Story vs. Academic

Sonnet Playground coverMy first experiment into writing besides the elementary school papers on “saving the environment” was poetry. I edited my first poem when I was ten years old. My grandfather had written a beautiful poem, but after I read it, I asked him where the rest of the poem was. He agreed that it was unfinished. Several months later he sent me the poem with an additional verse for my review.

I cut my teeth on limericks in fifth grade and I have been writing form and free verse poetry ever since.

Incidentally, the only reason I wrote the “saving the environment” paper was because of the prize and the praise. Yes, I won that prize because I used the passenger pigeons as a metaphor for what can happen when we don’t moderate our actions. If you don’t know, passenger pigeons are now extinct.

When I began writing stories instead of telling them, I found that this style writing was totally different. I could break grammar rules judiciously. There was a story arc. Plus characters were not caricatures of people. The best writing was when a character had a problem and did its best to solve that problem.

As I jumped into the world of story writing, I couldn’t use shortcuts like I did with poetry or even academic writing. I couldn’t just state the problem and tell the audience how the problem was solved. I had to get into the character’s head and then solve the problem as the character. I couldn’t hand-puppet the solution.

Here is where it gets mystical and dimensional. You may have listened to writers talk about their characters. As a non-writer, you probably think the writer is two minutes away from an insane asylum. Yes, we can sound a little out there sometimes.

There are a couple types of writers– those who can outline their story and characters and those who cannot. Those who cannot are either really good or really bad– and if they keep writing and progressing become gateway writers. So what is a gateway writer? Well, they are walking the edge of the real and the void every day.

They are the writers that say that the characters were mulish and refused to solve a situation the way the writer thought they should. This type of writer starts talking about how a character takes on a life of its own. Sometimes there is a rawness to their writing that hits the reader viscerally.

Writers that outline sometimes do better and learn faster than the gateway writers. There is no right way — just the way that works for the writer.

But even the outline writers who have gotten really good in the craft of writing will talk about being haunted by their characters.

So as a beginning writer, (I wish someone had told me this when I wrote my first story), use the five senses for describing the character and the situation, study the story arc, and watch people.

There are more moving parts to storytelling than to an academic paper– which makes writing story a whole new adventure.

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Happy Release Day – Late Payment

GKTC2015ebookcover1So today is the day, that my two short stories: Late Payment and If You Should Chose This Mission are live on Amazon. These are new stories with Joe and Donald, two intrepid representatives who fix technical, physical, and customer problems, when terraforming goes awry.

Just because I am such a nice person (this is the same as saying trust me), I have the first story The Green Knight Terraforming Company free for the next two days.

We first meet Joe when he is being attacked by several blades of grass.

If you want to go paperback, the three stories are bundled in Green Knight Terraforming Company. I didn’t manage to get the paperback online at the same time as the release date. I will have to do better timing next time.

So please enjoy these stories. Thank you in advance for leaving a review.

Finally, fruits of my labor

Hildaebookcover2015finishedSo it’s done and now ready for preorder on Amazon. Release date is October 16, 2015. I am trying to arrange it so the paperback will coincide with the digital release–

Description: In Delhaven, there is an Inn run by a retired mercenary. If you are a down-on-your-luck mercenary or men-at-arms, come to the public rooms and Hilda Brant, the owner, will give you a bowl of stew. If you want ale, hand over the coins. Hilda may give you floor space, but she expects you to pay in favors or coins.

Hilda is also an untrained mage with an elemental, which is another reason she is retired. Most mercenary companies are wary of mages for good reason.

When Lord Barton decides he wants the magic on Hilda’s property, Hilda pulls together her resources, including her brother a mage and her sister a brothel Madame, to save her Inn.

Hilda isn’t prepared for the damage and chaos caused by a dragon, black mage, and elementals. And a very angry Lord Barton.

***

On the other hand, I will be back to writing on “Dark Moon Rising” the long awaited second novel of the EJ Hunter series. It’s been harder for me to write the next book than I expected.

Also a couple of shorts will be back on my writing schedule. For those of you who wonder about my little dog, Foxy, she has more energy than I have seen in a while. It is good to see.

One Tuesday is much like another

I’ve been watching the Hugo kerfuffle and the crowing is so loud among the “No Award” crowd that I quit watching the tweets, blog posts, and FB posts.

So today I want to recommend a book ConVent by Kate Paulk. I am re-reading the book because I really need a fun escape and Kate supplies it with both book one and two. I know Kate from FB and I have tried to encourage her to write another book in that world. Life gets in the way. Her job and other life events have been keeping her from the pen.

So before I go to get my veins stuck by a lab vampire, and get my monthly tests done. (Yea, it is monthly) Get the book. Read it. Laugh a little.

