Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWinMo 2007

I don't have a printer but my Mom does and I hope to be at her house by Monday. Can't wait to print this out and fill it out. Maybe multiple copies and fly some off the Longview-Rainier Bridge over the Columbia River. Or better yet rolled up in a bottle and dropped into the river. Or both.

Does that seem a bit too extravagant? Obnoxious? This was my fourth attempt and first win.


Friday Snippets 21

Finally a snippet from my NaNo novel which I'm willing to share. It took two days of reworking it to get it to this point. I crossed the finish line shortly before noon yesterday but have not uploaded to NaNo's verifier yet as I was focused on getting this prepared. I'm going to get that done before I start my blog visiting for Snippets, TT and Poetry Train. Said visits will be the focus of all my Internet activity for the next week but may be hit and miss over the next few days as I'm supposedly traveling north to spend a couple weeks with my family in Longview, Washington.

I'm not sure exactly when as I've not heard from my sister yet as to when they will be driving through here on their way back from visiting with my Mother's family in Gerber and Sacramento where they spent Thanksgiving. I haven't even started to pack yet and that is going to be a huge endeavor as the chaos in my room reflects the chaos of my Spring Fever manuscript. I've not been keeping atop the clutter for several weeks and haven't done laundry since the weekend before Thanksgiving. I hope my sister took me seriously when my last IM message was that I would not start packing until she called to let me know when to expect them. When they stopped by to see me on their way back last year she called from her cell phone as as they approached the Phoenix exit on I5. Since our trailer park is right next to it they were here within five minutes.

OK. Enough blathering. Here is a snippet from the second chapter of Spring Fever, it has no title of its own yet but it may be helpful to know that this chapter is governed by the themes expressed in the Emperor's card of the tarot.


Graham paced the perimeter of the room as he read aloud from the slim volume he held in one hand as his other hand kept brushing back the silver and charcoal marbled hair that kept falling over his brow. His words were as measured as his steps.

' La gloria di colui che tutto move
per l'universo penetra, e risplende
in una parte più e meno altrove.'

"Who would like to translate?" His eyes swept the faces of the dozen grad students gathered around the long table that nearly filled the small room. Some few were studiously ignoring him as they stared down at their own copy of Dante's Paradiso. Others were doodling and several were fanning their faces with their books. Only one zealous hand waved high.

Graham stopped behind the one empty chair, besides his own at the head of the table which he'd abandoned in the first moments of class, and leaned his forearms on its back, resigning himself to the inevitable. When Maia Robins missed a class the life went out of the party. She had a way of eliciting the participation of the others in an easy repartee. He was often irritated by the frivolity that would ensue, feeling the reins slipping from his hands with his carefully scripted lesson.

"Mr. Egan." Graham pronouced the name with care, restraining himself from saying aloud the mnemonic which helped him remember this student's name. Eager Beaver.

He closed his eyes in a mental wince as the rush of words, squeezed out of the soggy sponges that were Dave Egan's lips, poured in a tuneless torrant.

"The glory of Him who moveth everything
Doth penetrate the universe, and shine In one part more and in another less."

Having stood and spun towards the window with his back to the circle of faces Graham opened his eyes, finding his unfocused gaze wandering over the pink and green spackled blue through the blooming branches of the nearby Dogwood grove. "That was a fine display of an ability to memorize Longfellow's translation, but it demonstrates neither your translating competence nor your comprehension of the author's intent. Which of course was the aim of this exercise."

Graham was about to turn back to the class when he caught a glimpse of movement, a splash of color airbrushed against the green grass of the yard. A familiar figure glided in a flurry of fabric. A lithe-legged, bramble-headed wood-nymph clothed in scarves with a garland of flowers woven into her autumn leaf colored hair and a half-dozen bangles between wrist and elbow that he knew mimicked wind chimes with every movement of her arm. A sound that had annoyed him enough in class one time for him to offer her a roll of tape to silence them only to have her hold out both arms for him to apply the tape himself right there in front of the others. Another quirk of hers that annoyed him, this willingness to display in class the familiarity with him borne of her many visits to his home since last Fall to meet with Holly who was her advisor.

Holly, his beloved Holly who spent most of her hours these days strapped into her wheel-chair her own lithe-limbs imprissioned by MS, whose much sought after poetry writing classes had been cut back to one small by-invitation-only class which met at their home. Maia, of course, was one of the invited. If not for Maia, Holly would probably have taken this entire year off. She had stopped taking on new advisees a couple years ago and, about to see her last one graduate, was contemplating the possibility of taking this year off when she got the submission from Maia last year. Graham was equal parts grateful for the new light in his wife's eyes and envious that it was Maia and not he who put it there.

