Category Archives: writing

#FridayFragment: 06.12.2019

Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath: verso, showing oath. Via Wkimedia Commons.

The monster stared her in the face.
“I’m going to eat you up!” it growled.
She wrinkled her forehead.
“Why would you want to do that?”
The monster blinked. It took a deep breath.
“I’m going to eat you up!!” it roared.
“Yes, you mentioned,” the girl said. “But you’re not answering my question: Why?”
The monster rapidly batted its eyelashes. They were quite long, thick, and silky, the girl noticed. It opened its mouth.
“Don’t!” the girl said, holding up her hand. “If you’re going to say you’ll eat me up, just don’t. I’m getting tired of it.”
The monster shut its mouth with a snap and looked bewildered.
She put her hands on her hips and faced it.
“So, come on, answer me. Why do you want to eat me up?”
The monster gaped a few times like a goldfish.
“Be–because…” it said finally, in a voice that sounded suspiciously like a squeak.
“Thought as much,” the girl said with satisfaction. “You’ve never thought of anything better to do, have you?”
Almost unwittingly, the monster shook its great scaly head.
“All right,” she said. “Let’s work with this.”

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#CreateDaily

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It’s Kevan‘s fault. He just sent around a newsletter announcing a new project of his that began with a determination to “Create Daily” – in his case, write a blog post every day for the next year.

For some reason, that really struck me – “Create Daily”. Lends itself so well to hashtaggery. I had a lot of fun with #inktober this year, and of course right now it’s #NaNoWriMo, which you absolutely can’t get done unless you work on it every day or nearly every day while it lasts.

Having a motivation to do something every day is a good thing. So, Create Daily … something. Something small. YOU’RE ON, KEVAN!

But being an inveterate overthinker, I started ruminating about it. Do I really want to commit myself, in public, to do something like this? Every day? For a whole year? It’ll just create pressure again, performance tension. Which I need more of like I need a hole in the head.

And then I read something in Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly*: There’s one bit where she calls herself “a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enough-ist” (p.128). And a couple of pages later, she says that “one of the most effective ways to start recovering from perfectionism is to start creating” (p.135).

Put those two together, and you’ve got the perfect (haha) recipe for how to approach this #CreateDaily thing.

Because creating can itself very easily fall prey to perfectionism. If I say I’m going to create daily for a whole year, the first day that I don’t, I’ve blown it. Aaaack! Perfectionism trigger! But, if you apply good-enough-ism to it, you’ve nipped perfectionism in the bud.

So, I’m going to approach the #CreateDaily thing in the spirit of Good-enough-ism. Start here, right now. With small (very small) acts of creation; maybe every day, maybe not; for a while (I’m not going to give it a specific time limit). I’m not even going to call it a “project” – more of a “practice”.

I’m defining “creating” as “intentionally making something that wasn’t there before“. So here’s some things that might count:

-writing a small, not-very-polished blog post

-writing a fiction fragment of three sentences

-knitting a few stitches on my current project

-playing half a song on the guitar or recorder

-taking a photo with my phone

-taking a photo with my big camera

-writing two-and-a-quarter lines of a poem

-cooking a pot of soup

-spinning half a metre’s worth of yarn

-making something in clay

-doing a five-minute sketch or doodle

-baking a batch of brownies

-growing a seedling, or a tray of sprouts

-writing a letter…

Of course, there are also the “big” creative things, like working on a novel (I’m still in the throes of NaNoWriMo at the moment), organising an event, completing a knitting project, baking a fancy cake, etc. And there are a hundred other small creative things one could do (Making ink! From walnuts! Or making soap! Or writing a song! Or arranging pebbles in the backyard in a spiral! Or learning a new cat’s cradle pattern! Or…).

All of that counts. And perhaps, even, what might tie into it is the celebration of other people’s creativity, like going to an art show or a stage play, or listening to a wonderful piece of music, or applauding someone else’s short story, or appreciating a lovely piece of homemade cake accompanied by tea in a handmade pottery mug. Because almost invariably, when I see other people’s creativity, I’m inspired and propelled towards my own.

Which is exactly what happened when I read Kevan’s post. “Go ye and do likewise.” Create Daily.

Life, the Universe, and Creating Daily. Thanks, Kevan, I will.

*Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. New York: Penguin Random House, 2012.

