Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Iroha Mokigusari

Yowsa! This form was a bit of a challenge. But then I kind of like a challenge.

Some of my favorite forms are the Japanese ones. Even though they usually have a strict 5/7 syllable count, at least you don’t have to worry about rhymes. All you need for most of them is a good thesaurus that includes the number of syllables in a word. :-)

The Iroha Mokigusari is an ancient Japanese form and seeing as I can neither read nor write Japanese I have to trust the western interpretation of it. It’s described as a perfect pangram, meaning it contains each character of the Japanese syllabary once only.

For our purposes, its best described as a Japanese alphabet poem. It differs from our western alphabet poems (in which each line starts with a letter of the alphabet starting with A and continuing in descending order) in that it follows the normal 5/7 pattern of syllables, and the first and last letter of each line follow the alphabet.

The structure looks like this:

axxxb
cxxxxxd
exxxf
gxxxxxh
ixxxj
and so on…

One example I found of this form was called Nonsense, a fitting title because it’s almost impossible to write a poem under these restrictions that makes sense.

My attempt has no title.

A question that’s dumb,
Can you fly like a buzzard?
Even without proof,
Given your innate hutzpah,
I believe in Raj –
Knew you were always playful,
Maybe brave even.
Only watch for a breakup –
Quicker than ever,
Starlight is shining at night
Under an improv
Winter moon; like a phoenix
You shine like glitz.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The End…Almost

I don’t think I’ve been complaining about the weather too much here, I’ve been saving it mostly for my other blog. Suffice it to say we’ve been enduring a long string of grey, wet, snowy, grey, icy, wet, grey days for what seems like forever. However, that changed late on Friday when this strange light appeared in the sky. It was round and yellow, and gave off not only light, but warmth! It was…awe inspiring!

But while everyone else seemed to spend as much time as possible outside soaking up vitamin D on Saturday, I spent most of my time in my office. This was the big push to get my office organized. I moved the bookcase that was against the wall behind my desk to its new home under the window – it’s just slightly shorter than the window ledge and it fits under there nicely.

I had tried the desk closer to the window, but it just didn’t feel right, so on Saturday I tried butting it up against the wall and that was a little better, but was still a little off. After last Monday’s post, I actually looked up feng shui for an office, and I recalled that several of the floor plans had the desk set at an angle (to face both the door and the window). So keeping that in mind, I gave it a try.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Not only does it give me extra space behind my desk, it makes it feel like there’s more space in front of it too. Fuelled by my success, I dragged the box holding the parts of my newest bookcase into the living room and put it together. It turned out to be a little narrower and a little higher than I’d expected, but it works on the wall where the other bookcase had been.

My large boss’s chair was still a little big for that space, so I gave it to the hubby – he was spending more time at his desk anyway so it seemed only fair – intending to use the somewhat rickety secretary’s chair he’d been using until I could find something better. Only he had a rather nice pair of office chairs in the music room and with the way his equipment was now set up he only had room for one. It’s actually a lot more comfortable than I expected and is just the right size.

So. The desk area is set up to my satisfaction, but I didn’t have enough time left to get the reading area sorted out. I’m getting rid of the wooden filing cabinet my tea station was on – I wasn’t really using the drawers for anything, it was more just something to fit the tea station on. It’ll fit just as nicely on top of the tiny book case in the reading area, and it makes more sense to have it there. Now all that’s left is a reading chair.

Yesterday the hubby and I made a pilgrimage to Peterborough in search of a chair. We didn’t find a chair, but we did find a new dining room set. LOL I did see my dream chair, but it was way too big for the space I have. And it wasn’t as comfortable as I remember it being. So today, after babysitting, we’re going up to Ikea in Toronto to get the chair I almost bought a couple of weeks ago. Only this time it’s on sale. :-D

With any luck, next week’s post will have pictures.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Speculative Poetry

Speculative fiction and poetry – what an interesting combination!

We started out this week’s class by reading some poetry by Sandra Kasturi to give us an idea of just what was meant by speculative poetry. It’s pretty much the same thing as speculative fiction, albeit in poetic form – words embracing the fantastic, the mythic, and science fiction themes.

This was followed by a discussion of what kind of elements can be found in a speculative poem, and this in turn was followed by some free writing time. The idea was to keep some of these elements in mind as we tried to write a speculative poem. I have to be honest here, I really hate being rushed when it comes to poetry. I like to be able to take my time and mull an idea over. This is the unedited poem I came up with in the allotted time:

bitter rain lashes the darkness
on the deck railing, mourning doves huddle
feathers puffed out
the others come, one by one
summoned
chickadee, sparrow, grackle
they gather, like crystals of ice
summoned
the others come, one by one
thrush, cardinal, blackbird
summoned
the tree above becomes weighted down
the others come, one by one
summoned
nuthatch , swallow, jay
they speak with one voice
their voices weave together
great wings sheltering
necromancer raven
cast your spell,
cast your spell


This is what happens when you rush me. :-)

The next exercise was a little more fun. The instructor introduced the class to erasure poetry. It’s very similar to blackout poetry, except instead of blacking out the text around the words, you erase it. We weren’t able to do any actual erasing, what we did instead was circle the words for our poems. We were also asked to give our poem a title. I found mine in the text, it means “happy meeting place.”

Here’s a picture of what mine looked like on the pages:



And here it is written out so you can actually read it:

Yarrawarra

Questions asked in a deeper understanding
had no boundaries.
Conversations and stories intersect;
ink and bottle showed a broken domestic story.
Uncovered interest objects –
thus, story was kept contextualized.
The history of stories exchange meanings.
Each story is recognized –
universal conversation can describe stories,
embed the meaning of place and history.
Distinct knowledge happens.
Evidence of a girl studying,
understanding the unexpected.
There remains artefacts, living fragments,
of corrugated experiences.
Parallel stories support example.


The final exercise was my favourite. The instructor had us break up into pairs so we could collaborate on a poem, taking turns writing each line. It was actually a lot of fun:

I beg you please
To listen to my words
For each, and every, means something
Different to the individual being
Birth, a start
And life, a continuance
Of wonder, mistake and love
Of joy and happiness
Death, an end
Which itself is only the beginning
For memories, we have a many
To buoy us up when we would fall
To sail away, from each and every tempest
And find a safe harbour
Land, I beg of you please
To listen to my words


If you’re still curious about speculative poetry, check out the following links:

Liminality (a magazine of speculative poetry)
Locus Online
Strange Horizons

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Clogyrnach

There’s nothing worse than staying up late to schedule a poetry post and then have it somehow disappear. I don’t know what happened – I checked the preview before scheduling last night and it looked fine but this morning when I looked all I had was a title. I'm glad I checked!

I had really hoped to present a new (to me) form each Wednesday through the month of April, it being National Poetry Month and all, but poetry can be time consuming to write at the best of times and some forms even more so. That pesky thing called life got a little busy last week and I just didn't have the time for a new form so I had to settle for one I've already given a try.

You may recall me mentioning the codified Welsh meters in last week’s post, so I figured this week I’d share one of the few I’ve tried. There are 24 codified meters in Welsh poetry, divided into three categories: the Englynion, the Cywydd, and the Awdl. Today’s form is the 16th, an Awdl, called the Clogyrnach (clog-ír-nach). Despite it being one of the easiest ones you don’t see it used much these days, but in ancient times the Awdls were the territory of the chief or master bard.

The Clogyrnach contains thirty-two syllables in a six-line stanza. The first two lines have eight syllables each; the second two, five; the third two, three. The last two lines may be written as a single, six-syllable line. There are only two rhymes per stanza, and there can be any number of stanzas.

Technically, it looks like this:

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

If you join the last two lines together to make one six-syllable line, it's important to keep the rhymes in the same place, so if you do that your last line will have the b rhyme in the middle:

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

Of course I used the traditional format for my example. I found the five syllable lines to be the most difficult, especially following the eight syllable lines – I kept wanting to write four syllables or six syllables instead.


