Monday, July 25, 2016

The Liebster Award

I'm pleased and grateful to have been nominated by a very talented writer for the Liebster Award. It's a fun way to spread camaraderie and readership.



After sharing the pretty badge, I want to thank Patricia Garcia. She is positively lovely and you can read her delightful reaction to the award here:

Pat Garcia Book Reviews

Her other blog features some really moving prose. It's the one I discovered when we were part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge and that home page can be found here:

Everything Must Change


Now let me share my answers to the questions posed by dear Patricia Garcia. I hope I was not too wordy. ~grin~ They are compelling questions.

1. What does writing mean to you?

Writing means expression of self, whether through diaries or fiction. In fact the former led to the latter when I realized how well my young self could portray scenes.

2. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from a combination of memory and dreaming which my imagination weaves together. Basically, I write the way I wish life could be but with a heavy dose of danger and angst not welcome in my reality.

3. Do you write fiction or non-fiction or both?

My intentional focus is fiction, but I still spend a lot of time writing in journals.

4. Do you blog and if so, how often?

This blog, as well as some other group and one separate solo endeavor, never see as much activity as I intend. The April A to Z Blog Challenge is my most active period, for sure.

5. Where is your favorite place or room to write?

I like writing wherever it’s most peaceful. My back porch is a favorite place when the weather is good (especially cool and rainy under my tin patio roof!) and my home office if I’m left alone long enough.

6. Do you have a regular routine, like writing in the morning or evenings? Or do you write whenever it hits you?

I have been guilty of not writing at all lately. My routine is completely amorphous if the muse really prods me. I’ve been known to get up and write at three o’clock in the morning and returning to bed only when exhaustion overtook me. At one day job there were days I stayed late, off the employer’s clock, just to have uninterrupted writing time.

7. Who is your favourite author? What kind of influence have they had upon your writing or upon you personally?

Michael Moorcock is probably my first choice. Elric of Melnibone tales especially, though many Stephen King, Andre Norton, “Ringworld” and “Thieves’ World” series books influenced me greatly. I have always appreciated a combination of angst and romance, continuing to this day.

8. Do current events in the world have an effect upon what you write?

I’m sure they do, though I avoid addressing politics and current world news. I prefer escapism from reality. And real world happenings leave me feeling quite helpless.

9. How often do you read? Do you read books in different genres?

I have not read as much lately as in past but enjoy biographies, science fiction, romance of every possible configuration, and fantasy. My tastes tend to go in waves. Dear friend and author Tina Holland hooked me up with free books from a conference and I’m really grateful because it led to some surprising territory.

10. Please share a paragraph or two of what you are currently working on.

Well, here goes:

“You know what?” I asked softly, barely above a whisper. “I do love you. You can’t make love if you aren’t in love.”

His body tensed. It transferred to his tight, near breathless voice. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

He said nothing, his face turning from my shoulder to the seat cushions beneath us. I felt awed. Was he crying? I felt certain he never dared show any such vulnerability at home.

11. Where and what do you see yourself as within the next ten years? Will you have relocated? Will you have become the writer person that you have dreamed of being?

Ten years go by so fast and my dreams are mostly relegated to the rapid eye movement sort. So instead let me share how I imagine my much older self, skipping these middle years and  living as a solitary successful writer.

The fantasy: My home is expensive but not opulent, and quite reclusive. It’s either atop some wintry, thunder filled Japanese valley or perched over some isolated beach or overhanging an Alaskan waterway well north of Anchorage (view is key!). I live essentially alone, not lonely. Usually I envision some quiet assistant catering to all my wants and needs. There is always an animal companion whose nature depends upon where we live.

~

Now I will share the rules of the award, one of the necessary stipulations. There are only five and I took liberties with the order in which I met them.

1. Write a blog post about your nomination, displaying an image of the award.

2. Thank the person who nominated you that includes a link to his or her blog.

3. Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked you in his/her blog post.

4. Nominate 5-11 other starting bloggers who you think deserve this award and come up with 11 questions of your own for them to answer.