Ghost Roses

On the side table in the hallway, a vase filled with pink roses, greeted me as I unlocked the door, and walked in. They swayed every so slightly as I bent over to smell them. There was no scent, and when I reached through them, I felt a cold spot and a slight prick.

“Lyle, Lyle,” I called, hoping that I would see his face again. If he had been here, he would have rushed to me with a laugh, picked me up, and hugged me until my breath left my body.

There was no answer. The hallway was cold and silent. There were no footsteps on the stairs and no friendly smells coming from the kitchen. He was gone.

The ghost roses didn’t enchant me, when I remembered I was alone. Alone with the little memories of waking up to coffee in the morning and of the little kindnesses throughout the day.

He hadn’t wanted to leave. The cancer eating his body, one cell at a time, took away his enjoyment of eating. He wasted away, until he was bone, in a hospital bed. The pain claimed him finally.

I was alone except for the ghost roses. I left them there on the side table.

The recriminations. Why didn’t I figure out he was ill? Why didn’t I take him to a doctor? Why had he refused to see one? Every day he held me and said that everything would be okay.

He didn’t know that he was dying. He knew that we would be okay. A tear slipped down my face. I tasted the salt, then wiped it away. I grabbed a tissue and wiped my face, then blew my nose.

I felt a touch on my back, where he used to touch me when I cried. I couldn’t cry now. I had to be strong. I couldn’t walk into the light to him. Not yet.

There was blood on my finger. I rinsed it off in the sink. Then turned around. He was there, holding out his arms. I ran to him. “What?” I squawked, joy welled inside me. “But, you’re dead.”

He walked me back to the front hallway, and handed me a pink rose. It felt real in my hands. At my feet was a body, lying on the doorstep.

“Time to go, love,” Lyle held me and we stepped up.

In the air was the smell of roses.

Perchance to Dream – a short novel

I started out as a singer– My entire family have musical talent and we would sing around the baby grand piano on Sundays and holidays. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

My mother was a self-proclaimed diva. She had won a Metropolitan audition in her young years and instead of pursuing her dream of singing opera, she became a mother. She also ruined music for us.

In retaliation I used my skills in music to become a poet. I am a fairly good one…I have even been published in one of the same publications as Seamus Haney. I still write poetry as a hobby or when my music and rhythms overcome me.

Nowadays I write stories. As a writer, I have no idea if I am good or bad. I hope that I am a decent writer at the very least. My late-hubby enjoyed some of my stories and when I had problems understanding the motives of one of my characters, he was more than willing to brainstorm with me.

He once told me that my stories were more real to me than reality. He knew me so well.

Anyway, here is a novel I finished and published on Amazon last year. It is more in the dark fantasy genre, but not totally horror-driven. There is hope… even in the darkest moments there is always hope.

Perchance to Dream1Perchance to Dream
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Kindle: 3.99

Description:

Kat Igardson is a visionary, a psychic, and a protector, but doesn’t gain her hereditary powers until the death of her Grandma. Daisy Amulda, a black witch, is stripped of her power by her father. These two unlikely women become allies to fight an evil that corrupts and taints Earth and its innocents.

Will they survive?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

My body sank into the mattress cover as my mind floated above my body. The darkness covers my eyes as I drop into sleep. My grandma was in the next room; her slight breathing turning into slight snores. Snores into music. I was safe.

For years I have dreamed. Some of the dreams were those little garbage dreams that clear my brain and make it easier for me to think. Some dreams were of the past. I had a dream where I was being chased by a teddy bear. And then I have the dreams of the future.

Those dreams are the scariest. When my mother still lived with grandma and me, she would yell at us. Many times I would have these fights with her before the main fight. It made for some sleepless nights. I still hate sleeping in the same house as my mother. When we are together, we fight tooth and nail, day and night, in person and in dreams.

I suppose I am not the only one that has mommy problems and I won’t be the last. I have wondered for years why my mother is such a crank when her mother, my grandma, is such a nice person.
When I am dreaming, I am a part of the dream. I can feel the emotions that I would feel if I were actually there. The fear is higher, the anger is fierier, and the tears are brighter. The colors, sounds, touches, and smells are keener. I can look at it with dispassion when awake, but when I am asleep the dreams are more real than when I am awake.

At one time I studied Jung’s superconsicous mind theory. To dip into the same dream pool as every conscious being on the planet almost described my experiences. I was attracted to Jung’s theories, but I didn’t want to use them to counsel other people. So after one class when I realized that the teachers were less informed than I was, I quit college and went back to live with grandma. She needed me.

It was dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. She needed a caretaker. I needed to care for her.

The mattress creaked under my body as a rolled to the left and curled into the covers. The blankets warmed my body and I fell into the dream.

