Tag Archives: literature

This post isn’t a post…

Well, technically it’s a ROW80 check-in disguised as a post, but since most of my posts fall into that category that’s nothing new either.  It’s also a writing sample…  See?  I HAVE been writing.

Just the sky

Just the sky

First the check-in:

I’m having a very hard time concentrating on Release lately.  I find it’s usually best for me to print out pages and work on them away from the computer.  Otherwise, I’ll find anything and everything to distract me, and…  well suffice it to say I have enough things on my “to-do lists” that the possible distractions from that one WiP are virtually limitless.

In my defense, I’ve also been spending large amounts of time enjoying good books to add to my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  Right now I’m over half-way through Yseult by Ruth Nestvold.  I’d started it a while back and had to reread everything because of a problem with my Kindle for PC app losing all its setting and miss-syncing my books.  At least I didn’t lose any of the books themselves.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?  I’m not sure if it’s something I did or something with the software, so I’m certainly curious.

And final check-in point…  my social media time has been sufficient.  Usually it has been more than sufficient, to the point of interfering with my writing.  It’s all good though.  I really love the blogs I’ve visited.  Indeed, my RSS feed reader is getting seriously backed up again, and trimming things is almost as painful as throwing away books.

And so now, here’s a sample of the writing I have been doing, a bit a backstory work on a secondary character in Swan Song.  It’s pretty much raw 750word.com text.  Just me… trying to deepen my perspective on the world I’m writing:

A new caravan appeared outside the fortress walls just before the sun had reached its peak. Rumor said that these men of the Great House Jur Dai Mar had ridden for several weeks to arrive today. Not that one would have believed that given smooth glow of the men’s cheeks as they lead their dancing animals through the fortress gates and into the center by the fountain.

 To Ytramli they looked fresher than many of the riders that left from the fortress itself. And they certainly showed none of the dust and grit that any other such party had shown. Instead, their gleaming bodies and white clothes were scented with spices and floral waters that he could smell even from his perch on the roof of his mother’s room several rooftops away from the courtyard itself. Their mounts, shistrii all, were frilled out, their serpentine necks like a multitude of little jewels against their feathered bodies as the creatures twisted their heads around to receive small bites of jerky and seasoned meats from their handlers. And unlike most of the caravans Ytramli had watched come into the fortress walls these men were men, not a woman, huerta or no, within their party.

 There wasn’t even a Singer or representative of the Temple.

 To add to this, none of the men were concerned about the fact that their skin was bared to the nooning sun. Indeed, they’d made every effort to present their bronzed and ebon bodies to the fullest view of those watching from their windows.

 And especially the Queen and her daughters as they stood in the balcony just over the courtyard fountain.

 For a moment Ytramli found his attention drawn away from watching the newcomers to look over at the small group around the Queen Mother. The womans’s four older daughters stood near the woman, creating an arc of shades with their clothing and colors. The youngest daughter stood well back, her body covered by black lace robes against prying eyes. Two huerta and one Singer flanked the child and the Singer was having a difficult time ensuring that the girl’s robes stayed their place as the girl tried to see in better detail what all the fuss was about.

 He knew about the girl, of course. His mother had been recently returned to him after years where she’d stolen away the child. The Lost Queen some called the girl, claiming that the child was not Mother Araniia’s child but the child of the woman’s mother.

 That didn’t matter so much to him. None of it mattered much to him. He just felt sorry for the child. As bright and curious, even in the near death sickly pallor she’d come back to the fortress in, the girl was already being stifled and quieted to take up the more respectable role of an acolyte for the Temple. The girl deserved better, he thought, than to be shunted off to the priesthood.


 The call drifted up to him from his mother’s room below, reminding him that he should have been helping her prepare a room for the leader of the newcomers to stay in.

 “Ytramli!” the woman’s voice held a deeper urgency this time that said she knew he was on the roof. She hadn’t exactly told him he couldn’t go there, but she’d not exactly wasted words on her worries for his safety or her concerns that he drop something on a passerby.

 As if he were really that careless! He’d not had the heart however to tell her how foolish he considered her attitude. He’d been without her for so long—he’d been a child himself when she’d left the Great Lands to save the young princess from being taken for the Temple. A mission the Queen herself had required of the woman it seemed… He had no reason to doubt that given the courtesy he’d been given by the Queen during the over four years he’d been left without the woman who’d given him life. Nearly five years! Nearly the whole life of that young princess…

 As he crawled along the roof tiles carefully to the gutter pipe that he used for his slide down when he needed to quickly escape the roof and dared not climb back up to the princesses’ waiting chambers, he considered the young girl again.

