Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Three Indispensable Reference Sites

There are three sites which I have come to depend on while working on my Fruits of the Spirit story world this past month. I'm going to list them here with little comment as I need to get back to work.

Think Baby Names. Let's you search for names according to their meanings. Gives many alternate spellings and has very good etymology of the names. This is important for in my story every character who is more than a walk-on carries a theme which their name points to.

A searchable King James Version of The Bible at The Electronic Text Center of the University of Virginia. Even the Apocrypha. I had never heard before stumbling on this site that the Apocrypha had been translated by the same committee that provided the KJV of the Old and New Testaments that I was raised with. But they were and just seldom included in the texts printed for Protestents. And of course, the Catholics disdained the KJV.

Open Source Shakespeare. All of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Searchable. Why this is important for my story world will be made clear on this Friday's snippet.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Got Lost In the Music

Set out about nine this evening to make my return visits to those visiting my Poetry Train poem. My very first stop was Sparky Duck where I found the lyrics and a YouTube video of a 10,000 Maniacs song.

Now, as I've mentioned here before, there are great lacuna in my culture awareness, partly due to strictures against almost all pop culture by the fundamentalist mindset I was raised in. Anyway, I had heard of this group before and also of Natalie Merchant the lead singer tho I hadn't connected her with the Maniacs. I couldn't have picked their faces out of a line up nor their tunes either. But within sixty seconds of listening to Natalie's voice, I was hooked.

Next thing I knew it was after eleven and I had been clicking on related videos for two hours. I watched this one twice before I moved on to more. Before I started this post, I checked out Natalie Merchant on Wikipedia, where I learned she writes most of her songs. And that her mother strictly limited her exposure to TV also.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #10

I couldn't resist coming back to add this video after fining it on Ed's Sunday Serenity

This poem was written as an exercise presented in Gabriele Ricco's Writing the Natural Way. The exercise involved mimicking the form of poem that you liked. I owe gratitude to the author of the poem which I mimicked. I loaned my copy of that book out over a decade ago and never got it back. Then I lost the rough-drafts of this poem where I noted the page number of Ricco's book on which that poem was and the author's name. I hesitated posting this because of not being able to credit that author appropriately. That poem had the same number of lines and the phrase 'I remember' was in the same positions but except for the words 'I remember' all the words in this one are mine.

Remembering Dandelions
by Joy Renee

I remember the caress of the petals
Against eyelids, against nose--soft.
I remember the bright of the yellow
Against grass, against sky--summer.
I remember the growl of the mower,
That sliced, that severed--sudden.
I remember the sound of my scream
Against pain, against loss--sundered:

"Mama! Don’t kill my flowers!"

I remember the caress of soft love.
I remember the bright of summer bliss.
I remember the growl of sudden sorrow.
I remember the sound of sundered innocence.

I remember dandelions.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sunday Serenity #16

Hat Tip Dewey for the pic. See more lol cats on her TT.

Big chunks of time lost in a novel. Now that is serenity. I haven't let myself do this since I started the 70 days of sweat challenge though. I think maybe it is safe to do so now, without risking so distracted that I forget to return to my own story world. I started Harry Potter 4, Goblet of Fire, today. It is a re-read for me.as will be Order of the Phoenix. But I haven't read Half-Blood Prince yet, nor the latest, Deathly Hollows. Our niece loaned us books 3 through 6 months ago. Ed whizzed through them in about a week. They were all re-reads for him. We are waiting on her to finish the last one. Except Ed, says he might not wait past next week-end. He is having a rough time staying clear of spoilers between work and online.

Anyway. I think I am going to gift myself with a day, or at least most of an afternoon, to get lost in J.K. Rowling's story world. And gift Ed with the use of the laptop for the full day, if he wants it. He had to work Saturday morning before the races and so lost his Saturday session on the PC. Sunday is his Mom's day off so Ed won't monopolize her PC on Sundays.

I got a kick out of the picture when I saw it on Dewey's TT. There are twelve more 'bookish lol cats' to see over there. It was hard to choose among them for this. There was even a couple with the Harry Potter theme. But I settled on this one because the cat looks so much like Merlin. And I'm always misplacing my glasses. Lately I'm having the dickens of a time keeping them on my face because when they aren't sliding off from the sweat, they are fogging up or getting dripped on so I have to take them off and clean them. This is due more to the ninety-plus degree days than it is to Sven's challenge but hours of intimacy with a laptop keyboard on these warm days might not be such a priority for me if not for Sven.

Here's the Sunday Serenity Hub if you'd like to participate.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Letting The Kittens Out Of The Bag

I wish I had been thinking ahead when I posted Friday Snippets last night and ended up adding that long commentary at the end of the already very long fiction piece. I should have made the commentary a separate post published after midnight and that would have left me free to play with my kittens.

To clarify what I mean by that, I will quote the last paragraph from that commentary:

Something big happened in the last few days. I feel those stories just
bursting to get out. It feels like my head? heart? soul? are like a bag full of
squirming kittens eager to get out and play, and fight, and chase their dreams
across the landscape.

So, I'm off to let the kittens out of the bag and spend the next twenty to thirty hours playing with them. Maybe I'll break a sweat. Maybe I won't. But I'm going to have fun.

Tomorrow is race day Saturday for the rest of the family. The day I'm left home alone in control of my own schedule. I don't have to worry about fitting my schedule to someone else's until I am called to the dinner table Sunday evening. That is a huge chunk of time in which to play. Though I do have to fit some sleep in there somewhere...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Friday Snippets 3: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities part 3

print for sale on art.com

(the best way to find Parts 1 and 2 for now is to use the Friday Snippets label at the foot of the post or in the sidebar. I will find a better solution after posting the final part next week)

Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities Part 3

“I’ve orders to give you ladies first class service.” The girl flashed a grin at Faye and with casual brushes at errant, rusty-hued tresses said, “At your command m’lady.” Pad and pencil ready in exaggerated pose she deferred to Faye with elevated brow.

Faye ducked her head to hide another blush, stammering her order for a cola and chocolate-cream pie. What is it with these insinuating winks and grins implying non-existent alliances? She only half-heard Wilma order unsweetened iced-tea, an unadorned bagel; Julia request cottage-cheese, fruit cocktail and the wine cooler she’d likely been jesting about before Wilma’s lecture.

“So’s you know who to ask for, my name’s Sandra. I work this here section.” She encompassed the nearby tables with a wave and brushed at her hair again. “It’s quiet now, but the dinner crowd’ll be here soon. Be busy then. But you ladies got my undivided. Just wave.” She gathered up Faye and Cassie’s iced-tea glasses and the bowl of ice water in which Faye had deposited the cloth. With swift swipes of a damp rag, condensation rings from the glasses and splatters from the compress vanished.

In Sandra’s absence Faye focused on the view out the window, afraid Julia or Wilma might see her discomposure and twit her. Squinting at the sun-flashes off passing wind-shields, she recognized the Chevy by its distinctive outline rather than its garish color scheme, for glare reduced the purple to muddy gray. A disparity kept her eyes straying to its silhouette--ah, no reflections of people or buildings on its windows as on other cars along the curb.

“The windows are down!” She turned toward Julia in alarm.

“But of course!” Julia replied. “Who wants to return to that oven on wheels to the aroma of baked cat?”

“A crack would have sufficed.” Wilma said.

“Toasted cat. Roasted cat. What’s to choose?” Julia pulled the front of her tank-top out and fanned herself vigorously with a Nickel, a local want-ad paper she had picked up at the entrance where they were displayed under a sign proclaiming ‘FREE’ in foot-high letters.

“But Sister, it’s inviting passersby to help themselves.”