He could not understand what it was Holly was so enthused about nor why she was so indulgent with this girl, this child-woman. Several times over the last months Maia had called to cancel appointments with Holly and she had missed an occasional class with him, including the first one of the term last week. When he expressed his disapproval of this evidence of a lack of seriousness to Holly she just smiled. And last week she'd said Maia's excuse was probably the most legitimate one possible short of death or an incapacitating accident or illness.

What was she doing now? Stooping on the grass and fishing around under that voluminous tent of cloth, yet another poncho or cape covering her to mid thigh. She must have a wardrobe of the things as she had sported a series of them in every fabric from felt to cashmere since last Fall. This one a shimmering sky-blue in silk or light-weave linen. She stood now, fumbling at her collar-bone area--with a bra strap? with the the knots of one of those saris that looked always to need but a firm tug to end as a puddle around her feet?

With an exasperation reaching unfamiliar heights, he opened the window and called down to her. "So nice of you to join us Ms. Robins." The blossom-scented breeze assaulted his face and a cloud of butterflies swarmed up from the bushes below him

He was gratified to see her startle and to catch a glimpse of a fleeting expression of chagrin.

“Ah, I’m sure Miss Robins you have heard often of the proverbial early bird and the worm.”

“Often and often Professor Carmelo and I always thought the late worm had the best deal of all.”

A gurgle of laughter flowed though the room and Graham felt himself blushing like a callow kid. Raising his hand he brushed at a tickle on his brow only to find the tickle transferred to his hand. He stared in bemusement at the butterfly on the back of his hand.

In hopes of regaining control of his class and putting her back in her place he called out again. "Perhaps you would like to share with us your translation of the first tercet of Paradisio?"

From below came the musical tones of a voice trained for stage and choir, projected as though to reach the wispy clouds above as her hands made graceful gestures about her head that did not disturb the halo of butterflies that had lit on the wreathe of flowers in her hair:

"The gloriole of the Choreographer,
Riddles the Cosmos, illuminating
Here a little more and there a little less."

"It's original at least. Though you've taken some mighty liberties."

He could hear her sigh from where he stood and could not help but hear within his head an irony-infused declamation of the of Paradiso's thirty-fourth tercet.

Ond'ella, appresso d'un pio sospiro,
li occhi drizzò ver' me con quel sembiante
che madre fa sovra figlio deliro,

If you simply must see the translation, highlight below to read Longfellow's rendition. And no, I do not read or speak Italian. Maia's translation took me hours of perusal of four different translations and my J. I. Rodale Synonym Finder to turn out three lines that reflected both Dante's words and Maia's unique take on things.

Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh,
Her eyes directed tow'rds me with that look
A mother casts on a delirious child;


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yipee Ki Yi Yay

I made the NaNo 50,000 before noon today but I'm waiting until tomorrow to upload to the verifier as I've still got to transfer it into a text file and then scramble it. I wasn't in a hurry to get that done today because when I input my word count for yesterday at just after 11PM my time, the scripts at NaNo credited it to today which left me with another zero showing for yesterday. The same thing had happened to me the first week when I input my word count just after 9PM my time and that quite frustrated me since I was scrupulous to not start writing until after midnight on the first day and was assured that I had until midnight on the 30th to verify. A couple of weeks later though I input after ten and got credit for the still current day. So I relaxed. Then this happened last night.

I decided early today that I wouldn't worry about updating my word count today at all because, for one thing, whose gonna believe that total of near 7K for a single day? And for another I hoped to get one scene polished enough to input into the excerpt form at NaNo finally and then use it for my Friday Snippet this evening also. That project was going quite well all afternoon and evening but its still not quite ready to post.

I'm not getting nearly enough return on investment of minutes to warrant continuing to force it. This is due in part to having had only three hours of sleep this morning because I could not go back to sleep after Ed woke me up to tell me to relax about going after our glasses today because his Dad was going to drive him over to pick up both pair and then drive him to work before returning here with mine. I was just too excited to go back to sleep. I had them before eight-thirty. For the first several hours I was silently singing 'I can see! I can see! I can see!' I was able to change the font I was working with for my NaNo story from 20pt down to 12pt. I discovered I could read some of my most important reference materials without a magnifying glass again. I tested a page in The Historian, the novel I was reading for the Read-a-Thon in October and so demoralized me then when I found my reading speed had slipped below 20 pages per hour from the better than 50 of six years ago.

