Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z: Zonked

I took this picture while waiting for my food at a crit group earlier this month. I thought it was fiting. Even if it does remind me a little too much of Sesame Street.

I should probably come up with some clever insight to acompany it but my creative mind is currently zonked.

Happy writing all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y: You

As we approach the end of the A-Z challenge I just wanted to say thank You to everyone who stopped by my little blog and to everyone who frayed the edges of their creative minds this last month posting delicious nougats on their own blogs for me to read. And of course to all of our hosts Alree Bird, Jeffrey Beesler, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jen Daiker, Candace Ganger, Karen J. Gowen, Tali Roland, and Stephen Tremp for creating this fantastic event. It has been a lot of fun. But most importantly I hope to still YOu all around the web from time to time. Don't be a stranger!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X: X Marks the Spot

A shrine hidden in a faraway land
Calls me to follow what I cannot see
With no promise I ever be free
From the siren pull of desire’s hand.
Bound by the gravity of native sand,
I choke and spew on the salt of the sea.
Danger drowns my in strains of apathy
Unless I chase the waves beyond the strand.
A treasure is buried, waiting to be found
By the lost fires of my soul unbound.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W: Wanton and Wild

In a book I read once upon a time on Medieval history (Growing Up in Medieval London)the author stressed the concept of Medieval children beginning as 'wanton and wild' and becoming 'sad and wise'. The idea is not quite as dismal as it appears as the Medieval concept of 'sad' was more serious than forlorn and yet . . . who would choose to be serious when they could be wanton and why oh why must 'wild' be the obvious counterpart to 'wise'?

I am contesting long forgotten conventions, of course, which means that there will be no one (or few) to dispute my theories but I feel that some of the attitude from that concept may have leaked through the centuries of our culture. It is understandable that in an age of such violence and political instability predictability would be valued in a person's behavior. It is also understandable that those even of today who have lived longer might look at the antics of those who haven't with a slight shake of the head and think "They have no idea". Still, there is an undertone of lifelessness in giving up everything associated with youth once one enters the throws of wisdom. From my side of enlightenment --wanton and wild though it may be --it looks an awful lot like defeat. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way of reaching wisdom without allowing the world to beat the wildness out of us?

And so I read. And so I write. And so I live.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V: Very Awsome Story

Ok, I cheated. I used a qualifier. If it makes you feel better. V: Versus. As in Jack Vs. Them, the title of said Very awsome story.

This piece was submited to the Literary Idol Fertility Challenge. Unfortunately it was the only story submited so there won't be any voting this round. I considered writing one myself for it to compete against but wouldn't feel quite right if mine ended up winning. So, I pre-anounce Kris O'Connel April's Literary Idol for the following tale of out of control growth.

Congradulations Kris! Your zine and gift card will be sent to you forthwith.

Jack vs. Them

I had been lost before, but never this lost, never this displaced. Where I had come from the world was quiet and simple, I had known nothing of chaos and nothing of destruction. But that seems like so long ago, not in days but in life changing events.
I had come here out of greed, the food was plentiful and easily to obtain. They had warned me, there is no happiness there, not for one like you, but I didn’t listen, I never listened, And now this place. It wasn’t that I was in pain or even uncomfortable, it was the animals here. There were so damned many of them, flowing like streams down thin corridors, too many too feed from the food around them and yet they summoned it without work then without a flinch they would cast the excess food on the ground. I did not belong here amongst these creatures.
One morning they had come and taken all the bounty from our land, then they crawled into the belly of a larger noisier animal that created a vile black air around itself, leaving a barren spot that would take seasons to restore. They had not followed any of the ways that I was taught and I hadn’t seen why I had been taught those ways until that day, so much beauty and elegance was destroyed in so little time. But it was so easy for them, I had to follow. I had to know how they had taken so much so easily I wanted to take as they did; at least I had thought that.
I had followed them only a short distance before I found this “forest”. But the trees where so perfectly shaped and so very tall, the almost seemed to emit light during the day and definitely did during the night. The forest was alive with sound but none of them comforting, and all around these animals would continually work entering and exiting these perfect trees, raising them and tearing them to the ground. There forest edging ever closer to mine.
And in these moments I knew I could never stop them, they were too many and too great. What could a jack rabbit do to stop the endless progression of the human race?

