Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Magpie Tales 230 (and the once a week blog)

Hello! It looks as if this blog has turned into a once a week project. No harm in that. Sorry if it seems I've been a bit AWOL in the blogsphere. I have! But, it's summer and that's as good an excuse as any :)

Here's my contribution to Magpie Tales for this week. If you don't know about Magpie Tales or if you'd like a bit more info regarding this lovely little bloghop started and hosted by Tess Kincaid, click HERE. Now: on with the show!

***



She gazed with shadowed eyes. The crowd shuffled past, murmuring, gawking. At the front of the pack, she looked up in wonder. Was that really how she looked? Was that really how they saw her?

Centuries ago she was a queen but now she was just another of the masses that woke, ate, slept, and wondered, wondered at what they could be. What they might have been.

The difference was that she knew. She knew the other side. She knew what it was like to have the world at her fingertips. What it was like to command armies. What it was like to share the bed of the king.

Cruel twist of fate or lesson plan of the gods? She may never know. Tomorrow she would don a suit and go to a high-rise of glass and steel, a somewhat familiar structure in an all too unfamiliar time. She would empower a board room full of people and go home to an empty house. An empty bed.

But for now she would marvel at the bust of herself, of what she once was. With a knowing smile she eavesdropped as the two school girls whispered, "Do you think she was really the most beautiful woman in the world?"

Yes, she thought. Yes I was. And I still am, even if no one knows it but me.


***

Sometimes I wonder what people would think if they could come back and view themselves through the eyes of modern man. Would they agree with the pedestals, the velvet ropes, the guards who shoo away those of us who want to peer "just a little closer" at a work of art centuries old? Or would they laugh at the portrayal of themselves, hang their heads in shame, or shake them in wistful longing wishing they could go back and do it over again.

Happy Wednesday! Enjoy your week.




Friday, July 25, 2014

start your weekend off with a bang...

...or just a quiet cup of coffee and some words of inspiration :)




"Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly." 
~ Neil Gaiman

"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." 
~ Jane Goodall

"So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact.
And remember that life's a Great Balancing Act.
And will you succeed?
Yes you will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!)
Kid, you'll move mountains!"
~ Dr. Seuss

And one more, just because it made me laugh:

"It's inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some sort of recreational activity." 
 ~ Dave Barry

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

magpie tales 229

It has been a few weeks since I participated in a Magpie Tales writing challenge. If you haven't discovered Magpie Tales yet, it's definitely a site worth checking out. Every Sunday, a new photo is posted. All you have to do is write a poem or vignette based on the photograph, post your link to the list and read some brilliant work! For a novel writer like myself, it's a challenge in communicating succinctly. With limited space, it's always a workout to say what needs to be said in the fewest words possible.

On with the tale!

***


Nell knew the coins in her pocket were few. She'd found them in the gutter on the way home from school. Four dingy quarters, like treasure, sitting amongst leaves, gum wrappers, and pigeon droppings. They shone when she rubbed them against her skirt, smiled up at her from her fingers.

"How many today, love?"

Nell let the coins clatter on the counter.

The old lady smiled her toothless smile and shifted something, produced a brown paper bag.

"Fill it up," she said.

Nell blinked six times.

"Fill it up," and when Nell wasn't looking she put one of the quarters in the bottom of the bag.

That night Nell's mother smiled for the first time in weeks. Her sisters clambered for "just one more". And her father, her dear, over worked father, let the citrus juice drip over his chin.

That night they laughed. That night they were all children with full bellies and sweet dreams.

Monday, July 21, 2014

monday musings


There are stories in you.

Good stories. Great stories. Fun stories. Stories you wouldn't want your dog to read.

They are there waiting for us to flesh them out. Yes, even the bad ones. Even the ones that your grandmother would shun and would make your therapist blush. Even the ones that will make your mother weep and your father roll his eyes and bemoan (again) the fact you never went to law school. Even the ones that make you believe again in magic. The ones that make you laugh, make your friends cheer and your boss giggle behind his hand.

Oddly enough, those stories that we WANT to write are disguised as daydreams, as lost causes, as something you dreamed up over cocktails on Thursday night. They stick with you and turn into the alter egos you use to create scenarios that would never happen in real life but, if they did, you'd be ready for them. In the guise of these characters you challenge the word: convention, "what should have been", reality. We enjoy a moment of "zoning out" with them and then we must return to "real work".

But what if those characters were the bones of something good? I mean, really good? Something that we've over looked so long because their story is so familiar. It's worth a shot, isn't it, to scribble a bit on their behalf, all these personalities you've so enjoyed putting into awkward situations just to see how they'd handle them on your behalf?

