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.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Things and Stuff

New Words - 1052
Poetry - 177
Total Words - 1229
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes- 3

Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another. Last week was another week that was not conducive to writing, and I can’t even blame the hubby being on vacation. Actually, hubby being at home was a bonus because he was determined to barbeque every night, which meant he was doing half the cooking for dinners.

No, the culprit last week was all the extra babysitting so the son-in-law could spend time visiting his mother, who was in the hospital. I love my grandbaby, but she can be pretty exhausting. She may only be 2 ½ but she’s already a force of nature.

What surprised me the most about last week was I was able to get my blog posts done. Especially the Friday ones. Thursday I babysat from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and then Friday the hubby and I took the day off to go to the CNE, which you can read about HERE if you like.

Thank goodness for the prompts from Brazen Snake Books last week or I might not have anything to show for my week except a few paragraphs of notes for a story idea. The poetry prompt was to write a poem about something (anything) going bad, which came just at the right time for me.

I’d like to move my office across the hall to a sunnier room in the house, but in doing so I also need a smaller desk. I’ve always dreamed of one of those small, roll top desks with all the pigeon holes and secret drawers and such. So on a whim I did an online search and to my surprise I found one I could afford within driving distance. I emailed the seller and yes, it was still available. It was going to be a couple of days before I could get to it and in the mean time someone else, with cash in hand, swooped in and bought it. You can read my poem about it HERE.

And anyone who knows me knows I love all things mystical, so it was impossible to resist last week’s story prompt: A character went to get his/her fortune read six years ago. Today, that fortune is coming true in the most unexpected way. Tell us about it… You can check out the resulting stories HERE. I really love that Jamie’s story (it comes first) is light in contrast to the darkness of mine.

The new PROMPTS for the week are up at Brazen Snake Books, you should really pop over and give them a try. And once you’re done with your story and/or poem for BSB, check out my picture prompt of the month HERE. Last month's prompt inspired someone other than me to write a story, I'd love if that happened again.

Needless to say, I made no progress on a writing routine last week but this week things are back to normal, despite the long weekend. So cross your fingers for me.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Prompt Me - The Bridge

Hard to believe it's September already, isn't it? Where did the summer go??

For a change, I actually started thinking about the monthly prompt early and I had three very different pictures sitting on my desk top for the last week. It was hard to choose between them, but I kept coming back to this one so this one it is:



Who built this bridge? What does it span? Who, or what, is the shadowy figure on the other side? Are the trees dead, or just dormant? Just think of the possibilities!

As always, the idea is to write a fiction story (any genre), a non-fiction story, or a poem inspired by the above picture. You have until the end of the month, in this case, September 28 (which is a Thursday) to send me what you've come up with and I'll post it here on the 29th. Just send what you've written to crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Terzanelle

This form is a little ... shall we say ... challenging. It was invented by Lewis Turco in 1965, and for those of somewhat familiar with poetry forms, it combines the villanelle’s refrain with the terza rima’s end line patterning. What truly makes it challenging is the number rules for it:

1. It is a fixed form of 19 lines - five triplets and a quatrain.
2. The body is comprised of tercets that each refrain the second line of the preceding tercet for its third line.
3. The first line of each of these tercets is rhymed with its refrained line.
4. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are refrained as the second and fourth lines of the closing quatrain.
5. The closing quatrain refrains the second line of the last tercet as its third line and rhymes its first line with that refrain.
6. Lines may be in any length or meter within reason.
7. Terzanelles may be written on any subject.

Got that now? There’ll be a test later. ;-)


Dragonflight

The wind is sighing through the trees,
The warmth of summer shimmers ‘round;
Magic‘s found in days like these.

A forest pool, a wild playground,
Where water lilies are abloom,
The warmth of summer shimmers ‘round.

A wafting scent of rare perfume;
The air is soft with ambient light
Where water lilies are abloom.

Who directs your soaring flight,
Free spirit wandering where it will.
The air is soft with ambient light.

You dip and weave and fly with skill -
I’d follow if I only could,
Free spirit wandering where it will

I watch you flitter through the wood;
The wind is sighing through the trees.
I’d follow if I only could -
Magic is found in days like these.


If you’d like to learn more about the Terzanelle, try one of the following links:
Shadow Poetry 
Writer's Digest 
The Poet's Garret  
Popular Poetry Forms 

If you give it a try, I’d love to see what you come up with. If you email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com, I’ll post it here next Wednesday. And if you don’t, then you’re going to be stuck reading a couple of poems that survived junior high school.

How’s that for incentive? :-D

Monday, August 28, 2017

Paving the Road

New Words - 583
Poetry - 0
Total Words - 583
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 4

I added Notes to my list this week because sometimes even when I’m not actually editing I’ll come up with ideas for a WIP and if I’m lucky I’m smart enough to write them down.

Well . . . crappy doodles! Last week was a real bust as far as writing went, and I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in my office. No good writing habits were formed. And I only have myself to blame. I had such good intentions, but we all know they’re only good for paving the road to hell. Or maybe that should be roads, plural. I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough good intentions over the years to pave several roads.

I did get some work done on Wandering Wizards, but seeing as I didn’t think to keep track of the new words I have no idea how many it was. I know it wasn’t much. And I recycled some old poems for Wednesdays poetry feature, so they don’t really count as “new” words. My story took a painfully long time to write, I was up pretty late finishing it, considering how short it is. You can read it HERE  along with a story my friend Catherine sent me. I hope you’ll see more stories from her in the future.

Anyone who has trouble finding ideas, here’s a perfect example of how you don’t find ideas, ideas find you. Thursday morning I was writing my inspiration quotes email to best bud Jamie and I was whining moaning telling her about the trouble I was having coming up with an idea that would pan out for my picture prompt of the stone angel. I was going to be flippant and add something about how she looks like one of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who and I should write about that when it clicked. Maybe I should write about a Weeping Angel.

There were so many ways this story could have gone, but after doing copious amounts of research on the Weeping Angels, I was really crunched for time. Seventeen pages of research, and very little of it was useful from a story point of view. I really should have just done a non-fiction piece, but it didn’t occur to me until just now. :-D

I thought you had to be a fan of Doctor Who to properly ‘get’ my story, but the same friend who sent me a story and her hubby read it and thought it was great - and they’ve never watched Dr. Who. I admit to taking a couple of liberties with the facts at the beginning of the story, but the rest of the information in it is pretty much true, at least according to my research.