Monday, April 25, 2011

U: Unknown

Never underestimate the power of the unknown.

Sometimes that might mean leaving something unstated in your WIP.

Sometimes that might mean allowing a piece of mystery to remain in it that even you don't know the answer to.

Sometimes it just means chasing new ideas, new styles; skill you're pretty sure you don't posess. Sometimes it just means taking a chance.

So go forth today and discover the unknown.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T: Tangled

Tangled. The word so acurately describes my feelings toward this movie.

On the one hand I really enjoyed it. It was cute and playful, full of swashbuckling, whimsey and charming characters. I supose that should be enough but . . .

I've loved the story of Repunzel for too long and I know that the Disney version will slowly milk the dark symbolism out of common tellings. No one tells the version of Cinderella where she speaks to her mother's ghost anymore or the version where her stepsisters cut of their heels and toes to fit into the slipper. No one remembers the other objects Snow White's stepmother tried to kill her with before the apple or that the prince, rather than kissing a dead girl, wanted to keep her on display in his castle. No one tells the part where the queen is forced to dance in hot iron shoes at Snow White's wedding.

Fairy Tales have been largely "Disneyified" in common thought. So much that a "Fairy Tale" often refers to a perfect world. Have you ever actually imagined being in a fairy tale? Sure they usually have a happy ending (If you are the hero or heroine. Otherwise you will be eaten or rolled down a hill in a barrel full of nails to pay for your sins) but first the poor princess or youngest son is beset upone by ogres, asked riddles they must answer on peril of their life, tormented by step relatives, nearly toasted by dragons, made to work in the scullery, lost for years at a time in the woods, turned into swans or pots of flowers, kidknapped by fairies, or tricked into making a bargain with the devil. I doubt any of the characters would describe their lives as perfect.

I don't for a moment beleive that adaptors of fairy tales must remain one hundred percent true to the original version. How would we ever know which one was first in a genre that originated in oral storytelling? Still, I do beleive that there is a reason why versions of the same stories appear almost everywhere cross culturally. It could, of course, be that there was an original version that was spread across the world and changed by each culture. Or it could be that rooting for the third and youngest son, discovering that the myserious stranger in the woods is really royalty, and being banished from home by relatives who aren't true relatives, are all part of our collective consciousness, integral to our experience as human beings. These motifs symbolize our love for the underdog, our ability to find beauty in the strange, and the feelings of alienation we sometimes experience at home. These ideas can be shifted and morfed to match the idealogy of the story teller but not ignored. Not if the power of a story that has been told over and over for hundreds of years is going to remain intact.

So what were the changes in the Repunzel story that I fear will be lost?

First, the character of the witch. I have always been facinated with the idea of an old woman, shunned and feared by society, wanting to raise and love a child but not knowing how. She gets the child by blackmail (because repunzel's parents tried to steal from her)and then locks her in a tower to keep her safe. The protection soon becomes a curse and doesn't even keep out the danger. In Tangled, however the witch is purely selfish, wanting to use Repunzel's magic hair to stay young forever. Becuase if we are to keep our own children in their ivory towers we can not allow them to entertain the idea that a single person could contain both admirable and despicable qualities.

Second, the whole metaphor or the girl in the ivory tower. I understand that this is a difficult issue because so many people --with good reason --are trying to change the ideaology of women being "won" or "obtained". I have no objection whatsoever of a more modern, gender equal twist being added to the prince's treacherous trek through the woods, poetical acrobatics to get the girl's attention, and scaling of a tower with no doors to reach her, but the element is so obviously there that it should at least be addressed. There is certainly potential for a strong love story there as well. Repunzel does help him by letting her hair down (figuratively as well as literally?) and he is blinded by trying to reach her (love is blind or so they say)and then healed by her tears after she is exiled by her family. Tangled encorperates a love story of course, but it doesn't use any of the symbolism.

