Category Archives: stories

Some Words Sunday–Tag Lines

To short cut to the ROW80 check, click here.

We’re here to love each other, serve each other, and uplift each other.” — my morning Yogi tea tag line

I’m a huge fan of tag lines…  the kind one finds on the tea tags of certain brands of tea.  I started out (with my Nanny’s help) with Salada tags when I was about six years old.  She would save them in quart-size Mason jars for me, and when  visited, I would sort them by saying, reading them over and over.

Moment of Heaven

Moment of Heaven

Then I found Good Earth teas (I’m not a huge fan of their Original Blend–too sweet for my tastes) and indulged heavily in their Energizing Black tea with Maté and Citrus (yum!) for a time.  I also indulged in my passion for collecting tag lines, because Good Earth gave me a whole new selection of (sweet, sometimes trite) sayings to muse over.

It was after I broke my wrist last December and found that caffeine was causing me problems with my pain meds that I ended up finding my latest tea tag supplier–Yogi teas (yes, I know I could just spend time looking through a website or book of quotes, but the morning discovery is more than half the fun).  They have some wonderful caffeine-free flavors (tisanes and infusions really–since tea actually only comes from one plant, Camellia sinensis) that I’ve grown quite fond of.  If you want flavor recommendations, just ask… then remember to tell me to stop.  😉

(As a side note, I love the porcelain figurines in Red Rose tea too.  I’m not a collector, but I enjoy it when I get one from a family member or in a box.)

But WAIT!

This post isn’t about tea… Is it?  Well, in a sense, it is.  It’s about what tea is to me–connection and family, love and contentment.

My recent What’s With Wednesday post, despite the fact that it still feels like it needed to be written as it was, has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t like to read posts where people dwell on the ills they suffered in their youth, especially that harm done by those people who should love them most.  I don’t like to read books about child abuse and neglect (the reason I’m struggling through Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, despite his flair for words).  I don’t like to dwell on the negative.

It’s a power thing…  I hate the thought of giving power and credence to the horrible things we do to each other by speaking about them.  And I hate that I’ve written about them, both in an active sense in my blogs and a more passive sense in my fiction.

I hate it, but I also understand how therapeutic it has been for me to admit that bad things have happened and that not only have I survived but grown and improved… not despite the bad but sometimes because of it.

That said, it’s wrong to dwell on the negative.  Positive things are all around us, and they deserve equal, if not heightened, promotion in our lives.

I was not fair to my father at all in my Wednesday post.  No, Dad is not a perfect person.  Even now, Dad’s temper can be a challenge to deal with.  My own temper can be too, and I’ve witnessed myself acting like him too many times for comfort.

It doesn't go any further back for me than this

Family

But Dad is an amazing man in so many ways.  He is insatiably curious about the world; it’s from him that I discovered my love for Classical music, gained the courage to sing, and useful life skills like swimming and how to fix my car (I don’t own the equipment to rebuild an engine or do most automotive work these days, but it’s a rare issue that leaves me stranded for longer than a short trip for a supply or two).  I know Dad loved his role as a father, and he loves working with and being around kids.

Both Mom and Dad gave me a love of reading and words.

And they both also gave me my love of tea.  Iced tea was Mom’s gift.  Dad introduced me to the joys of brewed tea, not just tea bags, but the delight of watching balls of Chinese Gunpowder unfurl in hot water, of the many subtle flavors and nuances that one can achieve with different steeping times or waters.

Tea is comforting and delightful on its own, but it’s more for me.  My tea drinking might not reach the level of a true tea ceremony, but when I have tea with a friend, to me, it’s always the fifth cup.  It draws on the good things I grew up with and enhances them.

Tea reminds me of how much I love my parents.  And the tag line

ROW80 Check-In

The tea tag line at the beginning of the post also seems to be the theme for this ROW80 check-in.    It inspired my sponsor post, which will be posted some Monday during this ROWnd.  It’s the essence that encouraged me to become a sponsor; it’s the reason I found myself drawn not only to the ROW80 but also Kristen Lamb’s WANA Tribe.

Any creative person knows how hard it can be to work at an endeavor without knowing if his/her efforts will be appreciated by others.  But we do it anyway.  We have to–it’s our nature.