“Don’t be silly. We’ve got clear line-of-sight. If anyone did abscond with one of our fancy-sacks, how far could they get? Relax!” She gave Faye’s knee a constraining pat.

Faye subsided into her corner, her ration of defiance spent. She devoted attention to the Chevy, alert for any potentially suspicious move made by occasional passersby. The trickle of late afternoon customers seeking refreshment and relief from the heat soon became a torrent, spilling off from the five-o’clock flood of pedestrians rushing by outside, impeding Faye’s view of the car--her brief glimpses abruptly cut off by pieces of bodies, purses, brief-cases, shopping bags. She squirmed in her seat, leaned a smidgen left, right, craned her neck until it ached, all but stood on the seat to keep the car in sight. By the time Sandra returned all moves had begun to look potentially suspicious so she was glad for an excuse to relax her vigil.

Her view funneled between elbow and waist of an angular woman at a leisured amble amidst the hastening home-goers. Faye watched her, intrigued by incongruities reminiscent of ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ games. Spike-heeled sandals slowed her pace without detracting from the dancer’s grace of her carriage. Golden curls cascaded down her back to pool in the hood of a knee-length black rain cape. The cape, flung over the shoulder to free the right arm which supported a large canvas bag and held aloft an umbrella, flaunted a lining aglow in the sultry light with the hew of fresh blood.

With rain-cape and umbrella on a warm, evening identified as the incongruity, Faye turned back to the Chevy. But something niggled, fidgeting her eyes to the puzzling woman, whose progress was marked by the black umbrella displaying a pentagram delineated in a silvery substance that shot light-arrows into incautious eyes. Like the last word of a crossword puzzle she couldn’t get because the clue wasn’t in her repertoire, the inconsistency continued to elude her. Resigned, she shifted focus only to see the solution.

As is usual when a woman of striking self-possession walks through a crowd with the svelte grace of a cat, many admiring glances were cast her way, but only from behind-those facing her kept their eyes carefully averted, except for one small child who gazed up at her with riveted awe in spite of admonishing tugs on the arm.

Solving one puzzle created another. Her insatiable need to watch people was shameless, but so seldom did she leave the seclusion of the estate, she must soak up sights and sound to savor in the solitude of long, somnolent evenings. The novel and unique drew her, provided threads of exquisite mystery for weaving numinous dreams. This woman would wander wondrous dreamscapes-forever faceless and eternally ethereal.

Feeling regret nigh on mourning when she lost sight of the woman, Faye turned to her pie for consolation until Julia nudged her and jabbed her fork at the window. “Will you look at that!”

Faye looked and there was her mystery woman--cape, heels and umbrella, but now the umbrella was closed and dangling from it…

“My bag! The cat!” Faye jumped to her feet, knocked her knee against the table, jarring the dishes into a jittery dance.

“She poked that umbrella in there, pretty as you please and out came the bag. And staring straight ahead all the while too. Cucumber-cool.” Julia slapped the table and cutlery chuckled in counterpoint. “She cased the car, walked by it three times. I wish I could see her face when she finds out what she’s bagged!”

“Aren’t you going to do anything?” Faye was frantic.

“What’s to do? She hasn’t got anything valuable. Let it be. It’ll learn her a lesson.” She ignored Faye’s attempts to get by.

“One should not make a scene in public.” Wilma cautioned.

“Who’s afraid of a scene?” I’d show you a scene alright if it’d been my boots she’d hooked. Look, she’s coming this way. I do believe she’s going to walk right in.” Julia laughed.

Aghast, Faye watched the woman walk in, peer about, come right at them, and seat herself in a booth across the aisle. The riotous curls framed an ancient face from which peered searing blue eyes like sapphires embedded in a walnut. Withered lips parted over teeth like fine, white porcelain as she queried the empty air and nodded sagely at the answer.

“Let me go talk to her.” Faye begged an un-budging Julia.

“Leave her be. I gotta see this.” Julia said.

“It’s not polite to stare.” Wilma proclaimed.

“It’s not polite to steal either.” Julia said as Sandra brought coffee to the woman’s table and poured it without exchanging a word with her. “Ah. She’s a regular.”

“Ladies.” Sandra turned to them. “Anything I can do you for?”

“We’re fine.” Julia answered, her eyes fixed on the woman.

Sandra leaned close to whisper, “That’s Estelle Starr, a bit dotty but harmless. Used to be a performer of some kind. Shows up in Westmont last year and we took to watching out for her, but in such a way as saves her pride. She’s partial to riding the bus ‘tween here and Vancouver. Folk’s here drop tokens and coins in odd places she’s apt to be. Fancies herself a witch. Always muttering in rhyme and talking to invisible friends.”

They watched Estelle’s animated conversation with her unseen seatmate, drawn by its dramatic expressiveness. Julia’s mouth twitched with barely restrained hilarity and Wilma’s lips pursed with pent remonstrance. Faye, quivering with indignation at her enforced impotence, had a mind to push Julia off her seat. Such desecration! All to satisfy Julia’s whim and sooth Wilma’s wounded propriety.

“Westmont attracts her kind.” Sandra went on. “Ekcentrics, ya know? We got a passel here abouts. We’re partial to ‘em I guess. One runs a cat ranch up on the ridge, drives this hotrod my kid brother drools over. She’s a raycluse, doesn’t come to town much. Even so stories of her doings would fill a library. And if they’re all true she must be ancient cause my gramma tells some she heard as a girl…”

Her attention riveted on Estelle Starr and the bag, Faye was barely cognizant of Sandra’s chatter. Her feet fairly itched to march over there so she could spew out the words of accusation and condemnation that flooded her mind. But helpless against the concerted front of Julia’s determination to be entertained and Wilma’s studied obliviousness, outrage withered and she sank in her seat with a sigh. She filled her mouth with chocolate to calm herself as she watched Estelle fondle the bag--patting it and smoothing its creases. Mesmerized by these motions Faye missed the moment she parted the lips of the bag to peer in.

to be continued...

Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Next week I will post the fourth and final part to this story, which is slated to be the first chapter in the first novel of my intended series, By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them, or alternately By Their Fruits. The first novel is titled: The Substance of Things Hoped For. Faye will be the POV character throughout it as her character carries the theme of this book, faith, indicated by her full name, Jubilee Faith Fairchild Gardner. There will be eight to ten stories of various lengths in Faith's book. I call them stories instead of chapters because I hope they will each have an independent story arc like short stories. Though neither of the two I've finished can be called short. This one is over 6000 words. And Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, which is slated for the third position in the novel, is over 16,000 words.

The second book belongs to Faye's twin, Julia Love Fairchild and is titled The Lever of Love. The title alludes to the famed quote by Archimedes that given a lever long enough and a place to stand he could move the world.

The following is for those who would like an update on my progress with the 70 Days of Sweat challenge or more info about this story world:

There are ten novels that I know about so far. Six of which I've got fairly decent story arcs drawn out for. Three of which contain extensive narrative word count.

This is what I've accomplished so far because of the 70 days of Sweat challenge: Though my new narrative word count is still under 10K after nearly three weeks, I am pleased because I have stuck with the project this time, breaking my previous record of five days. I have sorted out a whole bunch of the issues that had me stuck. One of which was the need to decide if it was a single novel or a series. Well getting those story arcs drawn out helped me estimate final word count for each one and it wasn't long before I could tell that a single novel would have to be well over 1500 pages.

Another major issue I've tackled was to begin to reassemble the roster of characters with their names--in many cases I've settled, for now, with the primary given name or nic name they are known by. I once had a stack of 3x5 slips with one character per slip that contained their bio in brief and their familial relationships, the theme they carried if they weren't simply a walk-on, the major events they were involved in and their primary motivation. There were over 100 of these. That stack of slips was one of the things left behind when we abandoned our storage unit in San Jose in 2001.