Disney fairy tales remind me of the "Fair Re-Tells" my sister wrote when she was twelve. All the characters did the nicest and most logical thing from the very beginning, resluting in paragraph long stories that read something along the lines of "Once upon a time there were some people" without all the stunning conflict and tangle of magic and ideas that a story should be. They told us the right thing to do but didn't teach us anything about life.

So, do I recomend that you see this movie? Yes. It is charmingly entertaining and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Still, I regret the loss of the deeper, darker parts of the Repunzel story.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S: Selkies

A selkie is a seal shape shifter from celtic folk lore. The selkie sheds its skin and becomes human, usually to get married. Unless their spouse keeps the skin hidden from them, however, they soon sucomb to their longings to return to the sea and abandon their family.

Movies featuring selkies:


The Secret of Roan Inish

Books featuring selkies:

Worfskin by Julliet Marillier

Foxmask by Julliet Marillier

Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia McKillip

R: Reminder

I just wanted to remind anyone who is interested in the Fertility Challenge that the deadline is the 24th.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Q: Query the Questing Beast

(image by Carisa Swenson)

Questing Beast: A beast with the neck of a serpent, body of a leopard, haunches of a lion, and feet of a hart that makes a sound from its belly like "thirty couple hounds question" (widepedia). Many knights chase after it put only Pelonore or someone of his blood-line (such as his son Percival) can capture it.

Query: A beast that must have the brevity of a paragraph, the drama of an opening scene, the personalization of a letter, and the cohesion of a sonnet that holds all the hopes of my manuscript in its jaws. Many writers can give me advise but only I can write it.

Only I can send it out.

I need to stop putting this off.

P: Pelinore

Today I have invited a special guest to come by and give us some insights about life, the universe, and everything. Or at least his involvement in my WIP. Please welcome King Pelinore of Arthurian fame.

*King Pelinore, a thin knight with long greying hair and hint of rust around the edges of his dented armor, raises his lance and releases a battle cry as he enters*

Me: Carefull Pelinore. Don't scare everytbody away

Pelinore: Oh right. Sorry. *he sets his lance down across his knees as he takes a seat* I'm still not used to this 'peace' thing.

Me: I understand. You've grown up in a very violent enviorment.

Pelinore: Ha! Not unless being called to arms every other year and constantly defending my castle againts bandits is a violent enviorment.

Me: It is.

Pelinore: Well then. I guess I did.

Me: Did King Uther really summon his kings and lords to battle every other year?

Pelinore: Give or take. Some battle sessions lasted longer than others and of course he never summoned the kings and lords he was planning to do battle against. Except once but he already had his real army, assembled in secret, waiting for them.

Me: You must be relieved that your new king hasn't summoned anyone for battle in the full three years of his riegn.

Pelinore: Ha! Beardless sop! I could use a good battle. Its as dull as a marriage around here these days.

Me: Ehem *glancing at the lance strewn across his knees* You are a mythic character rather than someone born entirely out of my mind. Does your work in my WIP feel like old helmet to you?

Pelinore: Old crown. I'm a king, remember?

Me: Right. Sorry. Does your work in my WIP feel like old crown to you?

Pelinore: Not really. I'm always glad to give Camelot another visit of course, but at the same time I'm not exactly the same Pelinore from all those myths. I retain part of their energy and influence and many of the same charactoristics but I am my own character and to me the experience is entirly new.

Me: Do you think that some of my readers who have seen you --or other manifestations of you --before might think they've heard every possible version of Camelot?

Pelinore: If you mean they might be tired of them no. My fans are always glad to see me. They might get bored during the pages between my scenes though --That reminds me. Looking at the word count so far would suggest that I am not actually your protagonist. This is ridiculous of course but I was wondering if we could negotiate --

Me: It looks like we're out of time. I'll see you soon Pelinore within the pages of my WIP.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O: Orkney Isles

The Orkney Isles are located in the far north of Scotland. They hold a lot historical and prehistorical past in their soil and their culture has been remarkably preserved compared to the rest of the UK and yet what facinates me about them are the myths about them. The fairy stories about kings and queens and knight who may never have existed. Never underestimate the power of a myth. The stories that play over and over in people's mind reguardless of facts.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

N: Notes

When I take notes in class they usually look something like this

Something in my brain refuses to remember things when I'm not in some way multi-tasking. And neat organized rows of legible handwriting? They'd make me crazy. So here are a few of the sentaments I've recently jotted down in class between the margins of course material. While I was, you know, learning.

