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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Valkyries and Night Demons - Writing to the Prompts

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1425 October 28, 2016
When everyone turns 25 years old they are assigned either a Demon or an Angel based on karma, however ,you are assigned a Valkyrie? What happened, how did you luck out or not?

Distant bells brought Nora back from a sleep so dream-filled she felt exhausted despite her more than twelve hours of slumber. She dragged herself up, shaking her head to rid it of the remnants of last night's mind magic. She hated the nights of dreams, the vivid parade of images and mishmash of hyphenated story lines that always left her strangely restless and discontent the whole day. Nora hated that she always felt obligated to sort through her brain's deluge, looking for hidden messages and directives, unable to ever qualify the dreams as simply a brain dump. She padded into the small kitchen only to find the coffee maker had failed to follow its program and the pot sat empty, taunting her with the lack of hot java. Nora groaned dramatically and flipped the switch.

"Brew bitch!" she commanded, just as her phone began to vibrate with an incoming call.

Nora looked at the clock, barely 6am...right on time....

Her sister Gretchen had started singing before she even got the phone up to her ear. Her younger sister belted through her own uninhibited version of "Happy, Happy Birthday" as she had done every year since Nora had moved away from home. Gretchen finished on a high note that sent her roommates into a chorus of howls and barks. Gretchen lived with a small menagerie of creatures that included three huskies and a old basset hound. Nora waited while her sister quieted the dogs.

"So, big sis is 25 today - how's it feel? Any big plans?" Gretchen asked.

"Same and yesterday and no, nothing planned outside of Chinese takeout and a bottle of wine later. Its been brutal at work, worked every day this week until 8," Nora admitted.

"You wanted to be big city mouse sis...hope its worth it!" Gretchen chided.

After a few more minutes of sisterly banter, Nora signed off and headed to the shower. She emerged, wrapped in her last clean towel, to find the woman standing in her bedroom. Nora screamed, falling back onto to her butt in the carpet, losing her towel. The woman was a tall platinum blonde with amazonian proportions and gun metal gray eyes. She was dressed in a copper armor that hugged her curves and gleamed in the dim light of Nora's room. Stunned into silence, Nora backed away, tugged the towel over her body and pressed herself back against the wall.

The woman smiled, but there was no warmth in it. She crossed the room in two strides and stood over Nora. She bent forward until her chin was nearly touching the top of Nora's head.

"I'm the Valkyrie called Melania. I've been assigned to you. I will have your back in battle until you die. Then I will deliver your soul to Valhalla."

Her heart beating so hard it hurt, Nora could only stammer, "but I'm a paralegal", weakly.

The Valkyrie stood. She shook her shoulders and great black wings unfolded, seeming to swallow all the free space in the room. Nora felt the scream and covered her mouth with her hands. Melania smiled, a fraction less coldly, and extended a hand toward Nora. When Nora was on her feet, Melania folded her great wings away again.

"People in your bloodline usually get demons, a few get the occasional angel but in the rarest of circumstances, they get a Valkyrie. The fact I've been assigned to you means you are destined to be much more than a paralegal Nora. It means you will be a warrior and I will fight beside you until your death. You will die hard but well and I will deliver your soul to eternal rest". Melania delivered this news flatly, without drama.

Nora felt the blackness well up behind her eyes and the world shift under her bare feet.

"Good thing this one didn't get a demon," Melania said, catching Nora before she hit the ground.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 963 October 28, 2016
Do you agree or disagree with this statement. "When you wake up at 2-3am without any reason there is an 80% chance someone is staring at you!" Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and felt you weren't alone? Tell us about it.
(not counting your other halves)

Red digital digits blinked back at Stevie from the gloom. It was 3:04 am and she was, inexplicably wide awake. The tiny hairs on the nape of her neck seemed to be standing on edge and her forearms were prickled with gooseflesh. "Someone is here," the thought came, rushing into her mind with a frightening clarity.

Stevie sat up, peered into the darkness at the foot of the bed. She tried to coach a shape from the inkiness there. She snapped her eyes to the open doorway of the bedroom, half expecting to see a shadow lurking there but it was vacant, just an empty doorway with only darker space beyond it. She swung her legs out of bed, shivering as her bare feet made contact with the cold oak floors. Stevie reached for the side lamp, switching it on. An arch of weak light cut into the darkness, driving it back a few feet.