5. List these rules in your blog post

Now, for the nominees: 

Jingle Jangle Jungle  - Mary shares great musical trivia and lots of videos 

Kalpanaawrites - Here you can view lovely photographs and read about writing, yoga, and travel

Kurt Nemes
- This is a truly amazing classical music almanac


Rhodrymavelyne - An aptly named Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration with book reviews and shared snippets

Joan Summers
- She shares design and more, especially her delightful travel photos


And lastly, here are the questions I propose:

1. What is your favorite destination, be it local or across the globe?

2. Do you have any extremely early childhood memories? If so, I’d be interested to know what you recall.

3. What is your favorite form of escapism?

4. Does your region/town have a famous attribute? If so, what is it (whether it’s a famous former resident, some large festival, or anything else that comes to mind)?

5. Would you embrace eternal life, given the chance?

6. If time travel were possible, would you move forward, backward, or stay put?

7. What color are your eyes? Would change it if you could? And if so, to what shade?

8. Given the chance to take animal form, what would you choose? Would you prefer being a pampered house pet or something wild and fierce?

9. In that animal state, would you hope for human sentience or existential oblivion?

10. Where would you go as an animal? Would you stay home or roam afar?

11. Do you currently have a project you would like to tout? Feel free to self promote!

~

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Amazing Story Generator - A Prompt Ficlet

A friend of mine posed a challenge using "The Amazing Story Generator: Mix-And-Match Creative Writing Prompts" by Jason Sacher. The book has every page divided into three segments. You flip each randomly to create a three part sentence. This is what dear A. Catherine Noon shared on Coffeetime Romance forum:

1. Ignoring the advice of friends,
2: a temperamental sculptor
3: is tormented by vengeful spirits.

And here is my story (sorry it's a little long at 707 words):


The Sculptor

“We failed. It won’t burn. Pamela and I told you, Ian, you never should have painted that.” She pointed without looking at the lurid murder scene.

Ian turned to face his two guests, shadows under his eyes like bruises, almost darker than the brunette coif spiked by restless fingers. His furtive gaze darted from one sister to the other, then fell to the floor. Ian shook his head and threw out his long arms. “I thought if I painted it the scene would get out of my head.”

“And it did,” Pamela replied.

“At least partly,” her sister Patricia added.

“Like we warned you.”

“Is this another I told you so, Pamela? That doesn’t help me.” Their sad eyes met, the sisters holding hands like mourners seated for a funeral. Ian stopped pacing and folded to his tattered daybed across from the small couch. Both women saw how his fingers bunched the denim upon his thighs. “How do I get rid of them?”

“We don’t know,” they said in unison. After a pause, Patricia continued, “But I have an idea.”

“Patty!”

“Ian’s right, Pam. Our words aren’t helping him.”

“They would have,” Ian grunted, “if I’d heeded them originally. I won’t ask you to endanger yourselves.”

One of Ian’s early works tilted from a nearby shelf. The movement barely registered to anyone before the bust flew like a marble arrow toward Pamela’s head. She ducked with a squeal.

“Too late,” Pamela opined with a shaky laugh. “I guess you should tell him your idea now, Patricia.”

Silence and wide eyes were the only reply for long moments. Then, Patricia gave her proposal. Ian sat in stunned silence, noting Pamela’s agitation in the way she tugged on the tassels of her shawl.

One week later…

Ian never sculpted a full scene, before, let alone used color. He was a classicist, after all, and this endeavor took him out of his comfort zone of traditional stone media. The sisters walked around the one-half scaled scene composed of papier-mâché.

“It’s eerie,” Pamela breathed.

“You really captured the painting,” Patricia agreed. “How did you get it done so quickly?”

Sprawled on the little sofa, Ian squinted at each in turn. “You think they’ve let me sleep?”

Dropping his head back, he didn’t like the expression on Pamela’s face. He couldn’t read Patricia’s. Fatigue won over both fear and fascination. He closed his eyes, sighing.

“So they do want to move into the sculpture. That’s good!” Patricia enthused. “Then we’ll destroy it!”

Ian’s eyes flew open. Before he could voice his confusion, Pamela protested for him.

“That didn't work before, Patty. Why would now be any different? We already agreed to try a psychic shield around this three dimensional rendition.”