If hate is the other side of love I'm not willing to give it up.

Do we deserve to be shocked by the world or should we be prepared?

Don't extract answers from your book. Extract ansers from yourself.

Magic is too often maligned.

Children understand abstract thoughts because all their thoughts are abstract.

Individual doesn't have to be in oppostition to the collective. They are the same if you allow them to be.

Science and magic are not exclusive.

I do not believe in binary opposites.

Humans are not objectifiable.

Life is interpretive.

If you perfect all skills you will lose some.

Learning one thing blinds you to others.

Magic = something you can not explain = everything.

I do not beleive in defects.

Strengths can become prisons.

Something is what it is or it can not be defined.

Imperfection allows us to survive. Morally vacinated?

There is little difference between an exception and a mutation.

Which finger is the fifth?

Regrets are good.

Luxery of a concsious?

I hate the word outdated.

Nature rebels against the boundaries we set on it.

Science is a kind of mythology.

Mythology doesn't give easy, cut and dry answers. Science does.

I can adore fine art without belittling folk art.

Art should have no function.

Nothing is ever ALL something is for.

Art can reflect and shapes culture but that is not its purpose.

Is there a self beyond action?

So much emphasis on clarity. Not enough on expression.

I see the world in blue. All my thoughts are abstract.

Nutral ground is profane.

What you call a dumb decision I call embracing and experiencing life.

I am me, myself. I need no other definition.

Being fooled is part of understanding.

My pain is part of who I am. I will not give it to you.

Children don't need identity. They just are.

Personality doesn't need fixing. Ever.

I am an island. It is rich and plentiful, exotic and vast. You are welcome to visit its shores. Perhaps some day I will visit yours.

We are all vulnerable. We are all children.

Compete only with the self.

You ARE the masses.

Learning takes humility.

Rules do not exist.

A single word could never really describe an emotion.

There is no golden mean.

What people don't realize is that it is because I am pasionate about everything that I speak so little. Words and motions are never enough to express the intensity of what I feel.

We should all be able to fly.

People who dram about ideals may seldom be happy but they have beautiful dreams and go further than anyone else.

Meanings are in people.

Interesting and miserable is better than boring and the same.

Describe something as a fact. Never percieve it as one.

There are too unicorns.

I approve of craziness.

We need more kayaanisquatsi (disturbances that change life)

What does your word choice say about you?

Nothing is ever "just".

Don't sugar coat. Sometimes things are not all right.

I'm not keen on the word primative.

Does it matter if something is a lie?

A myth can happen anywhere.

Writing is creation.

Chase a comet.

Our minds can't comprehend a true apocolapse.

Practicality eats the soul.

We are the earth.

I will never know everything.

Embrace your cravings and romantic longings. The expereince more than the goal.

I want to go on a pilgrimage!

I want to reach a state of timelessness.

We are in an electronic revolution. We need a new romantic era.

Most of the "great" writers weren't paid for their work.

science is another kind of "mind forged manacle"

Chaos is comforting.

My concentration is askew.

I don't see it as dark and depressing. I see it as cycle and experience, better to be confronted than ignored.

No one is ever "just" a friend.

If you write everything down it is the same as writing nothing.

Also, if you've lasted this long (Odds Bodkins! I didn't realize how many there were when I started this!) I am doing a guest post at Velvet's vvb32 blog for her Fairy Tales in Bruges (the sequel) series today.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

M: McKillip

Of all the authors I could read over and over and never be tired of, Patricia McKillip is on the top of the list. Her newest book, The Bards of Bone Plain, did not in any way disapoint me. Her prose is so rich, abuntant with feeling and imagery. She creates music with her words that you can feel in your bones.