Stevie crossed to the door, walking out onto the landing, turning the light on as she moved. The landing was suddenly flooded with light. The bright overhead bulbs illuminated the small space, the bookshelf and easy chair in the corner, the top of the carpeted stairwell and thing crouching low on the first step. It raised its head, partially covered by one of its gray arms, and hissed at Stevie. It struggled to back down the stairs, attempting to move away from the reach of the light.

Stevie felt her insides lurch at the same time her battle weary mind engaged the age-old language. The ancient tongue came back to her as it always did, rolling off her tongue. The thing on the stairs stopped moving and stared back at her with a sharp, new interest. Stevie sank to her knees on the landing, reciting the words that would call it to her. The thing began to rise and creep closer. As it moved into the light, Stevie saw with some dismay that this was a new breed. She would need more than the old prayers this time.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Voting Ills, The Unnecessary and the Ever Joyful Autumn

The prompts blink back at me from my inbox....and my thoughts just won't come together clearly. There is something else in the way this morning. This morning I feel as if I am still processing my thoughts after the second presidential debate. To be more accurate, I believe that I am still trying to justify my ever-solidifying departure from the republican party.

I am the daughter of a staunch Conservative and a registered Republican since I was of legal age to cast my vote. Though I disagreed with some of the party's platforms, overall I felt aligned with the party that I always considered more evenly represented those values and liberties granted us by the Constitution of the United States. For me, the Republican Party was always that shining architect of the "American Dream", the voice of the patriotic nation. Over this last year, there have been many things that have caused me to question my perceptions and ultimately, my allegiance...none more so than the current Republican nominee. For me, Trump is someone deeply unappealing. Despite giving him numerous opportunities, he has failed to show me he is anything more than an egoistical, tempermental nine year old with a limited understanding of the issues and an unwillingness to accept the advice and expertise of people who truly know and understand those issues best. When I have been longing to hear his positions and policies, he has delivered rambling, nearly incoherent babble or repeated stale rhetoric. When I have wanted him to take the high road, he has chosen mud. When I have looked to him to unite and inspire, he has isolated and divided. When I have waited for him to steer my chosen party into back into the white house, he has made the personal choice to drive it off the rails. When I had so wanted to rally behind my party, he has made me question my very loyalty to it.

I understand that this election isn't just about how unlikely each of the nominees are. I understand it has far reaching consequences for the future of the supreme court and the potential impact on the down ticket, state and local government races. I also know that Hillary Clinton represents a continuation of the Obama administration. I fully understand that she is a corrupt politician and habitual liar protected by the media. I understand that she has committed grievous, possibly even criminal acts and that is in in all likelyhood, a terrible person. I am fully and completely aware that she is also undeserving of the honor of being our Commander in Chief. I understand all that and yet I am still struggling. Coming out of this second debate, I am even more perplexed and concerned about casting my vote.

Abstaining all together is not an option. Women have worked too hard and sacrificed too much for me to defile and minimize them by throwing away my hard-won right to vote. I will vote on election day and I have always done. I will take my daughter with me. I will be an example for her. It is a civic duty to vote, even when our options are so desperately limited. I will cast my vote and wear that sticker proudly. I know this with certainty, even as I find myself at such a complete loss as to whom that vote will go to.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 945 OCTOBER 10th, 2016
Prompt: “It has taken me quite a few years to realize the fact that most of the thoughts in my head are not necessary.”
― Bert McCoy. My question is, how can anyone chase away those unnecessary thoughts? Do you have any ideas?

As a writer, my initial response would be that there are no unnecessary thoughts. I would say that I subscribe to the idea that all thought is purposeful. Still, on closer examination, I can admit that some thoughts should be chased away for the good of the organism. Thoughts that are negative, those that would promote self doubt. It is remarkable easy to give in to thoughts that deliver us to dark places. It is easy to reason ourselves to failure when we dwell on bad thoughts. I am guilty of leading myself down a spiral staircase and sometimes I spent too many days in the land of "poor me" before I snap myself out of it. It takes a concentrated effort sometimes to remind oneself of what is really important, to shift focus to the positive. I chase away unnecessary thoughts by trying to remember who I am and what is really of core importance to me. I think about those things that I am thankful for, those things I hold dear. When you realize how precious little in life truly matters, its easier to clear out the trash and noise.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1425: October 10, 2016
Prompt: Write about October.

