Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Astral Mess: Self Rant and Nonsense

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to work the way you thought it would? I've had a few this past week. Some things have been great.
  • I have 3 beta readers for "Rain" which is both exciting and scary at the same time but mostly exciting.
  • Some wonderful family-oriented news
  • I'm actually starting to interact and upping my social/networking a little piece at a time.
Other things not so much. In my rush to work on the finishing chapters of "Rain" I accidently deleted almost an entire chapter. Yes, I had back-ups. Unfortunately the back-up was over a week old and did not have the newly-written work on it. UGH! I know what was there but rewriting it has been a pain.

I was on Twitter with a couple of friends who were also having not-so-good days and was inspired to write and tweet the following.

Sometimes having something else to blame things on helps a lot. I told you  guys only my nonsense poetry rhymed.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Excerpts and Snippets: "Snow"

Another excerpt today I think. This one is from "Snow". I think the era or time frame should be explicit.

“Mark, I want to know why you came all the way to Wisconsin,” Desiree asked as they sat down at the small dining table at the apartment for a late night snack.
“It’s complicated, Lizzie.” Mark played with the pickle she placed next to the grilled cheese sandwich he had asked for. “I guess I’m looking for some support for a decision I don’t really want to have to make.”
Desiree propped her arms on the table and looked at her brother for a moment. “What decision?”
“I graduate this May,” he said and snapped his pickle in half. “My degree will be finished.”
“Yes, Mama is so excited about it.”
“I know. But I don’t think she realizes what will come with it. And I do. I’ll have . . . do have some choices to make and none of them are ones I want to make.”
“What choices?”
“Lizzie, for God’s sake. You read the newspapers; you watch Walter Cronkite. Have you been living in a cave?” His voice rose and his eyes gleamed bright with tears she hadn’t seen since their father died. “Listen to me again. I graduate this May; my degree will be finished. I’m not married with kids like Monroe and Tal.”
Desiree dropped her head to her propped arms and fought the urge to pound her head against the wood. He was talking about Vietnam and she knew it. She looked back up at her brother. “Mark, what happened to med school? You’ve been dreaming and planning for med school since junior high.”
“I got my fifth application back. ‘Thank you for applying’, ‘our best wishes in your pursuit of a medical career’, and all that other crap that adds up to ‘tough luck, buddy.’ I’ve got two more applications still out but I can read the writing on the wall.”
Mark seemed to grow smaller in the dining chair like he was physically shrinking in front of her. The words finally began to sink into her, calling up images of fallen baby sparrows and the wounded rabbit he had brought home when he was only in the fifth grade. Big, tough football player he might have been but his grades were stellar and his scholarships were not based on his athletic ability. Medicine was his dream. Pediatrics to be specific. She had always known that. To see the big guy with children, newborns in particular, sent some girls she knew into hormonal overdrive.
“You’ll have a degree, Mark. They’ll probably send you to OCC.”
“Maybe,” he answered. “It would be a sure bet if I had joined ROTC like Monroe told me to last year.”
“Why didn’t you? It sounded like a good idea at the time,” Desiree asked.
Mark sighed and shrugged. “I thought about it. I already had the short hair and with the family history no one would have thought anything of it. But I just couldn’t. It was fine for Monroe and Tal but. Lizzie, even officers have to be ready to shoot to kill.”
Mark’s blue eyes looked hollow in his face, his mouth drawn. Desiree sat silent, not knowing what to say next.
“Dad did what he thought was right and , God knows, we were raised to believe in our country and all that. But the stories I hear from guys who’ve been in Vietnam make me want to puke. It’s not the war Dad was in. The reporters don’t tell half the story, even if they’ve been trying lately. But it’s not just that. Hell, I go deer hunting every year with Tal and his friends and every year I have to pretend I like it. I don’t. I never have. Imagine that, a southern boy who doesn’t like guns or shooting. Pull up a gun and shoot another human being? I can’t do it, Lizzie. I just can’t.”

No, it's not the most romantic part of the story. I just like Mark, my female protagonist's youngest brother.

Just tell the story already!

I like stories. I like telling them and I like hearing them. I recall a college professor telling us that southerners are natural storytellers. I don't know about that but it seems to be genetic in my female line. My mother was always telling me stories. And I have found other folks in my family and acquaintance who tell me they have stories to tell.

But they are so reluctant to tell them. I sometimes exchange an email with a cousin who recently told me he had been trying to tell his life story for quite some time now but everything kept getting out of order. I could hear his frustration. Maybe I misread him but this is what I wrote:

