Monthly Archives: May 2012

Update, Downdate, What-Have-You and Snippet

Swallowtail

Swallowtail
photo by Self

I missed my post again yesterday.  Actually, that’s not true.  I wrote it and wrote it and kept trashing what I wrote.  The snippet wasn’t the problem.  I was in an excellent fiction mood.  Escape from reality was easy to come by, and emotionally necessary.

I’m in a touch of a funk.  Not so much destructive as “odd”…  The mind wobbles, so to speak.

But it’s getting late today and I still haven’t done my update for the ROW80 or found a suitable opening topic for the Tuesday Snippet that I want to write and post about.  So today I’m combining the two “features” into one, the ROW80 check-in and the (normally Tuesday) Snippet of the Unnamed Story.

And as a little bit of shameless plugging, please check out the Garden of Delights on Monday May 21st for an incredible guest post by the very creative Barbara Chepaitis.

ROW80 Check-in

One might think that shortening goals would help a person find more time to get things done.  Or that significantly reducing time on social media would add back all sorts of extra free time to one’s schedule.

I thought so too.

Instead, the laundry has piled up; the dishes have overflowed the sink twice today…  and you do not want to see my livingroom rug at the moment.  NO one wants to see my livingroom rug.♦

On my writing goals things seem to be falling into something of a patter, barring my “forgetting” to work on my blogs.  The resistance in this area is monumental.  It’s taken me most of the day to write this.  However, I managed to almost finish the drafts for two short stories today, plus find a new plot point for CTSS.

In the worlds of fiction, it feels like the world is filling me up to overflowing.  Even on days I have not been as creative as I could be, I am feeling incredibly energized.  And though I have noticed that my output for “StoryADay” is not actually flowing as a single story every day of the month, I am finding myself ebbing and flowing from a day of dearth to abundance soon after when I am easily making up my slights.

I’m on track, and almost a story ahead….  I also am dreading the massive typing in that I will need to do.

As for the rest…  Check-in comments are mostly on track.  I have not done any yet today, but that will change tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to seeing what my fellow ROWers have done with themselves.  I’m almost always intrigued by posts I see.  Why don’t you try visiting a few yourself here.

(♦ the real state of our house has been due to celebration: the Boodle is not the neatest opener of presents, and many the presents are those that contain a multitude of pieces.  And the sink full of dishes in due to increased cooking sans microwave as the door handle broke on ours this weekend.  The hubby is fixing it.  All Hail, Gorilla Glue!)

Unnamed Story Snippet

When we last left the Unnamed Story, Valistii and ‘Mara were discussing politics over breakfast and Atyr had just told Val about their son that Val never knew about:

She heard the croaked “Atyr” even through the haze of her fury. That in itself was enough to make her pause, since even she would have admitted that she was too focused on her own misery to notice others when she got angry like this.

She whirled. He was sipping the water, one hand held up in a ‘wait’ gesture. She snarled to herself about his impertinence and turned back to the door.

“Atyr.” This time his voice was a touch stronger, although the word was spluttered in his water. “Please, Atyr. Stop. I’m sorry.”

That did make her stop.

He was sorry? He’d never been sorry for anything in his life. Certainly not that he’d ever admitted in her experience.

Sorry? Did he even know what the word meant?

*

It took her a few moments to turn this time. He decided that was a good thing. She did eventually face him.

Her expression bespoke shock and disbelief.

“Sorry.” Said that way she echoed disbelief with bland indifference discomfitingly. Again she said it. “Sorry. Do you even know what that means, Valichii Miniira?” She crossed her arms in front of her completing the image of disapproving lecturer.

He considered the question more for where it came from. Hell, yes, he thought. I’ve grown to know the meaning of that word better than I know my own flesh and blood. Better than you can ever imagine, woman.

He said nothing so inflammatory and just nodded. “Yes.”

She paused in her reply before lowering her arms slowly to her sides. “I doubt it.” She started turning to leave again.

Something in her tone inspired him to speak faster this time. A softer note… He grabbed at that, clutched at it, hoping he wasn’t reading her wrong this time like all the others. He hoped it really was her asking him to keep trying and not the cursory dismissal it appeared to be.

He quickly gulped down another swig of water. He barely swallowed it before he spoke again. “Maybe I’ve never been brave enough to admit it before?” Or smart enough, he mused. That seemed obvious enough to not need being stated aloud.

She didn’t keep walking away. She didn’t turn back to face him. He couldn’t be sure, but it looked like she started playing with her fingernails.