October is a time of year that recharges me. I love everything about the Fall, and October is pretty much the gateway to that favorite season for me. Apple season officially opens and we spent a lot of afternoons picking the fruit at our local orchard, taking photos in the pumpkin patches and snacking on crispy sweet fried apple donuts and sweet cider. We chase away the chills with autumn scented candles and crackling fires. We spend time outside wrapped in cozy sweaters. We love taking in all the changing colors, the bright sunshine and vivid blue skies. I have a colossal old maple tree in the year and I love it when it covers the black paved driveway in a blanket of deep red leaves. I love the frenzied pulse of Fall, that crush toward the busy holiday season when the world is bustling and dynamic. Then there is Halloween, the October's penultimate celebration, when everyone remembers the delight in things that go bump in the night. Last Halloween, my daughter got to trick or treat, country style, transported from one festive street to the next via a tractor towed, hay-covered wagon. Her hands grew numb and cold but she was electrified with the excitement and joy. October is always a time of year we all enjoy.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Storm Warnings and the Lure of the Romantic

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1423 October 7, 2016
Storm preparations are necessary, what do you do to prepare?

In my part of the world we are largely sheltered from major weather disturbances, with the last major hurricane impacting us in any significant way back in 2005. We are lucky here in New England in that way. We can, however see our share of snow.  Recent years had brought storms that left us with resistant mountains of blacked snow marring our parking lots and driveways well into Spring. The running joke is that under the threat of snow, we all rush out to stock up on bread and milk...or in my case, wine and cheese. In the event that they are forecasting a major storm, we do try to make sure we've got enough candles and batteries and food that doesn't need to be cooked. We charge up the laptop and cell phones and in the case of a more substantial threat, we would fill up the bathtub with water and stack extra wood inside for the fireplace. We live in a more urban location however, on the same power grid as the hospital, so sustained power outages are rare. During a recent winter storm that brought ice and nearly ten inches of snow, we passed a long weekend inside cuddled under blankets with the fireplace raging away. It was actually very pleasant, all of us together with no work or school...a snow day for the entire family. It wasn't easy to take the dog out but other than that, it was an unexpected and welcomed break.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 493 October 7,2016
Who said romance has to be boring? Discuss your favorite romance story.

Romance had never been a genre I read much other than the required text of Romeo and Juliet. It is hard for me to buy into romance. I think I am likely a bit jaded in that department. There are great romances through history, great stories both fictional and real life and I'm sure if I thought about it, I would find at least one that inspires me. At the moment, I'm drawing a blank which is both disappointing but not unexpected.

I do not spend a lot of time thinking about romance. Even when I write erotica, I'm not sure if my pieces would be considered romantic in nature. It is not something that comes naturally to me. It is not that I consider romance boring, more that I find more...impractical maybe? To me romance is flower petals strewn down a hallway, a long tandem bubble bath, poetry readings and all manner of other things that seem lovely but have little application in my real life. My husband and I are lucky to squeeze in a rare date night that doesn't end with falling asleep on opposite sides of our sleeping daughter. The pace of life for working parents, in my experience, dictates that we be more literal with our demands and more practical with our expectations about romance and intimacy. It would be very difficult for me to read a romance novel without feeling like it was the stuff of fairy realms and unicorns. The prompt today asked me for something more so I will reach a bit farther out for the sake of challenging myself...

If there was one book, one romantic story that stayed with me, I would have to say it would be Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. There was something about it that was so vivid and touching. The relationship between Jacob and Marlena seemed to grow in a way that seemed credible, if a bit star-crossed. The thing I liked so much is that is sustained itself, stayed true to itself. Their love became a thing that carried them forward through their lives without pretending to always be glitzy and pretty. It was a love that fortified them without stripping away their individuality. They were always very much themselves, with their pasts and their scars, but they were also two people who found love and built a wonderful life around it.

Romance isn't for everyone, but some people do manage to make it part of their lives. I commend them and find that perhaps I am also a bit envious of them too.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Red Sky Warning and the Power of True Love's Kiss

 "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 942 October 6, 2016
Prompt: Red skies at night, a sailor's delight. Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. How does this apply to your life?