Dreamscape

An earthen sky of amber hue
A canvas on which dreams may brew
A zephyr blowing
Past rivers flowing
Unknowing
You pass through.

A stormy sea of hopes and dreams
Where nothing is quite like it seems
Reality skewed
Sanity unglued
Changing mood
Endless themes.

No order to the chaos here
Where wisdom’s just a thin veneer
Passions are higher
Truth is a liar
Misfire
Wake from here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened…

… on the way to becoming more productive. AKA excuse #0573 for not writing.

The way my new office is laid out, the desk throws a shadow on itself. I have a desk lamp, and of course my spiffy new lap top has a back lit keyboard, but there’s just something about that layout that bugs me. I keep wanting to turn and face west, which puts the desk on my left.



So I spent most of Saturday rearranging my furniture. It’s not as though I could go anywhere, after all. We were in the midst of a raging ice storm. It started out as rain, moved on to ice pellets, then by noon it was freezing rain. In the morning the water on the tarp covering the pool was clear, but as the day continued I watched the steady progression of the ice until it was fully covered. It was kind of neat, although I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought so if I’d had to leave the house for anything.

Laugh if you want, but I think there’s something to be said for the idea of feng shui. I didn’t consult a book or Google it or anything, but I can’t help feel that if I get my office set up in just the right way, I’m going to start being more productive. Maybe I’m crazy, but there you go.

And that is how I ended up spending most of my Saturday cleaning the stuff off my desk and cursing and swearing as I moved stuff around. I stopped when it started to get dark because I wasn’t sure how long the power would last and I didn’t want to be in the middle of something if the lights went out. Although I enjoy the romance of candle light, it’s not exactly the safest thing around stacks of papers and books.

But while I didn’t trust the power to stay on to work in my office, I had no problem with it staying on so I could start binge watching the new Lost In Space series on Netflix. :-D

I loved that show as a kid, and in fact I have the complete series on DVD. I enjoyed the movie with Matt LeBlanc in it too. Normally I don’t like when they make a lot of changes to old favourites – don’t get me started on the changes made to Battlestar Galactica – but I have to say, I love how they’ve updated Lost In Space. I don’t even mind that they turned Dr. Smith into a woman.

But I digress.

None of the changes I made to the arrangement of my desk felt right so in the end I moved everything back the way it was. Of course I’m not ready to give up quite yet, I had another couple of ideas on Sunday, but it was so late in the day by that time that I didn’t have a chance to test them.

After all, I had blog posts to write. ;-)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Adjectives and Adverbs



If nothing else, I’m having fun with these Wednesday night writing classes. You wouldn’t think something like adjectives and adverbs would be fun, but it was. :-)

Of course you all know what they are, right?

***crickets chirping***

That’s okay, far be it for me to judge. For most people the parts of a sentence rank right up there with calculus and algebra – you have a vague recollection of learning them in high school, declared “when will I ever use this in real life?” and upon graduation promptly forgot everything you ever knew about them.

An adjective modifies, or describes, a noun (person, place or thing) – the old woman, the green grass, the frozen wasteland. An adverb modifies, or describes, a verb (an action word) – walk quickly, search frantically, sleep peacefully.

Our first exercise was just twenty minutes of free writing. You could hear the sighs of relief around the table at not having to dive right into the lesson. LOL

I actually work better from a prompt than being told to just write whatever you want, and I just happened to have this month’s prose prompt from Brazen Snake Books with me: A man running to catch a train/bus/cab drops a red rose. A woman picks it up, and finds a note wrapped around the stem.

Here’s what I came up with in the allotted time:

The train station was busy as usual. Catherine kept a death grip on her purse as she was buffeted by the sea of humanity.

“Oof!” One elbow jab to the side was particularly sharp. She opened her mouth to yell at the man who’d jostled her so rudely, but he was already too far away to hear. He was tall and dark haired, a business man by the look of him. He must be in an almighty hurry to get to wherever he was going, she thought, watching him elbow his way to the waiting train. Probably late for a meeting or something, although that was no excuse.

“Ha! Serves you right!” she said.

He’d tripped on the edge of the platform as he boarded the train, nearly losing his newspaper. Something else fell instead, something that had been nestled in the paper’s folds, and her last glimpse of him was the resigned look on his face as he stared down at the platform as the train pulled away.

The crowd was beginning to thin and curious, she worked her way towards the edge of the platform.

It was a long stemmed rose. She glance around but no one else appeared to notice it. Or if they did they didn’t care. Hesitantly, she bend down and picked it up. There was a note wrapped around the stem. With a shiver of excitement, she unfolded the paper.


I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the next part of the assignment was to underline (using different kinds of lines) every noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. It made for quite a messy page, but it gave each of us an idea of the number of them used in our pieces.

What followed was a spirited discussion of words and word usage and upcharging a verb plus adverb. Example: instead of “she ran very fast,” you could simply say “she raced.” Or instead of “he talked very loudly” you could say “he shouted.”

Word choices, too, can be important because many words have more than one meaning. Like bark. It can mean the outer layer of a tree, or the noise a dog makes. Novel can be a book or something new – a novel experience.

When it comes to adjectives and adverbs, you need to keep three things in mind:
1. Are they needed?
2. Do they add to the story?
3. Could they be taken away?

For the next exercise we came up with a list of nouns and in a second column an adjective for each – shoe, expensive; bar, shiny; tea, green; watch, broken; space ship, dusty; table, solid; universe, limitless. Then the instructor mixed it up a bit by rearranging the order of the adjectives so we had: broken shoe; dusty bar; expensive tea; green watch; limitless space ship; shining table; solid universe. Then we were asked to chose two or three pairs of words and write a short piece.

You know me, I love a challenge. I managed to use all the pairs. But I’ll warn you, it makes better sense if you know who Doctor Who is. ;-)

I swaggered up to the dusty bar and ordered an expensive tea. The waiter who brought my drink over to the shiny table was wearing a broken shoe. I checked my green watch and realized I was out of time. The Doctor would be waiting for me in his limitless spaceship. Tossing back my tea, I threw a couple of bills onto the table and hurried away, eager to explore the solid universe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Canzone

The Canzone comes to us from medieval Italy. Once upon a time I thought the most difficult form I ever stumbled across was the Sestina. Then I discovered the 24 coded Welsh metres. *shudder* The Canzone isn’t quite as bad as the Welsh poetry forms, but it definitely beats out the Sestina.

With the Sestina you have six key words that are each used to end one line in each of the six verses in a prearranged pattern. The Canzone only uses five key words, but each of the five verses has twelve lines, with a five line envoi at the end. You see the problem? There’s a lot of repetition.

The layout is as follows:

Stanza 1: abaacaaddaee
Stanza 2: eaeebeeccedd
Stanza 3: deddaddbbdcc
Stanza 4: cdcceccaacbb
Stanza 5: bcbbdbbeebaa
Envoi: abcde

My words: dream moon night grave soul

My poem:

The Waking Dream

The night calls to you in a dream…
High above shines bright the moon –
Embrace the path within the dream,
Immerse yourself into the dream.
The moon, a beacon in the night
Guides you through the land of dream,
Illuminates the waking dream.
Seek the truth beyond the grave
There must be more than just the grave.
The truth is hidden in a dream
You know this in your deepest soul,
The silent longing of the soul.

The night holds hostage to your soul
As you continue in your dream.
A secret longing fills your soul
Of things forgotten by your soul
Remembered only by the moon
Whose light shines down upon your soul,
The cool, pale stream that soothes your soul
As you wander through the night,
A shining beacon in the night.
The lustre comes now from your soul
Which comes from far beyond the grave –
You’re not quite ready for the grave.