Communities, like the ROW80 and WANA, allow us to support and nurture each other.  And we’re uplifted when we bring another person up.  It’s the same power thing I mentioned above.  Bringing good things to the table is always more empowering than rehashing the bad.

Cafe OfficeThat doesn’t mean denying the bad.  It’s there, and it needs to be dealt with–but positively.

At least that’s what I think.

So along with the good in this post, let me acknowledge some bad.  Despite my choosing to do the April CampNaNo, I’ve taken two days off of writing fiction.  My wordcount is behind but not irrecoverably so.    When I wasn’t pondering the aforementioned sponsor post, I was taking time out to play Minecraft or spend time going to museums or on walks with my family.

I feel rested and rejuvenated.  I feel uplifted.  And I’ve gotten a bunch of exercise and reading done toward those goals as well.

 

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Some Words Sunday– Nothing New

(This should be a ROW80 check-in, but beyond my missing a day of writing yesterday, everything is pretty much the way it has been.  Writing, reading, editing and social media…  all about the same.)

There’s a saying along the lines of “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

For my Goodreads reading challenge, I finished reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  I’d started it last year for a Classics reading challenge, but never got beyond the third chapter–this year I kicked myself into a higher gear and finished it this week.

What does this have to do with there being “nothing new under the sun”?

I finished a manuscript about ten years ago called Release, that I’ve tried to find a place for recently.  From day one it’s been an emotional roller-coaster for me.  When I first wrote it, I’d shown piece of it to my then boyfriend, and his told me “Wow!  You should read this comic book.  See?  What you’ve done with your character is just like this story.”

I was devastated.  Here I’d worked so very hard to create something new and special and here I find out that it had already been done–in a comic book no less.  (I actually love comic books.  My feelings came more from disappointment in myself.  Over the next few years I scoured every comic book store and mall sale I found to gather the pieces of GrimJack; I’m still short two issues.)

Come rewrites and edits, and in reading of how John Gaunt’s story veered from Kieri Vestimorn’s, I found peace.  Similarities existed, yes, but the stories were different.  I had no reason to be upset.   Should you panic if  you wrote a story about someone who worked at a fast food restaurant and then read a story about someone who had a part-time job at…  a fast food restaurant?

No?  And neither should I have.

But I just read Great Expectations and…  well, that Fickle Finger of Fate did it to me again.

Toward the end of Great Expectations Pip goes slightly mad/ill after the loss of Magwitch.  He eventually wakes to find that his dear friend and “almost father” Joe Gargery had been taking care of him and is there by his bedside.

And wouldn’t you know…  I have a scene where Kieri is taken ill by madness when his lover Pemilia kills herself, and his guardian, Chaz stays by his side trying to help him survive the loss of his LifeCalled.

There really is nothing new under the sun, or on the page…

The chapter in Great Expectations you can compare with this, the beginning of Chapter 22 of Release:

Time passed erratically between the accident and total consciousness.  A lot happened during the interim, nothing that seemed real.  The things that felt the most were things that couldn’t have been.

I eventually did come out of the sleep.  That wasn’t what I wanted or hoped.  Instead of waking from a bad dream, I found reality the nightmare.  Instead of Pem, my eyes found my room at the Port, found Andy and Chaz’s grim faces.  Instead of reassurance or comfort, I found a lecture on duty and responsibility.  And all I wanted to do was die.
    For a bit, I listened as Andy went on about how he needed me there to keep him sane, how since the nurse had left I was the only person who could help if someone got hurt–how dare I try to run out on my duty to my friends.  Chaz never said a word.  Andy ranted and raved like a spurned lover.  He was crying, his body one tense, emotional shudder.  Behind him, Chaz picked at a hangnail.
    “Andrew Lirimyr, enough.”
    Both Andy and I looked at the man in shock.  Chaz’s stern, no-nonsense tone and use of Andy’s full name surprised me more than a little.  Andy seemed shocked that our old buddy wasn’t backing him up.  My lover blinked and began to protest.
    “But nothing,” Chaz said.  “I didn’t bring you in here to castrate him for being as fallible as the rest of us.  I’d hoped you’d be able to help him through this.  Losing a Call is pain enough for anyone.”
    “Don’t tell me you believe those old wive’s tales, Chaz,” my longtime lover argued.
    Chaz gave him one quick nod. “Yes, I do.”
    “You’re crazy.”
    “Maybe…”  Our leader nodded to my bed.  “Does that look like the work of affection to you?”
    Andy’s green eyes covered me quickly.  His expression softened.  “No.  But…”
    “As I said, ‘But, nothing.’  Just be damned glad he is alive, son.”  The man brushed back his hair and sighed.  “Go ahead and tell the others that he’s woken.  But don’t let them up here.  He’s going to need some real rest now.”