But by mid afternoon things were not so thrilling. I was suffering what amounted to motion sickness brought on by my efforts to focus and refocus between screen, keyboard and reference material through the unfamiliar bifocals. I also lost a lot of time to attempts to reorganize my workspace to find a better level for the screen so that I wouldn't have to point my nose at the ceiling in order to focus through the lower part of the lenses.

I lost even more time to an exploration of a baby name site to look for a new last name for my male POV. I've been unhappy with it almost from the get go but hadn't wanted to take the time to look for another one. It is one of those things I can easily spend all day contemplating and researching and I was deliberately denying myself the right to indulge that little fetish. But when I chose one of his POV scenes to showcase and began working on it this morning, I just couldn't keep typing 'Professor Simons' it wasn't clicking for me. I couldn't bond with him. I considered going with his middle name, Palmer, as his last. That almost worked but I had reasons for wanting his last name to reflect either his Italian or Jewish heritage. After more than an hour I found this: Carmelo is pronounced kar-MAY-loh. It is of Italian and Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "fruitful orchard; garden". Biblical place name: refers to Mount Carmel in Israel, which is referred to in ancient writings as a kind of paradise. What better name for a man who has made Dante's Divine Comedy the focus of his life? There are actually several reasons this name and it's meanings mesh right in with the fabric of this story, thematically and otherwise.

Since settling on that around two this afternoon, I was able to make quite good progress on a rewrite of one of Professor Graham Palmer Carmelo's scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in his company too. This is the way I keep anticipating the whole month of NaNo will be like and then get horribly dispirited when there are only there or four days like this out of the entire thirty.

There is a very good chance I can have this scene ready to post by early afternoon tomorrow. That is if I can get some solid rejuvenating sleep first.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #62

Thirteen More Whacky Title/Author Combos

40 Yards to the Latrine by Willy Makeit and Betty Wont
50 years in the saddle by Major Asburn
Body Parts by Anne Atomy
Boring Midwestern Cities: Cole Lumbus
Boy Scout's Handbook: Casey Needzit
Brane Surjery Maid Simpel: Sarah Bellum
Breaking the Law by Kermit A. Krime
Bring to the Grocer's by R. List
Bubbles in the Bathtub by Ivor Windybottom
Candle-Vaulting by Jack B. Nimble
Car Capital Of The World: Mitch Egan
Car Repairs: Axel Grease
Care For A Chop?: Marsha Larts


I've got ten more pages of these. As in 8X11, single-spaced, narrow margins. This is the forth batch I've posted in a TT and I just now dipped into page two. And from now on I'm going to have to actually read them before I post them because I haven't read past the first page before. And I just now had to delete one of them because it contained an offensive term--the one that got Imus in trouble last spring.

I'm putting this up now but I may not get to do any visiting until tomorrow afternoon--after I've gotten my NaNo quota for the day which stands now for me at 2K which is a lot better than the 3200 per day I was faced with a week ago. That 2K will only hold true if I get another 700 or so in the next three hours.

I think I'm going to make it. And without missing a day of posting.

The call from the optometrist came today. My new glasses came in but it was already too near their closing time. So I've got that to look forward to for tomorrow. It's going to eat a chunk out of my day but it might just pay it back over the following hours in lessening eyestrain and in allowing me to ratchet my font size down from 20pt so I can see more than a word or two at a time.

For those of you who have visited this month and not gotten return visits, I am paying attention and I will find my way to your TTs in the next two weeks.

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, November 27, 2007

Almost Dug Out

5996 words to go. Three days of NaNo left. Ain't got many words left in me tonight so let me say it with pics:

Be careful what you ask for.

the prints are all for sale at and each is linked to its catalog page


Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #27

Flying From Grace

by Joy Renee

As flying buttresses skyward yearn,
So lovers for transcendence burn.
Yet many tend to fall for less,
Snared by a butter-colored tress
Wind-blown against the cyan sky.
They are in this like butterflies--
Those sky-flowers that flutter by
In search of earth-bound images
Of self, stem-tethered camouflages,
On which to alight to gain a respite
From all varieties of alien inspection--
Spurning all offers of reciprocal affection.


I kept this one back so long because I'm not satisfied it is finished. Although I like what is there well enough, I'm sure I meant there to be more to it. The point, the resolution or something has not been reached.

