A Tuesday Snippet

My muse called today. She said I hadn’t done a story in the “Green Knight Terraforming Company” for a long time. I really did my best to remind her that I had three projects that I have been procrastinating with and I didn’t need a fourth.

In a calm voice with precise inflection, I was made aware that if I didn’t write on the GKTC story that I would be in that nomad’s land of no writing for quite awhile. Dammit. I hate it when I am blackmailed like that.

And just to get me into the proper mood of writing in this world, here is a snippet from the first story that started my space traveling terraforming human tech as a troubleshooter from hell.

The Green Knight Terraforming Company

The super-white flying van with the green logo, The Green Knight Terraforming Company, zipped over the tree and landed on pavement in front of a large warehouse. I stepped out of the van, wearing my company clothes—khaki trousers, white polo shirt with a green knight logo on the pocket.

A short, dwarfish wrinkled humanoid waited for me to reach the warehouse. As soon as I reached smelling distance, a strong cheese-like smell, wafted from the humanoid. I pressed a button to turn off my smeller. At the same time the brie taste disappeared from my mouth. I coughed and little and strode toward the humanoid.

“Zrkaffv, thsst prrrtt,” the humanoid started speaking. I assumed it was male although it was fully clothed because of the low voice. Once again I adjusted a knob next to my ear so that my translator worm would work. At the end of the knob, a small hammer knocked the worm into the right dialect.

The humanoid began speaking again and I almost wished I couldn’t understand it. “You’re terraforming didn’t work,” he whined.

“What do you mean it didn’t work?” I looked around at the trees around the parking lot and warehouse. The trees were earth-like. Roses twined around trellises attached to the building, and birds were chirping in the distance. Our motto “You travel the stars; we make you feel at home” seemed to be working in this case. I checked a line on my checklist.

Just to make sure that I was right and the customer, in this case a brie-smelly humanoid was wrong, I glanced at the grass, the flowers, the trees, and the rest of the terraformed area. It looked right, it sounded right, and when my nose was on, it even smelled right so what was the problem?

“Touch the grass,” said the humanoid.

From his expression of dissatisfaction, I assumed the worst. Even so I reached down to touch the blue-green grass. Two grasses grew long, grabbed my wrist and pulled me to the ground. I tried to break away, but the grasses began to grow around my legs, my chest, and my arms. It felt like steel bands holding me there.

“That’s what’s wrong.” I wished I could shut down the humanoid’s voice. He continued, “I lost a lot of workers to that cannibal grass when they tried to trim it.” I could almost hear him smirk.

You can find the rest of this story here: The Green Knight Terraforming Company (GKTC tales)

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In the diner – an excerpt

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The bright chatter from nearby tables, the clanking of pans, and the sometimes crash of a plate swirled around me as I sank into a red-faux upholstered seat in the retro fifties diner.

The red and chrome jukebox in the corner playing, “Shar-reee, Shar-ar-ar-ree ba-aa-by. Sherry, baby” evoked my memories of sitting in this same seat and listening to this same song. I settled into the booth, my elbows on the table, as I breathed in the smells of sizzling bacon, eggs, and ham.

If I closed my eyes I would be home with my mother swaying in front of the stove to this very song. Her eyes bright and her lips curled into a smile as she flipped golden-brown pancakes onto a chipped china plate.

I’d hand it over to my greedy man, who would stuff cold butter between the pancakes and slather the tops with thick maple syrup. He would hum as he ate them.

One sniff and I was home.

A waitress swayed down aisle, tapping her feet to the beat of the music on the linoleum floor. A distinct chink and the music changed. The noise level surged and I drowned in it. I almost stood up and bolted from my seat, forgetting why I came here. There were too much noise and too many memories here for me.

The waitress in a ruffled apron was too young to read my panic. Her lip might have curled a bit at my torn jeans, too-large flannel shirt, and unbrushed dishwater hair.

“What are you ordering?” Her pen was posed over the order pad. The menu was next to my elbow. “Or should I come back?” Her voice was neutral as if she’d asked this question a hundred times that day.

