub-folders that contain a total of 143 files of stuff I’ve been working on. That’s a lot of WIPs to choose from, don’t you think? And that’s not even dipping into the folders on my desktop marked Books, Short Stories, or Poetry.

The Books folder, for instance, holds all of my NaNo efforts as well as folders for several different series I have plans for. Not just novels, but series of novels. I’ve completed the NaNoWriMo challenge 10 times and only 1 of those novels have seen the light of day. Shame on me! But it’s no wonder I’m not getting anything done, I have so many irons in the fire you can’t even see the fire.

So, what am I to do?

I’m going to change the name of the Working On folder to To Be Worked On and maybe even store it on a USB stick to remove temptation. I will create a new folder called Currently Working On for my desktop, and in it I will limit myself to no more than six WIPs, including the novel I’m hoping to have done in time for Christmas. And if I’m going to have a prayer of that happening, I’m going to have to seriously up my game.

Expect to see the New Words at the top of this post divided between Short Fiction and Novel next week. And it would really help if Book Bub would stop offering me so many good books to read. And maybe the new season of television could be put off for a couple of months.

And at this point I really have to wonder, what was I doing with all my time over the last few months?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fiction Friday - Forever and For Always

Though I have been getting back into my writing groove, it’s been short stories and bits and pieces, nothing I can really post an excerpt from. So today I’m offering a snippet from my first complete NaNo novel. And by complete I mean I completed the NaNo challenge with it, not that the novel itself is complete. There’s a couple of plot holes to fill and a massive amount of editing. But one of these days ...

In the meantime, this excerpt is from near the beginning. Our heroine has crashed on a planet and decided to do a bit of exploring a bit of exploring while her ship’s energy stores re-charge. In this scene she meets the man who will be the hero of the story. I was going to post a picture of my inspiration for his character, but it was NSFW, so you’re getting the cover I came up with instead. ;-)



The water fell from a height of about twenty feet, hitting the rocks framing it before tumbling into the river, which had widened into a pool at this point. A flat, stone slab formed part of the bank and Trez knelt on it to test the water. It was cool, but not as cold as she expected.

Sitting back on her haunches, she debated about going for a swim. Unlike most spacers, she knew how to swim and enjoyed it whenever she got the chance. She glanced around the sunlit glade. It seemed harmless enough.

Colourful butterflies flitted from one exotic bloom to the next. There was just a hint of a warm breeze causing the leafy fronds above to sway gently. The water was clear enough to see a handful of small, silvery fish darting after each other. The pond beckoned and she couldn’t resist any longer.

Standing up, she peeled off the ship suit and folded it neatly of the rock. Completely naked she eased herself into the water, gasping at the cool temperature. Taking a deep breath, she ducked under and swam out into the center of the pond.

Her head broke above water with a gasp. This was wonderful! Trez swam a few laps and then floated on her back, letting the current carry her away from the waterfall and the sun warm her up. Somersaulting in the water, she swam back over to the waterfall and climbed up on the rocks.

The rocks were a bit slippery, but she managed to find a fairly flat surface. She stood up and held her arms out, letting the water pound into her. Laughing, she turned in a circle. It was like getting a water massage.

When she grew tired of being pummeled by the waterfall she turned and took a running leap off the rocks. With a loud whoop that startled the nearby birds from the trees she landed with a splash in the center of the pond. She broke the surface with a laugh; she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had this much fun.

Trez started swimming laps again and when she grew tired she pulled herself out onto the sun drenched rock. She lay on her back and dozed, letting the sun dry her off. After about an hour she started to get an itchy feeling, like she was being watched.

She sighed, and stretched, then sat up and reluctantly pulled on her clothing. Taking her time, she surreptitiously glanced around, trying to locate the source of her feeling. Whatever was watching her, she didn’t think it was an animal. An animal would have attacked by now or moved on. It was probably some kind of humanoid, hopefully not an aggressive one.

“Okay,” she said in a loud voice. “You’ve had your fun. I know you’re out there, you might as well come out and show yourself.”