I'll give you a couple of tips about writing to get you started.
  • Just write like you talk and to heck with what your HS English teacher said.
  • Use a tape recorder (if you can stand the sound of your own voice) and simply tell the story to it.
  • You have grandchildren. Do you tell them stories? Have Lynn get out a video camera and let her tape the event. Your children and grandchildren would cherish the recording. . .and you can write something down after.
The point is. . .don't let those stories go untold. DON'T Mama told stories all the time. I wish I could remember half of them . A story doesn't have to be five pages long. Some stories are/were just a few short sentences. Like the one Mama used to tell on Grandpa (Papa) and Grandma: One time Grandpa got mad at Grandma about something. He started in on her, apparently something fierce. And kept on and on about it until he ran out of breath and stopped. At that point, Grandma stood up , started clapping and singing an old gospel song. Grandpa stared at her like she had lost her mind. "Frankie! What are you doing?!" "Oh," Grandma replied, "I thought the preaching was over and it was time for the singing."
I loved that story. It wasn't long but told me so much about my grandparents. I bet you could tell a few just like it or similiar anyway. It isn't long; it doesn't have to be. Now your turn----tell me one!
Life is so full of stories and people who want to tell them. And so many are afraid their stories just won't be good enough. I certainly can understand that. But it begs the question: good enough for what? Telling your children or grandchildren? Your best friend? A group of friends?  A very large group of strangers? The audience will decide the value or merit of the story. Just tell the story already!
Yes, this all sounds a little presumptious. I'm not an author yet but I've simply heard people tell stories then dismiss their ability to tell one. My cousin isn't the only one I've ragged on recently.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Writing Clutter and Quilting Pieces

I find it interesting to go through old document files. One can find all kinds of interesting tidbits: poems you've forgotten (sometimes with excellent reason!), old letters you've written and thankfully didn't send, and snippets of stories you started but, for whatever reason, simply never continued with.

Heaven knows, I  have enough on my 'writing' plate right now but I found at least five things I started but never worked on. What happened? I dunno. Perhaps they simply weren't working or going in a direction that led nowhere. They should be deleted from my files I suppose, like stained tee-shirts you  don't want to wear out in public anymore and you know you only need so many 'I'll need painting clothes' in your dresser drawer.

But, like some old clothes, you simply don't want to toss them out. There must be something to be done with them. Maybe I'll just pack them into a zip file and call them quilting pieces. My grandmother did that and my mother did it, too. They might just make a nice quilt some day. The pattern may simply not be apparent to me right now. Shall we look?

Quilt Scrap #1:

Of all her incarnations and forms this one had worked best for the job; she had to admit it to herself. Margaret Cochrane could have modeled for any one's grandmother: not too tall, round and plump, carefully waved silver hair with a touch of blue, and a peaches and cream complexion. With just the right amount of laugh lines, of course. But she couldn't say she really liked it, although people did seem to respect it. All right, except for that time in northern France during the witch hunts. Her resting quarters seemed to mirror her form. Comfortable, lived in, and filled with a hodgepodge of human artifacts.
"Margaret!" The call was getting shrill now.

"I'm coming! I'm coming!" She called back at it. The glass surface of the antique mirror was mottled to begin with; now, it was swirling and twisting with all shades of gray and a touch of purple. Really, Max had such an old fashioned approach to communication. The last time in the office she had tried to talk him into getting on the Internet or maybe just a fax machine.

Quilt Scrap #2:
The screeching howl was ear-shattering, an angry, full-throated note that cleaved through the air and seemed to hang there for several seconds. Daria cowered beneath the rocks, unable to move and unable to look. Her eardrums rang despite the hands she clasped over her ears. Above the ringing came another sound. . .speech. No, not a speech. A word, a single word.


The timbre of the voice was unlike any other. It was almost human with an underlying hiss and vibration that coated her skin with terror. It was a shout. Sheer volume told her that but the words were human.


 Daria opened her eyes at the epithets. Cowering under the rocks was no longer an option. She didn’t care what Philippe had said; she didn’t care about the terror crawling over her skin. The one who was shouting those words was a threat. Fear and shame coated her inside. Phillipe was in danger and here she was cowering in the rocks like a coney, leaving her brother to face whatever it was with only the semi-useless Mark at his back. She was the trained one, not him.

“NO!” Daria shouted, a faint echo of the booming voice. She ran out of the cover of the rocks, slipping a steel-tipped arrow into her bow. Her eyes really didn’t start to focus until she drew back and sighted along the arrow’s shaft. Phillipe was no where to be seen but a dark figure loomed on the mountain’s edge, a winged figure with a tremendous span. Where was the owner of that voice? She glanced swiftly left and then right. Phillipe’s fallen figure laid deadly still with a simple dagger next to him. Idiot! Where was Mark?

“NO!” She shouted again, sighting down the shaft once more. The creature started to turn. Daria let the arrow loose and had another one ready to fly without even thinking of it. A sudden gust of wind threw up a cloud of dust and small gravel. Daria’s vision was cut off as the dust stung her eyes. For a few seconds there was nothing but darkness shot with only brief spears of light. It was enough. A pair of large strong hands seized her wrists, striking her bow from her hands. Daria strained against the thumbs but was only partially successful as her free hand was immediately grabbed again and her arm twisted painfully behind her back. There seemed to be a dark wind rushing all around her.

“Let her go!” It was Mark’s voice. “You don’t want her! You want us!”

“No! I want you to suffer as you made her suffer. Men! The Storyteller was right. You are killers of life and hope. You took mine from me now I will take yours!”
Scrap or quilting blocks? I'm not quite sure.