“Give me a few,” I said after taking a deep breath. I hadn’t noticed until now that my hands were clamped onto the table and I was so, so cold. My knuckles went from white to light pink as I carefully relaxed my hands.

The waitress swayed to the next table. She asked the same questions of the small family sitting behind me.

My greedy man. I placed my phone on the metal table in front of me so that I looked busy. Then I closed my eyes and extended my awareness outward. The build-up of the energy of so many lives in this diner surged through me.

The images in my mind swirled and eddied until I could focus on one memory. It was of my greedy man when he pulled me into his arms and held me tightly at my mother’s funeral. I cried that day.

I sank into his memory once more, and smelled the fresh bread scent that seemed to come from him and only him. I needed no comfort food when he was here.

The noise, the smells, and the people faded from my awareness. I heard the deep rolling sounds of his voice, “Betty. Betty.”

I scrunched my eyes as tightly as I could. On the backs of my eyelids I saw his deep dark eyes, the same eyes that could see into my very essence. His brown silvered hair was longer than he used to wear it. I could smell him.

I opened my eyes hoping against hope that he would be sitting in front of me. Just one more time. The pain was as fresh as the day he left me, three years ago.

“Why?” I said aloud. My eyes were red and dry. The empty upholstered seat in front of me gave no answers.

He was gone. He would never come back.

He could never come back.

And, it’s Labor Day

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From Pixabay

Happy Labor Day!

Instead of dangling my toes in the water, I am here in my little room writing on my computer.

I could try to say something meaningful– blah, blah, blah–but I am more excited about getting back to EJ Hunter and her pack of werewolves.

Don’t worry about me. I finally got a bracelet activity tracker that beeps at me if I am staying in one place longer than 45 minutes. So yes, it forces me to get off the chair and take a break. Technology sure rules my life anymore. I am now an input device into the ones and zeros storage unit.

As for listening to the news about North Korea and the marching gangs on both sides, I have turned off all news outlets. I am blissfully ignorant that NK has tested a nuclear bomb. All I will say about that piece of news is that I am so glad I am not President of the US. Plus some former presidents should be getting savaged by the press for believing the NK tyrants had dismantled their nuclear program. But then the news would have to change their Alzheimer’s way of news reporting and actually remember what happened in the past. It won’t happen.

Now about the changing season. I am so happy we are going into autumn. It has been too terribly hot in Nevada. 100 degree temperatures were the norm. We even saw 120 degree temps. I want cooler temps and more clouds. I want to walk the dog in the middle of the day.

So overall my health is okay. I still have issues, but who doesn’t?

I am here and I am writing. This was what I asked for so many years ago when I wanted to be a writer.

 

So I have no excuse

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Pixabay Amber Avalona (Public Domain) https://pixabay.com/en/users/AmberAvalona-1512238/

What has been missing is fun.

So with all of the singing, and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holliday, and others, I’m learning to enjoy while I create.

Time to sit down at the writing table with a smile on my face and the dog at my feet.

More coffee… and then write.

Those jazz and big band singers from my grandparent’s generation knew how to have fun and to swing it. I have been somber for far too long.

Let’s dance.

 

She Called It, Wolf Excerpt

She called it wolf cover 2017 I wrote this particular book quite early during my training phase with NANOWRIMO. It gave me the momentum to actually finish a novel. Last year I finished the first draft in the second of this series. When I went back to find names of characters and remember the story line, I came to a sad conclusion. I needed to redraft. The plot was sound, but the actual writing needed trimming in places and additions in others. The big change was from third person to first person.

So editing this book has turned into a real bear. I thought I could zip through it in a week. I am now about two weeks into it.

On the health front, I am having the normal reaction to having a misbehaving thyroid. I am going crazy.