After Andy left, Chaz eased my chair toward the door and sat down.  I watched, trying not to think of how it bothered me hearing them talk like that in front of me–as if I were deaf.  When Chaz settled in the chair, I looked at the ceiling, remembering times when Dar and I spent an hour or so here on our own, times when Dar’s special bedside manner made the patterns on the tiles do strange things as I lay there.  Or the one time we’d managed to pool enough resources to buy Davianis to season a cigarette.  We had sat curled together in the chair and watched the posters on the wall come to life.
    The patterns weren’t doing anything now.  The walls weren’t vibrating.  The posters were just paper, and the ceiling was nothing more than a cracked stucco.  I was alive.  Pem was dead.  We were Called–no, not anymore–Pem had died and taken my sense of wonder with her.
    “Thanks, Chaz.”
    He didn’t look at me.  I wondered if he’d heard.  I had whispered.  Then after a few moments and my clearing my throat to try again, he replied.  “For what?  Nearly letting you do yourself in?”
    Something in his voice made me turn my attention back to him.  He was staring at the wall, biting his lip–crying.
    That shook me.  Andy’s little display…now Chaz.  In answer to all my doubts of whether I meant something to my friends here–my fears had no place.  I turned back to staring at the ceiling, knowing why he’d stayed in the room now.  “I won’t try to join her.”
    “Maybe–“
    “I won’t,” I said.  “I promise.”
    I sensed he was looking at me now and turned my head just enough to meet his gaze.  “I believe you–but why?”
    Something in his expression said he knew the answer and only wanted to hear me say it.  Something else said that he really was as confused as he looked.  I didn’t know what to trust and decided to answer.  “Andy’s right.  It would just be running away from my responsibilities.”
    His gaze narrowed.  “You think we can’t survive without you, kid?  We’ve made it without Tam.  He made it without Darnel, his father.”  He sat up, straightening his back so that he could lean forward to face me better.  “You aren’t a God, Kieri Vestimorn.  Acaria would see tomorrow if Alanii Vestimiir died today, Drontar can survive without her Lieutenant-Major, and you’re a Hell of a lot less–“
    “–important than they are,” I finished.  “Some comfort you are.”
    He looked at the floor.  “Sorry.  You don’t need me spewing crap at you right now.”
    I managed a small chuckle and a smile when he glanced back up.  “Actually, I do need that, Chaz.  Remember back in the Mines when I mouthed off at you about how I could teach fighting better than you?”
    He nodded.  “Yes.”
    “Well, you may not have realized it, but…”  I pursed my lips, trying to express what was on my mind and have it make as much sense in words as it did in my jumbled thoughts.  “But, well–it shook me when you said you didn’t need us.”  My mentor nodded again, obviously waiting for me to continue.  “And well, I, umm–I guess you can say I’d needed that.  I needed to be reminded that other people had feelings besides myself.”  I looked at him, hoping he understood.  “I’ve been trying to remember.”
    Something made him smile.  He stifled a weak laugh.  “Never worry about that, kiddo.  You’d have heard about your attitude from me sooner than this if I thought you were that much of a problem.”

Interrupting the ROW and Re-immersion

Another late ROW80 check-in.  I’m okay with that.  Life has been–well,  I’m tired…. tired of teeth that break near weekly; tired of the accompanying needles, the lost time, and appointment after appointment with my dentist.

I like my dentist.  He’s a nice guy, and seeing him three or four times a year would not bother me in the least.  But it’s over an hour drive to his office from home*, and the commute can get a bit overwhelming when it’s so frequent.