Give them a second glance. Give them a few moments of a lunch break or late night pizza run. Come on. They've given you hours of private entertainment. If they're that enjoyable, shouldn't you share them with the rest of the world? They may surprise you. They be exactly what you've needed. They may be exactly what you've been waiting for.

Go forth and make happen,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

catching up

Has it really been a week? How have you been?

I have been busy. I've got a couple of projects in the works and they are taking up all my spare time. My stories? Well, they're sitting by patiently. Not complaining (too much). In fact, it seems I get more inspiration for those stories when I'm NOT working on them.

Go figure...

...crabby muse...

The good news is that I feel creative again. Huzzah! *confetti* It's been a long time since I did some creative work with my hands. Writing is creative; it's brain creative. And believe me, if I didn't get all those ideas out, my head would explode! However, my hands start itching when they've been away from ink and paper too long. I've been rooting around in my craft supplies, weeding out what needs to be cast aside, rethinking those things I no longer care about. It's been a lesson in perspective. Things take on whatever aspect you want them too when you reconsider what they can be.

The  challenge is to stay organized and when I say organized I mean "actually doing what I've re-planned for said objects".  Aye, there's the rub.

It hasn't been too bad this time. I've been slower, more considerate of my body and its annoying habits of fatigue and aches and pain. And, lo!, I have created and shifted and merged with some new visions. For art and for writing. Funny how that happens. When you allow yourself to breathe, in the way that YOU need to breathe, magic happens.

To quote Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist: "And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." Of course there's a lot more too it than that. I want a 1976 Land Rover Defender D110 but that doesn't mean I click my heels together three times and POOF! it's in my drive way. I remember the first time I read The Alchemist. That quote mulled in my brain for weeks. The meaning (for me any rate) came to me in a flash of knowing. It's not that you WANT something that makes things start swirling in an order that seems like a magical intervention; it's the fact that you want it so badly, you begin WORKING for it, hard. You begin focusing your energy and your time and your effort, your talent and intellect towards it. All this hard work (yes I said HARD WORK) causes doors to open, windows to shatter, and serendipitys to happen. It's not magic, friends. It's good, old fashioned work and faith.

And hope. There's always hope ;)

Have a marvelous week! Looks like I'm down to posting on Thursdays for now. Summer is always a crazy time for online visits! I promise to stop by when I can. Enjoy your week and the rest of July!

Cheers,







PS: Just in case you've never witnessed the glory that is the aforementioned Land Rover, behold:


image found HERE

Friday, July 11, 2014

We Write Therefore We Are Writers

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"It's a dangerous business going out your door. 
If you don't keep your feet there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ Bilbo Baggins

The first thing I remember wanting to do was write. When I was a little girl, I went through all manner of "When I grow up" statements: a doctor, a dentist, an ophthalmologist. I was the weird kid in fifth grade who posted on the "When I Grow Up" board a piece of paper that said PALEONTOLOGIST. It hovered like ectoplasm amongst other cardboard signs that said DOCTOR, LAWYER, TEACHER, FIREMAN. I didn't think to say WRITER because, well, I was already one of those.

Funny the wisdom we have as children. I never told anyone I wanted to be a writer because in my mind I already was. I wrote. I wrote and illustrated stories, travel journals. I created my own catalogue for a fictitious superstore that sold everything. Like a mall but one one store under one roof.

(Dear Wal-Mart and Super Target, you owe me)

Then I grew up and I grew dumb.

"I want to be a writer!" I screamed. Yes, yes, they patronized, but what do you want to DO? Write. Duh. No one heard. So I decided I'd go away to school and become that paleontologist. Then peer pressure got in the way. I grew dumber. I went to a local college and still, still I wanted to write.

Dancers dance because they hear the music inside them. They don't wait for a title over their door or a copper plate on their desk. They sway when the mood hits them and they twirl around puppies and children on linoleum floors. Maybe they become ballerinas or teach ballroom dancing to seniors. Perhaps they dance principle with the Moscow ballet or win Dancing With the Stars. Or maybe they dance with their partner on that old linoleum until it fades from black to grey and one day they're old and again dance alone. Still, they dance without a paycheck for it.

They dance because they are dancers. They are dancers because they dance.

Could it be that I AM a writer because I write? That I write because I'm a writer? Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, "I want to be a writer!" perhaps we should look in the mirror and say, "I write therefore I am."

What music do you hear inside you? What story does it sing? Do you dance on linoleum simply because your soul gives you no option? Do your fingers dance across the page for the same reason?

Happy Weekend,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Be Intentional


" Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives." 
~ Willa A. Foster.

After this past Insecure Writers Support Group post, I received many positive responses and encouraging thoughts. One person, however, found the exact issue behind my insecurity and pulled out one word from the heap of trouble I was trying to name. Mary Aalgaard at Play off the Page said this,

 "Do what you're doing. Be present, AND schedule some writing time. You might need to go to the library or coffee/tea shop, and when you do that will be intentional. Maybe that could be your word. Intentional."