“A shield would have to be reconstructed on a regular basis,” Patricia said, waving her hand. “Ian would be back in danger as soon as something happened and we let it lapse. I’ve found an ancient spell we can use that will work.”

“Then I sculpted this for nothing,” Ian huffed, then sat straighter, shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

Patricia tilted her head, hands across her heart. “You’ve had it rough.” Standing, she continued. “And no, this wasn’t for nothing. The painting was their entrance to the living world and the sculpture is their exit. We’ll cast the spell over both.”

In the desert, Ian thought the supernatural flames looked just like those for cooking on his grandmother’s gas stove. But the fuel, mostly incantations with some smelly physical components Ian didn’t try to identify, became exhausted long before the cold light extinguished. Of the art, there remained no sign. Sand turned to weirdly shaped glass, much of it shades of crimson and carmine.

Celebration was muted. The sisters trudged toward Ian’s Volkswagon Beetle. With an ever artistic eye, the sculptor palmed some of the small, more colorful chunks. Only much later would he recognize miniature fragments of the murder scene he painted one fateful day.

The ghosts left him in peace, no longer so much as screaming at him through sleepless nights. While he regretted never figuring out exactly how the spirits returned, let alone their identities or purpose, Ian kept the glass chunks until the end of his days.

-

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review of Storywalker by Author David Bridger




Skillfully weaving ancient mythologies and his own imaginings, David Bridger created a fantastical tapestry with Storywalker. He did not just build a world, though. Rather, he devised an entire universe.

The environments vary much as our modern scientists extrapolate existing on other planets. Yet these unique characters are threaded together via very human foibles and failings, goals and gallantry. And also like real human beings they can surprise the reader, sometimes even themselves.

I found myself fascinated by how many historically recorded myths Mr. Bridger mirrored and/or spun in this one tale. Recognizing many, I sometimes laughed out loud – not at slapstick humor or gross banality but the sheer cleverness. A few puns were delightfully sneaky, clicking into place like puzzle pieces.

The story’s heroes, meanwhile, diverge and reconnect as their quest comes to light with the natural ebb and flow of understanding. The reader gains knowledge alongside them, too, an organic construction I appreciate.

Mention of real world politics did jolt me from the fantasy once or twice but I uphold Mr. Bridger’s choice to do so, by all means. I am simply enacting my own right to admit it’s something I find mildly irksome. Those moments certainly did not derail me for more than a few beats, and I respect Mr. Bridger’s humanitarian passions as something which surely enhance his characterizations.

If you enjoy myths and fantasy, plots with a bit of spin, and worlds intricately cast, I urge you to read Storywalker. And my best wishes go out to Mr. Bridger. Himself a brave fighter against Myalgic Encephalomyelitis like Storywalker’s Molly, he is first and foremost a treasure to both readers and fellow writers.

-

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Adventures in Flossing


Lately I’ve been struggling to floss my teeth. It’s frustrating. I want to maintain good oral hygiene but sticking my fingers in my mouth makes me gag some days.

Not fun, though a minor inconvenience. Seems like a puzzle needing solved. So I took stock of the situation. Our floss is mint flavored, which should conceivably aid the process. I decided to really focus on the flavor by pretending I was actually enjoying a mint candy.

“Why not make it a mantra?” I thought. “I’m sucking on a mint.”

But that seemed boring to the storyteller in me. So I added visuals. The chant took off from there.

An entire scene evolved over the brief period. I imagined some of the best things I know by adding I am sitting on a beach. A string of pelicans is flying by.


And finally I ended: I’m sucking on a mint. I am sitting on a beach. A string of pelicans is flying by. The surf is washing over my toes. Sexy surfers are out riding the waves. There is a kite string in my hand.

Focusing and building upon each repeated sentence constructing my idyllic scene totally got me through without any eye watering and potentially embarrassing annoyance. It’s a strange post, admittedly, but perhaps my trick can help someone.

What mind games help you through minor difficulties?

_

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kitty Call

Thanks to the April A to Z Blog Challenge, I've met several super nice bloggers the last two springs. Today I'd like to promote one of them for a very special reason. You see, she helps rescue needy felines in the Portland, Oregon region.

She officially calls herself a cat woman and goes by the name of Strayer. You may well recognize that moniker from friendly posts on this humble little blog. Strayer had a very successful endeavor recently and now there are some sweet animals up for adoption.