The look upon your face is grave,
You stop and contemplate your soul.
The end is more than just the grave
So cold and alien, the grave –
Or so it seems within the dream
That blindly leads you to the grave.
With nothing else beyond the grave
That lies beneath the shadowed moon
You seek the peace within the moon –
And find yourself beyond the grave
That lies here in the darkest night,
Strange vision of the tortured night.

And here you are, lost in the night
Now searching for that shadowed grave
Within the dark and empty night,
A deep and dark and mystic night
That spills into your very soul
To show you what is truly night
Before you pass into the night
And leave behind your waking dream –
No memory left, merely the dream
That calls you to embrace the night
Beneath the silvered hunter’s moon –
Stand up straight, drink down the moon.

Ah, gentle, passive, mother moon
A beacon in the darkest night.
A haunting sight, the gravid moon
Yet shadows long cast by the moon
Fall upon the empty grave.
Another aspect of the moon
Here in the dark night of the moon
That calls out to the willing soul,
Enticing those who have a soul
To worship peace and seek the moon
As it appears within the dream,
But only in the waking dream

Perhaps this is the end of dream.
Fill your cup, drink down the moon
And leave behind the darkened night
Find your truth beyond the grave
There is a cleansing of your soul.

Monday, April 9, 2018

State of the Stuff Address



I thought that sounded cooler than “Progress Report.” Hey, what do you want from me? It’s early and I’ve only had one coffee so far. LOL

There’s really only two things I want to report on – the progress of my office, and the progress of Wandering Wizards (the 3rd Moonstone Chronicle). If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you already know I seem to be back on track with Passion For Poetry Wednesdays and Fiction Fridays.

So first, the office. When I get my office finished (if that ever happens) I will create a new page at the top to chronicle my journey. However, that day is not even close yet. I’ve run into a bit of a snag when it comes to clearing out the pile of “stuff” in the corner where I want to put a comfy reading chair.

First of all, my (spoiled) 18-year-old cat discovered the shag carpet in the bottom of the storage closet and has taken to sleeping in there during the day. Which means I can’t rearrange the stuff on the shelves to make room for the stuff in the corner because I don’t want to disturb him.

And I don’t want to hear from any of you non-cat/animal lovers telling me to just move the cat or shut the door or whatever. He’s 18, and the other two cats kind of pick on him, and he doesn’t ask for much except a comfy place to sleep. Not only am I keeping the closet door open for him, I’m keeping the office door open for him, despite the fact that one of the other cats got his nose out of joint and sprayed the canvas board I had leaning up in front of the small bookcase. Twice. Which is why the pile of stuff is now safely tucked under a plastic cover and access to the rest of the room is limited.

At some point I’m going to get a baby gate for the door (no worries about anyone jumping the gate, they’re too old and fat) so I can have the door open but don’t have to worry about anyone’s indiscretions in there. It’s a southern exposure so there’s no way I can keep the door shut in the summer. But…I can’t do that until Taz finds a new favourite place to sleep. Which he will eventually, he likes to move around.

I’m at the point where I can use my desk, although I need a new desk chair because the space is a little cramped with the big one from my old office and I keep knocking stuff over on my desk and the bookcase behind me every time I move. Loving my new computer, although the delete key is in a different spot which kind of throws me off and I’m still not happy with Windows 10. I know, suck it buttercup, it had to happen sooner or later.

On the weekend I set up the new laser printer and now I can connect wirelessly to it and the inkjet in the other room. Go me! And in the process of trying to install it onto the hubby’s lap top I inadvertently fixed whatever the problem was he was having to connect wirelessly to the ink jet printer. Which was really weird because I couldn’t install the laser – for some reason his autorun isn’t working and I couldn’t find the DVD drive (he has Windows 10 too).

As you know, I’ve been struggling with the second half of Wandering Wizards for some time now. There was something off about it and I just couldn’t figure out what. Well, I finally figured it out. And I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good because I figured it out, but it’s bad because it’s going to take a lot of work to fix it.

To put it simply, it’s still Jessica’s story, but there’s very little Jessica in it. Until she meets up with her friends again on page 129, she only appears twice, and only for about a page each time. So yeah, she needs to have a bigger presence – keep adjusting to her powers, come to terms with her new life, maybe have a fight or two with Dominic, whatever.

So there we have it. The state of the “stuff” I’ve been working on and will be working on this week. Wednesday’s class is Inspiration From Dreams, so be sure to check back Friday to see what I came up with.

For that matter, check back Wednesday too to see what my poem for National Poetry month is. :-D

Friday, April 6, 2018

Inspiration From Music

This was a really interesting class. While I’m aware that many authors like to create playlists of music to go with their writing, I’ve never really given it much thought myself. I prefer the quiet, for the most part, or something instrumental. More like just background noise.

As for being inspired by music…. I listened to the sounds of nature on the galaxy channels on the television when I was writing a NaNo novel a couple of years ago, and I sometimes listen to Celtic themed music when writing the Moonstone Chronicles. But that was more to get me in the mood to write, which isn’t the same as having a song inspire me to write something.

To be honest, I feel that music videos or songs with lyrics are already telling their own story so I found our first assignment a little difficult. We watched two music videos, and were asked to write our take on what the music was saying.

Janelle Monae – Many Moons

Viktoria Modesta - Prototype

I chose the second one, and this is what I was inspired to write:

She was whole when it began, when the rebellious seed took root in her soul. And she was young, so young, so full of fire. She was surrounded by sheep, people content to be told what to do and how to live - for their own good, or so they were brainwashed into believing. She never believed. She would lead by example – damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead! The first time she was caught she was chastised for her rebellious thoughts and released. The second they tried reason, and then imprisonment. Believing she’d learned her lesson, she was released. The third time they took her limb, thinking to cripple her in both body and spirit. But like a phoenix she rose from the ashes stronger, singing her song. Though many feared the freedom she sang of, others saw her as a beacon of hope in a hopeless world. Each time she had been struck down she rose again stronger. Her presence was felt everywhere. Her courage was an inspiration. She must be stopped. She could not be stopped.

Just so you know, all the pieces I’m sharing that were written in class are unedited.

After the videos we listened to three pieces of audio only. Yes, I know it’s possible to work some techy magic so you can click and just hear the music, but I am not a techno wizard so you’re stuck with the full videos. All except for the first one.

The first piece we listened to was a classical piece by Dvorak, and I didn’t catch which one so I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination as to what it sounds like. It put me in mind of a silent movie so my piece turned out more like a review of the movie than a story.

The adventure starts with a pith-helmeted explorer in deepest Africa. He must fight his way through the jungle, follow a dangerous trail up a mountain where one misstep could mean certain death, and battle his fiercesome adversary to save the innocent heroine. The hero is victorious, and together he and the heroine travel towards a bright future together. But wait! Tragedy falls. They become separated. Each must journey onwards, alone, believing the other to be lost. But there is a light on the horizon and as they are about to lose all hope they are reunited for their happily ever after.

Okay, so it’s not the best writing I’ve ever done, but the point of taking these classes is to try out new things. This is kind of like doodling in the margins of a notebook – sometimes the doodle is good enough to be framed, and sometimes it looks like my granddaughter got a hold of my book. LOL

The second piece we listened to had lyrics, and most of us were familiar with it – White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane. Despite the lyrics, I had an easier time envisioning a story. I focused on just the music at first, but I think knowing the song also coloured my take on it.



Down twisted streets I flee, the gang bangers hot on my heels. The air is hot, almost stifling. The walls of the barrio feel like they’re closing in on me. I shouldn’t be here, I knew that, but I had to find her, Alice, my baby sister. It had been days since she disappeared. I’d run out of leads and was left with rumours, now those rumours were going to get me killed. Footsteps slapped the wet pavement – mine, theirs. Steam rose where the hot sun touched the stones made cold by a sudden shower. My clothes cling to skin made damp from both rain and fear. My breathing is laboured, my limbs leaden. I’m so tired, but I’ll keep going as long as I need to. Wait for me Alice. Don’t let me fall down the rabbit hole without you.