Talk about a hit between those proverbial eyes. I've been rolling that word around and around in my head for a week now. I wrote what you see above on my chalkboard. And every single time I've felt like walking way from one of my projects this week, I've stopped and thought, "No. I INTENDED to accomplish something today and I INTEND to see it through!"

Funny thing about intention. When you make up your mind to do something, your body follows. It has no choice. You can hem-haw around and scuff up the linoleum but when you focus, really get your mind lined up with your goals, something WILL happen. It's not easy and it certainly hasn't been an overnight miracle story. But I'm learning, I'm growing, and I've got tiny bites out of these enormous dinosaur projects I tend to tackle. 

And that, dear Reader, is cause for celebration! Bring on the lattes!

Are you celebrating any small victories this week? How about BIG ones? Have you ever received the kick in the pants you needed from the Insecure Writers Support Group OR any other for of writing/blogging group?

Write on!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Mood Board Monday


























This is my mood board.

It's got a bit of this, a little of that, all manner of bits and bobs. Kind of like my brain.

I enjoy looking at pretty things: scenery, pattern, lovely occasions. I collect dishes and fabric; I dream of owning an old Land Cruiser.

Sometimes my characters pop up in the collages I make. Most times, they are simply reflections of the things that interest me. The things I love.

This weekend I was walking through a book store when - WHAM! - a word came to me and it brought a new perspective to an old story idea. I actually read a book title wrong and, through that, uncovered the main theme of my own story.

That word is not on this mood board BUT it will be on the one I create for the particular character it conjures. The idea of creating mood boards for my stories and characters excites me. We keep our characters internalized until we put them on paper or screen. Then it's not until someone else reads our words that our characters have a chance to live in someone else's reality. But what if I could draw them out into the open, see them, or some aspect of them, while I'm writing?

The possibilities are endless! I also collect magazines and I'm (slightly) addicted to Pinterest. The danger here is that I enjoy creating mood boards so much that I have a room full of really fancy wallpaper and not a page written. But that's the risk I take indulging in my love affair of pretty pictures and woolgathering.

I'll set a timer. I promise ;)

Have you ever created a mood board or a collage for a character or story? Would you try? Are you, Pinterest, and a rainy afternoon a dangerous combination? I'm thinking of starting a Pinterest-Lovers-Anonymous. Care to join?

Happy Monday,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group Post - July


Another month, another chance to air our insecurities and offer encouragement to those in the writing realm. We all pay homage on this day to our fearless leader, Captain Ninja Alex (it was his idea to begin with!). Wander by the Insecure Writers Support Group page and get caught up, signed up, or just to find out what this marvelous group is all about :D Let the insecurities commence!

*****

I'm not sure if what I'm currently dealing with is an insecurity or just good, old fashioned panic. I've been rather erratic in my writing since the start of summer. My work schedule went crazy and I'm still trying to settle into it. The lack of writing has nothing to do with a lack of ideas: there are two suitcases (literal, physical suitcases) filled with files and papers that hold outlines, ideas, and story notes. Frightening, I know. I could begin world domination tomorrow if any amount of paper and adjectives were required. No, lack of ideas is not the problem.

My biggest problem is time, or rather, time management. I'm in the midst of one personal project that requires a lot of time an energy. I have one manuscript that needs editing and one that needs starting. Then, of course, there are the usuals: work, family, home, life. I can't seem to get my time around them all. My off days consist of me walking in circles, flitting from one project to another, feeling guilty that I'm writing when I should be  ____ (fill in the blank) and vice-a-verse. Relaxing consists of a cup of tea and my brain telling me that there are countless people in the world who find time to do it ALL: write, blog, run small businesses, manage 15 kids, two dogs and an army of cats. Seriously, folks, I find it a miracle if I can remember to water my tomatoes and keep the kitchen sink emptied on a daily basis!

So I have a question: HOW do you do it? You know who you are, those amazing creatures who seem to have it all together. I'm not stupid; I realize that no one has an ideal life and that writing does have to take a back seat some days. My frustration is that instead of hunkering down (there's a Southern term for you) and just digging into one project at a time, giving myself a good, old fashioned time limit for each one and, therefore, completing bits and chunks of multiple projects in a day, I fuss and fury over what I'm not doing while I'm doing something else. (Did that even make sense?)

Maybe I just answered my own question. Who knows. Bottom line: I freeze and don't do anything when I'm constantly worried about doing many things. No, I can't do it all, but I should be able to do SOMETHING, right?

Argh. There I go, over thinking again. Thanks for letting me vent this morning! Hope I'm not too depressing. Stress is a wonderful think, isn't it? (ha...ha...ha...)

Cheers!