Living in New England, barely twenty minutes from the shore, you hear this refrain a lot growing up. My grandmother would say this. As kids we would repeat it to ourselves each time we witnessed that red, glowing sunset painted across the horizon. On some summer evenings those beautiful hues of reds and pinks would stretch out before us, the indelible promise of calms seas and clear nights. If one woke to that same vermilion sky in the morning however, it was said to be a harbinger of rough weather and dangerous seas. Truth be told, I have no idea how reliable that system is or how routed it is in actual scientific logic, if at all. There is always something ominous about a blood red morning skyline. I think its possible sometimes to feel the approach of something malicious. I think you feel it in your bones sometimes, that creeping sense of something bad approaching, with or without the benefit of a threatening sky to warn you.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1422 October 6, 2016
You have the ability to make people fall in love with you, but only after you kiss them/ What creative way are you going to get that kiss that doesn't make you sound like a crazed fanatic? Knowing you have this power, would you kiss more than one person?

True love's kiss sounds a lot like the stuff of myth and legend. In much the same way, the power to obtain someones love and devotion by merely kissing them seems to be like a wasted super power. Why? Why would you ever want love to be that easy? How much value does love have when it comes so effortlessly to us? The best loves in my life have been hard won and have been steeped in heartbreak. How else can we appreciate the true gift of love unless we flight and bleed for it first? And that first kiss, isn't that always the one we remember? That kiss can be pure magic, whether it comes awkwardly, as a total surprise or just as we had dreamed about it for hours or weeks before it happens. Here is the truth, life is hard and if love comes without a price, without a fight, it likely won't survive the rigorous task of time. I think its far better for someone to fall in love with me over time than to become suddenly enamored. Love is best when it unravels slowly, revealing more and more about itself as we experience things. I believe it takes some time to realize how much you love someone, and that's perfectly okay with me. I'd rather it take its time after all, I'm not waiting for it to save me from a deep, dark, death like sleep.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Garlic Muffins for a New Friend and the Literary Artisan

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1421: October 5, 2016
Prompt: Random words: garlic, invite, bitter,tower, evade, abrasive, brooch, promote

Note: I find these random word prompts very challenging, they are like aerobics for my brain. Sometimes I feel as if I nail them, other times I churn out something more mediocre (like the entry below) but in both cases I think the exercise is good for me. It keeps me thinking, reaching which is never a bad thing.

Elsa fingered the heavy brooch at her neck. The mother of pearl was cold and solid under her fingertips. Its presence comforted her. It had been a family heirloom and she had worn it faithfully since her grandmother had pressed it into her palm as she expired. She promised Elsa it was a powerful talisman for protection and so far it had proven to be effective time and time again. Elsa stepped off the porch of the old Victorian and into the night. The darkness swallowed her as she turned her back on the lights of her family home. Walking deliberately forward, Elsa looked up at the dark tower that pierced the inky horizon.

She slipped her hand into the pocket of her cloak and felt the crisp invite she had received from her cousin two days ago. Until a month or so ago, she and her cousin Renfield had been very close, more like siblings. He had always stopped in on his way home from work to have tea with her. Renfield was warm and chatty, disclosing even the most mundane details of his day and pausing only to pull her toddling daughter into his lap for a cuddle. Then, two weeks ago Renfield's visits had become more erratic, his jovial behavior turning more abrasive and bitter. He talked about the "disease of man" and wanted to discuss the many ways he had been mistreated and unappreciated. It was as if something had happened that suddenly ostracized him from everyone. When Elsa had pressed him for an answer, Renfield had done everything to evade the question. Then, that last visit, when her daughter had wandered into the kitchen for her customary hug, Renfield had recoiled from her pink, outstretched arms and rushed for the door. Elsa had watched him flee, dismayed and confused at what her child had done to possibly promote such a response in her cousin.

Renfield had not returned after that final visit. He had not responded to her notes and he did not answer the door when she had called on him. Elsa was beyond concerned. She had known something had happened to him and it distressed her terribly. Yesterday, there had been a knock at the door. She had ran to it, hoping her cousin had come back to her. It was not Renfield but someone had slipped a piece of thickly folded ivory paper through the mail slot. Elsa picked it up and opened it. It was a hand-written invitation from Renfield to join her and a friend for drinks at his residence. The address was for the tower, the defunct and derelict building that as far as Elsa knew, had not been inhabited for at least a dozen years. Elsa knew Renfield's new friend was somehow responsible for the sudden changes but she was a proper woman and as such, reserved to pass judgment on someone she had not yet met. She had called for a sitter while she made something suitable to bring to her host. She tried to ignore the pervasive feeling of dread as she dressed which now, as she walked up the road to toward Renfield's new friend, had hardened into something of a knot at the pit of her stomach.