For the third and final piece we were played a song in Hindi. I guess finding inspiration from music must take practice because I found this one even easier. Just an FYI, technically Nataraja is the aspect of Shiva that is known as an ecstatic dancer, but Shiva was the one the music called to my mind.



I am Shiva. Come to me. Come and dance.
Dance for me. Dance with me. Dance in praise of me. Dance your soul away.
Heed the call. Do not deny me. Do not ignore me. Do not deny your nature.
Feel the music in your blood. Feel me in your blood. Feel your heart pound.
Dance with me.
Raise your hands. Stamp your feet. Turn and spin. Dance.
Dance for me. Do not stop. Praise my name, for I am Shiva.
Dance for me. Do not pause. Do not stop. Dance.
Dance your soul away.
Dance.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Duo-rhyme

I have a folder in my poetry files that’s labeled “Unfinished Forms” – there’s another one called “Unfinished Poems” but that’s a story story for another time. I wanted to do a new form today, so I opened the folder and checked out some of the forms I’ve discovered but haven’t yet written poems for.

The first one talked about irregular syllables and long-short-long (or short-long-long ones) and I’m like, “Huh?” The second one was one of those incomprehensible Irish syllabic forms and I just don’t have the focus these days to tangle with one of those!

Then I came across this one. The Duo-rhyme was created by Mary L. Ports. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out much about her other than she had a poetry chapbook, called Pathways to the Pleiades, published by Shadow Poetry.

The Duo-rhyme has only two rhymes and is generally written in iambic tetrameter. It can be 10 or 12 lines, with the first 2 and the last 2 having the same rhyme, and all the lines in between (either 6 or 8) having a second mono rhyme.

And that’s pretty much it. Except for my example. :-D


The Beltane Moon

The Beltane moon hangs in the sky
It calls to me, I know not why…
The springtime magic fills the air
  It heralds days that are more fair
  With blossoms blooming everywhere
  And sunny days become less rare
  As for the planting we prepare -
  We bless the fields and say a prayer,
  Promise the gods that we will share
  The bounty that we have to spare
And still the Beltane moon is high
It makes my spirit want to fly.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And because I had so much fun with the first one, I decided to do another. :-D

Dark Kin

The light fades fast as clouds roll in
I feel an itch beneath my skin
  The wind picks up, a bitter sting
  The fog can hold ‘most anything
  The birds take flight on hurried wing
  They flee from what the night will bring
  When spirits of the air will sing
  In homage to the dark souled king
I feel my mind begin to spin
I feel him now, my long lost kin.

Monday, April 2, 2018

One Quarter Down, Three to Go

While I did better writing-wise last week than the week before, it wasn’t great and all the extra time I had on the weekend was kind of wasted.

Last week I got my Steampunk story finished and posted, and then Friday I got two really short pieces from Inspiration From Improv posted. And then I procrastinated by futzing around with the settings on a blog a friend and I are starting up for a photography challenge. *sigh*



This being the end of the first quarter of the new year, I figured it might be a good time to revisit my goals for the year. If nothing else, it’ll remind me that I have goals that I should be working towards. So here we go:

Write every day, at least 500 words Well that’s a big fat fail, isn’t it? Even if you count blog posts I haven’t been writing 500 words a day.

Less time gaming and checking social media I was actually doing pretty good on this early in the year, but I confess to sliding back into my old habits. I don’t know where I started on games like Bubble Mouse, but I’m up to 76 golden keys (you have to work through 100 levels to get a key) - I have this vague notion of stopping that game when I reach 100 keys.

Shut down by 11 p.m., 12 at the latest I think the idea here was to spend that time before bed reading, working on crafts, or catching up on my journal, but by the time 11 or 12 rolls around I’m too tired to focus on much of anything besides the mindless games I play on my lap top.

Spend more time doing crafts I had good intentions here, really I did. I started a long vest to help combat the cold in my new office, but I put my knitting bag away one day while cleaning and it’s been in the craft closet ever since.

Make better use of my Neo Poor Neo, so sad and neglected. I don’t know what’s going on here, I love my Neo and I type so much faster on it. I did finally replace the batteries in it a couple of weeks ago - second time in four years.

Organize my poetry This was supposed to be a project to keep me away from the games when I wasn’t working on a story. But do you know how much poetry I have? I’ve explored over a hundred different forms, with many poems in between. I have a lot of poetry. I need to win the lottery so I can pay someone else to organize it for me. :-D

Journal more often I’m thinking by journal I meant my writing journal, my personal journal I seem to be pretty good at keeping up with. I think part of the problem with my writing journal is that I never really know what to write in it. I see examples of other people’s writing journals and they look so...creative. Mine seems pretty lame in comparison. Maybe I should do some research on how to keep a writing journal. Oh look, a new way to procrastinate! LOL

I really don’t want to get to the end of the year and look back to see that nothing’s changed, so I guess that means I need to get to work, eh? Time to put on the big girl writer panties and get to work!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Inspiration From Improv

This week's workshop was Inspiration From Improv. I first read about the connection between theatre and writing many years ago, which is why even though I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone I thought I’d give the workshop a try. Or maybe because I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone.

At any rate, though for the most part I enjoyed the class, I can safely say I suck at actual improv. We weren’t just writing, we also did some physical improv during class. From movement to tableaus to enacting headliners, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. LOL

The first thing we did was circle the table, pretending to move through various landscapes. When we sat down again we were asked to write a brief piece describing one of those landscapes. I chose what it would be like to walk on the moon.



Moonwalk

My feet are heavy as I lift them up and set them down, small puffs of dust rising with each weighted step. Too small. Had I been somewhere with more gravity I would be trying to kick up as much dust as possible, just for fun. But there’s no atmosphere on the moon. No matter how hard I step it makes little difference. I can’t even hear my own footsteps. There’s no sound at all, save for that of my own breathing inside my sealed suit. The dust is grey. Everything is grey, here on the moon. An unrelenting grey stretching out to the horizon in one direction and to the equally grey mountains in another. Even the domes we live in are grey - the clothing, the furnishings...How I long for a bit of colour.


Later we were asked to do a monologue. I’m not sure if mine qualifies as a monologue, it seems more to me to be a first person narrative, but maybe that’s what a monologue is. I chose for my speaker my character on the moon.

Life Under the Dome

I always thought the moon was the epitome of romance - moonlit strolls, dancing by the light of the moon, all the poems and songs written about it. But when John first came up with the idea of applying to be colonists on the moon, I thought he was kidding. It was the moon, for crying out loud. Then he showed me the application forms and I was seized by the fear he’d be accepted and I wouldn’t be. After all, he was an astrophysicist while I was just an engineer. But they wanted couples, fertile couples, so I was given a pass, even though I barely squeaked through the training. Crazy, right? After that, things moved very quickly and the next thing I knew I was saying goodbye to my friends and family and giving away all my books and collections. No room for unnecessary items under the dome, you know. But not all the training in the world could have prepared me for the reality of my new life - the cramped quarters, the bland food, the unrelenting grey. I tried to make the best of it, I really did. We were just the first wave after all, and really, what choice did I have? We were here. Forever. There was no going home. John told me things would get better, to give it a chance. But it turned out he was wrong. Things didn’t get better, they were never going to get better. And the thing was, he wasn’t just lying to me, he was lying to himself and the psychologists too. Far from being a romantic adventure, the moon was desolate and depressing. So depressing that one day, without warning, John walked out onto the grey plains and broke the seal holding his helmet to his suit. This was all his idea, and he left me! I feel so angry and betrayed. And don’t think for a minute I haven’t seen the pitying glances of the others. The couples who no matter what have each other while I have no one. Nothing. I carry on my life, alone, putting in my time. I stare out at that unrelenting grey and wonder how soon I’ll be able to follow in John’s footsteps.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Steampunk

In a nutshell, Steampunk is historical fiction crossed with science fiction. But of course it’s not really that simple. The history is that of the Victorian age, while the science is for the most part steam driven. To tell the truth, it’s a little hard (and a lot complicated) to try and explain, so I’m not going to try. If you’re really interested, check out this article from the Huffington Post it's really good.