So I’m all out of whack.  My check-in is late.  A bunch of bills are late too**. It’s not a money issue, but rather one concerning that other more rare and precious currency…  time.

I need a Personal Assistant. :-/

The minutiae of this check in involve word counts, projects and personal discoveries.  What have I done since my Facebook Mini-check-in on Sunday….

Words Words Words (36/365)

Words Words Words

ROW80 in depth

Words Words Words

I’m squeaking by on my daily word count.  Squeaking by because I had increased it last week when I signed up for the February Challenge at 750words.com.  My actual wordcounts look weird when I see my progress charts because I’ve typed little notes hither and thither and copying and pasting them into 750words when I finally get a chance.  It keeps me moving at least.  And napkin notes now have a better place than shredding at the bottom of my purse.

I’ve managed about 800 words a day on average since the first of the month.  It’s real progress, but now the writing needs focus.

Editing

Release has taken back seat lately.  It’s hard to concentrate on the story with so many other things demanding to be done.  I need some help too–I need a reader, as in someone to read the story out loud to me.  I tried putting some of the text into the demonstration version of  Natural Readers, but the Microsoft voices mess with my head.  The British accent works “okay” and matches the voice in my head, but I don’t feel comfortable spending that much money on the software.

Another editing project I’m involved in is copy-editing a fellow fantasy writer’s manuscript before she submits it to an editor for final review.  I’m not moving on it a fast as I would like, but I’d rather take a bit longer than miss something.

Personal Discovery–Spelling and Immersion

To me, the spelling is huge–I’m starting to spell words right that I used to spell wrong all the time.

The squiggly red line that appears as I type has been good to me.  I see the mistake, and I retype it, and more and more I am getting that retyped word right without any other help.   As someone who has never been a naturally good speller, it’s wonderful to have found a way to “see” the correct word in a way I never could see “spelling words” in school.

Perhaps the passion just wasn’t there then.  Spelling matters to me now.  I have things to say, and I want people to pay attention to what I write.  It’s pretty rude to ask this of  people without giving something in return.  I shouldn’t make it a challenge for people to read what I’ve written–not right away.  I will draw them in slowly with great characters and the harrowing situations they are caught in…

…then I can spring weird place names and story-world languages on them!

What?  “No” you say?  NO?  Oh, ye of little faith…  It’ll be fun!  I promise.

It can be fun–can’t it?  Doesn’t everyone love the way Tolkien created several languages for his stories, how the appendices in the Return of the King took almost half the book?

No?

Oh….

Deep under

Deep under

The geek in me loved those.  All of those little pieces and parts of the world that he didn’t place in the Silmarillion (which, imho, was just a bigger appendix for the Lord of the Rings, as was The Adventures of Tom Bombadil)…  well, I felt immersed.

And immersion as a personal necessity is something I’ve long suspected.  I love to be immersed.

Not just immersion in the mental sense, although that is sublime.  I love things that squeeze me, hold me in, surround me, swallow me…  Swimming deep under water with its weightless pressure…  Being held close or curled up with blankets mummy-wrapped about me…  Mmm!

I could probably give a psychiatrist a field day analyzing the reasons behind this, but I have done this from Day One.

Funny story as long as you aren’t my mother…

I was born nearly a month late (due on Thanksgiving, was born on Christmas), and Mom says she became a master at swaddling.  As a toddler, I loved being hugged so much that I would walk away with any adult that gave me one…  It didn’t matter who, or how many gray hairs it gave my mom.

Being a mother now myself, I can certainly see her concern.

I’m not writing this to say I’m special.  I’m just me, and this is part of who I am.  I’m starting to see and understand that person more.  And as part of last week’s post on revealing myself, I’m sharing this self-discovery with you.  Maybe it will help someone, maybe it’ll amuse if nothing more…  But it’s here, it’s me, and I think it’s pretty neat.

So, new week, similar directions…  and deeper discoveries.

Please visit some fellow ROWers and share some love…  Valentine’s Day is coming!

*he’s the dentist I had since high school, and though I’ve tried a few other dentists, I’ve had questionable experiences with most others

**though fortunately only by a few days

Photo credits:

  •  Words Words Words (36/365) (Photo credit: Photosynthesised)
  • Deep under (Photo credit: krystian_o)