The story of The Bards of Bone Plain centers, of all things, around the research of a term paper of young scholar, Phelan Cle. This is a McKillip world however, so even though the time era (if there is such a thing as time in her books) is something similar to Edwardian, bards still play at court and even something as mundane as chronologuing the life of a dead poet is clouded in magic and mystery. In fact, on closer imspection it is the simplest things that contain the most magic. The past quickly merges with the present as Phelen begins to unravel them both.

Even more than her astonishing style, what makes McKillip's books seem so much like poetry is that they exist in a place that follows no rules. Musicians compete for the position of royal bard with songs drawn from their bones while the queen throws garden parties and the princess drives her automobile to an archeological site to dig up ancient tombs. Anything can exist and yet the world winds around itself, so inctricately connected, so vivid and tantilizing that the reader never for a moment questions.

Other favorites by Patricia McKillip:

Alphabet of Thorn

Od Magic

Song For the Basilisk

The Forgoten Beasts of Eld

In the Forests of Serre

Note also the beautiful book covers by Kinuko Kraft. No one else could fully capture the mood of these books.

Friday, April 15, 2011

L: Ladies of the Lake

It seems like there is always some slight confusion surounding the Lady of the Lake of Arthurian legends. This is because there is actually more than one.

First, there is Vivian. It of course depends on which version you are looking at but she is usually the one who gives Arthur excalaber. I have some how got it into my head that she's the one in charge. Maybe because she appears first.

Nimue is usually the one who sorcels Merlin into a tree.

And, finally, Nyneve is the one who joins the court of Camelot in the quest of the white hart in the begginning of Le Morte D'Arthur.

Other varients of these characters include Viviane, Viviana, Vivienne, Elaine, Ninianne, Nivian, Nimueh, and Myish in various poetry and novels.

This is all to say that, in concstructing my ladies of the lake I can make whatever decisions I want about them. *insert evil laugh here*

Also, this is my eleventy oneth post. In commemoration of the fact I would like to let you know that one hundred and one posts is far too short a time to spend among such admirable readers. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like to know you and ---well I'll skip that part because I don't have a magic ring and am not going anywhere anytime soon. I just thought it would be a good time to thank you all for reading. I am honored that you take the time to sift through my ramblings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

K: Kitchen Knave

Yesterday, instead of dutifully blogging a clever "k" oriented insight, I conducted some research in a particularly tasty form.

First, I made, as featured in my WIP, Cormarye (roast pork) --only no one at my house eats pork so I used tofu sausage-- and served it with a Irish guada cheese and garlic bread.

This was followed shortly thereafter by Tartys in Applis

So now I can more accurately describe the flavors of saffron (which is more or less pure magic), caraway, and coriander. Because, of course, that was my only motive for this particular activity.

I pulled the recipies from should any of you wish to try them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

I: Intelligence

A flickering screen with words typed from

knowledge in a chip.

My mind's ability seems obsolete

compared to its hip,

quick clicks, and artificial information

made of binary

synthesis, but machines will never learn

to write poetry.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H: Hunting

My current novel project deals a lot with hunting. This is a little intimidating because Medieval hunting was a big deal. There are so many terms and intricate rules and I've only begun to scratch the surface of my research.

Here is a simplified account of one of the processes taken form Widepedia:

Quest: Before the hunt started, an expert huntsman, accompanied by a lymer, would seek out the quarry. By the help of tracks, broken branches and droppings he would try to locate the lay of the hart as accurately as possible, ideally he would see it.

Assembly: Then, early on the day of the hunt, the hunting party would meet, examine the huntsman's information and the deer's droppings, and agree on how best to conduct the hunt. This would be a social gathering also, with breakfast served.

Relays: When the path of the hart had been predicted, relays of dogs were positioned along it. This way, it was assured that the dogs were not worn out before the hart.

Moving: Also called the fynding. Here a lymer was used to track down the hart.
Chase: This was the hunt proper; here it was essential to keep the hounds on the track of the selected quarry.