At the beginning of last week I sent an email out to four of my old writing friends, begging for a story or poem, or whatever. One of them replied with a full story, and a second one replied with a partial story (that I really hope she finishes - I want to know what happens next!) but too late for me to post it. And two never replied at all.

I figure part of it is my own fault. When I post the prompt I give people a whole month to come up with something. These ladies barely had a week. This Friday is the first of September, which means a new picture prompt, and I’ll be sure to send it to them in a timely fashion.

You know, just as soon as I find a picture to post. ;-)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Forest Angel

You’re in for a treat today, I have not just one but two stories inspired by the picture prompt for August:





As a point of interest, when I was trying to come up with an idea for my own story, I decided to do a little research on the picture itself. It’s called, Forest Angel of the Ozarks, Missouri. Pretty much every hit on the Google search led me to another version of the same picture. There doesn’t seem to be any other information, other than it truly does exist.

With that in mind, I’d like to first share a story by a friend of mine. I actually sent an email out to several writer friends, begging for a story, and she’s the only one who responded. :-D

I’m not sure if enjoy is the proper word to use for this story, but it’s certainly very appropriate based on current events, and even though we’re both Canadians, the scary part for me is I could actually picture something like this happening.


Hate Lives
by C.L. Hannah


“Virginia was just the start of it Malcolm. Now that someone’s opened Pandora’s box and let hate escape, it’s only going to get worse. Tell me you’ve taken the steps we discussed, that everyone is in motion.”

Malcolm stared across the breakfast table at his father and shook his head. Popping the end of his scone into his mouth he chewed thoughtfully. “You know Dad, just because Hitler raised an army doesn’t mean history will repeat itself and the Confederates will this time.”

Running a hand over his face, Stuart sighed heavily. “You don’t know that son. You weren’t around when Hitler ran over countries taking what he wanted and exterminating what he didn’t.” Resting his elbows on the table he leaned forward and stared hard at the boy-man sitting before him. “How you’re my son and refuse to understand that history always repeats itself is beyond me.”

Standing, Malcolm walked to the sink with his dishes. Staring out the window at the beautifully sunny day he spoke without turning around. “Can’t you see the beautiful day Dad? Things aren’t as dire as you’re making them out to be. Please, just this once, enjoy what we have and look forward to our future.”

Stuart slammed his hand on the table, making Malcolm jump. “Look at me when you speak to me boy. I’m not one of your rat pack. I’m your father and you will address me with respect.”

“Respect is earned Dad,” said Malcolm, turning and leaning back against the sink. “You always told me that.”

“So what are you trying to tell me? That you haven’t made the calls? That everyone isn’t making their ways to the bunker as we speak? You’re playing a dangerous game son.”

“Game? You call this a game? This is life Dad, real life.”

“That’s right. This is life and if we’re going to survive it we have to take action. Now. If we don’t call no one will know it’s time. And one of us must be there to let them in son, you know that. Only one of our eye scans will open the door.”

“I’m not retreating to the bunker Dad. There is too much I want to do above ground.”

Stuart stared hard at his son and shook his head. “Have it your way boy. But remember once the door is locked it can only be opened from the inside and no one will be able to hear you knocking through the steel door. Especially after all hell breaks loose. No one. Think long and hard before you turn your back on what you know is the only safe way to survive the coming war.”

“Yah, sure, gotta go, Steve is waiting for me down by the creek.”

“Let him wait,” said Stuart, to his son’s retreating back. Knowing he had an obligation to those trusting him to protect them, he picked up the file from the table, walked into his office and started to make the calls.

Four hours later everyone on the list was safely inside the bunker. Before securing the heavy steel door, Stuart looked around, praying his son had come to his senses and would arrive. The sound of gunfire startled him and he took a step inside but still held the door open.

“It’s time Stuart,” said Lloyd, his best friend. “I’m sorry but it’s time.”

“Just give him five more minutes. I’ll close the door before anyone else tries to get in, I promise.”

Lloyd stood at his friend’s shoulder helping to scan the forest. A bomb blew up some factories in town shaking the ground under their feet. The smell of gunpowder floated through the trees, sticking to their clothing but still, they watched and hoped.

“It’s time,” said Stuart, pulling on the door.

“Let me,” said Lloyd, reaching to help.

“No. This is on me. I’ll do it.”

Five hours later the news reported more rioting in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. The National Guard had been called out but the army the Confederates had miraculously pulled together wasn’t being contained. The race wars had returned.

“I’m sorry Stuart,” said Lloyd. “I know you’d hoped your son would listen and understand. It must be brutal to know he’s out there when we’re safe in here.”

“It is, what it is,” said Stuart, his eyes tearing up. “I brought him into this world and did my best to keep him it but he refused to listen. He thought he knew better. But I suppose we all thought we knew more than our parents, so it really shouldn’t surprise me. I just wish he’d listened. I feel like I’ve failed. Maybe if I’d stayed up top, I could have gotten him to believe?”

The bunker shook as another bomb detonated near by but other than a few of the ceiling lamps swaying everyone was safe inside. Outside the landscape was being pock marked by bombs and riddled with dead bodies as the two sides fought for dominance. History was repeating itself.

When things finally calmed down on the surface, Stuart led the people from the bunker out into the sunshine. They stood silently, taking in all the carnage and wasted lives of those who hadn’t believed that history would repeat itself.

“What a waste,” said Stuart, turning a body over with his toe. “Oh My God, Malcolm.”

“See Stuart,” said Lloyd, supporting him by the arm. “In the end he did believe. He understood. You didn't fail, you did your job.”

Over the following weeks the people from the bunker rebuilt their homes and lives. They accepted strangers into their small town and helped each other heal. None of them forgot the sacrifice Stuart had made and on the day that would have been Malcolm’s birthday, they all gathered and erected a stone angel on the spot he’d died.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

My own story (as you might expect) is a little more out there. The idea for it came when I was sending my buddy Jamie her daily quote email. I was talking about coming up short for ideas and I was going to facetiously suggest I write one based on the villains from one of my favourite television shows and suddenly it clicked - and I had my idea.

If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’ll probably recognize what show this “character” is from. If you’re not, well....I think I’ll just keep you guessing. :-D

Hey! I guess technically this is my very first piece of fan fiction.


Even Monsters Need to Feed

by Carol R. Ward


I have been here for a thousand years, and if I must I will be here for a thousand more. Waiting. Longing. Dormant. It has been too long since I fed.

