In-between the seasons

leaf-fall
This morning my toes were so cold that I put on fuzzy socks. It’s fall in Las Vegas and the temperatures are five to ten degrees warmer than normal. I’m still keeping my bedroom window open for the fresh air. The dog cuddles under the blanket. I’m not sure if the reason I am warm is because of the thyroid medication or because of the warm weather.

I still haven’t turned on the heater although I may shut the window. I not only feel like I am in the middle of fall and winter, but I also feel like my health is between crises. I saw my doctor yesterday for a follow-up on my lungs after my pneumonia scare this summer. She admitted that I do have asthma. She wants to adjust my high blood pressure medication to see if it will change my breathing patterns. Apparently metoprolol, my current high blood pressure medication, can suppress my lung function.

As I told her, I feel good. I can walk and get out of bed. I keep up with the dog, who likes to run when we walk around the apartment complex. I do feel tired.

But the main thing is that I am still writing.

My novella, Diamond Butterfly, is now ready for order at  Amazon.com. 

diamond butterfly2017Description:

It’s in the blood.

Someone is after Nova Tewa’s son and that someone is willing to kill to get the child. Nova is on the run in the middle of the a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada mountains. She will do anything to survive.

A novella in the EJ Hunter world.

Sipping coffee in the autumn air

coffee-2670190_1920

From Pixabay

I was reminded yesterday of a creative writing workbook I had used when I was in college between 1998-2001 called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. During that time I was going to the European Division of the University of Maryland University College. Yes,  it had the acronym of UMUC.

Some one made the joke that we were running amok and it kind of stuck.

While I was in that college I worked on a BA in English Literature and a minor in Germany history. I won’t get into the curriculum, but the writing schedule was brutal. I wrote at least two papers for the history courses and three to four papers for the English courses. I was either memorizing, researching, or writing. Plus I didn’t have the time for brain freezes.

This book had exercises to help keep the brain on track. It also advises writers to do other things so that our subconscious can have some time to put some pieces together without our logical brain trying to help. The logical brain has that “editor” that wants our writing to be perfect. It causes the subconscious mind to go on strike.

It is not a good thing to turn off either the subconscious or logical mind. I thought at one time that writing with the subconscious mind would make great stories and poems. Not true. It’s the logical mind that contains the grammar and sentence structure.

If you’ve tried to read “stream of consciousness” you’ll find it is hard reading. If I wanted to be a literature writer with only a couple of readers, I would go that direction. But I want to write genre fiction, particularly fantasy.

One of the reason’s I like “The Artist’s Way” and Julia Cameron’s other book “Walking this World” is because it lets the subconscious play a bit. Then it helps the subconscious and logical mind work together in the act of creation.

So if your well of ideas is going dry and your mind is blank. Try some of her ideas.

As for me, I am going back to writing on Unlicensed Sorceress. Here is a taste of it.

 Unlicensed Sorceress Chapter 10 Scene 1

Mage University
Hilda Brant
It was slightly humiliating to be in school with the junior mages. Hilda wasn’t as limber as the young ones who sat in a circle and yelled out the alphabet. Five little ones just over six years old and Hilda was at least forty years older than the youngest one.

At lest the reading teaching didn’t expect her to sit on the rug. Hilda sat in a chair behind the other students, laboriously writing the first three letters of the alphabet. It wasn’t often that they got adults in the reading class. The teacher had assured her that she would learn. It was a little humiliating that the younger students were learning faster than she was.

A younger mage came over to look at her work. She was writing on a slate. “Here,” the mage said. “You need to make straighter lines.

The chalk felt dusty and she pressed to hard on the slate. The chalk broke and one half flew across the room. It had been a long time since she had been an underling and it was frustrating. The young mage who was showing her the letters hid a smile behind a hand.
“Come on,” he said. “You have several advantages. Use your skills. Don’t you know how to communicate with a team?”

Hilda nodded her head. They had used signs and symbols to communicate with each other, this wasn’t any harder.

“Plus,” the mage continued. “You have an elemental. She can help you.”