I wrote it over a decade ago and only have a copy because I liked it enough to 'waste' ink and paper to make a hard-copy for my portfolio even though it was unfinished. All the electronic and handwritten rough-drafts which might give me clues to what my intentions were at the time were lost with the rest of my manuscripts, journals and notes in our 2001 move.

As I read it now it strikes me there is something similar to a sonnet to it and I wonder if that was what I was attempting. That would fit with the time-frame as the early to mid nineties were when I was immersing myself in everything Shakespeare because of the character in my Fruit of the Spirit story world whose every utterance is a line from Shakespeare.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Just Might Make It: NaNo & Sven Progress Report

I'm sitting at 37511 words for my NaNo and 70 Day round two project. To earn my NaNo win I must maintain a pace of about 2500 words per day for five more days. By several times surpassing the 3200 word daily quota that earlier lack of progress had subjected me to by last Wednesday, I've managed to make the next five days a bit more manageable. But I must say, I'm feeling fragile and frangible right now. I'm exhausted and I've overused my hands and eyes since Wednesday after the breakthrough I made last Tuesday. I've clocked in over 15K since last Sunday just on my NaNo novel, Spring Fever. That doesn't count the blog posts, commenting on other blogs, emails, IM, and note-taking and journaling unrelated to the NaNo or Sven projects.

I'm posting this progress report tonight instead of my poem for Monday Poetry Train. I'm still hoping to post the poem sometime tomorrow, I'm just too tired and distracted tonight and my hands are about to go on strike. I'm producing a typo for for about every eight to ten keystrokes.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sunday Serenity #33

Laughing with babies is one sure route to serenity. You can't watch this and hang on to your anxiety or anger or fear or sadness or boredom. There is just something about a baby's laughter that energizes and uplifts and lightens the heart.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Snippets 20

This is the continuation of last week's snippet. I repeated a few of the paragraphs near the end of last week's so the context wouldn't be too hard to slip into here. But if you missed last week's it might be worth it to catch up first as some of what follows makes makes little sense standing on its own.

Part One.

To remind you, the story is about Marion, a woman in her late forties who is loosing her eyesight and suffering symptoms of menopause and has been holing up in her room for most of the winter. Her suitor is EMT Clay, a man about eight years younger whom she has held at a distance for nearly two decades. He'd fallen for her the night he helped deliver her son shortly after the young widow with a small daughter had moved in with her blind mother next door. Marion's own daughter Ernestine, recently abandoned by her husband, has moved in with her daughter Verna. As this part opens Ernestine is calling her mother and daughter to breakfast and they were off to wash up.

How Does Your Garden Grow (part 2)

"Verna Ruth! Walk!" Ernestine commanded. "Better yet, come help Mare-Mare."

"No need. I may be washed-up but I’m not laid up." To prove it she stepped forwards without reaching for support. With the second confident step she grinned but the next instant her grin was plastered to the wall as one foot surged forward, surfing the waxed floor.

"Mother!" Ernestine lunged for her.

Marion watched the red slime slide past her eyes as her face floated down the sky-blue wall and the bright white floor drifted up, a fathomless cloud offering endless embrace….. Slugtrail slugabed snuginbed snugasa bugaboo bugout slugitout knockout knockabout knocked…

"….up to your room, and leave it. I warned you what could happen." The sound of ice-cubes breaking accompanied Ernestine’s words.

A sobbing Verna freed her blanket from Marion’s foot. "Is Mare-mare dead like Daddy?"

"Your Daddy isn’t dead, baby. He’s a deadbeat. Whole different thing." Ernestine’s voice harbored a smile. "Mare-Mare’s just knocked out. She’ll be sassy as ever in a few minutes I’m sure."

The tinkle and splash of ice-cubes in a bowl of water and the squish and splatter of a cloth immersed and wrung out, the shock of the cold compress applied to her nose, all served to focus Marion’s attention on the heart of the matter. She reached out Raggedy Ann hand’s. "Don’t" she whispered.

"Lie still, Mama." With tender strokes she wiped away gummy blood, looking for its sources.

"Not Verna’s fault. Own foolishness!" Words molded by rapidly swelling lips.

"She must learn to accommodate your eyes."

"That’s no chore for a child not yet five."

"Adjusting to the exigencies of her environment is every child’s chore. Three Psych degrees and you don’t know that?"