Loosing that and the timeline along with hundreds of pages of drafts and notes was a massive blow. Every time I tried to re-engage with the story world, I was faced with the daunting task of redoing those slips and the timeline. Until this time, I have given up after three to five days of struggling with the complexities of that multi-generational story arc that traverses nearly a century with settings that span the globe. This time I stuck with it and bludgeoned my way though many, if not all, of the issues blocking me. This much I owe to Sven and his challenge. Even if I am never able to catch up with the word count to bring my average in at 700-1000 per day, I will not allow myself to feel failure over it because what I have accomplished was major.
Now that I know it is a series though, I am going to settle my focus on Faye's stories and the stories I worked on for NaNoWriMo the last two years for the rest of this challenge. Because if I do not add narrative content to them, there are at least three novels which I could turn to for the NaNoWriMo this year. I suspect Julia's story is the most likely one for that as I know the most about it and her timeline is so entwined with Faye's that I will continue to add to that knowledge as I continue to write Faye's stories.

But I may not be able to resist starting to add narrative and dialog content to Julia's stories. And if doing so will help ensure that I close the gap in word count, then I won't resist. In that case I will probably fall back on To Sip the Light Prismatic, which carries the theme of joy and has four POV characters alternating stories. I once had over fifty pages of rough draft for this one but those pages were all lost. I have to start over so that makes it fair game for NaNoWriMo. And since Faye and Julia's timelines are only peripherally involved with any of the POV characters in it, I probably won't be tempted to start writing actual scenes before November.

Meanwhile, I think that it will serve me well for this challenge to settle my focus on Faye and possibly Julia. Something big happened in the last few days. I feel those stories just bursting to get out. It feels like my head? heart? soul? are like a bag full of squirming kittens eager to get out and play, and fight, and chase their dreams across the landscape.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #43

I found an interesting sheet of paper among my physical notes to my Fruits of the Spirit story world. An exercise I'd done while living in the Silicon Valley and then stored among the notes to this particular project. It was a list and there were 13 items. It practically screamed TT at me. And the timing couldn't be better. I almost laughed out loud when I read the item that I placed at number 13 here. Only those who've read my recent posts will get that joke.

Question: What would I do differently if I trusted that all the necessary resources (materials, grace, time, strength, creativity, wisdom, talent, knowledge, money, space etc.) to accomplish a task would be available as needed?
Answer: I would make myself available to the task every day by:
  1. limiting time spent playing computer games
  2. limiting time spent watching TV
  3. spending time in playful, creative daydreaming on the elements of the task.
  4. guarding against pessimism
  5. nurturing hope
  6. praying and meditating on aspects of the task
  7. caring for self--body, soul and spirit
  8. caring for my environment--cleanliness and order
  9. cultivating an attitude of gratitude
  10. enjoying the pleasure of accomplishment
  11. yielding to my passion for the task
  12. exulting in the bliss of being fully involved in a meaningful task
  13. laying hands on the tools of the task and making one move
    --open a computer file and type one sentence
    --open the sketch pad and make a mark
    --thread the needle and take a stitch
    --put on walking shoes and step out the door
    --open that daunting, difficult book and read one page

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Even My Dreams Are Chewing Me Out

I woke into the heat of the afternoon from a dream in which a member of my extended family was announcing that he had decided he had no choice but to quit his job, uproot his entire family and move because his boss was requiring that he buy his own tools but the company making the tools would sell them only to someone with a diploma in wrench bending technique and his boss wouldn't give him time off to take the class.

See yesterday's post if you don't get the joke my dream was playing on me. I'm too busy to retell it as my boss, Sven, is insisting that I hand over a toolbox full of bent wrenches by Sunday or he's gonna throw a bucket of sweat on me.


Monday, July 23, 2007

File Fiddling and Tool Fondling

That title almost sounds kinky. But it is a fair representation of what I've been doing for most of the last two weeks since signing on to sweat for Sven. The metaphor was handed to me by my husband when he was trying to snap me out of the funk I slipped into over the weekend after I lost that loving feeling for the process. He was pointing out that I was spending too much time fiddling with my files, and references, and the applications I'm using for this project and dwelling too much on trivia. He likened it to a mechanic who spent all day fondling all the tools in his large multi-drawer toolbox, rearranging them, admiring them, cleaning and polishing them, but never using them to build or repair anything.

He said that I was obsessing needlessly over the whole timeline issue. But what if I write a scene in which character A is five years older than character B and then in a different scene character C is two years younger than character B and is remembering the days when the three of them were attending high school together? I whined. So what, he shrugged. Isn't that what rough drafts are for? You can't fix something that isn't made yet.

He suggested that I attend to at least one of the dozens of planned for scenes every day for a minimum of an hour. Its time to start bending wrenches, he said. That's mechanic's slang for applying the tool to its task.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #9

by Joy Renee

Willing to thrive
And not deprive
My soul from abundant

Willing to live
Perforce to give
Of self to kindred

Willing to love,
Be interwove
In all in all

Willing to hope
And to devote
All that I am to

(c) 2007 Joy Renee

I chose this poem today to help remind me of that necessary state of mind for tapping into the creative process. I lost my way late last week. Still groping my way back. I mean, I went from posting about falling in love with my storyworld on Monday to posting total surrender in the wee hours of Friday morning. I was waving the white flag and not just at Sven but at the whole writing business. Not that I could ever not write. What a roller coaster ride this week has been.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunday Serenity #15

The meaning of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks music was covered in my posts between Monday and Wednesday. With no further comment, I present this YouTube of a lovely slide show of stunning scenery someone has put together accompanied by the Twin Peaks theme.


Friday, July 20, 2007

I Give Up

I will never learn. I just killed the relational data base in which the bulk of my notes and rough drafts for the Fruits of the Spirit storyworld were. And that means of course that everything I added to it in the last week is gone and that is the only place the work I was doing for the Sweating for 70 challenge existed. I almost wouldn't mind loosing that if I could get back the work I did for the last three NaNoWriMo. It would be easier to redo what I have done so recently than to redo the stuff I have barely glanced at in the last two and a half years.

I have blogged here before about my negligence towards backing up files. Most of the month of May was consumed by the panic of trying to back up two and a half years of files in the face of an immanent crash because of the malware attack. I backed up a lot of stuff then but my relational database was not among them. I wasn't sure if it could be backed up online like the other files and had hoped to get a flash drive which was the recommended format for backing up a database.

It is probably past time to back up every file that I have worked with since the last backup. We did it in a panic before and did not get around to setting up an easy way to maintain a backup regimen that I could manage without Ed's help. When we managed to avoid the crash or having to restore to factory disks, we both relaxed. Way too much obviously.

Sometimes I wonder if I really belong in this business.

Update--noonish: I'm an addlepated doofus. My data base is alive and well. I spent nearly four hours in a blooming panic attack before I discovered this though. I am too bleary-eyed and fumble-fingered to tell what happend now. I'm edging onto 24 hours without sleep and that after spending most of yesterday with a headache. No doubt sleep-deprevation contributed to my goof.


Friday Snippets 2: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities part 2

print for sale at art.com

Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities

part 2

The three women watched as a lanky, uniformed body unfolded from behind the wheel of the patrol car with the sinuous grace of a ballet dancer or a cat waking from a nap, as long arms rose to settle the regulation wide-brimmed hat atop gloss-black hair and lowered to close but not latch the car door. Only when boot clad legs commenced a measured pace toward them did they exchange glances among themselves. Faye lowered contrite eyes to fidgeting fingers under Julia’s reproachful glare, but Wilma’s unwavering gaze held an unmistakable glitter of satisfaction.