**Another book that very much ties into this is Craftfulness: Mend Yourself By Making Things, by Arzu Tahsin and Rosemary Davidson, which I impulse-purchased this spring in the gift shop on the Vancouver Island ferry and have been living on ever since.

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#WordlessWednesday: #NaNoWriMo2019

Molly the Plot Bunny

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Death in a Brownstone

Brownstone - OFFENWANGER - Cover A. Bergloff

What if …

… there were seven brothers living in New York, and they took in a cousin of theirs who was having trouble with her stepmother …

… you just might end up with …

Death in a Brownstone!

… which is a fairy tale adaptation of mine that just got published in Enchanted Conversation Magazine’s August issue!

Here’s a taster:

There’s always one thing in a man’s life that he shudders to think of. If it hadn’t been for Milo, this would have been mine.

Milo is the little brother of Albert Zwergmann—him and me went to grade school together—and he was a klutz from the time he was little. He’d trip over rocks, he’d trip over the end of the teeter-totter, he’d trip over other kids’ book satchels or their legs—even the ones that weren’t stuck out on purpose—and if, by a miracle, there weren’t any of those around, he’d trip over his own big feet. During his first grade, almost every other day Albert had to pick him up out of the dirt, dust him off, wipe his nose, and send him home to Mama.

Well, Mama Zwergmann ain’t around anymore, and Milo is no longer a little klutz on the playground. Matter of fact, he’s six feet two and has broader shoulders than even Rufus, who’s the biggest of all the Zwergmann brothers. But he’s still a klutz—except when he gets his hands on some precious stones. Then all of a sudden he’s the most skilled of the lot. For almost a dozen years now, he’s done all the original design work for the business, and Zwergmann’s Jewelers has become a byword for the rings, bracelets, and fancy cuff links they put on the market.

Albert’s still the one who has to pick people up out of the dirt, though. That’s how they ended up with her—Whitney, I mean. She was their cousin. One day, Albert tells me, there she was, sitting on their front room sofa, looking like something the cat dragged in…

To keep reading, head on over to Enchanted Conversation Magazine!

 

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Introducing: STAR BRIGHT!!

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You didn’t think it was ever going to happen, did you? Well, it finally did! May I introduce (drummmm rollllllll):

STAR BRIGHT!

That’s right, Book 4 in The Septimus Series is now out for your reading pleasure!

What’s it about, you wonder? Well, there’s this guy called Jamie, and…

Be careful what you wish for on a star – you just might get it!

Jamie has no idea what he wants to do with his life, but being thrown into a whole other world is NOT on the list of options. Living in a magical medieval realm looks so much easier in a video game…

Fortunately, he meets Cat, who has been in this exact predicament herself, and Daarshan, a curiously clumsy guy who helps him navigate his new surroundings. Will they find a way to send Jamie back home? And just what is that mystery surrounding Daar?

Here’s a little preview of some of the first chapter:

CHAPTER 1

“Here, try some of this,” Kaden said, rattling a small plastic pill bottle at Jamie.

“What is it?” Jamie drained the mug he was holding and plopped it on the sales counter. Coke tasted weird when you drank it from a coffee cup—or maybe it was the combination of the tequila with the dregs of the rum bottle they had dumped in that gave it that odd flavour; Jamie wasn’t really sure. The tequila was all gone now too.

[…]

The cat purred, and he leaned into Jamie’s hand so hard he pushed it right into a stack of display boxes, toppling them over.

One of them fell on its side, the lid popping off. A couple of blue stones rolled out onto the counter. Yes, two—there were definitely two. Jamie only had to make a little bit of an effort to focus his eyes to see that there were two, not four, or maybe even si-six. The cat batted at them with his paw. They were round and smooth, a deep blue with a white pattern like a star in the centre. “Those are cool,” Jamie said, [and he] divided what was left of the coke between his mug and Kaden’s tumbler.

[…]

He morosely stared into his mug; the coke had only filled it a third of the way. “Is there anything to top this up with?”

“Lemme see,” Kaden said. He was rummaging around under the counter, and now emerged somewhat unsteadily. “Score! Check it out!” He triumphantly held up a turquoise glass bottle. […]

“Ah.” Jamie nodded. … The room started to wave up and down at the edge of his vision. He tipped his head back and forth, and the effect intensified. Pretty crazy. “So, what’s in that there thing?” he said, pointing his mug at the little pill bottle sitting beside the cash register.