Baying: When the hart could run no longer, it would turn and try to defend itself. It was said to be "at bay." The hounds should now be kept from attacking, and the most prominent man in the hunting party would make the kill, with a sword or spear.

Unmaking: The deer was finally dissected in a careful, ritualistic manner.

Curée: Lastly, the dogs had to be rewarded with pieces of the carcass, in a manner so that they would associate their effort with the reward.

I need to ballance the aristocratic sophistication with the wilder celtic side of hinting while still remaining accesable to my readers and . . .

its enough to make a poor girl call for her hounds to wade through the labrinths of informationneeded for her, sniffing for what might be. But alas, a researching huntress can only make use of her spoils if she finds them herself. I must embrace the chase . . . and be patient with the slow progress of my word count.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G: Genesis

This is the piece I submitted to win my ten pages in Notes From Undeground. I thought it would be a good example of how loose you could be with the Fertility Challenge. And I rather like it.

The silence was first. Then a word. Tangible or not, life began.
Some called it the void but can anything really be void? Can even nothing be not at all? We have tried to answer over and over what that word was that began life but what came first? What was the darkness that was nothing?

“I am dead.” The girl threw herself onto the bed and pounded at the floral bead spread. “I am dead, I am dead, I am dead.”
“You are not dead.” The mother stroked her long thin hand against her daughter's black colored tangles. “You are heart broken. It will pass. It always does.”
“It won't.” the girl said. “It doesn't. I might as well be dead.”
The mother looked out the window at her gate's broken hinges then back at her daughter's young face, puffed red with tears. Not as young as it had been a day ago. Perhaps not as young as an hour ago. “No.” she said “It doesn't. It won't. But you aren't dead.”

Connie watched the small plant grow. First a small white streak poking its head out of the soil then a tiny shoot in pale green with thin papery leaves getting ready to spread from the center. She'd never planted it. It could have been a weed. If she had been a clever gardener she would have removed it. If she had been a clever gardener the geranium and lavender seeds she had planted in neat little rows on the other side of the yard might have grown larger than her hand before they shriveled. But she was not a clever gardener and the weed –if it was a weed –showed promise.

The child pointed up at the stars. “Big Dipper!”
The grandfather shook his head. “That one's Virgo. The virgin. She's a mother.”
The child scrunched his chubby face with stubbornness. “Teacher said Big Dipper.” He stretched his voice on the word 'big' and held his hands far apart.
The grandfather smiled. “If you want to call it the Big Dipper you can.”
“They followed it.” The child said. “The slaves at the war. Teacher said.”
The grandfather looked again, imagining the child trapped in the mother's womb. “You may be right Danny.” he said “Maybe they did follow those stars.”

Everything wise has already been said. Has it been heard?

Art is the scream of humanity. A piece of ourselves trying to break out of the confines of our bodies. Of our lives. Of what we have defined ourselves as.


The streaks in the mirror were cracks. Fragments of slanted reality. Her fingers rubbed themselves raw through the thick weave of the rag in her hand but they would not come off.
“They won't come off.” Rick said from the other side of the one room apartment. He rolled over in the bed and let the sheet fall off the surface of his chest. “You can't make a smooth surface out of something rough.”
Viki turned around and gave him a sardonic expression. “That's what glass is.”
He stared at her.
“A smooth surface made from something rough.”
“Oh.” he yawned. “Well you can't do it again. Not unless you have a furnace.”
Viki looked again at the mirror. The snag of green fabric from the cloth. The spec of blood from her finger. The way her crooked reflection made her left eye look three times the size of her mouth and her cheek look like she had a scar across it instead of yesterday's makeup. “Ok.” she said. “I’ll find one.”

The streets were dark, the stars a faint sprinkling of dust over the towering height of the skyscrapers. Viki clutched the heavy round form of the mirror under one arm and her heels clattered against the concrete. It was early morning but not quiet. A car's horn sounded from somewhere. The door to the pizzeria on her left opened and a young boy with dark curls and a dreamy expression shook a snowfall of flour out of a rug.
Ice. Viki was looking for a fire. Where could she find a furnace in the city?
The jeweler maybe. Still. There was something in the boy's eyes. He would know a fire if he saw one. He shook out his rug again. Bits of the powder got caught in the cracks of Viki's mirror.