Some called us the lonely assassins. Most called us monsters. I suppose this is true for we were born of the union between the medusas and the basilisks. But I tell you plainly, we are not evil. We are not motivated by cruelty or greed, the evil that we are accused of is merely our desire to survive. To feed.

We have been here since the dawn of time and we will still be here when time runs down. We are everywhere, maybe even in your own back yard. For we are cunning and patient. But we have no conscience and no emotions. We have no need of them.

You will never see us in our true form. When you glance our way we assume the form you see me in now, that of a stone angel. This is the form we take our prey in. A single touch is all we need to extract the life essence of our food.

Our form was not always that of an angel, but it is the one we are most comfortable in. It seems soothing to our prey, at least until we are ready to attack and our claws and fangs appear. Their fear adds flavour to our sustenance.

Unobserved we can move with incredible speed. It is only when our prey is looking that we take on the appearance of harmless stone. As long as they are looking we cannot move. It’s only once they look away that we are free to act.

Our prey does not die, as such. With a touch we send them back to a time before their birth and then feed on the energy that remains of what would have been their life. Our prey is helpless in our presence. Weapons cannot kill us and we possess the ability to reform if we are destroyed.

When hunting in groups we must take care. Should we accidentally look at each other we would become locked in place forever. I have even heard of instances where a group of us on a hunt accidentally exchanged glances and remained frozen in place until they starved to death. For this reason when we are in groups we often cover our faces with our hands, giving the appearance that we are weeping.

Our numbers do not change much. We do not procreate in the sense humans do. First of all, we have no emotions so there is no love or desire, and though we look human we are not. We are unable to perform the physical act of love. Should the need to procreate arise, we can use our magic to give life to other, lesser statues.

I am the sole survivor of this place. We came here eons ago, and fed until there was nothing left. A glance towards one of my fellows was all it took and we were frozen in place. The others moved on, leaving us behind. As the ages passed my companion starved to death, and I was left too weak to move.

Should you come across me in the woods my exile will end. I give this advice freely:

Don’t blink.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Creative Writing

What follows is some of the few poems that survived my high school days. The original title of this series was: Creative Writing Across the Street From the School in Front of the Mansion.

In its early years, there was a ferry that went from Rochester, New York to our little harbour, allowing several rich American families to summer here. These Americans built beautiful, sprawling mansions only three of which (that I know of) still survive to this day. And one of them, to the shame of our town, is being allowed to fall into ruin so it can be pulled down and replaced with condos.

Anyway, while I was in high school one of these mansions was still across the street from the school but I can’t remember if it was still occupied at the time. But I do recall the English teacher sent us outside to find inspiration for our creative writing class and this is what I came up with:


The spider crawled carefully
up one blade of grass and
down again, only to discover
a forest of others.

The gentle breeze
Touched the fuzz
On the leaves
And invited them
to play.

The once green leaf
Is now old and faded
Changed in colour
And cracked with age.
Its edges are curled
As if with distaste
At the thought of
The coming winter.

Where did you come from
Little spider who scurries
Along the length of my page?
Wherever it is
I’ll put you back there
With the edge of the leaf
In my hand.

The helicopter passed
Eggbeaters at both ends
An intruder in the sky.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Better Than Nothing

New Words - 614
Poetry - 177
Total - 791
Editing Hours - 0

Okay, so maybe not a lot to show for my week, but it’s better than nothing, right? It’s certainly better than the last couple of weeks.

The new words were for a story for the Brazen Snake Books weekly prompt (check out this week’s prompt HERE, and if you scroll down you can read my story.) I got the idea while I was parked on the pier, sipping a cup of coffee late Saturday afternoon. Fortunately I had a notebook with me so I sat there and jotted down notes, and when I got home I sat down and started typing it out on my lap top.

IN MY OFFICE!

That’s right, I wrote that story in my office. No, I didn’t finish getting my office cleaned up last week, but I did clear off enough space on my desk for my lap top and notebook. It was one of those rare occasions when a story pretty much came to me all at once and I wrote it out in one go.

Okay, technically it was two goes. But I got the bones of it done out on the pier and just had to flesh it out when I got home. Normally even with flash fiction I take at least a couple of days. Of course I may have been influenced by the fact I was ticked at the hubby at the time. Nothing like anger at a dumb-ass spouse to get the creative juices flowing. ;-)

The poem was also written for the BSB prompt, but it was written over the course of several days. The prompt was to write about a favourite or least favourite carnival ride, and I knew immediately what I wanted to write about. But first I had to do some research - that’s right, I had to do research for a poem - and then it took me a couple of days to actually write it.

This week I was hoping to implement my plan to get back into the writing habit. I considered everything I had to do during the week, and what time I had free, and figured out a couple of times during the day I could spend in my office writing.

Normally I take the hubby to work at 10:30 a.m., and my normal morning routine would allow me to spend between 9 and 10 writing. However, this week the brother-in-law is on vacation and the hubby needs to be to work for 9. I’m not sure whether this will give me more or less time for pre-babysitting writing, but whether I write or not I’ll be sitting in my office. I’m trying to develop two habits here really, daily writing and writing in my office.

Eventually I’d like to have different days for specific kinds of writing, but for now I’ll just be happy to get the words in.

This week's goal is to beat last week's total.

Let the games begin!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Eros Portal

Well here it is another fiction Friday. Is it just me or did this week go by really fast? The good news is my bookcases have been put back together, more or less. The bad news is my office still needs work - a lot of work. But that’s not why I have no new fiction to showcase. My writing this past week consisted emails, blog posts, and notes on things I’d like to work on. Not exactly something you could take an excerpt from.

So once again I’m forced to use something I’ve written previously. But I’m tired of having to dip into the vault and type out something old. This time I’m using something a little more current, namely, an excerpt from my NaNo novel.

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this one - it’s definitely a romance, and probably more science fiction than fantasy, although not really in your face science fiction. In a nut shell, a man in another dimension builds a machine that uses a person’s DNA to open a portal to where they can find their perfect mate. But things aren’t always as they seem, and the course of true love never runs smoothly.

The following scene is from the beginning of the novel, where our heroine Makayla stumbles across the portal in the woods near her home while out looking for the cat she was supposed to be looking after.



The Eros Portal

Everything looked the same in the dark. If she was lucky, she’d be able to retrace her steps. If not, she’d be as lost as Mittens.

“Stupid damn cat,” she muttered under her breath.

