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.

Tomorrow is another day

dragonboy2016 Yesterday, I finally had some brain space and energy to get back to the book I have been writing for the last year. I made a goal to write at least four books this year. I completed the first draft on two and am finally finishing the editing on one. It’s been a busy year.

So with no further ado or complaints I am leaving an excerpt of Dragon Boy here. As for the rest, well the proof is in the pudding as my grandfather used to say. I hope to get this out to Beta readers by the beginning of next year.

Dragon Boy:

Chapter Twenty-One (part 2)

Dragon Cave
Michael Ordson

In all the drama, Michael had been forgotten by the participants. He didn’t mind. This was a good time to explore the hallways, the kitchens, the rooms, libraries, and even the dungeons if there was one. He whistled a little as he walked down the passageways, rubbing his right hand against the wall. Someone had taken the time to smooth the walls. Little rocks embedded in the walls had that smooth polished feeling.

If the lights were off and he held a lantern to them, the rocks would sparkle. He looked at the lights at the ends of the hall. They were nothing like what he saw in the real world. In the world they used candles, fires, and torches for lights. Some of the candles were made with pork fat and other animal fat, which made dark scorch marks on the walls. Here the lanterns were enclosed, they didn’t smell like pork or even sulfur. He had no idea what magic made the lighting possible. He had heard of people using whale fat and even that noxious gas that game out of the ground for light. But here under the mountain in the land of the dwarfs, they had some magic that wasn’t in the human world.

Off the passageway he found personal rooms and suites. When he walked into one found a young dwarf busy cleaning and polishing. He apologized for opening the door, but she just glanced down and continued her duties.

He turned left at one of the many forks. When he reached the end of the passageway, he found a wall. Something had been walled up here recently. Michael could feel the undine in small form holding on to his hair, her cold feet on his neck. He put his ear against the wall and listened. He didn’t understand why he wanted to explore further past the wall. There were no cries, just a heavy silence.

A dwarf touched his shoulder and Michael jumped. Michael expected a scolding or scowl for walking away from the others. When he had been left alone, it had been too good a chance to explore.

But the dwarf wasn’t scowling. He smiled, the smile on a dwarf is a terrible thing. There mouths are made for sternness. Still Michael felt a little better that the dwarf had made an effort.

“You are Michael, beloved of dragons,” said the dwarf.

“Beloved?” Michael’s voice rose a little. He did not expect this from the dwarf.

“For the service you did Davi a few months ago.”

That time was hazy for Michael, but he didn’t want to press the issue. The dwarf was inclined to help him. He could tell by the smile and how the dwarf’s eyes sparkled.

Michael changed the subject, “So what is behind this wall.”

“That is where the dragonlings are kept. The ones changed by the grimoire and the black mage.”

Michael shuddered at the memory of the small inn with misshapen children that had been eating their parents for sustenance. It had been a gruesome scene and one he didn’t want to remember.

“Why is it walled up?” asked Michael.

“They are feral,” said the dwarf. “They have to be tamed and civilized. When they are not in the training pits, they are fed and then put in the cells. It will take years, maybe hundreds of years to help them. They are tainted.”

“Show me,” said Michael.

The dwarf took him back to the fork in the tunnel, then another turn then a right, right, left. They were in front of a big door that was made of metal. No one could take that door down. Michael admired the work that had gone into making such a monstrosity.

The dwarf pulled out a key and opened the door. Michael followed behind him until they reached the cells. The dragonlings were already in their cells, they were in half-dragon half-human form and were taking big chunks out of their food.

“Do they speak?” asked Michael. He looked at each one. They were branded on his heart, the shapes, the grunts, and how they tore into the raw meat. They were animals without souls.

“No,” said the dwarf. “The change affected their minds. We still don’t know if they will be more than just feral beings.” The dwarf sighed. “The dragons have so few children that they cannot destroy these little ones. It would hurt too much.”

None of these dragonlings were little to Michael. Most of them towered above him in their cells. One of them noticed Michael. It roared and shook it bars. It had enjoyed the taste of human flesh and wanted more.

“And this one?” Michael pointed to the dragonling who had noticed him.