The moments passed in silence. He sipped some more water, wondering if he should go over to her but uncertain of whether it would hurt or help. Eventually he decided it didn’t matter. He wanted to go over, wanted to be next to her.

Getting out of bed proved easier than he’d expected as did walking along the edge of the bed. He tottered a bit as he left it. His cane was on the other side by his desk. He held himself upright though and slowly stepped toward his company.

“Atyr?” He tentatively reached out a hand to touch her hair when he was close enough to her.

*

“Atyr?”

She felt the uncertain touch of his hand as clearly as the hesitant overtone of his voice. She didn’t know what to think.

About this. About any of it.

She knew well enough to tell he wasn’t lying. Not because she’d checked his honesty. She’d stopped reading his thoughts and the meaning behind his words and actions long before they’d even become lovers.

Reading him had never helped anyway. She barely understood the reasons she did things. What had ever made her think she could understand someone else better?

She just wasn’t used to this, him being the strong one, ‘Listii being closed and insecure. She couldn’t help herself from smiling faintly. Maybe this situation, him finally having to face himself and his past actions was making him into the man she’d always hoped he would be instead of the man she loved but couldn’t live with.

She sighed and looked up at the ceiling. Why did the Havens always do these things to her? She’d always been faithful to the Bright Star, had always served Her to the best of her ability. Why did she deserve to have her faith tested so?

To finally see the changes she’d hoped for for so long was a trial greater than she’d imagined. Especially considering how close she was to losing him forever.

His tentative touch grew bolder at her change in posture. Bone-sharp fingertips brushed her cheek and jaw as they drew her hair back a touch. Then he touched her face with the back of his hand. She didn’t know if he really was quivering or if his weakness had taxed him to far.

It didn’t matter.

His murmur of “Little Mouse?”, so soft, so concerned, was beautiful. She wanted to hear it forever.

She couldn’t stop herself. She turned and buried her head into his shoulder. Then she couldn’t restrain herself at all.

*

Thank the Goddess that his reactions still were strong and that his instincts were good. He’d steeled his wavering legs only seconds before she collapsed against him. His arms went around her shoulders. His nose nuzzled into her hair only just before the tears started.

And he’d begun murmuring soft “don’t cry”s and “hush”es barely before she began sobbing in earnest.

“Oh, Val….” The rest was lost on a wail that he would have sworn was more joy than distress.

He hesitated only a moment then forced the natural barriers of his soul down as far as his strength allowed to be inundated with…

…inundated with joy, happy confusion, love.

He caught his breath, allowing the barriers to fall back in place, stunned for a moment. Then he understood the sad irony of the situation. So simple a statement…. He’d thought for so long it was too silly to speak aloud. They both knew the truth, or so he’d assumed. All she’d ever needed to do was look, and his soul was laid bare before her talents.

Lingering memories, whispers of caution…. His father’s gentle scold so long ago when Atyr and he’d had their first fight. “Don’t put faith in powers beyond your reach, Val. You love her, you tell her. You want her, you tell her that too. Don’t assume she’ll know.”

Likewise his brother’s caution about her fears came back, gentle urges from his mother, Vissellii’s lighthearted teases of how inept he was at dealing with women. Alanii’s urging to simply speak his heart before he lost it or broke it forever….

And for so simple a thing.

This time the tears of hurt, rage, betrayal even, were his. For so simple a thing he’d almost lost her forever, had nearly thrown her away.

No wonder the Goddess had refused him peace.

A twinge of gratitude broke through his self-recrimination and anguish. He’d learned that much finally, and it wasn’t too late. She was here, now, and there was time to start mending the past. Even if he died tomorrow, the biggest hurt was mended, the festering wound that it had hidden was being washed clean. Washed clean by tears he cried into her hair as her own soaked his shoulder.

That’s it.  I really have to wonder…  Does Atyr actually love Val?  Does he love her?  Or are they just going through the motions because the crisis?

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My Day? Mabee not…

Oh, today….

Yeah, it was Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day would have been a lot nicer if it hadn’t involved most of the things I didn’t want to happen, happening.  It also would have been better with steak.  Instead it came with Chinese-American buffet food and an still unsatisfied craving for a Dunkin Donut’s Coffee Coolata (two days running…if I still want one tomorrow, I am getting a large).

The car worked though.  Counting my blessings.  The car worked, and I got a lot of hugs from the awesome people.  LOTS of hugs!