So without further ado, here is an excerpt:

Chapter Thirteen

Felony Flats, EJ’s trailer
Sheriff Adam

The dark was more than vision, it was velvet across his skin. I could hear the owls and coyotes in the distance. It was my turn to watch Harry’s trailer. Owen was sound asleep in his own bed or someone else’s. I was in my truck and sore as hell. The green of the radio’s light lit up the inner cab. I stretched and felt my spine pop, one vertebrae at a time. It had been a long day. I should be home, drinking a beer.

I was here because I had had feeling in the pit of his stomach, the one that felt like leather and fur. I listened to that feeling. I was alpha and that feeling meant a new transformation. If I didn’t listen a new werewolf could get into trouble. The moon wasn’t out. For the older werewolves or the ones with more power, moon-time wasn’t the only time they could change. The moon did pull them. That part of the lore was true. It was probably why the goddess Diana was associated with lunar wolves.

My disquiet intensified around 2 a.m., when I saw the trailer door open and close. EJ stood naked in the night air. Her black braid hung to her waist, her skin soft and pearly in the moonlight. I felt the call and groaned. She was the personification of Diana: monochromatic in the night. Then she burst into static light and fur. It was so bright that I had to close my eyes.

When the light disappeared, there was a wolf by the trailer. Damn. She really is a werewolf. Her wolf sable coat shimmered with silver highlights. He wanted even more.
I felt the fur ruffle under my skin. I got out of my truck, folded my clothes on the front seat, and started the process of turning from man to wolf. My transformation was much slower and more painful. I didn’t have the moon to help me.

My wolf crept closer and closer with the promise of meeting this new female. As Alpha I had a better connection to the power. I could shift in five minutes. Most of the pack went through a slow painful process that could take up to fifteen minutes to change.

I endured as the muscles popped and the skin stretched. I felt my ears lengthen and my hair turn to fur.

As soon as I felt my four feet, I ran. The wolf came to the forefront of my mind as I stepped back. As always it was an uneasy truce between wolf and man. The wolf had the present, but his five senses – taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing – were more acute. The female wolf was running. My wolf smelled her, leaped, and then followed.

Felony Flats
EJ Hunter

At 2 a.m. I woke up with my wolf whining in the back of my mind. Run, run, run, taste, smell. My wolf wanted to run, mark, and make the place her own. I got out of bed, stripped, and started for the door. Barkley lifted his head up, sniffed, and settled back into the bed. The dog snored.

I looked up at the stars. As I stepped into the back of my mind, my wolf took over. A blast of light. I turned from woman to wolf. My wolf lifted up her nose and chuffed. She smelled a metallic scent and then an intriguing smell of man-wolf. She walked to the bush where Owen had stayed for a night. It was not the smell that enticed her.

She lifted her tail and ran down a small dust trail that lead from the trailer. The Alpha grew stronger. If he wanted her, he would have to catch her. She ran like the wind down the path. In the dry dust, she could smell the life around her– rabbits, mice, and a couple of coyotes. She stopped to catch a mouse. Crunch and it was gone. Her attention went to the coyotes. They shouldn’t be here. I twas her territory.

Then she could smell him. The Alpha ran down the trail, running toward her. She looked back at him, teeth glinting. He was chasing her and she could smell pheromones reach and catch her attention.

But, she wasn’t ready for an Alpha. This was her territory. He came to a full stop when she snarled at him. He batted at her with his fore paws. She rolled. Then sat down, with her tongue out. He came up to sniff her.

She rolled away from him and ran away. He ran beside her. Her heart was beating and she jumped. She could feel EJ beating against her mind. Go back to the trailer. She didn’t want to go back to the silver can. She wanted to play.

She went from a run to a dead stop, and then hissed and growled. Instead of playing that game, the Alpha howled.

The howl rose and vibrated through his throat and body. It gave her a longing to be a part of a him. He howled again and there was an answering howl. She sat and howled with them. Their howls twined together. The sound burst from her body in waves of sound. She turned tail and ran back to the trailer. EJ urged her on. He ran behind her.
Then he leaped and landed on her back. They rolled together. She snapped at his paws, but he held her down. She could feel his body’s strength against her own. As soon as her let her up, she ran again only this time she jumped and rolled him. There was a chuff that sounded almost like a laugh. They rolled and marked each other until they were lying together. Then he mounted her.