A flash of blue light off to the right caught her attention. It flickered, like the light bulb was about to burn out. It couldn’t be from the highway, could it? She’d been walking for a while but it was unlikely she’d walked that far. And she hadn’t been going in that direction, unless she got turned around somehow.

Didn’t most people walk in circles when they had nothing to guide them? That would make the source of the light her own house, which didn’t make sense either because she didn’t have a blue light. Shrugging, she made for the light anyway. Light meant people, so even if it wasn’t her house it was bound to be one of her neighbors, not that she had many of those.

The light was further away than she thought and she was getting dangerously chilled. Her fingers were totally numb. What kind of an idiot took off in the dark in nothing but a sweater? No hat, no gloves ... But the sweater had been right there and she would have lost precious time going back through the house to the back door for her coat. This is what came of being in such a rush. She was probably going to end up frozen to death while Mittens was curled up on her porch having a nap.

The light was still ahead of her, and the woods were growing denser. Had the trees been this close together on her way in? She pushed through some shrubbery that still had a few dead leaves attached to it and stopped to stare. A doorway of iridescent blue light filled the space between two slender trees.

“What the hell?”

Makayla took a single step forward and stopped again. Then she took a couple of steps to the side and the door seemed to disappear. Moving back to her original position, the door shimmered into view again.

As curious as the cat she’d been looking for, Makayla moved forward, one step at a time. A ripple went through the shimmering blue and she paused for a second. The light settled back into a staticky glow, like the snow on the TV when the cable went out.

Another step closer and the snow turned blue again and seemed to clear a bit. It was almost translucent. One more step and she could see vague images in it. It wasn’t the woods in behind it, it was something else altogether. Some place else.

Maybe it was some kid’s science project - holograms or something like that. His parents probably made him set it up out in the woods in case of accidents. Like, if something shorted out and set fire to something. It was pretty advanced looking, if that’s what it was.

One more step and she was able to reach out and touch it. It tingled on her fingertips, a ripple effect spreading out where she touched. It wasn’t until she tried to pull her hand away that she realized what a stupid thing it had been to do. She appeared to be stuck fast.

Makayla yanked her arm back but her fingers remained glued to the shimmer. In fact, it actually seemed like the shimmer was pulling her hand further in.

“Oh, no no no!” She twisted and turned her hand and her fingers turned easily, but they wouldn’t let go. “Hello? Is anybody out here?” What kind of person set something like this up in the middle of the woods and then just abandoned it?

“Hey! I could use some help here,” she yelled. Surely whoever made this couldn’t be too far away. Wouldn’t they need to monitor it or something? “Look, I’m sorry I touched your experiment or whatever, but I need you to shut it off.”

There was no answer. Millimetre by millimetre her hand was being enveloped in the glowing light. No matter how much she pulled it refused to let go of her again. Digging her heels in she tried to wrench free, but slipped on the damp ground and only succeeded in causing her whole arm to become enveloped.

Panting from the effort, she glanced around but she was surrounded by darkness. It was getting really cold out. It was starting to hurt to breathe. She didn’t bother calling out again, if there really was someone out there it was obvious they were only going to watch, not help.

While the point of contact with the light tingled, the rest of her arm didn’t seem to be affected at all. She tried wiggling her fingers, but the rippling effect made it impossible to see through the door. Looking at the ground where the light made it easier to see, she looked for an electrical cord or whatever was powering the thing. There was nothing that she could see.

There weren’t many options here. Maybe she should just get it over with. Steeling herself, Makayla took a deep breath and then stepped through the doorway. She was aware of light and heat and then nothing at all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Twofer

I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell writing wise lately, even when it comes to poetry. So once again I’m digging in the vaults for my post. Good thing I’ve got a lot of poems to choose from, eh? And because today’s poems are a little on the short side, you’re getting a two for one special.

You’re welcome. LOL

This first poem was part of the Writer’s Digest PAD challenge I partook of several years ago. The idea was to write a poem a day, to their prompts, over the month of April. If nothing else, the challenge was interesting, and it introduced me to the Sestina, which set me on an exploration of other forms.

I believe the prompt I had to follow for this one was something to do with being dead, or things you'd like to say to people after you're dead, or something along those lines.


Now That I’m Dead
Now that I’m dead I can finally say
all the things burning inside me.
None to prevent me having my way,
to speak serious or blithely.
I can speak of my love without any fear
of derision of my choices.
I can speak all the words you never could hear
in a chorus of many voices.
Did you think with me gone my words would be too?
You don’t really have to answer.
Words, like money, often accrue.
My words will be here forever.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

For my second poem I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. This poem is a parody. It may surprise you to learn, considering most of my poetry is rather dark, that I love parodies. I love taking a classic poem, twisting it around, and making someone chuckle over the results.

Unless you slept through English class, you should recognize what poem I used for this particular parody. For those of you who did sleep through English class, the original poem was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal How Do I Love thee. If you’d like to read the original, check this out. And now, my version:


How Do I Procrastinate?

How do I procrastinate? Let me count the ways.
I procrastinate to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling lethargic
For the ends of Boredom and ideal Laziness.
I procrastinate to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by neon and halogen-light.
I procrastinate freely, as men strive for Progress;
I procrastinate purely, as they turn from Television.
I procrastinate with a passion put to use
In my old excuses, and with my childhood’s justification.
I procrastinate with an energy I seemed to lose
When faced with work, – I procrastinate with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if the Muse choose,
I shall continue to procrastinate until death.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Maybe It Is My Fault

It started with the idea that there was too much space on the landing at the halfway point going up to our second floor. It was the perfect place for a bookcase or two, or so I thought. Part one of the story can be found HERE , part two can be found HERE  and part three can be found HERE.

In a nutshell, the six foot high bookcases we bought did not work on the landing, which resulted in a massive shakeup of the bookcases throughout the house. The transition pretty much sucked up my whole vacation and I still have to put my office back together.



The thing is, I really have only myself to blame. It was my idea in the first place, I talked the hubby into buying the bookcases. All the measuring in the world can’t beat seeing the real thing in place, so we had no clue those bookcases just weren’t going to work. The rest of it just kind of snowballed from there.

I suppose there wasn’t a rush to get everything put back together again, but for some reason it brought out my inner OCD and I not only wanted stuff back on the shelves, I wanted some kind of order to it. No more books stacked up, no more double rows of books, no dust covered knick knacks blocking access to the books...