Traditional Devil's Food Birthday Cake

Oh…  pooh!  I guess it’s not that bad.  I just am frustrated with myself because I’m sunburned, migrainy and behind now on my stories for Story A Day.  I hate being behind on stories…

Yesterday we held the Boodle’s Birthday Party at Hoffman’s Playland.  I got no writing done.  My 750 words came out more a stream of consciousness garble that said nothing.  It certainly wasn’t a story.  The party was a huge success though.  Exhausting, but a lot of fun too.

Does anyone want any birthday cake?

And I’m still behind. I hate being behind.  Only by one story now, as I managed something in my 750words tonight.  So as you can see, all my goals for the ROW80 are moving along fairly well.  I am close to all caught up on all the check-ins.  I’ve got another fifteen minutes to finish the other story idea I have floating in my head.  I can be done by minute if I sign off now.

But allow me to share the story I did finish today.  I haven’t been doing much composing on the computer lately.  It’s nice to share something without “writing it twice”.  Handwriting stories does feel more natural, but typing things in all the time gets tired.

Card Play

Charlie knew…  He knew as soon as the card turned over what its image would be.  He knew all about the big losses he faced.   He’d been right the last three times.   He knew how much his wife would complain if Tina knew he was wasting money like this.  Spending money for an extra pack of cigarettes, a six-pack of store-brand soda or a new set of press-on nails…  Oh, she could see that.  Even when Tina was fretting over the lack of cash in the checking account, she had no problem spending cash on those.

“I work too, you know,” she’d say.  Her head would tip just that little way that he was so fond of.  “I know I don’t make nearly as much as you, but I need this things to keep me going each day.  You know how it is.”

Charlie did know how it was.  That’s why he was here, sitting across this large felt-covered table, a small stack of money–his money–now sitting at the elbow of the woman across from him.  She had been looking grimly at him, as if waiting for his approval to turn over the next card.  Not that she needed to hesitate…  Here she was in charge.  She held all the cards.

She held all the money too at the moment.

Charlie nibbled at his lip a little.  He wasn’t really that sure he wanted to see that card really.  How could so much depend on a little piece of paper, he wondered, not for the first time.  A little piece of paper…  He’d spent most of a day’s pay to watch and see the cards that turned up.  Was it his number?  Was hers?  How much would he have to apologize to his wife for this time?

The woman across the table flicked the corner of the card closest to her up so she could see the result.  Her lips pursed.  She’d done that the last time too.

He felt the blood drain from his face.  “Let’s see it,” Charlie croaked before he lost his nerve.

Dutifully, the woman eased the card over, revealing it’s face, and the crumbling Tower that filled it.

For those who know anything about tarot, the Tower Card is self-explanatory.  For those who do not, here is a nice, simple explanation of the meaning: http://www.tarotteachings.com/tower-tarot-card-meanings.html  This little story came out of a day dream I started having about my son and a small three card “reading” I did on him (yes, I had him do the cutting of the deck for this “Past Present Future” mini).   My son’s reading, fit him frighteningly well (all descriptions are made for the Thoth Deck since that is my main deck of use):

As any who know the Boodle in person can vouch, I don’t think I could have chosen better cards for him if I’d looked into the deck and picked the cards out by hand.  I’m reminded of why I’d stopped doing readings about 15 years ago.

Photo credit:

  • Traditional Devil’s Food Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green Tea and Five Sentences For Me

This time it's green tea.

Green Tea

Not only is Green Tea an awesome beverage, one that makes me think of times with my grandmother; it’s a presumed health drink.  Certainly my memory holds a healthy glow–sitting at one of Nanny’s kitchen tables and watching as she measured out the rolled dried leaves into a tea-pot.  She would have a pan of water heating on the stove and just before the water reached a boil, she would pour some over the dried leave, rinsing them.  This acrid water she disposed of  after swishing the pot once or twice to warm it a touch.  Then she would pour in the rest of the heated water, go get cups for us while it steeped, rinse them with other warmed water she had waiting .  Finally, she would bring the tea over to sit between us.  She never actually sat down.  My grandmother’s maiden name is Sparrow, and it suits the way she flutters about her kitchen even now almost into her 90th year.

The resulting drink would be a pale, crisp golden green, a touch sweet.  I remember not liking it at first, but wanting so much to be a “big girl”, I drank it readily.  I did not appreciate tea for years, even well after my grandmother could no longer enjoy the drink she prepared with such love.  A few small strokes and a prescription for Coumadin limited her chance to enjoy many of her favorite foods including green tea.

But this isn’t about my childhood memories or even the limitations of medication and diet.  It’s about a short story by the Irish writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu–or rather about my rediscovering Le Fanu’s writing.