He opened his eyes and the light pierced through to his mind. He closed them again, smarting from the pain. It had been a long night. He wasn't ready for a long morning.

Viki looked at the bright orange streaks the sun made across her mirror. Now there was a furnace. So far above her she couldn't see it. Only the reflection of it from millions of years before she had been born. The heavens. The only place the distance of time could be breached. Or was that light?

He slept on, dreaming deep where there was no sound and no sight. He tried to open his eyes again inside his mind but he only saw more darkness. More silence. More stillness. His own body would not move.

The plant thrived. Connie watched as the leaves opened up beneath the light of the sun. She watched as buds began to form and then fan out in a delicate trumpet shape. Soft sky colored petals on a long vine of green. A weed? The woman down the street said it was. She said morning glories would take over a garden and choke out all the wanted plants. Well none of the plants Connie had wanted seemed to want her and she wasn't sure that she didn't like the morning glories better anyways. So she watered them.

Viki stopped and let a taxi drive by. The tourists were across the street fingering through the glass beads and polished stones of the craft fair.
A smooth surface made from something rough. A stone. That was what had cracked the mirror to begin with. A decorative piece of earth she'd placed too close to the edge of her shelf.


He woke. The darkness was real this time instead of in his head. It had texture. Pieces of gray that formed shapes around him. The piano. The drapes Viki had closed before she left. Her shelf of nick-knacks. Recognizing what they were didn't make them any less sinister.

The glassblower twisted his lips and bent low toward the melted sand. Air trickled through his teeth and then it wasn't melted sand anymore. It was a boat. With a tiny flat sail the size of a paperclip. Viki looked at the miniature flame blower in his other hand then at her broken mirror. A piece of glass fell out and landed with a clink next to her pointed heel.
The glassblower smiled at her. “What can I do for you?”
Viki picked up the piece of glass, careful not to let it cut her finger. She held it up to the light, watched the sun warp into a piece of glitter, then looked at the glassblower. “Can you make me a piece this size? In violet?” She pulled another piece off the mirror. “One like this too. In amber.”

The morning glories died. Connie went into town to visit her mother for a few days and when she came back there was nothing left of them but a withered vine of gold that crumbled at her touch. Perhaps she ought to have asked the woman down the street to water them while she was gone but the spring had plummeted into a sweltering summer. They couldn't have had too much life left in them anyways

Viki hung the mirror back on the wall, admiring the scattering of color it cast over the window.
Rick looked up from his plate of eggs. “What's that?”
“My mirror.”
He made a gurgling sound as he swallowed. “What did you do to it? How will you see yourself?”
She turned to look at him. “The way I am.”

An unfinished story. A piece of nothing. A shriveled plant. What came before is what comes after.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F: Fertility (Literary Idol Challenge)

Spring is in the air. (well actually, at the moment fog is in their air but fog leads to rain and plants need rain to grow so . . . yeah. Spring. Just the colder part) The pollen. The growth. The richness of the land. Animal births. The festivals of fertility. Spring is so much more exciting than summer. Everything is shifting and anything could happen -- is about to happen.

For this this month's Literary Idol Challenge:

Write 50-1,000 word story that in some way ties into the ideas of birh, change, and the celebration of life.

Send your submission to:

before Monday the 24th, on which day I will post the submissions to be voted on. I know a lot of you will be pretty busy with the A-Z challenge so I tried to keep the theme pretty loose. You can always dig up something you've worked on in the past. If it doesn't obviously feature fertility you can include a sentence of two explaining how you feel it connects to the general idea. Thank you all so much! I hope to see some of your masterful storytelling soon!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E: Experience

There are many ways in which experience is important to a writer. The obvious way is being an experienced writer. Having lots of credentials, developing the skills to type out fascinating characters and smooth and riveting plots without having to think about it,

Or . . .

There is the less obvious but more important. Experiencing life.