Hilda didn’t want to use Sassy. She’d have the little elemental saying, “A. A. A,” at her until Hilda went crazy. The mage looked at her sternly. It was kind of funny to see a teenager look stern. It was the same look she gave to others when they weren’t trying.

In front of them, the children had gotten to their feet and were jumping up and down. The noise in the room stopped her concentration. She wanted to sit up and jump up and down too.

“Come on,” said her teenage torturer. “Call your elemental.”

One thing she didn’t want the mage’s to know was that she didn’t have to call the elemental. Sassy stayed with her all the time. In fact she was peeping out from behind her hair so that she could get a closer look at the children. She wasn’t much older than the children.

You’d think that elementals were old as the hills. You’d think that they had been here forever. Yes, elementals had been here forever. They they were born and then they died. Sassy was from an old line but she was a young one. Hilda had found her on the battlefield. She had saved Sassy and Sassy had saved her. Still Sassy loved the energy of the children and wanted to play with them.

When the teenage mage saw Sassy, his eyes widened. “She’s not full grown.” There was a tone of outrage in his voice.

“You could say that,” said Hilda.

“What did you do with her parents?”

Hilda could see that the teenage mage was agitated. Hilda leaned away from him when she saw the small fireball in his hand.

The teacher saw the fireball, gathered up the children, and then herded them outside.

“Time to play,” she said gaily. The children got into line and followed her out.

Hilda watched the teenage mage. “Put out the fire,” she said.

“Not until you tell me what you did to her parents.” The teenage voice changed and his eyes went red. The boy was gone and in its place was an elemental.

“I didn’t know you could possess a human,” Hilda said. She stood up and put her hand on her belt. Her sword was gone. Plus she didn’t want to kill the mage. She could push the mage and not get hurt. Having a fire elemental meant that she couldn’t be hurt as badly when struck with fire magic.

Still she put her hand on Sassy. “No,” she said to Sassy. “No.”

“I did nothing to her parents.” Hilda said to the possessed mage. “She was flickering when I found her.”

“Liar,” roared the possessed mage.

Mage Godfroy hurried into the room. “Stop it,” he said when he saw that we were about to get into a fight. I had been a few in my day. The young ones forgot that even though I hurt in places, I did know how to make a young man hurt even worse.

When we didn’t change position, and the possessed mage started to move his hands into an intricate pattern, Mage Godfroy yelled, “Stop It!”

The sound of his voice hung in the hair and vibrated through Hilda’s body. The mage must have put a spell behind the words because Hilda stopped and the young mage stopped. The two of them couldn’t move.

“What started it,” Mage Godfroy said.

His words loosened the teenage mage so that he could speak. “Her elemental is too young.”

“I know,” said Mage Godfroy. “She has a dispensation.” Then he turned toward Hilda, “and you?”

Hilda’s lips moved. “Just defending myself, sir.”

Mage Godfroy dropped his control over them. “You,” he pointed at Hilda. “Learn to read.”

As if Hilda could learn to read immediately without practice. She sighed and went back to her chalk and slate.

“You,” he pointed at the teenage mage. “Come with me.”

The younger mage shook a little. “But sir.” A little whine came out of his mouth.

Mage Godfroy grabbed the younger mage by the back of the neck. Hilda could hear his words, “You allowed your elemental to possess you. After your discipline, you’ll go back to the beginning classes.”

Hilda heard a whine coming from teenage mage. Soon Hilda was alone in the room.
She began tracing the letters again. “Sassy,” she said. “Can you help me with these letters?”

Sassy jumped out and sat next to the slate. “A. A. A,” she said. Hilda sighed. If she wanted to get licensed as a magic-user, she needed to learn how to read. “What’s this one?” she asked Sassy.

“B. B. B,” Sassy said.

Why couldn’t she use magic to learn to read?

“C. C. C,” Sassy started with the next letter.

