Posted in Challenges and Contests, Coffee and Conversation, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, Story a Day May Challenge, Weekend Coffee Share, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

June Gear Shift for #weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, you might just find me scratching my head and saying, “Wow – June seems to be flying by!’ I may also be scratching my head and staring around me in stark befuddlement….

Or, more likely, I’m at my laptop. I’m finished with #StoryADay May, other than StoryFest this weekend – I’ll tell you more about that a bit later in the post – and I’m about a third of the way through the #JuNoWriMo Challenge (think a more freeform version of NaNoWriMo).

But here I go, putting the conversation before the coffee again. I have a tendency to do that when my mind is busy, and I’m deeply involved in something….or when I have a new passion. Please do come in, sit down, make yourself at home. It’s cold and rainy today (I’m typing this on Tuesday), but it’s snug here in the house, if none too tidy.

That goes hand in hand with my busyness of the mind and overall sense of distraction.

I know, I know. I’m rambling. Haven’t slept much the last couple of days. My sleep/wake cycle seems to be influenced strongly by the moon, and there are a couple of days most months when I don’t actually sleep at night; just take a catnap or two during the course of the late morning/early evening hours. You’re catching me after the second night…and I’m more than a little bit tired.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not welcome. I’ve got a wide variety of teas, coffee, lemonade, and an assortment of snacks. Please, help yourself.

So, in addition to my marketing and revision classes, I’m also still refining my Accomplice’s labels, and now taking a more professional approach to the business side of my writing career. I’ve gotten very efficient at producing first drafts, adequate and gaining skills at plotting, and I’m making strides with revision – which means the only remaining obstacles to publication are production and marketing.

I like to start learning things before I specifically need them, so I’m making an internal shift toward those things. As time goes by, I expect to be putting more of my energy into them.

And that’s a bit of where my JuNoWriMo effort fits in. This year, instead of writing fiction for a third straight month, I’m drafting blog posts (including this one). When I’m in a place of creative intensity, I tend to get too absorbed in the project at hand to focus on writing new posts – or even reblogging older ones. Also, since I’ve been deeply engaged with fiction projects for the past two months, I’m in need of a bit of a breather – a changing of the gears, so to speak.

So I’m using my breather productively to create a blog pool. I’ll use some of the time to get back into the rhythm of my weekly blog schedule, which was abandoned somewhere along the middle of April, and really hasn’t been seen in anything more than the barest glimpses since.

But the rest will become my rough draft inventory, to be revised, polished, and packaged for later consumption.

For the first time, I will have a substantial stock of material ready to develop; once the month is finished, dedicating to a few hours a week of maintenance and replenishment should keep me in good shape. August brings another month without a major challenge, so I’ll use that for developing and finishing posts and ideas.

I think I’m onto something here, and it’s making me very happy.

Oh, I almost forgot!

This weekend is StoryFest – the “virtual recital” of the StoryADay May Challenge. If you’re a fan of short fiction, stop by the homepage anytime before Monday morning (EST), and enjoy a nibble, or a buffet, including my 1,100 word story, “Broken.” Writers write for readers to read! =D

There’s probably a lot more I could say, but I feel like I’ve been talking your ears off already, figuratively. Now I’d just like to sit here quietly and sip my drink while you tell me what’s been going on with you. If my eyes start to drift closed, feel free to just leave your cup on the table. I’ll get to it….later.

As you venture out on your way, I wish you a week that’s filled with all the joy you can imagine – and then a little more!

This post is part of the #weekendcoffeeshare, hosted by #nerdinthebrain. Clicking the link will take you to more conversations – and please leave a comment in the box below, because it’s not a very good conversation if I’m the only one talking. =)

Posted in Uncategorized

I’ll Admit It…#SoCS and StoryFest for June 10, 2017


Okay, I’ll admit it. I really don’t have any idea what I’m going to write. It’s a full moon, and it’s been nearly a week since I’ve had a regular night’s sleep.