“Who asked you anyway.” Julia hissed but Wilma only raise a single eyebrow, a taunt Julia had no time to respond to.

“May I be of service ladies?” The contralto voice thrummed with concern, not the expected official reproof. Julia was more disconcerted than if she had been ordered to put her hands over her head. When she looked up her gaze was met by twin images of her own wide eyes reflected in the trooper’s mirrored sunglasses.

“N-No thank you, Sir.” She finally managed.

“It’s ‘Mam’ actually, but you ladies can call me Cassie.” The hovering face broke into a glorious cover-girl grin as the policewoman removed her sunglasses. “I saw that motorcycle cut you off while I was southbound. Looked like a close call.”

“We’re fine officer.” Julia repossessed her aplomb. “My sister was shook up some. But we were just headed for the diner.”

“Sounds like a good idea. I’ll just follow you on in. Make sure they treat you right.” Before they could object she hurried on, “No problem. Really. Time for my coffee break anyway.”

By the time Julia collected wits enough to form a polite refusal, the officer was halfway back to her car. “Do I look like someone needing molly-coddled?” She muttered as she put the Chevy in gear. The car lurched forward as she stepped with the force of her indignation on the gas pedal.

Faye, sitting forward to see better, was thrown back into the heap of packages, some of which tumbled into her lap, pinned her arms to her sides. Before she could cry out, the cat’s paper coffin slid off its perch and settled in front of her face, muffling her naturally soft voice. Her plight went unnoticed until they reached the diner. As Julia pulled up to the curb looking in the rearview mirror to spot the patrol car, she saw the spun-sugar curls peeking over the top of the sack containing the object of her sister’s self-compelled behest. Anger evaporated in the scorching heat of concern and remorse.

“Faye!” she braked abruptly, jostling the packages in back which only embraced Faye more snugly. Kneeling on her seat, Julia lifted the sack away from her twin’s face and gasped as she saw eyelids flutter faintly against parchment-white cheeks. She pulled at parcels heedless of contents, calling urgently.

Wilma calmly got out, opened Faye’s door and stacked packages on the curb fast but precise. With Faye stretched out on the seat they massaged her arms and legs until she moaned and turned her head feebly from side to side.

Julia’s shrill calling for an ambulance penetrated Faye’s fog-enshrouded mind. She fought coming to. Tried to sink back into cool, calm and quiet mists. But the persistent sound of Sister’s voice, commanded attention and long habit of obedience to this voice compelled response. She tried but managed only a drawn out “MMMMMMMM…” that to her ears sounded like a cow with laryngitis. She laughed at this comical image, or thought she did, but that sounded like a frog coughing. Where were these silly mind pictures coming from? She simply must get control of herself!

“MMMy…MMMy Goodness Sister. How you do go on!” Faye forced between numb lips, trying to focus on Julia’s face, which exuded a concern so palpable she felt it as a fog emanating from the eyes to envelope her in a viscous, marshmallow-cream cloud. With laborious effort she pushed away harassing hands and fussing fingers and attempted to sit up. “Nothing wrong with me a bit of air-conditioning and ice-water can’t cure.”

“We’re taking no chances, miss Faye.” Cassie pushed past Julia and Wilma and scooped Faye into her arms. “This heat is nothing to mess with if you’re not used to it. How long since you drank water? Too long, I bet.” And thus gently chiding, she carried her into the diner, set her in a booth and requested of the waitress who hurried to them, a bowl of ice water, a cloth, and two extra tall iced teas.

Faye watched Wilma and Julia reload the car while Cassie applied cold compresses to the back of her neck and a continuous chatter of innocuous content to her ear. “Woman!” Faye exclaimed. “are you suffering from a case of logorrhea, or is this a new conversational fashion?”

“Actually, Miss Faye, it’s a technique I’ve found helpful in situations like this. I don’t know if a doctor would validate it, but it seems to help fainting victims get a grip on consciousness.”

“Works on the order of the Chinese water torture I surmise.” Faye said with a wry smile.

“Could be, Miss Faye.” Cassie grinned impishly.

“Enough with the Miss, Mam. But how do you know my name?” Then recognition widened Faye’s eyes. “Only my students called me ‘Miss Faye’…” Her voice trailed off as she stared at the young woman grinning in anticipation. “Why if it isn’t little Cassandra Cosgrove.”

“Music lessons ten years ago.” Cassie grinned wider, pleased Faye remembered. “And how is your partner in crime?” Faye asked.

“You mean Fancy Morgan? She’s releasing her second album before Christmas.”

“Are you ever sorry you disbanded the Rag Dolls?”

‘Not really. Winning a few small-time talent shows does not a stellar career make. I didn’t have her fire so our duo was doomed.”

Just then the walkie-talkie strapped to Cassie’s waist gave a burst of static and a soprano voice recited a string of official sounding syllables. “Gotta run. Afraid I overstayed my coffee-break.” She drained her iced tea as she stood. “I see the ladies have finished. I leave you in their capable hands.”

This last she said with a wink and a twist of irony to the words ‘capable hands’ as if she meant something less or other, implying that Faye shared in knowledge that made a subtle joke out of two perfectly innocent words. Why the impertinence of the child! Faye opened her mouth to reprimand her as if she had spoken out of turn in a long-ago classroom. Instead she found herself returning the wink.

What has gotten into me today? Fay silently chided herself as Cassie departed. Her thoughts and behavior were mortifying. Defying Sister! Fainting like a maiden over a little heat! Exchanging winks with an impertinent girl implying…Just what did it imply? That there was some question of Wilma and Julia’s capability? That their ‘capable hands’ were often more nuisance than help? But what would Cassie know about that? And why would I credence such a thought by acknowledging it?

Disconcertion blushed her pale cheeks. In a daze she took the damp cloth from her neck, dipped it in ice water, and without wringing it out sank her hot face into it. The icy water running down her neck to soak her collar and down her arms into her lap, sent a cold wind blowing through her mind, cleansing it of the confusion which confounded her thoughts. Before Wilma and Julia arrived she was convinced the wink was a momentary indiscretion committed under the influence of heat exhaustion and excitement.

“Well, land’s sakes Sister! Looks like you’ve taken a shower with your clothes on. Did that meter-maid have to throw water in your face to revive you?”

“Really, Julia, you exaggerate.” Faye lifted the cloth from her face. “Try it. It’s quite refreshing.

“Thanks just the same, I’ll pass.” Julia pushed the bowl of ice water away and slid into the booth beside Faye. “A nice tall wine-cooler over ice is the ticket for me. What an invention! Even the name sounds refreshing.”

“It will be the ticket for you all right.” Wilma dabbed at a film of sweat on her lip with a fresh linen handkerchief. “A ticket for drinking and driving, most likely. As you are already called to the attention of the police it seems an unwise choice.”

“Oh shwise, shmise! A wine cooler has less alcohol in it than that cough syrup you swig.”

“That is a prescription. But you digress. Driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law.”

Faye was relieved to see the waitress approach. Those two could continue such exchanges endlessly, unsheathing insults like cats spoiling for a fight--or settling on ones lap to sleep.

to be continued...

Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Comment: This story is from the same story world for which I am currently sweating for Sven but not part of the new material that counts for the challenge. I posted part one last Friday. There will be two more parts.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mismatching Message and Medium

In light of all I related this week about the influence of music on my writing and work habits, I just about choked on my tonsils when I encountered this video on Ed's TT this week. It was extra funny for me because ever since about age 11 after I'd taught myself to type, I've had dreams in which my flying fingers produced music instead of words. And visa-versa. I would dream of playing the piano but instead of musical scores propped in front of me there were blank white sheets of paper that would fill with words.