Now, without further ado, here’s my story from last week’s workshop:



“Damnation!” Lord Montague cursed as the spring he’d been trying to insert in the delicate piece of machinery went flying.

“Geoffrey!” his lady wife admonished him.

He looked up, his irritation sliding into embarrassment. “Sorry.”

“We had an agreement. You are only permitted to work on your inventions in the parlour if you take care with your language.”

“I said I was sorry,” he said, becoming irritable once more. “Now where did that d--” He glanced at his wife’s frown and quickly corrected himself. “Where did that spring go?”

“Here it is, papa,” said his daughter Marion, from where she was sitting near the fireplace attending to her embroidery. She gave an unladylike giggle. “You see? It has become tangled with my hair comb.” Her needlework lay forgotten in her lap as she reached up to extract the spring.

“Marion, I do wish you’d leave those combs in your hair,” said Lady Montague.

“I cannot help it, mama,” Marion said. “They simply will not stay put. Why, this spring works much better.” She proved her point as she demonstrated the difficulty she had removing it from her hair. Wincing, she finally freed the comb, the spring attached, as well as several strands of honey blond hair.

“Papa,” she said, working the spring free of the comb and handing it to him. “You have invented so many wonderful things, could you not invent a hair comb that will stay in my hair?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” her parents said, both at the same time.

Marion pursed her lips but let the subject drop. This was not the first time one of her suggestions was dismissed out of hand, nor would it be the last, she supposed. But the idea of somehow using a spring along with a comb so that it would stay in her hair would not leave her.

Several day late, an opportunity finally presented itself for her to experiment on her own. Her parents were attending the opera, and as the Italian sopranos tended to give Marion a headache, she begged off and was allowed to remain at home with Tilly, her maid, for company. This was doubly fortunate for Marion as Tilly had begun keeping company with the new footman not a fortnight ago and the girls were quick to seize the opportunity before them. Tilly could visit her paramour whilst Marion worked uninterrupted in the parlour.

Marion often sat quietly in a corner of the parlour under the guise of writing letters or doing needlework while her father was busy at his work table. Her attention, however, was not on what she was doing but rather on what her father was doing. She was intelligent and quick witted, and knew far more about mechanics than either parent would have guessed.

Her first attempts at improving a hair comb proved unsatisfactory at best. Attaching a spring to the comb was not much of an improvement, and the spring would become tangled in her hair requiring more patience than she feared she was capable of to extract it. She tried various combinations of various tiny gears and the spring, but the resulting comb was rather large and unwieldy.

“Damnation!” she exclaimed as the silver comb of her latest attempt went flying and hit the stone of the fireplace. Had her mother been within earshot, she would have fainted dead away at the language coming from her daughter. A knack for inventing was not the only thing Marion had inherited from her father.

The force with which the comb hit the stone had bent it at almost a forty-five degree angle. Marion picked it up and turned it around in her hand.

“Hmm. I wonder.”

Fired by new ideas and possibilities, she worked well past the time she should have, which is why when her parents returned they found her asleep at the work table, surrounded by the detritus of her work.

“What is all this?” thundered her father.

Her mother was too overcome to speak, and plunked herself down on the settee, fanning herself furiously.

Marion raised a sleepy head, a thin winding wheel from a watch stuck to her cheek. “Oh, hullo father, mother. How was the opera?”

“Never mind that,” her father said, picking up one of her discarded pieces and turning it around in his hand curiously. “How many times have you been told--what is this?”

“I call it a hair clip,” Marion said proudly. “You see how when it is closed it looks like a pair of lips? But it’s made from a pair of combs - comb, plus lips - clip.”

“How ingenious,” her father murmured. He glanced at several of her prototypes made with straight pieces of metal, some made with different sizes of gears, some with winding wheels from watches coming together. “And what of these?”

“Oh, those,” Marion said offhandedly. “Those were just prototypes, not very efficient for holding hair.”

“No, but they would be perfect for holding other things in place. Show me how you made these,” Lord Montague said eagerly.

Lady Montague stared at the pair from where she sat on the settee, appalled at the turn things had taken.

She had not been keen on having children, but Geoffrey spent so much time on his inventions she thought a child would help fill the void. When she gave birth to a daughter she couldn’t have been happier. A son would have most likely followed in his father’s footsteps, but a daughter - a daughter would have none of that kind of interest. A daughter would be sweet and gentle and keep her company in the long evenings while Geoffrey tinkered with his bits and pieces.

She sighed heavily and rose to her feet. “I’m going to bed,” she announced, unsurprised when she was ignored.

Maybe I should get a dog, she thought, closing the door behind her.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Darn That Life!

Yeah, just when I figured I was getting things back on track, life interferes. Ain’t that always the way?

Last week’s workshop was on Steampunk. I came away with a better understand of what Steampunk is, and the knowledge that it’s not a genre I’ll be working in much. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not my cup of tea.

The class assignments were to create a Steampunk invention, and then use your invention in a story. I have to admit, I found the invention part way harder than I expected. I finally came up with a toaster made of mahogany on the outside, and brass on the inside. It had racks on the inside so you could toast several pieces of bread at once, and was powered by a Tesla coil.

Pretty lame. So I was a little appalled when the next part of the assignment was to write a story around it. The story I started has nothing to do with toasters, it revolves around a hair clip, and I was about half done (300 words in) by the end of the class. Actually, I don’t think anyone finished. We were all still writing away furiously when the class ended. I had intended to finish my story in time to post on Friday, but as I said, life intruded and I just haven’t got back to it. Maybe I can get it done for this Wednesday instead of a poem.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” Well, that’s my new lap top, in spades. I’d like to mention at this point, I hate Windows 10. A lot. And this has nothing to do with my Apache, I’d be faced with this no matter what new lap top I bought.

I hate Cortana too, who’s not really as helpful as she pretends to be. I hate that I had to create a Microsoft account - what’s the deal with that? I hate Microsoft Edge and I don’t care how much better it is than Chrome for surfing. And I really hate that it keeps telling me that I could make my computing experience so much better if only I would let it track my every movement. Not. Going. To. Happen.

So at this point I kind of have a love/hate relationship going on with my new lap top. But it looks pretty sitting on my desk, and I’m sure that once I get over the whole Windows 10 thing I’ll be writing up a storm on it.

Just don’t count on it happening anytime soon. ;-)


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Imagination

One of the fun things that the poetry group I was once a part of did was what we called “poemwork,” that is, writing a poem from a prompt that was provided at the previous meeting. One month the prompt was to take any 3-5 consecutive lines from the index of Bartlett's Famous Quotations. Filling in the gaps with your imagination, expand on the thoughts and feelings you glimpse between the lines to compose your poem.

My five lines were:
Imagination, cold and barren
Imaginations are as foul
Imagine why or whence
Imagining fear in the night
Imagining the grave

And I wrote not one, but two poems. :-D



Imagination, cold and barren,
a bleak landscape stretching forth
into a wasteland of empty dreams.

Imaginations are as foul creatures,
intentionally misleading,
inspiring hope that has no place here.

Imagine why or whence we came
into this space between realities,
the great void that enshrouds us.

Imagining fear in the night
surpassed only by
the waking dream.