Turning, she faced the jungle. A rustling came from the place she was watching. It was lower to the ground than she expected, as though it was either a small person or someone low to the ground.

“It’s all right,” she said, crouching down. “I’m not going to hurt you. I enjoy making friends on new worlds.”

“F-f-f-friend?”

The voice came from the direction of the rustling and was definitely male. And if she was reading the nuances right, he was a very frightened male.

“It’s okay, really,” she cajoled. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The brush parted and slowly the creature approached. He was hunched over and moved with a shuffling gait, using both hands and feet, allowing him to stay close to the ground. Definitely humanoid, he was naked except for a thick collar around his neck. His long, blonde hair was matted and filthy, but the face he raised to her was the face of an angel.

“Do you have a name?” she asked gently.

He ducked his head. “Ape,” he said. “Me Ape.”

“It’s nice to meet you Ape. My name is Trez.”

“Friend Trez.”

“Close enough,” she smiled. “Are you all alone here Ape?”

Shaking his head vigorously, he didn’t answer. He darted a look at her, then hesitantly held out his hand. His offering was a large red blossom.

Trez smiled and took the flower from him. “Thank you, Ape. It’s beautiful.” She brought it up to her nose and gave a sniff. “Oh! The scent is–” she smelled it again. “I’ve never smelled anything like it in my life. It’s amazing.”

There was a flash of white teeth as Ape grinned at her before ducking his head again. Trez studied him curiously. She’d bet her last cargo he was human, but what happened to him? Had he been stranded here? Hurt? How long had he been like this?

Suddenly, he tensed as a woman’s voice was heard calling his name.

“Ape! Damn your worthless hide, where are you hiding?”

“Friend go. Friend hide,” he said emphatically, pointing away from the voice.

“Who’s that calling?” Trez asked. He seemed frightened; perhaps he’d strayed away and was afraid of getting into trouble. If that were the case she should stay to smooth things over. “Is she your friend too?”

If anything, he seemed even more agitated. “No friend. Bad!” He rocked back and forth in place. “Friend go!”

With that he pushed off with his hands and vanished back into the jungle moving surprisingly fast for someone who kept so close to the ground.

Trez rose to her feet. “Well that was – bizarre.” She gave the flower one last sniff and then tucked it in her hair. Gazing thoughtfully at the spot Ape had disappeared, she finally shrugged and turned away to put her shoes on.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dreaming

Wednesday kind of snuck up on me. There I was making excellent progress on a story I was working on, when all of a sudden I realized I was supposed to be posting a poem.

And I was actually going to try to write something new for a change, only, well, it was midnight when I started this post and my brain was not fully in gear. In fact, it took several tries before I rooted out even an old poem to use.

I’m pretty sure I was around thirty when I wrote this poem, which is kind of funny when you consider the subject matter. But just to give you a little perspective on the way my mind works ... I have a sister who’s ten years older than me, so when she turned thirty I was only twenty and I thought thirty was positively ancient. She has never forgiven me for the hard time I gave her. LOL


Dreaming

If I could live another’s life, my world their point of view
Oh, how happy I could be to do the things they do.
Instead of drab existence, a life more richly led
A wish fulfillment fantasy - another’s path to tred.

If I could have the romance that others seem to find,
The passion everlasting, the closeness so divine
The happiness I would derive from such a life as this
Seems to me the best that I could ever hope to wish.

If I could find adventure, the kind others seem to find
How exciting life would be - a mystery to unwind
Flights of fancy lead me to far exotic lands
Filled with wondrous peoples and vistas ever grand.

If I could see the dreams I dream come to life at last
The way that others seem to do then when the dreaming’s passed
I could look back upon a life and see what others see
And feel the satisfaction, that dreaming caused to be.

If I could live my life once more now that I’m at the end
I’d live a life that’s real this time instead of one pretend.
I’d do the things I dream about and when my life is gone
There’d be no regrets, as there is now, for things I’ve never done.