These dreams began nearly two decades before my first encounter with a word processor. I still have them but they have added all the technologies I've encountered since to the mix--word processors pre GUI when all you saw was glowing letters on black screens all the way to my current multimedia laptop which plays music and movies and games. So it doesn't seem as bizarre as it did circa 1969 to have a dream in which my flying fingers on the keyboard produce music or moving pictures or both as I attempt to compose my stories.

All you sweating over the keyboard for the 70 day challenge, take a few minutes break to watch this vid of Jerry Lewis at the typewriter. A good guffaw can do wonders for creativity and energy. Any writers out there might want to consider incorporating warming up exercises for your hands and tuning up regimes for your machines based on his examples. Or not.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #42

Since yesterday's post was all about the influence of the Twin Peaks soundtrack on my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld, I decided to list some of the other music that I've used to set mood for a scene, a story, even a character.

I am partial to movie sound tracks, which isn't too surprising when you consider that they were scored to impart or emphasize the moods of scenes. The instrumental only tracks are the most useful as having someone else's words sung to me while I'm trying to compose my own can be distracting. But vocals sung in a language I don't know act the same as an instrument.

The entire range of emotions can be expressed with symphonic orchestral music as well as electronically synthesized music and when the two are combined as in Maurice Jarre, really interesting things happen on the emotional level. Jazz and Blues are well known as languages of emotion.

Thirteen Musicians I Whose Music I Compose My Stories To:

  1. Angelino Badalamenti (of Twin Peaks fame)
  2. Enya
  3. Beethoven
  4. Motzart
  5. Holst (esp. The Planets)
  6. John Williams (how many movie scores?)
  7. Bach
  8. Vivaldi
  9. Emerald Web
  10. Wagner
  11. Maurice Jarre (esp. Ghost soundtrack)
  12. Sacred Spirits (American Indian Chant with drums and pipe)
  13. Tchaikovsky

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This is the theme music and opening credits to the 1990 TV show Twin Peaks. Here is the version titled, Falling, with lyrics sung by Julee Cruise.

Falling into a storyworld for a writer can be a lot like falling in love. That has been my experience in the past and it is happening again. I want to spend every waking and sleeping moment thinking about the object of my affections. Which makes it all the more frustrating when it seems to be trying to shut me out. At least this time it took me only a day or two to remember the secret of almost infallible access to that mystical-magical place where the story lives.


I have mentioned it before here on several occasions and not too long ago gave credit to the college prof who introduced me to this technique for wooing the muse. That was Lawson Inada back in the late eighties when I was attending Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, Oregon. Inada is currently Oregon's Poet Laureate. I was going to include the links to the posts here but I'm too anxious to get back to work to go hunting for it. If you are interested in learning more about Inada you can find those posts where I link to info about him and talk about his significant influence on me by following the Poetry Train label and scanning for his name. Or do a Google search of Joystory for Lawson Inada. I guess if I'm going to keep mentioning him, I should gather the relevant links in a quickly accessible place and create a label for him here.

And I wouldn't be surprised if I find more occasions to mention him as the 70 Days of Sweat procedes. Because the storyworld I am working on was born in a story I wrote for his creative writing class. That is, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, the story which I posted the first of four parts in Friday Snippets last Friday.

It was in his poetry class, that he introduced us to the effect of using music to create a mood and to bypass the critic which is often the cause of writer's block. I can't remember when I translated the concept from poetry writing to story writing but it turned out to be one of the most powerful tools. It is like casting a magic spell.

Now I need to introduce another major influence on my FOS storyworld and explain the inclusion of the video at the top of this post. The short story I was writing for Inada's class in 1986 was not completed. It was probably still under 3000 words when it got set aside when the next semester's work load took over. It wasn't until 1990-92 that I returned to working on it. In the months preceding that, I had been one of the many who went completely gaga over David Lynch's Twin Peaks. I was disgusted and angry when they canceled the show. I had been nearly as enthralled by the music of composer, Angelo Badalamenti, featured on the show as by the story and its world of eccentric characters with sometimes dark agendas hidden beneath placid masks.

A few months after Twin Peaks was cancelled I started working on my 'Dead Cat' story again, and began to see beneath the surface of my three schoolmarmish characters into a veritable cauldron of conflicting emotions and motivations. It was also around this time that we bought our first CD player and one of the CDs my husband bought for me was the soundtrack to Twin Peaks. As I often do when I am obsessed by something, I listened to that soundtrack on endless repeat for hours and hours. I did not set out to fix the association between that music and this storyworld but that is what happened.

I did not realize this had happened until many months after I had finished Of Cats, after I had wandered away from the storyworld for some time and then was struggling to find my way back to it. I happened to be listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack while I was thinking about my characters and the plot for the story which would become Making Rad Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, and suddenly it all came alive for me again. The mood, the setting, the themes, the characters that already existed in scenes and those I had contemplated including, their relationships and motivations and the plot elements, including those that never made it into my notes. After that I seldom worked on what had by then become my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld without the accompaniment of that sound track.

I don't know why it took me a whole week to remember that. But now that I have and have implemented the musical spell, I'm expecting things to break loose any moment. Already, after less than a day of immersion in the music, memories of story elements that existed only in the hundreds of pages of notes and rough drafts that were lost when we abandoned our storage unit in the Silicon Valley in 2001, have begun to swarm.

I'm not going to concern myself with word count for now. Because of the way I work, roaming about from file to file it is hard to keep track of it. I can only give a guesstimate and at the moment it isn't very impressive, still under 5000 after a week. But my progress in the past week cannot be measured by word count or any other countable thing. The hardest thing for me has always been to get engaged and stay engaged in the story. So my two major accomplishments this week have been to immerse myself in the storyworld and to remember and start to apply the techniques that I've learned work to keep me there or return me to it after a hiatus.


Monday, July 16, 2007

After Eight Days of Sweating Pixels

Yes, master.

The baby in this video is pretty much in the same state as I am after eight days of sweating pixels:

I was making much more progress and having more fun between Monday and Thursday when I was roaming at will among the files as I got organized, refreshed my memory, and played in my storyworld. I had given myself until Friday to do all this prep work before I would have to get serious about word count. I didn't wait until Friday to start adding new words to the files as I fiddled with them and with the ideas, plot, theme, timeline, genealogical trees etc. I was surprised, actually at how easy they started flowing again.

Then Friday came along and I felt that now I had to get serious. I stopped playing in a relaxed manner and started thinking more about word count and how to make sure that I could keep track of it, keep the old work separate from the new, keep the scene work separate from the notes and so forth, so that I could keep the material that counts for this challenge separate and thus easier to get accurate tallies. But I realized this afternoon, thanks in part to the encouraging comments in my Monday Poetry Train post, that I was focusing on the wrong priority. This is a lesson that has tackled me several times before. I should have remembered. I never get any creative work done when I am fretting about anything that turns on that part of my brain that counts or categorizes--whether it be words, seconds, commas, typos, spelling errors, files, days, what have you.

This was true even before I discovered the benefits of writing rough drafts as well as notes in a relational database program. Working this way stimulates creativity for me as it allows me to roam around among the drafts and notes, dropping a few words here, a sentence or three there and every once in a while several paragraphs of actual scene narrative or dialog. This had started happening again last week in the days before the deadline of Friday I had given myself for getting organized. Then on Friday afternoon, my mind switched from the relaxed playful mood it had been in since Monday morning to that of a playground monitor calling the kids in from recess and the teacher insisting they settle down at there desks and focus on the assignment.