And while using the tall, square bookcase for DVDs made sense, it didn’t really have to be switched over right away. It held an eclectic mix of books - hardback, paperback, really old cloth bound - and knick knacks, all of which needed to find new homes.

When all is said and done, it looks like in the long line of reasons for putting off my writing, I pretty much came up with the ultimate one. All that’s left is putting my office back together and that’s something I can peck away at over the coming week. It’s not like I get a lot of writing done in there anyway.

But once that is done, no more excuses!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Firebrand and Stormbringer

Once again I’ve made it my fiction Friday with a zero word count for the week. If you read Monday’s post you’ll know why. I am STILL sorting out those darned bookcases. The ones in my office are just about done, but there’s still a lot of “stuff” laying around and as I type this I can’t help but notice the shelf I have my CD player on seems to be ...um... bending in the middle under the weight of the books I have between the player and the speaker. They’re pretty big books. I might move them to the bottom shelf of the last bookcase (which currently has nothing on it) and put something lighter there instead.

In any case, not only do I have no fresh words for you, I have no pearls of wisdom to send your way. Other than if you ever decide to swap out bookcases in your own office - don’t! ;-)

So today I’ve revisited the vault and came up with the fantasy novel I started when the creative well ran dry on the Saturn story. It started with a dream... The landscape was rolling hills. Tucked away amongst the hills was small pond of crystal clear water. Beneath the water there was a warrior, dressed all in black - he even had a mask concealing his face.

When I woke up I knew the warrior’s name was Brand, short for Firebrand, and he was the son of a sorceress from the mysterious Witch Hills and the warlord who captured her. He carries the sword of blood and amber, and if he recites the spell the sword becomes a living flame. His mask is part of a curse put on him by an evil sorceress name Giselle.

Early in his travels he hooks up with a witch who becomes known as Stormbringer. The thing about Storm is, technically she’s blind. She has no sight of her own, but she can “borrow” the vision of the birds and animals around her. In the beginning it’s just a platonic relationship, he rescues her, then she rescues him, and that’s where it all falls apart.

This was real early in my writing days and I had no clue as to what I was doing. Rather than write a cohesive story, I wrote a series of kind of mini-stories. But not really stories, more unconnected scenes, if you will. Of the longer stories we have one that begins with Storm being awakened from a spell that put her to sleep until certain conditions were met, whereupon she goes off to rescue Brand from his enchanted sleep in the pool which is now in a cave of crystal. The other one has Brand rescuing some random girl from a cult of wizard priests as the price to have her mother remove his mask.

Some day I will sit down and use index cards to organize all this information and then tell the tale of Firebrand and Stormbringer. Some day....

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from where Storm rescues Brand from the pool. Storm was awakened by Hess, her sorcerous father’s apprentice (and a young girl when she last saw her), who told her where to find Brand and how to save him. She’s made her way past several obstacles to inside the crystal shrine. And yes, I know I said she was blind, but she must have got her vision back at some point:


Storm drew on a pair of thick, leather gloves and picked up the sword. Her mouth was dry and the cavern suddenly seemed colder. Saying a quick prayer to the goddess Shima, she grasped the sword firmly by the hilt and pulled the scabbard away.

In a clear, ringing voice, she said, "By the magic arcane that forged stone, in the name of the twin gods Fell and Mo-Rel, I command the power of blood and amber to come forth!"

For long, breathless seconds, nothing happened. Then, like a storm gathering, power began to build. Storm's breath caught in her throat. A flicker from the red core of the sword travelled outward. Power flowed, making the amber sword glow. A beam of white light shot from the tip of the sword straight into the air.

Storm cried out, ducking her head and closing her eyes.

"Who dares to call forth the flame without our leave?" The booming voice echoed through the chamber.

"I, Bringer of the Storm, do so dare," Storm called out in a shaky voice, still holding tight to the sword. She opened her eyes to mere slits. "He who serves the flame lies helpless. The power of the sword is needed to free him."

The beam of light began to spin. It moved until it touched the man in the pool, then expanded until it enveloped him. It pulsed, almost a living thing. The body levitated to the surface, then gently settled to the bottom again. The light moved away until it spun over the altar.

"Know you not the price the one who wields the amber blade pays?" a second voice boomed out.

"Who will wield the blade for you if this man dies? You spent centuries waiting for him."

The two voices began overlapping. "She has a point . . . her point is weak . . . she can be of assistance . . . he is near to death . . . she makes him stronger . . . he has served us well . . . the land cries out again . . ."

The column of light began to spin faster.

"We will help," the first voice boomed out. "But know you there lies a price ahead for you both."

"Agreed," Storm said.

The column of light vanished. Again the red core of the sword flickered and power flowed. Storm's hands tightened but she was still unprepared when the sword burst into flame. Quickly she moved to the side of the pool and plunged the point of the sword downwards.

The water hissed, steam billowing upwards in a great, shimmering cloud. A hot wind raced through the cavern, but Storm stood fast. It swirled around her, plucking at her hair and clothing; then suddenly it was gone, taking the water from the pool with it. Even the warrior's clothing was dry.

"Flame shall conquer water." Hess' voice seemed to echo in the chamber.

With trembling arms, Storm raised the sword high above her head. Locking her arms in place, she called out a single word in an ancient tongue. She was trembling, not so much from the weight of the weapon as from the pain in her hands. Every nerve felt like it was on fire.

A streak of blue, as from a lightning strike, shot from the tip of the sword into the body below. Storm's head was thrown back, her mouth open in a silent scream.

"Pain shall free the lost."

Her arms shook and sweat beaded her brow as she slowly lowered the sword again. The warrior's body convulsed, then arched upwards. Storm stepped into the empty pool, knelt beside him, and carefully placed the hilt of the still flaming sword into his open hand. His fingers closed around the hilt. His eyes opened. Storm backed quickly away as he surged upwards.

"Flame shall feed the fire of life."

He did not know her. She could see that in the instant before he swung the sword. He yelled something in the language of Witch Hills as she ducked beneath the fiery arc.

"Brand, no! It's me, Storm!"

She was forced to dance out of the way as he swung again. Frantically she tried to think of a spell that would calm him, but her mind refused to cooperate. She was forced to give way again and again until the backs of her legs struck the altar.

Storm stood tall and proud, her calm gaze meeting the madness in his eyes. "Firebrand of Witch Hills, if my life is what is needed to make you whole again, then so be it. I offer it gladly to know you will live once more."