State of the Writer

I took a few online classes with Dean W. Smith and I learned more about fiction writing from his classes than I have learned through anyone else. I realized that not everyone has my brain. If a writer is good at hinting at the atmosphere, then my brain will fill it in.

I have gone back to books that I loved as a teenager and found that I didn’t even like those stories as an adult. Some of it might be because I matured. Some of it might be because I became a writer, too.

In the beginning of this year, I had made a goal to write every day. Then I was hit with my health issues. I am so glad that I have been able to bring out two novels and one short book this year. I didn’t complete my goal, but I did better than I expected, mainly because of Doris, who keeps telling me that she wants to read my stories before she dies.  I think she’ll live longer than I will.

unlicensed sorceress 2017

My current WIP is Unlicensed Sorceress. I’ve been writing this for Nanowrimo so that I can use positive peer pressure to get the first draft out. So far after the third day, it has been a good push for me.

The reason I wrote Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes was because I wasn’t finding main characters that I could enjoy. The main characters in fantasy were either about teenagers or young adults in a new world. I wanted to write about someone who ached when she got up in the morning and who managed to do things even when she didn’t feel good.

In some ways if I hadn’t gotten sick when I did with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, Hilda would not have been born. I would have been a teacher of Creative Writing. I am a better writer now than when I was getting my English degree.

I do have other ideas in the works. I started Xandra Peel in 2014 while I was grieving the death of my husband. I didn’t get far with it, but it is next on my list.

Dark Moon Rising, the second book in EJ Hunter series, is being edited right now. I think that will be out either in December or in January.

When I pulled out my micro-shorts recently, it was pointed out that many of these shorts are the beginnings of stories. I have had readers ask me for the rest of the story.

My sci-fi stories are kind of on the down low right now. Fantasy seems to be the order of the day. I have Moon Curser (story of a space smuggler) and also Green Knight Terraforming Company. I write GKTC when I want to laugh. I used my late-hubby’s personality for the troubleshooter, which is probably why I am not writing them now. I remember how much I miss him. But I’ll get back to those soon.

After Dark Moon Rising, I will be doing a third book in the EJ Hunter series. I can also tell since I am about half-way through Unlicensed Sorceress that there will be others. For some reason Hilda and her family really like to get into trouble.

Michael needs to get back to his love. She is going to get tired of him gallivanting around without her.

This is the state of the State of the Writer. Busy as usual.

Happy Halloween

pumpkin-988231_640

The New and Improved Workforce

The cubicles about three feet by three feet were laid out in rows as far as the eyes could see. In each cubicle there was a phone, a price sheet, and a chair. The cubicles were painted white and there were no pictures or personal items in any of the cubes.

Seated on the chairs there were men, and women. Each of them were dialing phones, and in various tones, were asking if the person on the other end would like to go on a cruise, win a prize, or some other fantastical purchase that would be much cheaper than if they bought it in a store.

The CEO looked proudly down on his new marketing center. His Chief of Personnel was explaining how they had come up with this solution in a down economy. “Our research and development team found a zombie virus and decided to experiment with the work force.”

The CEO watched live humans with carts, throwing what looked like meat into the cubicles. A zombie snapped at the meat and tried to pull its chair to the live human. He noticed that there were iron manacles chaining the zombies’ feet to the floor.

“We have a few problems,” said the CEP. “If the zombies are not chained down, they will attack our non-infected humans. And, they won’t eat anything but human brains.”

“Where do you get the brains?” asked the CEO.

“The prisons are too full now,” said the CEP. “The guards are trying to get the prisoners off their hands. No one is surprised when child molester or rapist gets killed in prison.”

The CEO shook his head. “How do you get people to volunteer for this project?” The CEO had a handful of papers with the former humans’ signatures. It would have been legal nightmare without the papers.

“We just told them that to get the job, they would have to be vaccinated. We did lose a few who read the the fine print.” The CEP smiled, “but most of them just signed it.”

The zombies could work longer without rest than normal humans. Besides there were more people clamoring for work. They would never run out of a workforce. And, the profits would increase. The CEO turned away from the window. It was time to go to the next factory for the next inspection.