That never worked for me then. It never will.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #8

Since my head has been buried in my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld for the entire past week, I might as well post the lyrics to a song I wrote for one of its characters who is an aspiring Country and Western singer. I may post the story that goes with it in Friday Snippets after I've finished posting the four parts of Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities.

Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

Mama makes a living making rag doll babies
And praying once a week at the church for bingos.
She says the only blessing she asks of heaven
Is a winning number for Wednesday’s lotto.

She’s making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And promising the moon a cloudless sky.
She’s making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And laughing like a loon who cannot fly.

My Mama for each birthday made me rag doll babies
That looked just like me and every day she dressed us just alike.
She told us ‘Doll Babies, this life is all caprice.
You gotta take what it gives and give what it takes.

She’s making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And hasn’t got a clue that I’m alive.
She’s making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And finding life’s a tune she’s sung too high.

I say, “Mama, I’m not another dolly to set on your shelf,
I’m your real live child set on being myself!
”Mama tells me, “Baby! This world’s plum crazy
And you just never know when your card’s gonna win. See,

“I’m making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And promising the moon a cloudless sky,
Cause making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
Is just my way of giving you the sky.

“I’m making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
And promising the moon a cloudless sky,
Cause making rag doll babies and million dollar maybes
Is just my way of teaching you to fly.”

© 1998 & 2005 by Joy Renee Davis

Meanwhile, I'm still sweating for Sven and starting to panic as the reality of a commitment to a minimum of 1000 words per day for 70 days is sinking in. Every time I think about word count it sends my muse to deep freeze. Which just makes it worse.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sunday Serenity #14

I went to YouTube looking for a simple video of a sleeping baby because watching babies sleep and holding sleeping babies and rocking babies to sleep are all serenity inducing for me. But in my search, I came across these two music videos. I couldn't choose between them so I'm posting them both.

I adore Anne Geddes photography. I could spend many serene hours looking at the baby pics she produces.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Snippets: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities part 1

print for sale at art.com

I'm way late getting this ready to post. It has been one of those days. I got a few hours of sleep this morning after Ed left for work but the first time I got disturbed, I got up and got back to work. Didn't even go make coffee first.

Still putting most of my time into reading drafts and notes, organizing files, converting files and tweaking that timeline. But I have got some new word count. Can't say exactly how much as it is all added here and there in different files. I'm guessing between 1000 and 1500. I was trying to get everything set up so that I could keep all the new material separate from the old so I could do more precise word count. But that was going to take hours more of file set up. I thought it was more important to start adding content when the impulse was strong as I was reviewing the old drafts.

I have slept only in small chunks since Monday morning when I dove into Sven's Sweat lodge. My body may be getting even with this massive sore throat I've had for three days solid. Thought I was coming down with a cold but so far it is just the sore throat. Possibly a mild fever but it is hard to tell what with the temps here in the valley running between the high nineties and low hundreds and the naturally fevered state of my mind whenever I go on one of these story binges.

And then we had out of town company this evening and I couldn't be anti-social the whole time...

Enough rambling. Following is the first part of the first story of the first 'book' of my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld. I put 'book' in quotes as I'm still unsure whether this would make a better novel or series of novels. The overarching title for all the stories will be By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them. This story is from the book featuring Faith (the character and the theme) and it's title will be The Substance of Things Hoped For. (Which is also the title of one of the stories or chapters within it.)

This is about 2000 words and comprises one third of this story. I will post the next part next Friday. And the next the Friday after that. I'm not sure yet whether there will be three or four sections. I look for natural breaks in the action to split them.

Please let me be clear that this is not the new material which counts for the challenge.

Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities

by Joy Renee

The three women ensconced within the 1957 Chevy Bellaire were as incongruous to the car as were its neon purple paint and hot pink fake-fir seat covers. The driver--so short she peered through the upper hemisphere of the steering wheel to see out--with her rakishly cut flame-red hair, might be mistook for a child from behind. But the only state trooper to make that mistake was effusively apologetic upon pulling her over to find directed at him the drill-sergeant eyes in a leathery face and the chilling voice of one well used to authority. “Young man! I’ll have you know that unless there’s some law against driving two miles under the speed limit you have nothing on me.” After that word went out along I5--especially that portion between Longview and Vancouver, Washington--that the ‘little boy’ driving the purple Chevy was not to be hassled unless ‘he’ really violated the law.

The tall, patrician featured woman next to the driver could never have been mistaken for a child--probably not even in her childhood. Steel-gray hair, peeled back from chiseled features, coiled like a spring atop a head set sculpture-like upon a long column of neck. She sat erect, an ear cocked to the radio.

“…apparent it was the creamer, not the coffee, the unknown perpetrator infused with ipecac. It is now thought by police to be a Halloween gag--but neither the four diner owners nor the six victims are laughing. Will the Ghoulish Gagger strike again? His favorite haunts seem to be…”

“How can they be so irresponsible?” Wilma snapped the radio off in disgust. “They must realize this criminal can as well use a deadly poison. What possesses them to joke about it?’

Julia shrieked with laughter. “Oh that’s good, that’s good. They got you Wilma, even you, using their silly Halloween vocab. ‘Ghoulish prankster, ‘Favorite haunts,’ ‘What possesses them?’ They’re playing this Halloween angle to the hilt. That’s what possesses them. You’re so dense Wilma.”

Laughter froze in Julia’s throat as she looked up into the cobalt-blue of Wilma’s reproving gaze. “Halloween is not for nearly nine weeks. I do not see the connection.” Wilma faced firmly forward, the coil of hair atop her head drilled into the fabric of the ceiling, punctuating her remark.

Calmer, Julia spoke with less derision. “The connection? Maybe a bewildered cop thinking out loud in front of the press said something like: ‘If this was October I’d call this a simple Halloween gag.’ and that was translated: ‘It is now thought by the police…’ That’s the game they play.” When Wilma did not reply, Julia shrugged and gravid silence grew between them.

This silence unnerved Faye. As much as she disliked bickering--the merest hint of discord could fret her for hours--she could not imagine her twin sister and sister-in-law’s relationship without it. That is why she would often let them have at it until there was a clear winner or impasse and then try to distract them. For if there was one thing they both relished as much as one-upping each other it was teasing her.

“I wonder if Wilma could please crack her window a mite.” Faye’s chirpy voice, barely audible, emerged from her nest of parcels in the back seat. “I can’t reach my handles and it’s getting awfully stuffy in here.

“What’s that, sis? Speak up so’s we can hear you.” Julia spoke in chorus with Wilma’s: “It is well known that a direct breeze is not good for one.

When Wilma made no move to open her window, Faye scrunched her shoulders around her ears, retreating to her perch atop the plethora of packages from their Labor Day sales hopping, and tried to smooth her ruffled courage by running her fingers through her snow-white fluff of curls.

“Pshaw, Velma!” The hated nickname was a jab at Wilma’s bossiness. “One must be wary of believing what is well known.” Julia parodied Wilma’s fastidious diction. “The truth is you couldn’t bear for one strand of hair to escape that bun and would broil us all to insure it. But if you’d rather not crack your window so’s we can get a cross breeze, I’ll just roll mine down.” Julia reached for her crank.

“If you insist.” Air whistled through the tiny crack. “Do keep both hands on the wheel Julia. One must be prepared for all contingencies. Statistics show…”

"Oh, shtistics, shmistics. I’ve driven fifty years without one close call, I figure I must be doing something right.” She hooked an index finger over the lower rim of the steering wheel and sat on her other hand, casting a so-there-look at Wilma who squared her shoulders and fixed her eyes on the road.