Brand raised the sword. Storm held his gaze fearlessly and something flickered in his eyes. He faltered, the sword wavered. He shook his head slightly and swayed in place. He looked at her in confusion and slowly sank to his knees. The flame enveloping the sword vanished and it became once more a sword made of amber.

"Love shall conquer madness."

"Storm? What happened? Where are we?"

Tears started from her eyes as she knelt beside him. "That, my love, is a tale and a half. Let us leave this place, quickly. It is a tale best heard where the air is clear and the stars can shine down on us."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last Dragonflight

This poem is an oldie but a goodie. In fact it’s one of my earliest poems, probably inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. I wrote it for no particular reason other than the desire to write a poem that told a story.




Last Dragonflight

Slowly dawns the red sun
To mark a dragon’s birth -
Once master of the heavens,
Now master of the Earth

You found your beginning
In smoke, ash and flame -
Creature born of legend
Like the phoenix rise again.

Awake unfurl your wings,
Your time has come this night
Uncoil, cry out your challenge,
Then launch, at last take flight.

Wheeling silent skyward
Exhaling smoke and fire
Phosphor rains but still you’re
Soaring ever higher.

Silence marks your passing,
Envious eyes will stare.
Man would subjugate you
Creature of the air.

Cloaked in rage and silence
They’ve watched you on your flight
Blind with superstition.
Against your will you fight.

Belief dies too easily;
Myths vanish without care.
Rear up once in protest -
Death’s not always fair.

Slowly dies the red sun -
The dragon seeks his den.
Slowly dies the legend
Never to rise again.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It’s Not My Fault!

My master plan for this long weekend (at least if you’re Canadian it’s a long one) was to get myself all organized, writing-wise, for the week. This was to include making some cosmetic changes to my blogs, make a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and come up with a workable writing schedule that would take me beyond my week of holidays.

What happened was not entirely my fault. The hubby has to shoulder some of the blame for agreeing.

For a long time now I’ve felt that the landing at the halfway point going upstairs needed something. It just looked so empty.



I thought it would be the perfect spot for a bookcase, maybe two, and the hubby agreed. The result of this brilliant idea is why neither of us got anything we’d planned on doing during our long weekend. You can read about the first part of the story HERE. In fact, I suggest you do because this is really the second part of the story.

Swapping out bookcases is a pain in the butt at the best of times, and of course five shelves are not enough. Even if you only buy hardback books you still need at least six shelves. And a lot of my tree books are paperback, which take up even less space. So my old bookcases had extra shelves. Unfortunately, they were in the wrong colour.

So off the hubby went to the lumber store to pick up a couple of shelves. Except they don’t sell shelving in the colour we needed, the best they could do was real wood that would have to be cut and finished and still wouldn’t match exactly. And it would be expensive.

Then it was the hubby’s turn to get a brilliant idea. It wouldn’t cost that much more to just buy another bookcase and cannibalize it for parts. So we went to Walmart, again, and bought a third bookcase. But wait!

The bookcase that was already in my office was just a slightly different shade than the two new ones, so the hubby thought why not put together the third bookcase and swap it out with the mismatched one?

One of the things I don’t like about the new bookcases is the fact their permanent shelf is in a different place than the old ones, so I can’t adjust the shelves the way I had them. But this is the only reason I was willing to swap out the last bookcase, so the permanent shelves would line up.

Anyway, by the end of the day the bookcase wall of my office looked like this:



I have run out of both energy and extra shelves. It wasn’t until I tried to use one of the shelves from the old bookcase that I discovered the new bookcases are close to an inch wider than the old one, making the old shelves useless.

The good (?) news is that Walmart also sells a much shorter version of this bookcase which has shelves exactly the same size. The bad news is I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get one. And then, of course, I’ll have to take the time to finish re-stocking the bookcase.

And that, my friends, is why I not only didn’t get any writing done, I didn’t get organized for writing either.

Maybe once I get my books organized. ;-)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Prompt Me - Forest Angel

Would you look at that, it’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another picture prompt. :-D



This is the picture I couldn’t find for last month. You know, the one I already had the story idea for? Unfortunately, I never thought to write my idea down so I’ll be starting from scratch. Just like you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem, story, or non-fiction article inspired by the above picture. You have until the last Friday of the month, and if you email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com I’ll post it here. And just an FYI, the end of the month is a Thursday, so the last Friday is actually the 25th.

Now get writing!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Blitz Poetry Form

Even if you’re not into poetry, you really need to give The Blitz a try. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have with a poetry form.

The form was invented by Robert Keim. The lines are super short - just a couple of words each. There’s no punctuation and it doesn’t rhyme. The first two lines both start with the same word. Lines 3 and 4 begin with the last word of line 2. Lines 5 and 6 start with the last word of line 4, and so on until you’ve written 48 lines. Line 49 is the last word of line 48, and line 50 is the last word of line 47. The title is only three words - the first word from the 3rd line joined to the first word from the 47th line by a preposition.

When writing a Blitz poem, it helps if you write it as quickly as possible. It’s a lot like one of those word association tests psychiatrists are reported to use, only faster. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll have lots of fun.


Red With Clouds

Rose in bloom
Rose red
Red queen
Red and white
White as snow
White wine
Wine in a glass
Wine and cheese
Cheese whiz
Cheese log
Log on
Log off
Off and on
Off and running
Running amok
Running late
Late for work
Late in life
Life mate
Life and death
Death comes
Death mask
Mask your feelings
Mask the man
Man and woman
Man alive
Alive and dead
Alive for now
Now and then
Now and again
Again with this
Again with that
This and that
This and the other
Other than that
Other wise
Wise man
Wise woman
Woman rights
Woman power
Power up
Power down
Down town
Down below
Below zero
Below the clouds
Clouds of white
Clouds of blue
Blue
White

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bucket Lists

Do you have a bucket list?

No, I’m not avoiding the Monday subject, which is supposed to be a report on how my writing week went. It’s just I don’t have a lot to report and bucket lists have been on my mind lately.

But just to get the writing stuff out of the way first...the week did not start out well, writing-wise. The hubby was on vacation, although he spent most of his time working around the house. But just having him home all day kind of threw me off my game and I spent more time reading than writing.

I really struggled to write something for this month’s picture prompt, and when I didn’t have anything to post on Friday I ended up writing both a poem and a story for the weekly Brazen Snake Books prompts. You can find my story HERE, and you can see both my poem and Jamie’s HERE. It’s kind of freaky how we had similar ideas, although we didn’t see each other’s poems until they were done.