Everyone experiences life to some degree but when was the last time you experienced the full potential of the exact time and place you were in? When was the last time you let your mind stop talking long enough to listen to your senses?

Taste the playful freshness of the wind toying with your hair while you wait for the bus. Allow the tingle of the curry in your lunch to salivate a moment on your tongue. Drink the sight of your loved ones when they come to greet you. Don’t just observe the world. Absorb it.

This is important to us as writers because every moment is potential fodder for a scene, a description, a fresh idea, an inspiration, but it is also important to us as human beings to allow our mind, body, and soul to connect and rejuvenate. To war with itself and to find peace.

What will you experience today? Go and embrace.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D: Dragons

Here There Be Dragons

The ocean's blue gleams against scales of green,
My reflection dripping in saliva.
Teeth gnash. I sharpen my claws for hunting.
My prey struggles against an armada
of chains welded with fear made mania.
I can not escape the shrieks of my heart,
self lit fires impeding nirvana.
I am imprisoned by a breath scorched art
of my creation; poison bled from my own dart.

Growling the secrets of safety, of lies,
My longing becomes a song of restrain.
Devouring the stinging salt of sighs,
a gust of destruction guards in my veins,
That place of horror where my mind still reigns,
A key buried deep in a weave of nest,
the chord pulling tight against heavy strains.
Here there be dragons, warring in my breast.
But past the sea's horizon lies eternal rest.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C: Costumes!

Ren Faire costumes to be exact, as worn over a very inspirational weekend. See that, see how its writing related and everything. Costumes can help put us in character for a day. And they're just plain fun.

Errol Flinn!

Winsom Wench

Gypsy Swordswoman

Lioness Courtier (who was also quite the heckler)

Belly dancers!

Unfortunately the Austrelian Bagpiper in the back did not come off stage to propose to me during his performance. I did however buy one of his band's CDs. Very fantastic music. If you like bagpipes and didjeridus I would highly recomend you check them out.

And wear lots of costumes. You should definately wear lots of costumes.

Edit: I put these pictures up just before class but then we were talking about reversal rituals in Cultural Anthro and some ideas started connecting that made too much sense (at the time) to not add.

First thought: Our culture only has two rerversal ritual holidays, Holloween and Madi Gras, whereas a couple centeries ago we had Twelfth Night, April Fools, Fat Tuesday, May Day, All Hollow's Eve and doezens of other depending on which region you lived in.

Second thought: Renaissance Faires are one example of ways we compensate for that. By wearing costumes and going back in time a pretending to be someone else for a day to bring ballance to our lives when we get back to it. I could go into how books are another way is the recent rise in video and online roll playing games etc. and which forms of compensation I think are better than others but . . . I'll spare you that. For the time being anyways.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B: Blue Light

Blue light scatters when it hits the air.

It becomes your eyes, the sky, the sea.

It breaks away. The particles drift free.

Waves rise where no other colors dare.

Sense abandoned for traquility,

Blue light scatters when it hits the air,

A vivid distortion of reality.

Blue light masks what is not there.

In fractered pools of philosophy,

It becomes what you would have it be.

Blue light scatters when it hits the air.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A: Agency

This is where I attempt to study and blog at the same time. Watch a fool juggle! (or drop both balls. We'll see.)

In my anthropology class we have a lot of discussions about agency vs. cultural structure. In this context agency is simply any person's ability to change or go against society despite the structure --or at least move themselves into a different place within it. The dynamics between the two is fascinating in and of itself but I always understand concepts better after I've related them to writing. Or maybe I just relate them to writing even if I already understand them. Because I can. At any rate . . .

Think of agency as your characters and structure as your plot.

In one regard all characters need agency. They need to act on their own free will and conscious against their adversaries within the story but sometimes they also need a little freedom to work against your plot structure in order to stay life-like. On the other hand, if you allow your characters to drive all your writing decisions your plot could very well end up a rambling mess. This depends a lot of course on an individual writer's style but I should like to put the question up for discussion.

How much "agency" do you allow (or believe that they have whether you give it to them or not) you characters to have and how much to you rely on your plot structure? How do you strike a balance between the two?