“That one will die soon,” the dwarf said sorrowfully. “It will not learn any of the commands and has tried to kill most of its trainers. He just sits in this cell. We have to force him back with fire sticks so that we can leave him food. It is only a matter of days.”

Michael felt pity well up in him. It was not this little one’s fault that he had been changed and tainted. “Is there a way to cleanse them?” The dwarf looked surprised, but when he tried to answer, Michael said, “No, the undine.”

“Undine,” the dwarf repeated Michael’s words. He looked confused.

The undine crawled out of her hiding place and looked into Michael’s eyes. She  tapped into his deepest emotions and he let her in as far as she wanted. He had felt pity for these children, but with the emotions amplified by the undine’s touch, tears streamed down his cheeks.

Michael walked closer to the dragonling whose long arms forced through the bars of the cell was trying to grab and rip him to pieces.

The tears continued, fell on the ground, and became a living stream that flowed towards the dragonling. The tears touched his toes. The dragonling stomped in the water and screamed. Michael could hear the scream of human and dragon mixed.

The tears flowed upward from its toes to its head. The screams became more terrified and the dragonling fell on the ground of the cell. Michael’s sorrow increased. He could see that the taint was so buried into the dragonling that the tears might kill him.
Behind him the dwarf chanted, When the tears reached the dragonlings heart, it stopped.

“Is it dead?” Michael could see the tears clean the taint from his head.

There was silence as the dragonlings in other cells quit eating and watched the spectacle. There was a huge gasp from the downed being and it began to breath. The dwarf pulled out a key and rushed into the cell. He wrapped the dragonling in a blanket, held and crooned to him. Michael backed away and left them alone.
The undine pulled out a small glass bottle and captured a few of the tears. Then she leaped into Michael’s hair again. “What just happened?” he asked the undine.

“You cleansed me,” she said, “with the help of the clear stream. I thought that you could help the boy.”

“But isn’t it woman’s magic?” He sounded surprised. The undine laughed, clear bright and joyful.

“No, it is your magic,” she said. Soon they were in the passageways where most of the dwarfs were walking. He could smell cooking food so went in that direction. His stomach grumbled.

 

Writing and Ritual

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From Pixabay

I started out life as a poet. I wrote my first poem at 9 years old. It was later as I got older and realized that I tapped into someplace other than my conscious mind that I began these little rituals to focus my mind on writing.

People outside the field of writing like to call these rituals –superstitions. However, writers are not the only ones who have rituals. You see it in sports and other endeavors that take the person past the normal world.

So I used to turn on some music, light a candle, place my favorite pen next to the computer, and then write. These little actions would tell my mind that it was time to dip into the subconscious and write poetry or tell stories.

Each time I did this, the ritual would help my mind to open wider. Since I have written regularly, I quit this ritual or maybe it slipped back into my subconscious. There are so many things in the “real” world that distract–illness, daily chores, and even electronic devices. I have to admit that the internet and TV are two of my main time wasters when it comes to writing. So lately, as I hit a very dry spell in my writing, I knew that I needed to resurrect my ritual.

In the background I hear “Carry on my Wayward Son” by Kansas. I carved a few symbols on my white candle and lit it. My favorite pen is near my elbow. I am now ready to write.

Just gazing into the candle, I go to another place.

The Quickening

At this time I am in the last quarter of Dark Moon Rising, the second EJ Hunter book. There were a lot of stops and starts for a couple of years on this book, however, all of a sudden this morning, while I was writing a thousand words, I started to see what was coming next.

The first draft will be done by next week. I have a third story in this series, but before I write it, I want to finish a small novella from the EJ Hunter world called Diamond Butterfly.

dragonboy2016 As for Dragon Boy, I have not started the second draft, which will pull the story together, discover the plot holes, and add descriptions.

I was lucky to find the image last week for the cover art. So here is the cover for Dragon Boy. The image was created “by Mel” and I am so fortunate that I can use it for my cover.

So this is the State of the Writer. Even with a cold and now I think it is extended because of allergies, I have continued writing. I want to have this story out this year.

My sincere gratitude to the excellent digital artists on the ‘net. Without them my covers would be a lot worse.