Marion squeezed her eyes shut against the pain--not of her wounds but her inexorable guilt. By giving her children life she gave them and theirs eyes likely to fail by middle-age, bequeathing on their youth dependent elders and foreknowledge of their relentless fate.

"Looks like just a split lip and bloody nose. But maybe you should see a doctor."

"No doctor. Clay."

Ernestine put Marion’s hand on the compress. "Hold this then."

When Ernestine returned Marion was sitting at the table. "He’s on his way." She paused. "He was expecting your call." Longer pause. "Pottery lesson was it?"

Marion stemmed the smile stinging her lip. "I still haven’t the knack of the wheel. I fear he’ll give up on me."

"If Clay were going to give up on you, he would have fifteen years ago."

Marion blushed. "I made it clear long ago there’s no hope there." Must be firm with him today.

"If he truly lost hope, it’d destroy him."

"How long have you known?"

"At thirteen I had a crush on him. He made it clear his heart was already vowed. He said it was his destiny to kiss awake a sleeping beauty but he had to wait for her to finish dreaming her dreams. And no, he didn’t tell me it was you but that wasn’t hard to figure out. Shh now, he’s here." Ernestine turned calling out, "Come on in Clay."

The patio door slid open and Clay set down a terra cotta planter. "Join us for breakfast." Ernestine said. "Can you manage scrambled eggs, Mother, or would you rather have a milkshake?"

"Eggs are fine."

"VERRRRRNA." Ernestine called.

"She’s out front." Clay said.

"I best get her." She stopped him closing the door.

Clay sat beside Marion. "Let’s see." His breath on her cheek made her shiver. "Going to be some nasty bruising."

"What’s that?" She pointed to the planter.

"I noticed the quince in your room is root-bound. Better repot soon or risk having to break the pot getting it out."

Marion was alarmed. "That’s one of your finest pieces." He’d given her the quince when they’d graduated from college. The night he’d first proposed. "But this won’t fit in there."

"Make room in here. Better yet, bring it to my house."

"Oh, Clay."

His hand behind her neck drew her face to his until their foreheads touched. "You’re breaking my heart, Marion." His earthen-brown eyes searched hers until she closed them to resist the urge to plant her soul there.

"I’m aging by the minute."

"I know what’s eating you. I had my own theory. Here." He slipped a slender object in her hand. Some kind of pen? "The other day, when I was over fixing your toilet…and you used a bucket?…I took the liberty…" His voice sank to a whisper. "You’re pregnant."

Laughter welled to overflowing within Marion, but just then Ernestine drug in a wailing Verna. "Go sit on the stairs."

"They’re for Mare-Mare!" The child’s feet plodded past Marion and the door to the stairway creaked open and the shut on her heartbroken wails.

Ernestine rolled a doll buggy chock-full of tulips to Marion’s knees. "She got them all, Mama, I’m so sorry."

Marion lifted a velvety bloom, cradling it in both hands as sobs echoed in the stairwell like memories.

"Remember the day you dusted Grandma’s desk?"

Ernestine inhaled sharply. "Yes! I moved everything and she panicked that she’d never find anything."

"She sent you.."

"To the stairs!"

"While we named and placed every last thing."

"I could’ve put everything back exactly but she wouldn’t listen."

"That’s when I swore to stop the cycle. If I ever led you to believe that my things or comfort were more important than a child’s heart, I’m sorry."

Ernestine ran for the stairs and returned carrying Verna. "Mama’s sorry. Mare-Mare’s not mad. We’ll put them in water."

Marion lifted the stem-less tulip to her nose, visualizing the acres of manicured lawn and loamy soil designed to frame a few prized blooms--now gone--and suddenly understood Clay’s preference for a yard growing with the abandon of a woodland meadow and bursting with varieties of blooms every season.

"I’ve been so contrary." She moaned against his neck.


"Take me home?"

He gathered her into his lap. "You are my home." He whispered against her earlobe as she let her body relax against his, surrendering finally to the firmness of his resolve.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #61

Thirteen Things I'm Thankful For

1. Stories
2. Storytellers: writers, novelists, poets, scriptwriters, movie directors, actors and anyone else involved in the creation of stories
3. Dreamers
4. Dreams
6. Books, Movies, Plays, DVD & Videos, and all the other delivery systems for stories.
7. Libraries!!!!
8. That Southern Oregon reopened their library system a month ago
9. Music (it is story telling in its own right and what would a film be without it?)
10. Imagination
11. Vision (both physical sight and the other, inner sight that illuminates meaning)
12. Artists (story tellers in visual and tactile media with special kudos for those who illustrated the picture books of my childhood and those for children today)
13. Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers, Teachers, friends, children and all the others who weave their stories into each other's lives to form the web of community and culture which is the ground in which story is rooted.