“Green Tea” by Le Fanu turned up in the book (Dover Editions Great Irish Short Stories) I picked up for my #readsprint on Wednesday.  It had been quite literally over 30 years since I’d ever read anything by Le Fanu.  But, even so, I sensed something in “Green Tea”…  The name of the Dr.Hesselius.  It was warm and familiar.

Yes… “Warm and familiar” is an odd description for a story involving ghosts and paranormal destruction.

Turns out, Le Fanu also wrote my favorite vampire story “Carmilla”.  That story, that I’d read sometime around 4th grade, made enough of a mark on me that I drew upon it when I was in college.  Using amber-screen vt220 terminals in the various basements of SUNY Albany, I hung out on early social networks such as MUDs and MUCKs,  usually in FurryMUCK. I had two characters.  One named after my cat Ishkabibel who was, quite accurately, a ball of white fluff with eyes that bounced around excitedly and left strands of hair wherever she went.  The other was a shape-changer: a sleek black cat/frail girl/lycanthrope based on Le Fanu’s Carmilla; my own character’s third anagram named was Lalmirca.

Illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Le Fanu...

“Carmilla” also introduced me to the joy of word play in a sense I’d never known before.  And while “Green Tea” was a pleasing story in its own, I find myself more delighted by the memories that looking up details for this post inspired.

The joy didn’t end there.  In doing a Google search to get the link , I found other stories of that name.  Short stories are a bit of a passion this month, since this is Story A Day month here at Chez Mabee.  And so I also found this little gem: Green Tea by Nasir   It is rough.  There are mistakes.  Pronouns shift for characters; there are clearly places where the author was thinking in one direction then wrote another.  But it was sweet.  Sad, but sweet.

Now skipping away from Green Tea  to savor a cup, I have an idea…

Five Sentences

Similar to Kait Nolan’s wonderful Test Mile, I find myself committing to getting at least five sentences of new story written every day.  It wasn’t so much an intention of mine but something I began suggesting to other ROWers after I realized I’d been doing it automatically every day even on those days I felt I too busy or (worse imho) “blocked”.

The idea came from trying to write more in my WiPs.  This unnamed, unspoken goal stated “write five more new sentences in the story.  Just five…”  These sentences had to be part of the story I was working on(not a new story), and they had to try to break the block.  If I couldn’t manage more than five, that was fine.  I went on to new things.  If I could write more than five, I would keep going until I found myself blocked again.

Sometimes I wrote paragraphs of complete and utter nonsense or character sketching, scene sketching, minor character creation or even just ranting into my blank page before I came up with those five sentences.  Sometimes five sentences resulted in pages of backstory, new secondary and tertiary characters, new story ideas…

The “Unnamed Story” I have posted in my Tuesday Snippets developed out of many of these sessions.  Now it is a story in its own right; it is not the WiP I want to work on.  And in the manner of exploring the unknown, it has a multitude of flaws.  I overindulge myself in describing scenes.  The story splits and goes in different directions as I reconsidered the effects of a character’s actions and followed those possibilities further….  It was/is an exercise–I’m still writing pieces in it.  It and the Was Long Variation are my scratch pads for those five sentences, places where I can explore a character and effuse details that I need to know, but perhaps the reader does not.

But  for every paragraph there–indeed for every several paragraphs there, I draw a sentence that I can use in my Writing In Progress.  Maybe not as a sentence itself, maybe as just an idea…  I still have  that sentence to write.  But it is there.

And when I have five sentences, my day can be done…or not.

But I know I’ve written.

The ROW80 check-in however…

Well, since my goals for the rest of May are fairly limited in scope: a story a day and maintain my regular comments and sponsor duties, I can say with delight that I am meeting those goals with almost no problem.  Even days without internet have not really interfered much, since I am rediscovering my joy of writing with pen and paper (I am not as eagerly looking forward to typing everything in before the 30th).

So everything is going well.  Sort of…  As some people may have noticed, my update on Sunday (made via a short post on Facebook) was not the happiest thing.  Most everything is better now, but it reminded me of something…    The ROW80 is a challenge that is more that writing; it’s about living as a writer.

And the ROW80 is about supporting each other as writers.  My ROW80 teammates were there for me this past week.   Please, never hesitate to ask when you need support in your ROW.  It’s what makes this such a wonderful challenge.

And speaking of support…. here’s the linky!  Why not stop in and meet a few of these wonderful people?

Photo Credits:

  • This time it’s green tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Le Fanu’s story Carmilla in The Dark Blue (January 1872), electrotype after wood-engraving, reproduced in Best Ghost Stories, ed. Bleiler. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)