Lulled by the heat and monotonous hum of the tires, Faye drowsed. Julia, glimpsing her in the rearview mirror, warned her, “Don’t fall asleep. We’re stopping for dinner shortly.” Faye started and Julia gave a sharp, staccato laugh. “Poor Faye! We done wore her out. Do you suppose gals, that we made any kind of dent in the Portland bargain basements this year? Judging by my feet and the loot piled in here, it sure seems so.” Then, laughing so hard she could barely get the next words out, “Probably the most impressive thing we’re bringing back is all the fancy sacks with the high-faluting logos on them. For the next few months we can awe the garbage man with the quality of our wastebasket liners. Eh, roomy?” She jabbed Wilma with her elbow and slapping her own leg with one hand, she laughed uproariously at her own joke.

“Our garbage collector is female.” Wilma said.

"Oh Sister, you’re terrible.” Faye giggled.

“The speed limit on this off ramp is 35.” said Wilma. “You had better…”

“Yes. Yes. Wilma. I know. You never fail to remind me. I often wonder why you never got your license. You must have every off ramp speed-limit between Salem and Seattle memorized. It’s truly a shame to let such knowledge go to waste.” Julia slowed and signaled as they neared the exit.

Wilma’s retort was cut off by a gasp from Faye as a motorcycle swooped up from behind, passed on their right and cut in front of Julia just as they left the freeway. Startled, Julia swerved to the right. The rear tire hit the gravel and spun uselessly, but she kept control and quickly regained the pavement.

“Faith, I’m amazed at you! You know better than to startle the driver. I saw him. There was plenty of room.”

“Stop!” Faye pled, frenetically kneading the seat-back in front of her with pudgy fingers.

“Why, whatever for?” Julia said as Faye scrambled over packages toward the door.“You weren’t hurt?”

“No. A cat. Please stop.” She fumbled for the door handle.

Julia pulled to a stop on the gravel. Frantic, Faye had the door open before the car stopped and tumbled out, but catching hold of the door she kept a semblance of balance. She winced as stocking-clad feet hit sharp heat-honed rocks but did not consider returning for the shoes earlier removed from tired, aching feet. The searing heat of the asphalt was but a bit more bearable, but she forged ahead for fear she would be too late.

She hurried toward the place she had seen a cat crouched in the high weeds, stalking a seagull investigating a clump of litter. As they had passed she had twisted to watch as it prepared to pounce. The bird, startled by their car, had winged across the ramp in their wake and the cat, undaunted, had launched itself after it, missing but only by a claw-length.

Faye had been thrilled by this little drama until the motorcycle had roared onto the ramp, swerving (she could have sworn, purposefully) towards the cat. She had been sick with helpless horror to see the little body flung into the weeds. These ones, right here. She knelt beside the bloody, unmoving, mangled body of the cat.

A tear slipped onto her cheek--silent tribute to the life-loving life now gone, to the frolicking in sun-warmed grass forever stilled, to the purrs of contentment forever cut off, to the thrill of the hunt and of the pounce nevermore to be savored. Her moment of mourning broken by the sound of tires on gravel, she looked up to see her own open door slide into view as Julia backed towards her. Gratefully she rose and hobbled across the gravel toward it.

Braced by the door as there was no room to sit on the overflowing seat, she fumbled first among castoff candy wrappers and pop cans on the floor for her black pumps, eased them with care onto sore swollen feet, ignoring all the while Julia’s insistent, questions.

It was after all her car. Leastwise her dear Inny’s. Though she had refused to drive it since that fateful day nigh onto ten years now, when the man she knew, the man she had loved and shared thirty years of a childless (though far from barren) marriage, was taken from her and replaced by the simulacrum that now sat away the weeks in a foster home, withered in body and mind…so, although she had taken a back seat in the Chevy of late and allowed her twin to chauffeur and otherwise coddle her, it was still her car. Hers and Inny’s.

So she let Julia rattle on as she rummaged among the sacks and found a large, sturdy paper bag with handles. She dumped out a leather handbag, several leather belts and a pair of ankle-high suede boots, opened the handbag and transferred its tissue paper stuffing back to the bag.

“There’s blood on your hands! Your blouse! Your ankles!” With each word Julia’s voice raised a note on the register of hysteria. “In the name of whatever’s holy, Faith! Will you please tell me what’s going on?”

“Not mine. The cat’s.” Faye wiped sweat out of her eyes, leaving a smudge of blood across her fore head. “That…that cretin killed it!” She stuffed boots and belts into the handbag and returned it to the pile. “I’m taking it home for a proper burial.” And she was off before Julia could respond.

Julia would be fuming when she returned, but a done-deed was not undoable by debate. Let her stew. There were few enough times Faye ventured to thwart her twin. Confident in the correctness of her cause she felt infused with the same bold, assurance she so envied in her sister.

The task of putting the dead cat in the bag was quickly and unceremoniously accomplished. Save the ceremony for the burial this evening, she anticipated, when the cool-soft breezes of sundown sweep in off the river. Climbing into the car slightly out of breath, her cheeks a hectic red, she placed the bag atop the assorted parcels. It blended right in, an innocuous companion.

“Faith, Hope and Charity!” Julia exclaimed. “To borrow an oh so apt phrase: What has possessed you? We all know you’re dotty about cats, but this is ludicrous! Even for you!”

Faye met Julia’s eyes with steady gaze. She feared if she tried to speak her fa├žade of defiance would fall. When Julia looked away first, it seemed as though a tectonic plate had shifted under her, leaving her to peer across a gaping fault-line at her twin. She felt sweet satisfaction for standing up to Julia, and for that, she felt bitter shame.

“It is a hazard for off-ramp traffic to idle so close to the freeway.” Wilma broke the spell. “A ticket-able offense if no emergency is evident.” It seemed her very words conjured out of the heat-shimmer the patrol car just then gliding to a stop behind them.

To be continued...

I couldn't figure out how to subscribe to the auto-link code for Friday Snippets so I'm sending you to one participant I know about who does have it installed. There you can find more Friday Snippet participants

Ann at Fractured Fiction

Other Sweating for Seventy participants can be found here:


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time To Start Writing

I gave myself until Friday to prepare my inner and outer spaces for writing for the Seventy Days of Sweat Challenge. Times up. Time to start generating word count. I think I'm going to panic.

I spent most of Thursday working with the timeline of the story, trying to establish the ages of certain characters at the time of certain events. This is one of the tasks that I had been puttig off. It was one I had done once before but then lost all my notes when we abandoned our storage unit in 2001. This is a complex task because there are so many major characters with family trees that are entwined.

Ed downloaded a geneology program for me. I was excited to hear that it combined both family tree and timeline view. But then discovered that the timeline view was not part of the freeware version. So then I wasted several hours looking for a freeware timeline generator. The timeline is important not just to show the lifelines of the characters against each other but to show the events of the story against their current events in history.

I fianaly started working it out the hard way: paper and pencil. I took the events in the story Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dolar Maybes as my starting place as I consider that story fairly close to a final draft. I don't want to have to do any major rewriting to adjust age discrepancies. Complicating things then is the fact that sixteen or so of the characters who have significant roles to play throughout the story timeline, are introduced in this one story. I was working from my notes when I wrote the story so most of those characters are the right ages in relation to each other. Knowing that helped me to reverse engineer their ages by taking the stated ages of one character at two events spaced approximately 9-10 years appart and the working with what was implied or stated about the ages of the other characters in relation to hers.

But I made a major editorial decision to bring the story forward in time to the new millenium from the time setting of the late eighties through early nineties which was current at the time I was writing it. There are no current events mentioned in that story but there will be in many of the stories. For example: there is a character who serves in the military during a conflict. I once intended that to be the Korean War but have switched to Vietnam.