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!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writing Rules

print for sale at

Nuf said.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Making a Mash Of It

Having seen several 70 Days and NaNo participants displaying celebrity pics on their blogs as representations and inspirations for their heroes and heroines, I decided to give it a try when I was having trouble visualizing my hero, Graham.

I really had no idea who in famedom might fit the vague image I did have. I saw him as tall, lanky, slightly stoop-shouldered, thick dark hair shading to gray at the temples, a bit bashful, stern professor but capable of humor and tenderness. I knew he was of Italian and Jewish heritage and fifty give or take four years.

Not many remembered icons floated through my mind before I hit on Alan Alda. By the time I'd read the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on Alda I was fairly sure I'd found my guy. He was of Italian heritage. From there I went to where I found his personal photo album and when I saw this picture I knew I would find nothing better if I spent a week looking. Sorry, but I can't post that pic here as I don't want to infringe on copyright or anything. So please follow the link, it's worth it. Remember, my Graham is a Literature Prof.

While I was on Alda's site, I went exploring and found a link to an article by Alda with a title that was hard to resist. I'm glad I didn't. In, Learning To Write With a Sledgehammer, Alda talks of how he learned the value of knocking the excrescences out of his manuscripts and of those moments when you make a breakthrough and have the urge to get up and dance.

On first reading, I passed over the sledgehammer reference, thinking it only a post NaNo, post 70 Days, editing consideration. But I glommed onto the reference to those moments which inspire a celebratory dance, for I've had a one of them and it was exquisitely sweet. I haven't had any yet with Spring Fever though I came close in the week before NaNo started when the plot concept first began to gell and I began to believe I had story worth telling.

But Alda's reference reminded me of the time that I did get up out of my chair and dance about the room over one of my stories. It was the moment I typed the last word of Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes nearly ten years ago. It wasn't even the end of the novel. Just the end of a chapter in the intended novel. But it had been an intricately plotted 16,000+ word 'short' story that was intended to serve as a chapter and to be able to stand alone--as all the chapters in my novel, The Substance of Things Hoped For, are intended to do. I was ecstatic when I finished it and literally could not contain my self. I wasn't even alone in the room at the time.

Requiring each chapter to be able to both stand alone as a short story and serve to advance the plot of a novel does, of course, add an extra complexity to the construction of that novel which made it that much harder to keep a 1K a day pace with it during the first round of 70 Days this past summer. That and the fact it is tangled up with the similarly complex plots of six to eight other novels. This was why I had chosen to run with a fresh story for NaNo. One that was not entangled with the Fruits of the Spirit story world nor restricted by a complex structure. For the first two weeks I worked with Spring Fever, I was confident I was writing a fairly straightforward love story. But by the end of the first week of NaNo I knew different.

My decision to structure the novel around 22 chapters based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot was exciting when I hit on it. As was the decision to alternate POV among three equally weighted characters. But these restrictions were the source of the constriction of word flow in the second week. I was, and am, still thrilled with those choices but after about four days of zero word count following those first six or so of exceeding expectations, I began to panic and I really haven't stopped. Though I got the words to flow again, intermittently, the fun had gone out of it.

All of this was on my mind and apparently Alda's talk about taking a sledgehammer to his manuscripts began to work on me unawares as I put together my virtual scrapbook of Graham-conjuring images. I tried to remember when was the last time I had junked a huge chunk of one of my manuscripts. And I couldn't. I don't think it is faulty memory. I'm fairly sure I've never done it. I've thrown out words in the hundreds but never in the thousands. I've deleted sentences and paragraphs or severely reconstructed them but never whole scenes or chapters or sections of a novel. This is mostly because I am such a miser with the words until I am fairly certain of what I need a scene for. In other words, most of the story is contained in my head like a scene in a snow globe that shifts like scenes on the silver screen--like watching a movie in 3D while holding it cupped in your hand.

Ah, I thought, a bit pleased with myself to be sure, I've never had to take a sledgehammer to excrescences in my stories because I never put them in. But before the thought was complete, I recognized what a conceit it was. What was it Alda said he had danced for joy over?