Things are a bit off-kilter this week, and, despite trimming back my monthly goals significantly. I’m feeling like I’m going in way too many directions at the same time, and the result is that I’m feeling a bit mired and at a standstill.

Also, my Accomplice isn’t feeling well. He hurt his back at work earlier in the week, while doing some heavy lifting, then he mowed the lawn. The pollen count was quite high, and he’s a transplanted West Coaster with no native immunity to our allergens. He’s also dealing with an upset stomach, and chills….

So there’s just an “up in the air” feeling here. Even my phone apparently agrees – my health app doesn’t show my 3.07 mile walk with my daughter, despite running the entire program and giving me the proper end-of-run cues. So it’s telling me that I missed a scheduled workout, despite logging the time spent in the activity.

I’ll admit it. That’s frustrating. I was working toward a perfect record, but I’d have to do five miles tomorrow to finish the week with my schedule full- and I don’t think I quite have the fortitude for that…even if I felt I could spare the time.

You see, the homeschool reports are due in five days, and I’ve barely started them. That means there must be time devoted to that legal requirement during the next few days. I’ll admit that I’m not exactly looking forward to that dull, dry, largely lifeless writing…but it’s the law, and the price of our getting to live a live that fulfills each of us.

I’ve finally, after what seems like a huge amount of learning, frustration, experimentation, and more failure than I was hoping for, managed to create a label prototype my Accomplice loves. There are still a couple of minor changed to make, but I’ve topped the wall on that one, and now I have a template we can adapt for all of his sauce flavors….

I’ve also managed to get my story revised for the #StoryADay May StoryFest, which is this weekend. I polished up my Kifo Island story, “Broken” after submitting it to the mini-critique group, where I garnered good suggestions, great insights, and some favorable response.

If you’d like to read my story, and/or other short stories, head over to the StoryADay site. The StoryFest posts will be on the front page all weekend – read one, read all, read somewhere in between. It’s up to you – but writers love feedback, and to know people are reading our words. Won’t you make a writer happy this weekend?

I’ll admit it – that was a rather shameless plug.

On that note, I’m going to admit defeat. I never really found a cohesive thread in this post – but I did add another 500 words to my #JuNoWriMo word count, so there’s that.

I’m tired, and I’m thinking about admitting myself to dream-land.

This post is a part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “admit,” used any way we want. Find the rules of engagement here, and take a dip in the stream here.

Want to join the conversation? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. When have you felt mired? Do you have strategies to move through and past it? Your ideas just might be what someone else needs to get out of a stuck place, so feel free to share!

Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Kifo Island Chroincles, Parenting, Short Stories, Story a Day, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

“Broken (Revised)” for StoryFest 2017

 

 

“Put it back on! Put it back on!” Marilyn squeezes her eyes closed, claps her hands over them. She isn’t going to open them again until Ophelia puts the cap back on and hides the evidence.

“Marilyn, put your hands down and look at your daughter. You can’t hide from her.” There is something in Ophelia’s tone that Marilyn latches onto. It’s a distraction; she won’t have to think about how childish she looks like this, covering her eyes so she won’t see the baby girl.

“You aren’t my mother!”

“No. But you are hers.”

Damn! She fell right into the trap. Ophelia is good enough at that to actually be someone’s mother.

“She’s a broken doll – ”

“No. She’s a living being. She’s going to die soon – and she deserves to be seen by her mother while she’s still alive.”

Ophelia’s wrong. This isn’t a baby. Not a living being. Not really. Marilyn doesn’t want to look at the shattered places, or  the gaping hollow where a brain should be, but isn’t. It’s too much like Mom’s huge hollow house, and the gaping hole where her parents’ love never was.

It’s like a symbol of the hollowness inside her.

Would anything be different if Ophelia was this baby’s mother?

“Marilyn.”

Damned Ophelia, not letting her hide, not giving up on her. How the hell did she get to be so stubborn,or so strong?

Marilyn knows the answer to that.

She has a mother who loves her. A mother who stays alive, and does the things a mother is supposed to do for her child.

Marilyn has a baby now. That makes her a mother.