GRANDMA WAS IN THE KITCHEN, making spaghetti, and the water bubbled on the stove for pasta. The smell of tomato and meat sauce filled the room as I walked into the kitchen. I pulled out the plates and utensils and began setting the table for two.
The light streamed into the kitchen as I watched Grandma stir the sauce. It had been a few years since I had seen her cook. It was hard with the dementia because she would sometimes put the water on to boil and then forget about it. The pot would burn, sending smoke through the house. After a couple of times, I made sure that I am in the kitchen whenever she wants to cook.

This time it felt like she was all there. She joked and we laughed like the times she had been well. She spread butter over the break, sprinkled garlic over it, and baked it in the oven. I wanted to bite into that crunchy bread and feel the taste expand in my mouth.

Bread baking in the oven was my favorite smell. For a moment I was completely at peace.

Grandma turned from the stove, a wooden spoon dripping with red sauce, and fell slowly onto the floor. I ran to her. It felt like time had slowed to a stop. I tried to run and I couldn’t get to her as her head bounced on the linoleum floor.

Her bright blue eyes filled my vision.

I JERKED AWAKE, BREATHING HARD. The room was dark and I could hear my grandma’s breathing in the next room. I pulled the covers off me, stood up, and walked to her bedroom. I stood in the doorway, watching her sleep. The covers were piled high over her body.

I softly walked to the kitchen, turned on the coffee pot, and looked out the window. I could see the streaks of the morning rays as they settled on the hills around our home. This was the third night I had had this dream. Third times a charm. I got a white coffee cup and filled it with coffee. I was still in my sleeping clothes – a T-shirt and shorts. The clothes had been washed so much that they were soft against my body.

After opening the front door, I sat on the porch and listened to the birds as the sun rose in the east. Today would be a busy day. Grandma would make spaghetti for the first time in years and I would need emergency services on speed dial.
My name is Kathleen Igardson, and I am a dreamer. Call me Kat.

Nanowrimo – I am writing again

It has been a hard three months especially after Sept 19th, and I decided that I needed to pick a character and start writing. Since it was Nanowrimo, I picked up a character I had been thinking about for a few days. She is a troll-human hybrid so she doesn’t have connections in either community. Plus her husband dies. Yea– sounds a little like my situation? Well, very different because she is ripped out of her community and in the process she is on a journey to find herself.

Every new beginning is the end of another new beginning– from Closing Time.

Here is an excerpt:

Scrip, scape, scrip, scrape.

I held the shovel in my hands, blisters cracking and bleeding, as I scraped the last of the soil from the bottom of the grave. Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand, I left a swathe of dirt across my face. Sweat trickled down my face into my eyes. I had been digging this grave for several hours. No one had bothered to jump in and dig with me. I knew I was hated in this community, but they had been careful to hide their animosity until the death of my husband, my John. The vultures peering down at me, the ones who wouldn’t help me dig his grave, were ghosts to me.

The dust crept into my mouth and I needed, no yearned, for a drink of water. They just stared at me, pointing to the last of the dirt in the corners as if this grave needed to be perfect. If I had been one of them, I might have been grave goods at John’s feet. Right now, my heart was so dead that I wouldn’t have put up a fight. My hair stuck to the back of my neck. I lifted up from my neck as I leaned on the shovel. No breeze reached me here six feet down.

John had always liked my hair. He had said that it was all the colors of autumn—red, yellow, and brown. It wasn’t a natural color and I didn’t dye my hair. It came from the legacy of being a troll-human hybrid. It wasn’t talked of much, but when the dimensional gates opened, when the scientists had used the Large Hadron Collider, searching for the “god” particle, the collider had put so much stress on the dimensions that it had ripped open the world. Two worlds collided —the trolls’ home, Jorden, with Earth. The clash between the two societies had been brutal. Worlds pillaged and women raped. I was a product of such a troll-human interaction. Just by my existence I was hated by both societies.

A hand reached down into the grave and gave me a boost out. I blinked when the sun hit my eyes. From its slant it was late afternoon. I could smell the sour sweat of fear on many of the townsfolk. The mayor, his face stern, took the shovel from my hand and pushed me toward my house. The mayor’s black hair spiked around his face, his skin was swarthy different from the other townfolk, and his feet ground the dirt like a conqueror. In a small town that didn’t like the new or strange, he was strange. For an instant his countenance wavered and I thought I saw something else behind the mask of his face.

“Xandra,” his voice pulled me back. I felt my body pull to attention, and I faced him. It would be bad. He was the only person since John’s death to talk to me. The townsfolk had dragged me here, put a shovel in my hand, and forced me to dig. “You have lost the name Peel. By morning, if you are still in this town you will be killed as a creature of darkness.”