I was dancing because, after hours of rewriting one of the scenes, I had finally solved it and had crashed through to something I knew would work.
Which meant that something he had tried had not been working. Something he had written had not been working!

So, I thought, what happens when something I'm working on stops working? I stop working on it. Indefinitely. As long as a decade in the case of several of the stories in my Fruits of the Spirit story world.

The thing that isn't working for Spring Fever right now is my insistence on trying to hold 22 themed chapters, 3 POV characters, a 30 odd year time line in my head while refusing to commit to writing scenes that aren't perfectly envisioned and locked into place on the three story arcs. No wonder I am feeling half crazed. I don't dare stop thinking about the story for one second. Not even in my sleep. Because if I do? I might drop the snow globe and shatter the story.

That is simply not working. And most especially for a NaNo project or a 70 Days of Sweat project. I have to start writing some of this down even if it is not in a form that will make the final cut. Even if I have to break all the rules of good form to do so. I need to infodump folks. I need to write long passages of description of people, places and things that aren't, for now, broken up by dialog and plot advancing narrative. I need to experiment with scene concepts, writing it one way and then a second and a third until I feel that certain click when something snaps into place. And I need for those words to count toward NaNo and 70 Days even if they sometimes feel more like note taking then story writing. Because that restriction, added to my natural perfectionism served to strangle my word flow as thoroughly as a garrote.

I'm so far behind now, at just past 20K, there is little hope that I will earn my NaNo win icon. But little is still not no. And besides, regardless if I can keep the new 3K per day pace for the next ten days, I still need to keep the 1K per day pace through mid January for Sven.

My goal now is to have 40-50K and several excrescences to take the sledgehammer to by midnight November 30th. And then for the final six weeks of 70 Days to add another 20-30K, possibly split between Spring Fever and The Substance of Things Hoped For. To do this, I need to remember Alda's words:

Hemingway said that writing is architecture, not interior decoration. I was learning that, even with all the rewriting, it wasn't renovations, either.

Now I was taking a sledgehammer to the foundation itself; redesigning it time after time from scratch, lopping off clever little inventions that caught your eye but gave you nothing of substance to build on.

After all that, when I would finally crash through to something that worked, I would feel -- and every writer must feel something like this -- a thrill, a rush of joy, a desire to dance around the room.

I still feel it. And, once in a while, I still dance.

I need to remember that the victory dance is the reaction to a breakthrough after struggling with something that isn't working, which means there has to be something there to struggle with; something more substantial than concepts and daydreams no matter how vividly envisioned; something written down even though it might be an excrescence fit only for smashing with the sledgehammer.

I need to remember and be sustained by the memory of my one victory dance resurrected by Alda's story, to hold it like a promise in a snow globe, a promissory note guaranteeing an abundance of victory dances, measured this time in months instead of decades.


Monday, November 19, 2007

"Since I'm eating for three," he said.

"Say what?"

Sometimes I think it should be Ed instead of me with the aspirations to be a writer. He is a much better storyteller even in his sleep.

As I was sitting here staring at the blank white of blogger's platform, trying to decide on what to make my post about, he put his hand on my back and said, "Could I ask a really really big favor? Is there anyway I could get you to make me a peanut butter and butter sandwich? And since I'm eating for three, you might as well make two."

He had been asleep for two hours at this point and it isn't unusual for him to ask me to go fill his water bottle or make him a middle of the night sandwich. But when he added that last, I knew he was talking in his sleep. Even when I turned and he met my eyes with both of his. I have carried on the most comical and entertaining conversations with him when he is talking in his sleep.

I asked him, "Are you awake?" and he said, "Probably." So I asked, "What do you mean you're eating for three?" and he said, "I'm eating for the shipping dock supervisor and the truck driver who doesn't have to worry about his load ...." his explanation faded into a series of mumbles, umms and snores. But his eyes were still open and apparently focused on mine. I said, "Ed, your aren't at work." He said, "Oh." and then "Well, I never claimed to be logical." And I laughed because that is exactly what he's always claiming this Mr. Spock wannabe. And he added, "Well not all the time." I then said, "I think you are talking in your sleep." and he said, "Probably." I asked, "You sure you want that sandwich?" He nodded and said. "Two."

So I went and made the sandwiches.

At least it was something I could do for him. There are times he asks me to do things that aren't doable. Like running up to his office to get the product numbers for the manifest. Or entering the data on the day's events into the work sheet. Or sending a nastygram (a chiding email) to Fulfillment and Support asking where his product was. Or writing a req (a request) to HR for six more line workers.