Imagining the grave that awaits
Reality shatters, fragmenting,
a downward spiral into madness.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Imagination,
cold and barren
as the grave,
like a demon
darkly filled with things I crave;
proliferation,
thoughts and feelings of despair
like an omen,
a vivid fantasy to ensnare.

Imaginations
are as foul
as phantom screaming,
sounds of terror
within your darkest dreaming.
Abomination
raids the landscape of your mind,
a standard-bearer
of future curses intertwined.

Imagine why
or whence
this inner madness springs.
What wrong committed?
What spiteful spirit to you clings?
Nightmare outcry,
sticky web of madness daunting;
a dread submitted
to a darkened inward haunting.

Imagining fear
in the night,
time of darkest sin.
Fractured sanity,
your thoughts have let the chaos in.
You persevere
and hope to end this nightmare soon.
Be gone humanity,
you’re dancing to the devil’s tune.

Imagining
the grave
in which your conscience lies,
dark illusion
holds you fast before it dies.
A fragile thing
this life you cling to valiantly;
while dark delusion
transmits your uncertainty.

Monday, March 19, 2018

And The Real Winner Is....



So... a couple of weeks ago I mentioned about needing a new lap top and then I whined complained ranted related the problems I was having trying to get the lap top I’d settled on from Lenovo.

Well, I finally got all my money back from them - money they never should have taken in the first place because it said right on their order confirmation email that they wouldn’t until the order was ready to ship - and on the weekend I started researching lap tops again.

I mentioned my computer wish list to a tech savy friend and they suggested I look at a gaming lap top - apparently they’re not just for gaming. So I started looking at gaming lap tops and I really liked what I saw. Lots of power, lots of hard drive space, good screen resolution with anti-glare, and backlit keyboard. They don’t have the awesome battery that the ThinkPads have, but to be perfectly honest I seldom run off the battery for more than an hour or two anyway.

Staples just happened to be having a lap sale so I went over to have a look at what they had and I am now the proud owner of an MSI Apache. And I didn’t know it when I settled on it, but not only is the keyboard backlit, you can adjust the colour - I can make it rainbow if I want! LOL

I’m sure most of you will understand the need for speed and the large sized hard drive, but you’re probably wondering why I’m so set on a backlit keyboard. It’s not because it’s pretty (although that’s kind of a bonus) it’s because the light in my new office isn’t so great, especially when I’m working at my desk.

Of course I won’t know for sure it’s “the one” until I actually use it (they were out of stock but one’s coming from a different store tomorrow). And I have up to 14 days to make up my mind if I want to return it. For me, the keyboard is key. I’ll know the moment I start typing.

In other news....the writing is at least trickling in. I wrote three blog posts last week - haven’t done that in a while. And I wrote two flash stories and one brand, spanking new poem using a brand new poetry form.

Might not be much, but it’s a start. Maybe my new lap top will make me type faster. ;-)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Once Upon A Time



Remember the Speculative Fiction workshops I mentioned I was signing up for? Well, I had the first one this week, on writing fairy tales. I’m with a great group of people and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun over the next eight weeks.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to revive my Fiction Fridays for a while now, and I figured what better way to start that sharing the piece I wrote in class?

During the class we were asked to write an interesting thing about ourselves. Then we handed them in and the instructor passed them out again at random. The exercise was to write a fairy tale based on the incident we received. We had about 20 minutes or so to write. This was mine (unedited):

We lived a simple life in the wide ocean, and when I say simple, I mean boring. When you’re a mermaid, and a thirteen year old mermaid at that, it’s tedious to be confined to the grotto, or to only be allowed to swim back and forth along the edge of the kelp beds. under the watchful eye of our parents of course.

My sister Sonia was the first to rebel. We’d all heard stories of the little mermaid of course, and how she traded her voice for a pair of legs. So we knew the magic was out there. Sonia decided she was done being a mermaid. She wanted to walk on the shore, bask in the sun, feel the wind in her hair.

“It’s only a story,” our mother tried to tell us. “And in the original version she didn’t find her prince, she turned to sea foam.”

“Every story starts with a grain of truth,” Sonia said stubbornly. So certain was she that she stopped eating. She would rather waste away to nothing than live the rest of her life under the waves.

At last our parents gave in and took Sonia to the Hermit of the Sea. They came back alone.

“Where’s Sonia?” my sister Tanis and I cried.

“She’s gone where you cannot follow,” our parents said sadly.

Of course it wasn’t long before Tanis and I wanted to follow Sonia. After days of arguing my parents realized it was no use, and we were taken to the Hermit as well.

Now the three of us sisters live in a cottage by the sea.

After a few years I found I missed swimming and tried it as a human, but it was never the same.

I can't wait for next week's class - Steampunk!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Passion For Poetry - Dansa Poetry Form



Not only do I have a new poem to share today, I have a new form as well! Be still my heart - can the end of the world be far behind? LOL

Today’s form is the dansa, which is an Occitan verse form developed late in the thirteenth century by the troubadours in southern France. It’s actually fairly simple, which makes me wonder why I never tried it before.

It’s short, only three verses. You start with a one line refrain that’s repeated at the end of each verse, so the first verse has five lines and the other two verses have four. The rhyme scheme is Abba(A) bba(A) bba(A). Easy peasy.

Now, having nothing more to say about this form, here's my example:


Mythic Wind

The wind has blown a myth to me.
He came to me within a storm
I let him in one early morn
He was the fairest man to see
The wind has blown a myth to me.

With cloven hoof and curling horn
He was not from a human born
His eyes they held a silent plea
The wind has blown a myth to me.

His sweet embrace was oh, so warm
A night with him I was reborn
And now we dwell beside the sea
The wind has blown a myth to me.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Lap Top: A Sad Story



I love my Samsung lap top, it has served me well over the last..umm...many years. But nothing last forever, especially in this day and age. And let’s face it, things just aren’t built to last anymore. It really doesn’t owe me anything - I think it’s actually lasted longer than it should have.

But alas, it’s starting to feel its age. It’s taking longer to boot up, a few of the letters are worn off of the keyboard (which tells you how much use I’ve made of it), and it’s starting to slow down. In fact, as I type this post I have to keep waiting for the letters to catch up. And this is after I gave it a rest because it was all but frozen earlier.

So a couple of weeks ago I started looking at other lap tops. Having worked in tech support at one time, I’m not a fan of Dell or HP. And it’s a sign of the changing times that most of my research was done online.

Though our town has doubled in size since I was a kid, it’s still relatively small. Which means there aren’t a lot of places to check out computers. At any rate, I had it narrowed down to three: Asus, Acer, and Lenovo.

I loved everything about the Lenovo that Staples had, except the keyboard. But then I was looking at them online and found I really liked the look of the keyboard on the ThinkPad T580. I checked out the Asus and the Acer online too but I kept coming back to the ThinkPad.

Decision made, I went to the website and...they were out of stock. Figures. But I kept checking and finally they were back. I navigated the ordering system, ended up with two lap tops in my shopping cart, deleted one, and placed my order. The next day I was looking at my order confirmation email and realized I had deleted the wrong one.

So I called them up and you can’t change an order once it’s placed so I had to cancel it. Got the confirmation email that my order was cancelled and went back to the website and ordered the right lap top and saved enough money that I sprang for a wireless mouse and a messenger bag too.

Here’s where the story turns sad.

It says right on the order confirmation that your payment won’t be processed until the order is ready to ship. So when I got an email asking me to get in touch with their accounting department in regards to the second order, I figured it was because I used my debit VISA instead of a credit card. Until on a whim I checked my bank account and saw that they’d taken a payment out for the first order on the day I ordered it. And I guess they forgot to give me my money back when I cancelled that order.

Anyway, I talked to their accounting department this morning (only yelling a little), and everything is supposed to be straightened out now. *knock on wood* Now all that’s left is the waiting. And the crossing of fingers.