After a time, she reached the base of the tower. It appeared even more ruinous than she had expected. She shifted the bag of garlic muffins to the crook of her arm and raised her fist to heavy wrought iron knocker, hesitating when she found it was in the shape of a horned demon. Before she could use it, the great door was wrenched open and her cousin stood in the dim dome of light. He smiled, his mouth a dark mall, and reached for her....

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 941 October 5, 2016
Prompt: "Fabric is my blank canvas and fashion textiles emerge as wearable art, touched by the possibilities of threads, beads and artful embellishments." If you are an artisan, you will get this. If not, write anything, you want about this.

My grandmother is an artist. She lives as she paints, in a textured world where she looks for and engages with those things she finds aesthetically pleasing to her eye. She had taught me to appreciate those things, to find the "art" in everyday life. I loved to draw and paint but my true artist medium has always been words. I love the way words flow together in a story, how powerfully you can craft images and evoke feelings with words. I think writing is my own "wearable art", I wrap myself in my stories and they become part of my self expression, part of my persona, my own "art".

Monday, October 3, 2016

Human Nature and the Beautiful Sarcastic

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 939 October 3, 2016
Prompt: “In so complex a thing as human nature, we must consider, it is hard to find rules without exception.” George Eliot
What do you think makes the human nature more interesting: its compliance with the rules or its deviations into exceptions?

Over the past several months I have been thinking a lot about human nature. In the past year it has been difficult to find the beauty in the human condition, to find the exceptional amid the noxious masses. There has been no shortage of stories about what the worst of human nature has to offer the world. It is hard not to see us as a species hell bent on destroying our planet and each other. We are so easily tore asunder by greed and rage. We are so easily misaligned, mislead.

The other evening my daughter wanted to watch "Book of the Life" by Jorge R. Gutierrez. It is a colorful and vibrant animated movie that tells the story of three Mexican children and how their destinies entwine. The story revolves around two key figures in Mexican mythology, La Muerta and Xibalba. La Muerta, pictured as a beautiful woman in a wide red sombrero and dress adorned with candles, is an ancient goddess. She rules the Land of the Remembered and loves all mankind. She is a champion of human nature, celebrating their ability to love and forgive, to have passion and mercy. She understands that humans are flawed and adores them for all their beautiful chaos. By contrast Xibalba, her estranged lover and fellow deity, has no faith in human beings. He rules the Land of the Forgotten and believes humankind is irredeemable and doomed. He takes delight in watching them fail and often intercedes to easily tempt them into malicious pursuits. It is a rich story, woven in a brilliant tapestry of Latin myth and history. I found myself thinking about it more later than night.

I thought a lot about La Muerta and Xibalba, and wondered where my own alliance would fall. Have I lost faith in humanity? Do I always assume that when pressed, most people do the wrong things? Do I believe human nature makes us more exceptional and interesting or threatens to make us irredeemable for all its deviation and darkness? Or, like La Muerta, do I still have faith in humanity? Do I still celebrate the human species, marvel at our abilities, at our capacity for love and kindness? Most days I think I would have to side with La Muerta and I feel comforted than I've not yet lost hope for us all.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1419: October 3, 2016
Prompt: October is Sarcastic Month or National Sarcastic Awareness Month
Have you ever written a sarcastic character? Do you know anyone who is sarcastic? Is sarcasm another form of humor?

Sarcasm is a life skill, simply put. I know people who have honed sarcasm to an exacting science and regularly employee it with such expertise that I am left in awe. It takes a highly developed quick wit that I am admittedly envious of. I've never attempted to write a sarcastic character, believing that to really capture it correctly, one would have to understand the nuances of sarcasm. While I am I fan, I am not by nature, given to sarcasm aside from using it on my highly excited and often overly dramatic six year old. My six year old is decidedly not a fan. She, like me, tends toward being more literal. I think there is a danger in using too much sarcasm too. I recently listened to an audio book called, "Poe", in which the main character was a young, 20-something medium who's tendency toward sarcasm ending up making him wholly unlikeable for me. It wore too thinly against a plot that was also a bit threadbare. I think it takes a good balance to manage any character with particularly strong personality traits. I think it can bring a humorous element to the story but if overused, it can have an adverse effect on some readers.