By Cyn Bagley from “Smoke & Mirrors”

Here is an ear worm for you on Halloween:
The Monster Mash

Sandman’s Child from “Smoke & Mirrors”

It was a job. Sweep the sand across the land so that the little humans and animals could sleep. The night owls and other predators had the night to eat and feed. The humans had built light poles and other electrical gadgets so that they could see in the night, but every mortal in this world needed sleep except the Sandman.

He had lived for a millennium, making sure that all creatures had a chance at sleep. Of all the jobs this job was the most thankless. Children whined when they had to go to bed. Insomniacs cursed him when they couldn’t sleep. He never had a vacation or rest from his duties.

Around the world he went with this one job.

It was a strange night when he heard the small whimper, or thought he heard the small whimper of a baby. The whimper led him to a dumpster in the middle of the city. He put down his bag of sand, climbed into the rusted dumpster, and searched through the stink of garbage.

He found a small black garbage bag. When he tore it open there was a baby, blue in color, lying quietly in the bag. He could still hear the baby’s whimpers in his head. He placed his hand on the baby’s face, trying to feel for breath.

When he couldn’t feel the breath, he blew into the child’s mouth.

“The child is mine,” said a voice behind him. The Sandman ignored Death and continued to work on the baby, massaging its heart, throwing his magic into the little baby’s organs. Growing and coaxing, the baby changed color to a normal pink.

The Sandman turned and faced Death, “No, this little girl is mine.”

“What are you going to do with her? You know you can’t raise her.” Death almost looked interested as if he could with a skeletal face.

“I will take her to a hospital. They will find someone to raise her,” said the Sandman. Death nodded, yes, and pulled out the baby’s hourglass and turned it over.

The Sandman hadn’t told Death that this baby would one day be more than a child to him. She would grow to great strength and one day they would work together, bringing sleep to the world.

By Cyn Bagley, a microfiction from Smoke & Mirrors

The sounds of words

coffee-2670190_1920

From Pixabay

My first love is sound.

My second love is poetry.

If I sit in the square of any city in any world and allow my ears to unfocus I can hear rhythms and music. I have done this in Johannesburg and Misawa. I have listened to the sounds of Ramstein. Each have their own rhythms and sounds.

So to me language is just sound. When I have to put sound to meaning then there can be a problem, especially when I have to be attentive. That takes energy.

To me, poetry is one step from sound. My English professor would tell me that poetry was the essence of meaning and that every word should be distilled for maximum impact. It is true that poetry must be pared down until the meaning is clear, but it is not poetry if the sound is not right.

I have written formal poetry with formal rhythms and I have also written free verse. In my experience, even free verse has its own consistent internal rhythm. So poetry needs sound and rhythm.

If it sounds like a music, then you would be right. In my small world every poem is a small sound. It might be why I like to write sonnets, which means a little poem or if you go to the Latin root it means a little sound.

When I switched to stories, I had to learn how to write again. Those little pieces of poetry that I loved so much sometimes had to be cut because they were not a part of the story. I had to learn characters and how those characters interacted with others.

Other people would sit in the squares and make up stories about the people around them. I was listening to sound. I had to switch my thinking. I admit that I told stories to my brothers at bedtime. They were stories I had read and sometimes I would change the story just a bit so that young boys would enjoy them. But until fifteen years ago, I had not written stories. I had written poetry, memoirs, and essays.

It has been a challenge. Sometimes I wonder if I am writing interesting stories. Then I talk to other writers and authors and find out that deep dark secret. Most of us think we are frauds.

We don’t know if we are writing well. In my case, I write and hope someone else will enjoy my books. If not, I would write anyway because even though I believe I can quit anytime like an addict, I can’t. If I didn’t write stories, I would write poetry. If I didn’t write, I would dream.

This is my manifesto. I have lived adventure. I have explored Northern Japan, Panama, and Germany. If I could still travel, then I would. I would probably not write though and would feel emptiness and restlessness.

I was born to be a poet. I have made myself a writer.