Saturday I spent pretty much the whole day agonizing over my picture prompt before deciding my idea would work better as a poem. I really wanted to do a story for that picture, but it just wasn’t happening.

Sunday I spent the first half of the day shopping and the second half entertaining the in-laws for dinner. I was lucky to get the post done for my regular blog, let alone anything else. As it was, I was up past my bedtime doing it. Hopefully I’ll do better this week. :-D

Back to the bucket list.



A bucket list, for those of you totally out of the loop, is a list of things you want to do before you die, or “kick the bucket.” It could be travelling to places, getting married, getting divorced, getting that dream job, running a marathon, making a million dollars ... you get the idea.

I don’t have a bucket list, although there are oodles of things I’d like to do before I die. But as I said, I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, and then I started making a list. I say a list, because I think it’ll have to be refined before it’s my official bucket list.

I started listing random “stuff” and realized making a bucket list is harder than it looks. It’s not like there are any rules to it - no set number of items to include, no guidelines as to what kinds of things should be included...

In my case, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to need three lists: things I want to read; places I want to visit; and miscellaneous. And I’m putting a self-imposed limit of the top ten in each category. This will still give me a total of thirty items to work on.

I did a Google search for ‘bucket list’ and wow, there was 115,000,000 results in 0.61 seconds! Unique Bucket List Ideas; 101 Things To Do Before You Die; 10,000 Things To Do Before You Die; 10,000+ Bucket List Ideas ... However, I only did the search for fun, I’m not going to waste time clicking on any of those likes. I figure if I can’t think of it myself, it doesn’t deserve to go on the list.

Limiting myself to a total of thirty items on my list means I’m going to be thinking long and hard about what goes on there. Ideally they’ll be things I can actually do, and I’m not going to be including namby pamby things like losing 20 pounds or getting a tattoo (which I already have). I think the hard part will be limiting myself to just ten places I want to visit - I’ve always wanted to travel - and coming up with ten books I want to read - I’m a prolific reader so I’ve already read a lot.

This might actually turn out to be a lot of fun!

So... what’s on your bucket list?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chaos Land

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!"

Yes, I know. This is the last Saturday of the month instead of the last Friday, but though I conceived the idea for the story earlier in the week, it just did not want to be written. First, a reminder of the picture prompt:



It seemed pretty simple - order on one side of the wall, disorder on the other. I had wanted to give it a bit of a twist so instead of the disorder encroaching on the order, I wanted the order to be the bad guy, so to speak. But try as I might I just could not make it work.

So I started doing some research on chaos versus order. Most of what I found was regarding chaos and I began to play around with a few ideas just using chaos as a theme, but none of those really panned out either.

And then I remembered my own caveat with these prompts - the result could be anything, as long as it was creative. For some reason my default seems to be prose, but since that wasn’t working I figured it was time to try something else.

I almost did a non-fiction piece on chaos, but then I began writing this poem:


Chaos Land

I was here in the beginning
before there was anything else.
I existed before the creation of the universe -
a formless void, the gap between heaven and earth.

I am disorder and confusion,
my behavior unpredictable
so as to appear random.
I am indefinite and indeterminate.

I am the spirit of God
moving upon the face of the waters.
From me all else originated -
the primordial state before creation.

I am the merging of opposites -
the darkness and the light together -
all of the elements twisted together.
I am the belief that is a magical force.

Who are you to try and tame me,
to wall me in with your discipline and orderliness?
Do you not know that without chaos
there can be no harmony.


Join me here again on Friday for a new picture prompt. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some inspiration as well.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shepherds and Nymphs

If you take a look at some of my favourite poems written by other people, it’s easy to see how I ended up with such a strong sense of rhyme and rhythm. I cut my poetry teeth on the classics. To be honest, while most kids in my English classes struggled to understand classic poetry, I struggled to understand modern poetry.

This week I’d like to share one of my very first favourite poems. I love the rhyme and rhythm of it, as well as the story it tells.


The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd's swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

~ Christopher Marlowe
1599




And of course what would the shepherd’s plea be without his lady love’s reply?

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complain of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

~ Sir Walter Raleigh
1600

Monday, July 24, 2017

Miscellaneous Miscellany



The fact that I managed to get my blog posts done and up on time last week was a miracle in itself. The daughter was away for a conference followed by a mini vacation last week. This meant my part time babysitting hours were extended to full time - from 4 hours a day to 9 ½ hours a day. This didn’t leave a lot of time (or energy) for writing.

I had some serious flashbacks to when my daughter was little and I was struggling to find my way as a writer, and found myself comparing then and now. I wrote a long, whiny blog post about it but in the course of writing realized it was like comparing apples to oranges. Maybe someday I’ll write that blog post, but don’t worry, this is not that day.

You’re welcome. :-D

Lest you think I was a total writing slacker last week, I did keep up my journal - both my personal one and my writing one - and I wrote a couple of poems which I finished up over the weekend. The excerpt I posted on Friday was from a story I came up with in high school, and in the course of looking for it I stumbled across several other potential stories from that era.

I vaguely remember the first story I ever wrote in high school. It was science fiction (of course, because I thought I was going to be a writer of science fiction stories) and it had something to do with a group of people in cryo-stasis on a rocket ship. No idea where they were going or why, nothing of it remains (which is probably for the best).

The first book in my Moonstone Chronicles series, Magical Misfire came from a story I started in high school. I’d written the first twelve chapters and then abandoned it because I had no clue what to do with my main character once I got her to the magical realm. Come to think about it... I’m pretty sure the original idea for my Elemental series came from something I wrote in high school. It just goes to show you that maybe your mother wasn’t crazy after all, saving all your old high school compositions. You never know what might spark an idea for a story.

I think I’ve strayed off topic. ;-)

So. While I didn’t get much writing done last week, as I said in my Friday post I’d like to change that. I’m setting myself a daily goal of 250 words minimum - that’s like one double-spaced page - of fiction. If I can’t manage at least that then it’s time to turn in my typewriter. Or lap top. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

Once I’ve proven to myself I can be consistent with 250 words I’ll up it until I find a number I’m comfortable with. And then I’m going to start posting my proper wordage reports again.

Wish me luck - I’m gonna need it!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

So here we are again on a Friday. And it’s an in between Friday - not the first one where I post a picture prompt, nor the last one where I post my results, but one of the ones in between where I’m in a kind of limbo.