Look at this Friendly Little Doll! Photo Credit Belongs to Strayer

If you are in the area, you can meet Cayenne at the Heartland Humane in the city of Corvalis, Oregon. And here you can read about Kiki, Elton and Lucky and Strayer's heroic efforts.

Wherever you live, if you have room in your heart and home for a pet, please consider adopting from a local shelter. And always be responsible in getting your pets neutered as well as providing them a safe environment with plenty of healthy food and fresh water. The rewards are worth the investment.

What about you? Any furry members already in your family? And if you have both dogs and cats, I'm curious to know how you keep each from eating the wrong food. It's astonishing how different are there dietary requirements.

Thank you Strayer, for all your efforts. You are a blessing upon this world.

-

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Passing On Positivity

For some inexplicable reason I spent this morning feeling anxious. Julia Cameron, whose creativity workshops like "The Artist's Way" aid my attitude in all sorts of situations, would tell me to do the next right thing. Today that meant cleaning bathrooms and mowing the back lawn.

The latter takes only about fifteen minutes, most of our backyard otherwise landscaped. And it would have been wise to head outside before the day heated up. Yet I found myself wasting time playing card games on my Kindle Fire. I needed to break that cycle.

So, what did I do? I turned on my laptop, telling myself I needed to verify which area of the house was scheduled for deep cleaning this week. Of course I'd been right about the bathrooms.

Did I start my chores? No.

I read blog posts. As it turned out, however, Vidya Sury's "Joy is in the Routine" got me motivated. As you can read for yourself, she overcame sickness and frustration with positive action. The lovingly home-cooked lunch she packed for her husband made me both happy, harmonious, and hungry. It was like the sun rose on my heart.

Maybe Not As Glorious As When I Stood Here... ~grin~


Without physical discomfort aside from anxiety symptoms, I got up and got busy. Now it's early afternoon, my home has two clean bathrooms, a mowed backyard, the front mowed, vegetable garden watered, and organic weed killer sprayed where necessary. It feels great.

Now I know that folks with legitimate reasons for depression and/or anxiety may well need more help. This fact only makes me feel more blessed. I'm looking forward to a pleasant afternoon and evening with my partner and cats. I hope anyone reading can say much the same.

Brain chemistry. It can be annoying. Is there anything that helps when your mind mysteriously drags you down?

-

Friday, May 20, 2016

One Week - An Autobiographical Ficlet About Blessings

One Week

A recent Monday began with a dreaded medical checkup. Not fun, but necessary. I entered the hospital nervously, as much over dealing with people as regarding the procedure itself.

The technician acted professional, upbeat, and friendly. Only when I mentioned something personal did I learn that her demeanor hid sleep wrecking nervousness concerning her profession. For the first time in ages, I hugged a stranger and the social anxiety plaguing my morning faded far away. I certainly don't have to worry about any life endangering mistakes.

Days later I found myself approached by a former colleague at the local gym. He shared delightful news about his son and the fact that he happily remarried a few months back. There was a catch, though. His very ill wife remains in an intensive care unit after months of unsuccessful treatment. She may not live.

I practically rejoiced now over the inconvenience of a preventive medical test. My little family safely awaited me at home. And lifting weights took on renewed meaning. I am healthy and strong.

The next afternoon I stood by my vegetable garden, thrilled to see beet seedlings. Thinning them to one out of three, I was startled by a neighbor approaching. He lives several doors down in the opposite direction.

I heard the lady of the house say his name and wondered again at his appearance without hearing the rest. He replied without turning, words I still did not catch, then she approached. A warm clasp met my arm before she spoke.

"I believe someone broke into our house."

Stunned in this quiet suburban neighborhood's sunshine flooded afternoon, I heard our neighbor confirm her suspicion. Police officers arrived in two squad cards shortly thereafter. At least nobody got harmed, including the family dog.

I left the daughter's sobbing canine reunion in respectful silence. No longer did our rising home security bill seem such a burden.

-

It's easy to wallow in minor misfortune or discontent, then one need only watch the news to learn how much worse life can be. How often does the fact strike close to home for you?

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