Well, I guess I shouldn't be wasting any more time talking about it. I have one more major organizational chore to do before I can start writing. I have to convert all twenty some of the story files and note files from Microsoft Works wps format to RTF because I want to make OpenOffice.org my primary wordprocessor and it can't open Works documents. I might as well make the transition now while there are only twenty some files to convert. Another consideration is that most of the work I did for NaNoWriMo the last two years has been in WhizNotes which uses txt and rtf. I never got around to merging the work I did in WhizNotes with the wps files in 2005 and last fall I already had OpenOffic.org and have been intending to move all of it there, an intimidating and tedious chore. OpenOffice.org is comparable to Microsoft Office but is freeware and opensource.

I forgot to click publish. Not sure when it was I was wrapping up that last paragraph. Something distracted me.... Typical.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #41

Update: Am changing the number in the title from 40 to 41. Took me nearly four days to notice that goof. Hope this doesn't confuse anyone. Don't know how it affects the archive and permalinks when you change a post title.

Since signing up for the Seventy Days of Sweat challenge, I haven't had much else on my mind. I discovered the challenge after it started and signed up on impulse because I knew if I let myself think about it, I would find too many reasons to not do it. I have no new word count yet and probably won't for several more days. I have been working at optimizing my work space (both physical and virual), organizing my files (again, both physical and virtual), re-reading some of the finished stories and rough-drafts and notes, daydreamig the storyworld, and familiarizing myself with the use of three different applications which I'll be using to help me keep all the notes and drafts organized and at my fingertips. I'll blog about those aps later. Although all three of them are in the TT I did just before Christmas about freeware, I will blog about just how they facilitate the specifice tasks writer's encounter.

I am considering posting out-takes or snippets as I've seen them called. Possibly pick a day of the week, say Friday, and post a chunk between 500 and 1500 words from one of the stories. I am quite shy of sharing the really rough drafts of scenes though as anticipating sharing them often makes my muse shy. Can't have that right now. But I have enough material from stories I consider fairly solid, fairly close to final draft form to fill up the eight or nine weeks of this challenge. So, let me hear from you writers: does posting out-takes help or harm the publishing process? I mean will having posted them cause potential publishers to loose interest? Or is that risk mitigated by the potential of proving to a publisher there is enough interest in my stories to take a risk? I keep going back and forth. I've posted out-takes from #11 and #13 below in the past. I was going to hunt up the permalinks for them but I would rather get this posted and get back to work....

Thirteen Titles of Stories From My Fruit of the Spirit Storyworld

1. The Substance of Things Hoped For

2. Of Cats and Claws and Cuiosities

3. Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes

4.Strange Attractors

5. Faye's Strays

6. To Sip the Light Prismatic

7. Brooding Instinct

8. Lever of Love (Love's Lever)

9. Storyteller's Spouse

10. Braided Rainbows

11. Tale of a Wail

12. Majoring in Marine Biology

13. Kicking the Bucket

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was working on another topic for today's post, about my plans and progress with the Sweating for 70 challenge, but I was sweating whether I could get it ready before midnight. And then a major thunderstorm moved in on us. Which means the power could go off any second. I could keep working on batteries but the WIFI would go down and the broadband connection and thus I couldn't post it. So I think I will just post this quickie. It is freaking being the only one awake in the house while this storm is growling and blowing. It sounds like it is still dry, no rain, and that isn't good because of the fire danger in the surrounding fields and hills with dry brush, grass and trees.

I hate when the electricity goes off too. I have a couple hours of battery power for the laptop. Another couple hours with my booklight for reading. Possibly another couple hours on the batteries in my Discman to listen to music. I guess that adds up to six and the power is seldom off that long. But still. It seems I always would rather be doing just that thing that I can't be doing. Although tonight, I am tired enough I could probably sleep. I was awake for over thirty hours between Sunday afternoon and Monday evening all jazzed up on the Sweating for 70 challenge. I only got six hours of sleep last night and got up with my husband this morning because I had not done the dinner dishes Sunday evening because it was so hot I couldn't keep the sweat out of my eyes.

As soon as I got the dishes done this morning, I spread my project elements all over the bed and I spent the whole day organizing and thinking. I learned about the challenge late so I have to play catch up. I may not generate much if any word count for a couple more days.

Temps went over 100 today and it was miserably humid as well because this storm was building over the western hills, moving in from the coast. The heat zaps me of energy so I would probably find it easy to sleep if the power goes out, narrowing my options. I can still daydream the storyworld in the dark too. Keep a note pad and pencil with the booklight near by for quick notes.....

Lights just flickered three times in ten seconds. I'm pushing my luck. Better publish. Hope there's not too many typos and misspellings.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Seventy Days of Sweat Challenge

I'm sweating anyway. (high 90s here again today) I might as well have something to show for it.

This is a writing challenge. 70,000 to 100,000 words in 70 days. But unlike NaNoWriMo, they are easy about whether you are starting a brand new project or working on one with significant word count already in the bag. Even about whether it is a single book or several. You just count the new word count of whatever you are working on. This makes this challenge perfect for exactly what I need. A boost to the tuckus to get back to work on my Fruits of the Spirit Storyworld.

This WIP is a multi-generational and probably multi-volume saga. I'm hoping that by the end of this challenge (September 20) I will know for sure if it needs to be a series rather than a single book. If the projected word count for a single volume were to go much beyond 200,000 it would probably be best to split them up.

Spliting them up is something I have already tried. For each of the three NaNoWriMo that I participated in, I picked one of the two dozen or so major characters for which I had little to no word count other than character sketches and limited myself to the story they were the POV character for. It is possible that in at least one case, the character I chose isn't going to carry a novel length segment all by herself. In the other two cases, it is more likely my difficulties arose from needing to work something out by writing one of the stories for one of the other characters first.

I don't know. But I had just been thinking over the past couple weeks that it was time to start thinking about which character's story I was going to take on for NaNoWriMo this year and the thought held both anticipation and anxiety. Because I really want to get back to work on FOS but I don't want to put all the stories already in progress off limits for a month. Well, three months actually, for I usually start the selection and planning process in August each year.

Each character in this storyworld has a name that points to the theme which their story carries: love, joy, peace, faith, hope, patience, innocence, mercy, grace, will, justice, life, law, light, tolerance, balance, and so forth. They carry their theme around with them even when they just have walk-on roles in another characters story. I hope to make each chapter a stand alone story. I intend to have each chapter be from a single POV, but I'm flexible if the story demands otherwise. If one character (as I anticipate Faith will) accumulates enough word-count as POV then there is potential for that to be a stand alone novel. But then what happens to those POV characters who don't carry a minimum of 50,000 words? These are questions I hope I will be much closer to answering by the end of these seventy days.

The flexibility of this challenge allows me to range all over the map of the story, dabbling in this scene and then that one, moving back and forth between POV characters as the spirit moves me.

I already have approximately 20,000 words in two complete, nearly publishable quality stories. Both with Faith Jubilee Gardner nee Fairchild as POV. What excites me about this challenge is that it allows me to count work on those scenes and stories featuring Faye, whom I've neglected terribly because of NaNoWriMos strictures. I have another approximately 40,000 of abysmally rough draft words combining the three stories I worked on for NaNoWriMo. My goal is to average 1000 words of new material per day. I don't expect it to be anything but rough. In fact I must not expect more than that or I will freeze up.

I am going to play with this storyworld again, like I did once upon a time when it was first born.

This is going to make my niece very happy. She has been pestering me to get back to work on this ever since she read one of Faye's stories and went gaga over it. Was that last summer?


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