And if nothing else, at least I've got a good idea for my story for the Please Hold, Your Murder Is Very Important To Us anthology (about customer service) I've been invited to participate in.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Easier Said Than Done



As you can see by the lack of my wordage summaries, once again there was no joy in Wordville.

To be honest, it’s starting to get a little frustrating. I’ll open up my WIP and my mind goes blank. And the thing is, I know what’s supposed to happen next, I’m just lacking the words to make it happen.

I get lines of poetry appearing at random in my head, only to have them disappear as soon as I have a piece of paper in front of me.

And yet....I’m far from ready to give up. I keep trying because I know that sooner or later the words will be back.

To spur them on a little, I registered for a night school course. One of the local colleges (and by local I mean about an hour’s drive from here) is offering a whole bunch of interesting courses, but it was the one for speculative fiction that caught my eye. It’s actually a series of workshops - once a week for eight weeks, two hours long.

The workshops, starting March 14, are as follows: Writing Fairy Tales, Steampunk, Inspiration From Improv, Inspiration From Music, Adjectives and Adverbs, Writing Poetry, Writing From Dreams, and Alternate History. The way it’s set up you can take as many or as few as you like. I looked them over and there were a couple I thought were a little iffy, but I figured maybe they’d help me step out of my comfort zone so I signed up for them all.

I’ve taken a couple of night school courses in the past, a long time ago. One was at our local high school, run by a local author, and was pretty much just for fun. The other I took with a friend at a different college in the same city as I’ll be going to in a couple of weeks. It was a little more serious, although the instructor was not a writer herself. Still, I enjoyed both courses, even though I didn’t keep in touch with my fellow participants.

I’m sure I’ll enjoy these workshops as well. There’s nothing like being around like-minded, creative people to get your own creative juices going. And there’s always something new to learn, yes, even from the Writing Poetry workshop.

Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Light at the End of the Tunnel



As you may have already guessed, my health isn’t the only thing I’ve been struggling with lately. The writing, when it comes at all, has been coming in drips and drabs, scritches and scribbles. While disappointing, it’s not altogether surprising because it happens to me every year about this time.

December, January, February - they’re what I call my dark months. And I don’t necessarily mean dark as in the weather, although that certainly doesn’t help, I mean dark as in my mood. Every year I think I’ll be prepared for the dark months, and every year....I’m not.

People think I’m joking when I say I’m weather driven, but it’s really true. Or maybe I should say I'm light driven. I used to think it was the time change that caused it - it seems to start and end with “winter time” (as opposed to Daylight Saving Time) - but while the days during this period are naturally shorter, any extended period of grey/gloomy weather can bring it on.

Sometimes it’s not so bad if I can stay ahead of it, but once it gets its claws in me the only thing I can do is ride it out. November I was doing NaNo so I really didn’t have time to worry about the weather or my mood or anything else but writing, which is another good reason to do it. Then December I was so busy with Christmas, the baking and visiting and shopping, that I also didn’t have time to be down. But January, when I finally had a breather, I stopped to rest for a minute and couldn’t seem to get back up again.

I always start out the year with big writing plans that peter right out when the new year actually comes. Of course it didn’t help that I was also slammed with the mega-flu and a couple of bouts of mega-colds (I still have a lingering sinus infection from the last one). You’d think I’d just save myself the trouble and take January and February off from writing, but, well, hope springs eternal I guess. Too bad I couldn’t move to someplace like New Zealand for the winter months. LOL

The time change will be upon us in a couple of weeks, and already I feel my mood lifting. I stopped fighting my depression and just accepted it for what it was, and believe it or that seems to help. So do the glimmers of sunlight we’ve had over the last few days.

Instead of struggling to write things that just don’t want to be written, I’ve been trying to fill my time with other things so I don’t waste all my time on mindless games. This in no small part includes working on getting things squared away in my office. I’ve made some good progress in there, even the hubby was impressed. I have a new printer that fits on top of my metal filing cabinet like it was made for it, and my tea station fits nicely on top of a small wooden filing cabinet I filched from the hubby’s office. I even disposed of the big pile of books and junk in the corner.

In other words, if I haven’t been writing much lately, at least I’ve been working on my writing space. Which is almost as good. And reading more, which is always a good thing for a writer. AND I was checking out some night school courses at a nearby college (okay, not really nearby, it’s about a 45-60 minute drive) and one of them is a course for speculative fiction. It looks like it might be really interesting. At the very least it'll get me writing again.

Maybe I’m actually seeing a light at the end of that dark tunnel.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Argh!

Is it just me, or have I spent more than my fair share of time being sick this winter?

This time it’s the Super Mega Death Cold From Hell. I think the worst part about this virus is how it sucks the energy right out of you. I have not even had the energy to read, let alone write these last couple of weeks, which is really frustrating.

It’s had its way with the rest of the family in varying degrees, but I think hubby and I had it worst. Supposedly it only lasts two or three weeks - I’m starting week three.

So hopefully I’m over the worst of it, and things will only get better from here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Frogging It

I don’t really have any more to report this week than I did last week (which is why I missed last week’s post), but here I am anyway. :-D

As you may recall, one of my goals for the year was to spend more time doing crafts at night in front of the TV. There were two reasons for this. One, it keeps me from snacking, and two, it keeps me away from the mindless games.

The good news is, I finally sucked it up last weekend and went through my yarn stash. I have a long, red, knitted vest I like a lot, but it doesn’t go with a whole lot. So I found some textured yarn to try knitting myself one. Vests are simple enough, who needs a pattern, right?

I was going to do it in the garter stitch (which is just knitting every row), but after an inch or so I decided that looked tacky. So I started over in the stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl the next) and kept going until it was about 25 inches long. No, I didn’t get carried away, I do want a long vest.

This is where I had to decide how much to start decreasing for the arm hole and neck. I got the armhole looking the way I wanted to, but realized about six or eight inches later I was decreasing the v-neck a little too much. Which meant I had to frog it back, and not just a little, right back to the last couple of rows before the decreasing started because the textured yarn was a pain in the butt to unravel and at one point I even broke the yarn.

Now the point of this story is that this is what I’ve had to do with my current WIP. I’ve had to frog it back a couple of chapters so I can get it back on track. Like frogging back my knitting, it breaks my heart a little to have pretty much wipe out several weeks worth of progress, but for the story to move forward it has to be done.

And just like frogging back my knitting is going to make for a better vest, frogging back my writing is going to make for a better story. One of the hazards of being a pantser I guess, whether it be knitting or writing.

And I have to tell you, every time I hear the word frogging, this is the song that runs through my head. You can thank me later for the ear worm. :-D


Monday, January 15, 2018

Once More, With Feeling...

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 1140
Poetry - unknown
Total Words - 1140+
Paragraphs of Notes - 11

Well, that didn’t exactly work out like I expected it to.

Just when I thought I was getting things back on track I got slammed with the stomach flu. So no writing at all, let alone posting, last week. I was far too busy being sick and recovering from being sick. I did get a bunch of reading in, if that counts. Maybe I should start including a weekly reading report too - after all, reading is just as important as writing when you’re an author. ;-)

Now to be completely honest, I was recovered enough by the weekend that I could have spent some time writing, and I actually planned on it, however the characters in the book I’m working on stopped for a rest after escaping from some dark elves and now they refuse to budge. And that’s pretty much my own fault.

I’m not entirely sure where exactly the elven enclave that’s been taken over by the dark elves that my heroes escaped from is, let alone how far it is to the shrine they’re supposed to be headed for. In fact, I’d never heard of the shrine until they decided to head there. Apparently it’s on an island on an inland sea.