 Why, he didn’t know, save that he had never been able to not think about her. He’d seen her the day his mother had left him in the care of the Queen’s courtiers and maids, still squalling and red from her birth, eyes pinched, thrashing against her nurse’s breast.

 Ytramli had fallen in love with her then despite his seven years of age having made him deplore the site of most any girl he saw otherwise, even the lovely princess L’Triia that he’d found himself watching more and more of late, even thinking of the eldest princess’s black hair and dark eyes… the way she laughed as she put on her gear for her lessons with the Arms Mistress… The way she would toss her hair so that it would dance past his fingertips and he would reach out to feel it flutter across his skin…

 Not realizing he’d done so, he found he’d extended a hand out from gripping the gutter to waft in the breeze and in doing so had over balanced himself enough that he lost the grip he’d held on the gutter pipe and fell, awkwardly, upside down against the clay pipe and the stone wall next to his, hitting the back of his skull as he did. The shock made him nearly lose the grip he’d barely maintained with his legs, and he slid roughly the last few feet of pipe to land on his head on the gravelly path outside his mother’s window.


 This time his mother’s voice came from above him. He opened his eyes and tried looking up from where he laid crumpled on the promenade, but his head refused to allow him to do much more than glimpse the woman’s slipped feet before closing again. He tried answering her instead then, but the words were only a moan. Then the darkness of his closed eyes grew darker and darker…

 He woke up later laying in his own bed. He could smell the tanned furs just enough over the more acrid odor of a medicinal tincture that was soaked into the cloth upon his forehead. That felt cold and damp and uncomfortable, and worse, didn’t seem to be at all near the too most painful spots on his head, those spots he now remembered as having banged his head against the outside wall.

 He could feel the brushed linens of his bedding, warn enough that he could also now feel the straw pad of his mattress peeking through from underneath.

 L’Triia’s bed didn’t have any straw in it. That he remembered well enough. Supposedly none of the princesses save the youngest, save little Atyr, had such lowly things as straw or even linen for their beds. L’Triia’s sbed had been made of feathers and pads of finely tanned leather and silk. And though he hadn’t bothered to check her comment that Araniia cared for all her daughters equally, Ytramli could not doubt that the other girls lived in the same luxury.

 Even little Atyriia had such available to her… He’d actually seen the girl’s room and had stolen a night or two of sleep in the empty chamber when he though he would not get caught. The Temple Singer had refused to allow the young acolyte the luxuries of a royal bedroom, or even royal meals… Or even royal clothing. The closest concession the young child had to her birthrights was her lace covering. Her black robes that she wore outside the wall of the fortress were far less delicate.

 He wondered once more how the child could even see where she was going in such things.

 The rings on the curtained rod that separated his room from his mother’s shifted and he felt the closeness of his mother’s presence as she came over by his bedside. The woman’s larger body had trouble shifting in the small confines of his room, closet that it actually had been, but it wasn’t that she was extra large this time, but more that he could also sense the presence of another woman with her.

 This time, he didn’t try to open his eyes. Better, he’d learned, to pretend to be unaware than to show himself too soon. There would be enough chances for his to try to look later. And given the wizened faces and scowling expressions of most of the Healers in the fortress, kindhearted as they might be most of the time, he preferred to keep his mental eyes on the vision of the two lovely princesses that he’d been thinking of.

 “Are you quite sure, Mother?” his own mother’s voice quavered in the darkness that he was holding. Her voice sounded extra taut, as if she were fighting tears.

 Ytramli almost opened his eyes to see if he might learn who was holding the lines of fear on his mother’s heart so harshly, but before he could do much more than twitch, the other person spoke, and he knew the Queens’s voice.

 “He’s well beyond the age of most males for training, Shenta. I held my faith to your plea that he not be sent off when you were still caring for my heiress, but now that you’ve returned Atyriia to our lands before she was grown enough to resist Masorii’s call, you have betrayed my faith in you. And your son has still lain about in sloth and play, indolent as a newborn… I’ve been patient, I’ve given you time to reacquaint yourselves, and now I demand that he leave before he harms my daughters with his reckless ways. Triia especially is getting far too close to her faiis for him to be around her as much as he is. If you do not send him with the Jur Dai, then I will.”

 There was a moment of awkward silence as he processed what he’d heard and his mother clearly did the same. Then his mother spoke in a voice so soft and tremulous that he wasn’t even sure it was hers. “Surely not the Jur Dai, Mother. Could we not send him to another house? Perhaps one of the ones in the cross lands? I’ve heard they are excellent.”