“Oh, yeah, that,” Kaden said, “‘s just some pills. I think those things can give you a pretty wild trip; …” He popped the top off the pill container and shook two bright red tablets out onto his hand. “So, you up for this?” He tantalisingly waved his palm under Jamie’s nose.

“Not without something to wash it down,” said Jamie. He twisted the cap off the gin bottle, splashed a generous portion into his mug, and some into Kaden’s tumbler. Only a bit of it spilled on the counter. Not much at all. Probably no more than half a cup.

“You take the red pill,” Kaden intoned, “you stay in Wonderland…”

Jamie grabbed one of the pills from Kaden’s hand and stuck it into his mouth. “C’mon, you too!” he said around the tablet on his tongue.

Kaden followed suit, then raised his glass.

“…and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes!” they chanted in unison, clinking their cups together. They dumped the drinks down their throats, stared at each other for a moment and then burst into giggles.

“But what if I wanted the blue pill?” Jamie said. His head was spinning a bit—was that from the pill?

“S-sorry,” Kaden said, “n-no can do. You c-c-could try the s-st-stones, they’re b-bl-blue.” His eyes rolled back in his head, and he crashed to the floor behind the counter.

Jamie tried to lean over the counter to check if Kaden was okay, but then thought better of it. Too much spinning.

The cat, from his perch on the side counter, gave Jamie an inscrutable look, then reached out his paw and gently tapped the two blue stones, making them roll in Jamie’s direction.

Jamie looked at them. They seemed to almost give off a bit of a pulsing light. Blink, blink, blink… Kaden might have a point.

“But they’re stones, Crookshanks,” Jamie said, “not pills! You can’t swallow stones, nope, no siree.” He put down his empty mug and picked up the stones, one in each hand. He held them in front of his eyes—yes, he could still keep them in focus, yup, uh-huh—then held them out to the cat. … “Or maybe, maybe they’re magic, and you have to say a spell to make them work? Might be worth a shot.” The cat blinked, and Jamie made a face. “Yeah, you’re right—I don’t actually know any spells.” He stared at the stones whose white stars were twinkling at him from their shiny blue depths. And then he had an idea.

“Star light, star bright,” he chanted,

“First star I see tonight,

“I wish I may, I wish I might

“Have the wish I wish tonight!”

He giggled. Wishing. You had to make a wish. So he did, and then he moved the two stones in his fingers towards each other. Closer, closer, closer—and they touched.

Everything around Jamie started to swirl—a giant counterclockwise dance of blue light and colour whirled around him. He lost track of which way he was facing, of left and right and up and down, and then he no longer knew where he was at all.

What? Swirling blue light? Where have we heard that one before? Is he going to end up in …

But no, no spoilers. If you want to find out, get yourself over to your favourite ebook vendor and grab a copy! The paperback won’t be far behind; it’s already available on the US and European Amazon stores, and Amazon.ca should come online within a few days.

And that’s Life, the Universe, and STAR BRIGHT!

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#FridayFragment, 19.07.2019

Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath: verso, showing oath. Via Wkimedia Commons.

“No,” the dragon said, “it’s inadvisable. The rabble tends to get disturbed when I eat women.”

His face fell. “Are you sure? Not even a little nibble? I mean, I’m sure she’d be juicy and tender…”

The dragon licked his lips, then shook his head.

“Don’t tempt me. Also, she would probably be too sweet; not good for my blood sugar. My doctor has expressly forbidden middle-aged Mary Kay Consultants.”

“You have doctors?” he said with surprise.

“Of course,” the dragon replied.

“Sweetie!” trilled Marcia’s voice from outside the cave. “Where are you?”

Dragon and man both let out a sigh.

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#FridayFragment, 5.4.2019

Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath: verso, showing oath. Via Wkimedia Commons.

“I do not believe it,” the rabbit said, twitching his nose.

“Suit yourself then,” his wife replied, smacked her back legs against the ground and vanished into the burrow with a white flash of her tail.

“Do not believe what?” the prince asked politely.

“That there is a fo – fo-fo-fo-fo-fox!” the rabbit screeched, and after turning around in a few frantic circles, he too vanished down the burrow.

“Ah well,” the prince said, philosophically stroking his long whiskers with a forepaw. “There goes another lunch. One of these days, my manners are going to be the death of me.”

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