Originally I was supposed to post an excerpt from what I’ve been working on lately. Unfortunately, other than blog posts I haven’t been working on much besides poetry lately.

While I’m hoping to change that in the days to come, that doesn’t help me today. So after thinking about it for a while, I decided to give you an excerpt from one of my earlier works. And by early I mean one of my very first (if not the first) novel-length ideas I ever had. So early it was typed on a manual typewriter, which means I had to retype it on the computer.

It was a convoluted mix of fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction because it was set on Saturn and there were aliens and some technology involved, fantasy because of the magic and magical creatures. Most of what I have is notes on characters and creatures and cities, there’s a crude map, a brief history, and the beginning of a crude outline.

It seems to be part quest, part coming of age, part a hero’s tale. There’s not a lot to go on other than back ground information. All I really remember is that most of the action took place on Saturn, and Stonehenge was a link between Earth and Saturn. And the rings of Saturn are what keeps Earth from realizing there’s a whole civilization below. Yes, seriously!

There seemed to be two beginnings to this tale. One was in first person, the main character being a woman, and the other was in third person with the main character being a male. Since that’s the one that bore the title “Original Plot” that’s the one I’m posting here.


Untitled Novel

Tazrak stood and gazed at the distant hills as the sun turned the clouds from white to blood red. The sun sank below the horizon, yet still he stood watching. His hard, yet handsome features gave little indication of his thoughts. His sun-bronzed shoulders were tight with tension, and his brow was creased with lines of concentration.

It was the fifth day, of the fifth month, of the fifth year of waiting. It was the night that could bring despair - or hope. It was the first time in almost five thousand years that the ceremony of summoning was to be performed at the Circle of Stones.

“Tazrak,” called one of the guards, not daring to approach. “It is almost time.”

Tazrak nodded and turned from the darkness. He strode with long sure strides towards a large, green and gold tent. Lifting the flap he peered inside and saw that the Wizard Priests were ready for him. The priests had been sent all the way from the Great Temple. It was a great honour, and they had borne with them the ceremonial robe of the High Priest.

The moons started to rise as Tazrak donned the flowing white robe and placed the emerald pendant around his neck. A char howled in the distance - neither a hunting call nor a call to a kill but an eerie lament to the gods. A sudden wind arose as Tazrak, flanked by the two Wizard Priests, moved towards the Circle of Stones.

Tarzak turned and addressed the crowd below. “My people, tonight is the night we have awaited for five long years. We have awaited in fear and in hope. It is the night decreed by Zor that we may bury the past and for this night only once again perform the Ceremony of Summoning. Our need is great, my people. Let us hope that the gods are merciful on t his night.”


After that it skips to Earth where a young man gets lost in a cave system that opens up to a large chamber with a replica of Stonehenge in it. He finds a similar robe and pendant and on impulse puts them both on and steps to the middle of the circle. The date is May 5 and the time is 5 p.m.

Some day I may revisit this story - as cheesy as it seems, I think it has potential. All I have to figure out is the end game for the hero. ;-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bingo Blues

One of my jobs when I worked in the Municipal Office of our town (many years ago) was to record the bingo results from the weekend games. I was pretty surprised by the number of charities that ran bingos to raise funds. And even more surprising was how little they actually made from it.

But bingo was big business in our town, especially with the seniors. I can’t remember exactly when I visited one of the bingo halls one night - taking a message to someone, picking someone up, I have no idea. I know I wasn’t there long and I wasn’t there to play. The one thing I do remember is walking into the pervading cloud of smoke.

It was shortly after that that legislation was passed banning smoking in public places. It caused a pretty big stir at the time, but despite the artistic license in my poem, nothing stops a die-hard bingo player.


Bingo Blues

The room’s filled with fog
From the chain smoking grannies
Don’t mess with their luck
Or you’ll find yourself
Out on your ear

The concentration is fierce
Daubers flying furiously
Hearing aides at the max
Canes within reach
To snag a new card

It’s Saturday night
At the Bingo Hall
Truck on over
And don’t forget
Your pension cheque.

Then the hammer falls
In the form of a by-law
Banning the cancer sticks
Causing an uprising
Of the blue hair set.

Now it’s Saturday night
And they meet at Timmie’s
Walkers parked outside
While they reminisce
Over a cup of joe.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Albatross

You're writing, you're coasting, and you're thinking, 'This is the best thing I've ever written, and it's coming so easily, and these characters are so great.' You put it aside for whatever reason, and you open it up a week later and the characters have turned to cardboard and the book has completely fallen apart. That's the moment of truth for every writer: Can I go on from here and make this book into something? I think it separates the writers from the nonwriters. And I think it's the reason a lot of people have that unfinished manuscript around the house, that albatross.
― Jacqueline Woodson



Don’t you hate when that happens? It starts out being the best story you’ve ever written, but eventually off come the rose coloured glasses and it’s not quite as great as you thought it was. In fact, it needs a lot of work. That’s where revision and editing come in.

And to me, that’s what really separates the writers from the non-writers - the willingness to revise and edit. Nowadays it’s so easy to self publish a book that literally anyone can do it. But should they? Definitely not!

Like most avid readers, I have an e-reader. In the beginning you just had to slap a FREE sticker on an e-book and I’d download it, but once I hit the 1,000 mark I became slightly more discriminating. I joined Book Bub and Amazon sends me a daily email offering several books for free or sale prices. Which is why I’m now at over 1700 unread electronic books.

Tree books are guaranteed to be professionally done. They’ve been edited (and revised and edited some more) and formatted and printed via a traditional publisher. With e-books there’s no such guarantee. It’s so easy to self publish these days that many eager new writers (and a few that have been around long enough they should know better) jump the gun and publish the book before it’s ready. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve had to delete from my Kindle because what starts out as a promising story gets bogged down with poor formatting, lack of editing, and sloppy writing.

It’s not enough to finish that manuscript, writing is the easy part. It’s the revising and editing and polishing that is the real work. If you think you’re done after one draft, you’re seriously kidding yourself. I don’t care what your great Aunt Gertrude says. You need to set it aside and then revise and edit until that book is polished until it shines.

And after setting it aside for a couple of weeks you realize maybe this book doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s no shame in having an albatross or two on your hard drive. They don’t take up a lot of space, and maybe someday you’ll figure out a way to fix it. Or maybe you know how to fix it, and yeah, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run both in terms of sales and readership.

Just please, don’t let that albatross fly before it’s ready.