The mother of a nameless, broken baby girl.

Marilyn is broken too – not with a skull that has a hole in it, and no brain inside…no. Not like that. But she’s no less broken.

Sometimes broken doesn’t show. Sometimes, people hide it under long sleeves.

“Marilyn. It’s time to look at your daughter, and face this. That’s why we’re  here, after all.”

Marilyn doesn’t argue. There’s no point. Ophelia takes her wrists and applies pressure upward. Gentle, but firm and relentless, just like this strange half-sister who is at least half a mother.

And more of a mother than Marilyn can ever remember having. She lets Ophelia guide her up, and to the side of the little clear plastic bassinet where her sister has taped pictures and notes – stupid, to do that for a baby who is blind, deaf, and has nothing to see or hear or think with. That slices at her insides, but Ophelia isn’t going to let her loose until she looks. Marilyn doesn’t want to think about what’s waiting when she does.

“Let’s count to three, then it’s time to put down your hands and open your eyes. See her, hold her, and give her a name. Then we can put the cap back on.”

She isn’t going to give up. Marilyn pretends she’s high, so swaddled in heroin’s warm blissful hug that everything – even this – is only a dream,  and  they count together.

“Three.”

Ophelia isn’t going to give up. Marilyn knows that.  She  pens her eyes, and glances at the places where there’s no skull, and emptiness stares up at her. It helps to focus on the perfect tiny face, and pretend it really is just a doll.  She doesn’t say so, because Ophelia will try to force her to see a real live baby.

Marilyn looks, but she won’t let herself feel. Not even when she holds the little warm bundle.

She used to have lifelike baby dolls – that’s all this is. A toy.

“Time to give her a name, Marilyn.”

“Damned nosy kid.” She just wants Ophelia off her back. Out of her face.

“That would make a lousy name. You can do better.”

She tries to think of something – anything to get Ophelia to  shut the hell up and let Marilyn keep the fantasy that smooths out the hurts and fills the empty places.

There’s a lavender band around the edge of the blanket, and on the cuffs of the baby’s sleeper. She thinks that reminds her of something, but she can’t remember what. It doesn’t matter. It’s an answer.

“Lavender. Her name is Lavender.”

Maybe it will be enough to make Ophelia leave her alone, so she can escape into her dream-world again. She only needs a few minutes alone –

“Miss Morgan?”

Marilyn knows the doctor’s voice; she has an unmistakable accent. Warm and soft, like the gauzy feeling after shooting up. But now, there’s something darker lacing it, like poison,  and Marilyn holds the broken doll of a baby close, rocking it. She won’t turn to look at the doctor. She’s just a little girl with her toy. Nothing else.

It doesn’t stop the next words from shattering her fantasy.

“She can’t live much longer than another day or two. Her breathing is failing. I know you haven’t been ready till now, but the donation papers need to be signed before she dies, if her organs are going to have the maximum positive impact -”

“I need to use the bathroom.” Marilyn stands up too fast; her head seems to take longer than the rest of her. She presses the baby – Lavender – toward her sister; Ophelia opens her arms, cooing senselessly to the blind deaf brainless little thing. She doesn’t look suspicious, and the doctor doesn’t know Marilyn well enough to guess she’s planning her escape.

She grabs her purse and leaves them there. She can feel her heroin kit through the denim.

Maybe it’s wrong. She’s a mother now. But Marilyn has to get away from here. Somewhere with no broken baby daughters, no broken places in herself, no papers to sign and pieces of her doll given to all the mothers of all those other broken baby dolls, because those ones could be fixed, but hers was broken forever –

She remembers Brad. This is his broken baby doll, too, but he left her here alone with it the same night they made it. He’s gone forever – safe.  Just like she wants to be.

She goes into the ladies’ room, all the way to the far stall. She caresses the shape of her kit with one hand while latching the door closed with the other. She can almost feel the gauziness waiting for her, calling to her.

Brad escaped into the gauziness forever.

Marilyn sits down, opens the purse, and pulls out her kit.

She can escape, too.