Afterward, he licked her muzzle and she cuddled against him. But, her heart didn’t crack until he left for a moment and returned with a rabbit in his jaws. He laid it near her paws. She sniffed it and then bit. The crunching of the bones was satisfying. They were mates. She could feel EJ frantically trying to get her to get up and go back to the silver box.

The taste of bone, meat, and blood stayed in her mouth. She fell asleep cuddled against the Alpha. They would have beautiful pups together.

***

I woke with the sun in my eyes. I must have left the curtains open. I rubbed my eyes. That was an interesting dream last night. I was a wolf and I met an Alpha. I was not in my bed. I was not in the trailer. I sat up.

Naked. check. On the ground, not on a bed. check. A nude man next to her. check.

“How could you,” I slapped Adam awake. Of course it was Adam. I could feel a blush cover my entire body.

I went outside naked. Did I turn into a wolf? My mind burned with memories. All my wolf had to say was, yum.

I ate a raw rabbit. My wolf asked sleepily, “Why are you so mad?”

I tried to spit out the last of the fragments of that meal, but it was already digested. I remembered falling asleep curled around the Alpha.

Mate and pups corrected my sleeping wolf.

“No,” I said firmly. I didn’t need a mate and I certainly didn’t need pups.

Silver linings and Full Moons

Lone Tree Full Moon Until I turned 38, writing was an untapped secondary talent. I had been a typesetter and formatted a few novels, I had been a sales clerk in a men’s store, and I had been an electronics tech in the US Navy.

I was a poet and had been writing poetry since I was nine years old. It was more in the style of Robert Frost. So I was still an apprentice of poetry when I decided to finish my degree. After the first two classes at University of Maryland University College–European division (yes, they called it UMUC for short or running amok was the students’ favorite saying), I realized that I had a talent for organizing words on the page. I was writing two papers a semester for English literature and one paper for German History which helped me to finally became confident with my writing. While I was there, I published a lot of poetry and had my first short story published in Bibliophilos.

In these years I began studying different forms of poetry. I tried my hand at sonnets, haiku, villanelles, and other styles. I would read poetry from poets like Auden, Basho, and others. I would study what they did and how they phrased their ideas.

Then my style began to emerge. I learned to take the word “me” out of the poetry. I learned that when I was observing something and describing it, that I didn’t have to moralize. The reader would see what I had to say. or not. Sometimes they saw more than I did and sometimes less. It didn’t matter because when I wrote, my main goal was to evoke a feeling.

Then I became ill and my entire world changed.

When I wrote this poem, I was in a hospital bed and couldn’t move. My husband wrote it down for me as I dictated it to him. Even when I thought I was near the end, I was writing poetry. This is the poem.

Jesus Wept

Your tears well
down granite cheeks—

splash the curve
of your neck.

My tongue licks
the holy elixir.

Corn silk sprouts
at my feet.
I came back to a second life. It was a life where I had to fight for every memory and the ability to think. From 2003 to 2009, I wrote little sentences and paragraphs. I wrote for  Helium, a now dead online magazine. I started small and once again I had to learn how to think and to write. I learned plot and characters. It wasn’t as easy this time.

So here I am with a second life and with thyroid cancer, maybe I am embarking on a third life. I hope it is full of color.

Sidewalk art

Blue green, blue violet, carnation pink
lemon yellow, orange red, raw sienna
drawn and melted on the front sidewalk–

a masterpiece of childhood–
stick figures, block houses, round tree tops
four-leaf clovers, flowers, and yellow bees

I was caught crayon handed.

soap, tears, and scrub brushes
hands scraped and bleeding
the offending colors erased
She said: Next time use chalk

It was the last time I made
a mark on the world–

If you’d like to read more of my poetry, here is Outside my Window and Sonnet Playground.

I almost forgot A Flicker of Hope.

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.