 The Queen’s breath exploded from her in that way he’d come to know so well when she wasn’t trying to even hide her disgust. Araniia was, he’d found, an unerringly fair and patient woman, but he knew well enough that the Queen’s patience was nearing its end. “The Jur Dai are the best house in all the lands and you wish for me to violate my contract with them as our trainers for your halfbreed son? You? My own slave asks me this? Surely I give you too much leeway because you were my nurse once, woman. What reason could you possibly have for refusing the Jur Dai that could be worth my making such a request to another house?”

 This time Ytramli did open his eyes. Just a crack, but clearly enough that his mother noticed. Her normally pale skin turned bright pink then paled. She shook her head and looked plaintively up to the queen. “Mother, I know I ask you a great burden, but please, any house save the Jur Dai. There are things that…” The woman’s hands wrung into her skirts until she winced and had to shake herself loose from the cloth. She swallowed and she blinked, a tear coming down her cheek.

 Ytramli wondered what could be so very terrible about the Training House at Jur Dai Mar that it drove such expressions of terror from his mother. Nearly everyone else spoke as the Queen did about the place, and given what he’d seen of the men from there at their earlier arrival, he was even more curious.

 And even more, he knew he wanted to be like one of them rather than the halfbreed scalawag son of the Queen’s nurse. He liked the way the whispers of those in the windows had stopped dead as the caravan had come through the gate, how words had been cut short with breaths abated so suddenly that he’d almost heard the collective gasp of all the fortresses women.

 Oh, if he’d been among those men, L’Triia wouldn’t have giggled at him and then scurried off as if he were no more than a plaything to leave behind when she was tired.

That’s it for tonight.  I wasn’t originally thinking of posting anything, but…  Well, I think it’s good for me to get it done.



A Pause of Sorts But Not Really

A PauseI’m here, but I’m not…

I’m writing, but I’m not writing blog posts.

Blogging, while it is a wonderful way to share events and discussions, has taken a backseat to many other things in my life.  Yes, I have challenges and check-ins to make.  Mostly they are occurring on Facebook lately.  I actually made one there five minutes before I realized I should at least write a “this is why I’m not posting much” post.

So I’m making two check-ins for the day…just so I can say I won’t be posting on either of my blogs (not that I’ve posted at a Garden of Delights for months) for the rest of August.  Whee!

Here’s what I am doing so everyone is as up to date as I’ve been (which isn’t much, btw):

  • I’ve increased my “test mile” back up from 500 words a day to 750.  Oddly, I found that with the smaller test mile I was actually writing less and less each day.  When I reached this Monday and I had missed two days, I decided to try pushing myself instead of codling.  We’ll see how it works long-term, but by today I’m back to three days in a row and making my 750 for two of them.
  • I’ve added a physical activity to make my body suffer–Budokai karate...  The actual technique is comforting and reassuring.  The calisthenics before and during the classes (which are over an hour each) are proof of just how out of shape I am.
  • Included in the above comes another “monthly challenge”…  50 sit-ups a day.   I’m not up to even that, not with doing smaller sets throughout the day.  Partly it’s this cold I’ve had that has kept me from sleeping at night; mostly it’s my lack of conditioning.  I managed 38 of them yesterday and made up the missing 12 as curls.  Today, I’ve managed 2 curls total so far.
  • I’ve started the August CampNaNoWriMoIt may or may not work for me this time, given that I will be offline for a good portion of the month, but there is something about the challenge that makes me write.  And write, and write…
  • Writing, I have decided, may NOT be a good thing.  I love to write and to create stories, but I also have a mess in my desk and computer and I have stories that need to be fixed.  A LOT of stories that need to be fixed.  I also need some beta readers…  I’ll wait until the end of the month for those however.

This list, of course, is hardly inclusive.

  • I have to finish some paperwork for my college application so I can go back to school (I’ve decided to head back part-time, not full-time as I’d planned before).
  • I am still working on books for the Bookmark Break Challenge and the Telling Tales Challenge (though both I have been abysmal at updating my progress on).  And for the Literary Classics reading challenge, I am slowly working my way through Great Expectations….mostly because I find myself so very annoyed at Pip and his self-importance.
  • And of course, I cannot forget the ROW80 for which this whole check-in was truly written for…  Yes, I am writing, and I am adjusting so that I can keep writing and keep making progress.

That’s about it.  It’s enough, don’t you think?


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)