I need a map. And I need a proper map, not one of the namby-pamby ones I drew 15-20 years ago when I first came up with the idea for this story - it was more fun working on maps and character sketches than actually writing back then. Some of the names on those maps are cringe-worthy and a lot of the places have changed. Not to mention there are a bunch of places that have been mentioned in back stories that aren’t even on those maps. I need a map like this one:



Okay, maybe not as fancy as that one, but I do need a more comprehensive idea of the lay of the land. So as a starting point I figured I could use the outlines of my old maps and just fill in new details. Only I can’t find them. I have a file folder marked “Maps” that had several pages of maps that when pieced together made a really big map, only I can’t find it. Somewhere, in the Great Office Shuffle, I seem to have misplaced it, along with all my other notes, etc. on the Moonstone Chronicle universe.

Now after a very long frustrating search I did manage to find the maps I’d traced from the smaller pages onto three really large pages, but my first thought there was - TOO BIG. Which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. Do I keep searching for smaller maps, tearing apart filing cabinets, drawers, and offices (and probably my hair) in the process? Try and trace the pertinent sections of the huge maps onto smaller, more manageable pages and make the necessary changes? Or suck it up and just make the changes on the big maps, which would take copious amounts of white out and leave me with a really messy looking map?

As excuses go for not writing, I thought this was a pretty good one.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Prompt Me - the Light

So... one of the things I was hoping to have time for between Christmas and New Year’s was to give some thought to revamping my Fiction Fridays. But as you know by the vast amount of whining I’ve been doing about it, my holiday did not go as planned. Now here we are with the same old, same old.

BUT. With a slight difference. The first Friday of the month will still be a picture prompt, and you are still encouraged to write whatever you like, inspired by that prompt - flash story, article, poem, whatever - but this time you only get a week to do it in. The second Friday of the month will have the results (if any) from that prompt.

Then the third Friday of the month will have a new prompt - this one will be words. Five of them in fact. I will pick five words at random from my big, hard back, Family Word Finder and you are going to include them in whatever you want to write. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’ll give you another whole week to come up with something, then hopefully I’ll be able to share again on the last Friday of the month.

So without further ado, here’s the picture prompt for the month:



You have until January 11 to send me what you came up with at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and I will post it here on the 12th.

And then on the 19th I’ll prompt you with 5 random words for you to have fun with and then send me the results by January 25th so I can post them on the 26th.

If you’re too shy to send me anything to share, that’s okay too. This is just for fun to help get you writing. But even if you don’t want to share what you've written I’d love to hear from you either in the comments or through email letting me know what you think of the prompts.

Like I said, I’m trying to revamp my Fiction Fridays, but if no one likes the prompts thing I can always go back to just posting excerpts from works in progress.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

And So It Begins ...



The new year is upon us, filled with infinite possibilities...

Usually I take the time between Christmas and New Year’s to consider my goals for the year ahead, and figure out what changes I want/need to make to help reach those goals. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. I was a lot busier than I’d counted on and didn’t even have time to relax, let alone contemplate the future.

So January 1st caught me totally unprepared. And the shame of it all was that it fell on a Monday, perfect timing for my regular Monday post. But I had nothing to share, so I bought myself more time by going over last year’s goals and whether or not I met them. Then I spent the next couple of days staring at the blank screen, trying to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in the year ahead. And you could almost hear the tumbleweeds blowing around in my empty mind.

Then last night I pulled out one of my notebooks and started a list. There are a lot of doodles on the page with this list, and I added and deleted many times, but finally I had a list I could be happy with. It may not be a life-changing list, but I think it will take me where I want to be.

In no particular order:

Write every day - at least 500 words
This may seem like a no-brainer - if you’re a writer you write, right? But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Even during NaNoWriMo there were days when I didn’t write a word, but also during NaNo I proved to myself that when I find my focus it’s possible to amaze even myself with my word counts. It’s just too bad my focus and my muse took off for an extended vacation at the beginning of December and haven’t come back yet.

Less time gaming and checking social media
One of the things that helped me when I got my writing mojo back during NaNo was I limited myself to the amount of time I spent on the internet playing games, checking Facebook, and checking my email. While I get email notifications on my phone, I do not have the Facebook ap on it, nor do I want it. And don’t even suggest I get Pinterest!

Shut down by 11 p.m., 12 at the latest
I go to bed around 1 a.m., and to be honest, the last couple of hours on the computer I’m usually too tired to do more than play games. So unless I’m on a roll with the writing, I think it’s reasonable to give myself an hour of reading time before bed.

Spend more time doing crafts
Last year I had this vision of making a lot of my presents for Christmas. And I was going to do this in the evenings while watching T.V. But invariably I found myself watching TV with the lap top open on my lap, one eye on the program I was watching and one eye on the game I was playing. I want to get my word count in during the day so I can start crafting while watching TV at night. Not only did I not get any crafts done for Christmas, for the first time in a long time I didn’t even get a new ornament made for my tree.

Make better use of my Neo
Another of the things I credit my spectacular word count for the last week of NaNo was that I stayed off the lap top. I used my Alphasmart Neo which has no bells, whistles, or internet. I also type faster on it than my lap top - I have no idea why, I’ll just go with the flow.

Organize my poetry
I started out writing poetry. I have a lot of poems - some printed out, some on the computer, a lot of it is both. Some of these poems have been saved more than once. I would really, really like to develop some kind of system to keep track of my poetry. I’m thinking a database so I can cross reference forms, subject, mood, whatever. All I know is that right now my poems are one hot mess, and good luck finding a specific poem.

Journal more often
I have a personal journal and a writing journal and I’m pretty sporadic with both of them. My personal journal I’ll promise myself I’ll update it tomorrow and before I know it a week has gone by and I’ll end up making these massive, multi-page entries that are pretty hum drum. My writing journal I just plain forget to use. It’s supposed to be for thoughts and ideas and notes about stories, but...yeah. Maybe part of that hour or two before bed could be spend writing in one or both of my journals.

So there you go. My goals for the coming year. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing arduous, just things I’d like to get in the habit of or accomplish over the course of the year. Good habits to get into, methinks.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have 500 words to write today. :-D

Monday, January 1, 2018

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Time for resolutions!



Although to be honest, I don’t like the word resolution, it’s too black and white. I prefer to set goals rather than make resolutions. But first - let’s see how I did on last year’s goals:

1. Keep up with the good reading habits, but include a non-fiction book every once in awhile.
Fail
I don’t recall reading any non-fiction, and most of the time I kind of binge-read. I wouldn’t read anything for days, and then for days I’d do nothing but read.

2. Get back on the healthy life style band wagon.
Win
If you discount the last two weeks, I’ve done really well on the eating properly and exercising front. I’ve brought my A1c down a whole point, and I’ve lost 10 pounds. The weight may be coming off slowly, but at least it’s coming off.

3. Get out of the house once a week. And by out of the house I mean something other than babysitting or grocery shopping.
Fail
If anything, I became even more of a hermit.

4. Less gaming, more crafting.
Fail
I had big plans to make a lot of my Christmas presents and I only made one. I didn’t even get any ornaments made - not even for my own tree, let alone anyone else’s. That’s the first time this has happened in a long time.

5. Find a routine that balances what I need to do with what I have to do.
Fail
There were a couple of attempts, and I know what I want, but ultimately I kept putting things off and then regretting it.

6. Write every day.
Fail
While I did better with this than the year before, I still consider this a fail. There were way too many days when I wrote no words at all.

7. Write a flash fiction or short story once a month; maybe even submit one or two.
Semi-fail
While I did write more short fiction, I did not submit any of it.

Holy moly Batman! I didn’t do so great on the goals, did I?

Last year was a black hole as far as creativity went, and it was only a small comfort to talk with other writers and interact with them via the internet and know I wasn’t alone in this. It was like something in the air, seriously. Hopefully 2018 will be a kinder year, creatively speaking.

The last couple of weeks have been so crazy busy I haven’t had much time to be thinking about my goals for next year, so I’m going to give myself a couple more days to whittle down the list. Join me here Wednesday to see what I have planned for the year ahead.