It's not always about work. Over the summer it was often about the dirt track races, a computer tech issue, or the novel he was reading just before bed. But this is the season when he works overtime so this is pretty much what I can expect until after Christmas. After Thanksgiving these conversations will probably be the only ones consisting of multiple syllables that I will get with him until the Friday before Christmas.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #26

Those Words "I Love You Honey"

Look, there he is over by the wall.
His hand upon her shoulder
As he guides her down the hall
He smiles as he talks to her
Laughs at what she says.
I cannot bear to watch them
As they wander on their way
I turn my head and walk away
Unable to understand
This new emotion gripping me
Could this be jealousy?
Oh, what's the matter with me!
I had the chance and turned it down
To be the one beside him now
Too late now I understand
The real meaning behind those words
When not too long ago
He slipped his arm around my waist
And said, "I love you honey."
Frightened I pushed him from me
And ran down the hall
Unheeding to his pleading call
"Hey don't run away."
He tried again not long after
But again I turned away
He tried twice, then once again
But still I pushed him from me
I needed time to think it out
Decide which way to turn
What could he mean by those strange words
"I love you honey."
Could he be telling the truth?
Now he has given up
Gone looking for another
To take my place I guess
'Cause I refused to answer.
Oh what I wouldn't give
To have another chance
To answer him the way he wants
And walk with him to class
Oh stop this wishful thinking
And get done with your work
You know that given half a chance
T'would be the same again
There they go around the corner
And with them go my hopes
Of hearing him once more say
Those words, "I love you honey."
-Joy Renee Coon 1972



I think this is what is called juvenilia. I was in eighth grade when I wrote it. Unless it was the following summer. But the events took place in the eighth grade. And are as embarrassing to remember now as they were excruciatingly humiliating and heart-crushing to live through.

Note: my first instincts were right. This guy's 'love' had a shelf life of approximately three weeks. Somehow that didn't make it any easier to watch him move on. The thing that took me nearly twenty more years to figure out was why, during those several weeks he pursued me, it was my dearest wish that he move on. Until he did.

Ummm. Susan Helene. This was my Trevor. Or at least Trevor in training. A Trevor without music or any other non-destructive means to get the recognition he craved. I heard he ended up where Trevor's older brother did. But that was from the high-school grapevine. Not the most reliable of sources.

I warned ya'll I was scraping the bottom here. Two tickets to the Poetry Train left in my files.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sunday Serenity #32

print for sale at

The art of Christian Riese Lassen always bespeaks serenity for me. That's why two of the counted cross stitch projects I've been working on for years are adapted from his works. One, nearly finished, of a mother dolphin and her baby swimming in a tropical sea under a brilliant sunset. The other of an Orca shooting out of the water under a moon and starlit sky. I haven't worked on them much since my eyeglass lenses got damaged almost two years ago. Maybe now that I'm getting new prescription eyeglasses, I will be able to work on them again.

Ed sent me the link to this video after he visited my Sunday Serenity. I couldn't resist ducking back in here and adding it. It features a slide show of Larsen's paintings.

Join us for a moment of serenity


Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Snippets 19

I'm late getting my snippet up again this week.


This time it was due to an eye doctor appointment this morning which meant that I couldn't stay up all night last night preparing the post and then visiting. I thought I would be able to get to work on it when we got home but I had not bargained on having dilated eyes. And then we had company this evening.

I chose this snipped today for several reasons. First because it features a woman living with visual impairment and that's been on my mind this week because of the upcoming eye doctor visit. Also because it features a woman in her late forties feeling sorry for herself because of her passing youth and disability and that was also a feature of my week as I said a final good-bye to my late forties on Tuesday.

I wrote this while still in my mid thirties. It is a short story and I almost posted the whole 2369 words. But I decided to split it in two.

Oh, another reason I selected this story for now is that the character, Marion, has popped up as a supporting character in two of my Fruit of the Spirit novels so far and I am leaning hard toward using her in Spring Fever, my NaNo novel this year. Which would essentially bring Spring Fever into the Fruit of the Spirit fold. I don't know if I ever intend to give her her own novel but her profession as a trauma psychiatrist comes in real handy.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
by Joy Renee

Marion traversed the dark hall her fingertips lightly brushing the velvety tulips on the wallpaper. One by one she touched them, counting as she went. Ten between her room and the door to the kitchen. She could see them as clear as day in her mind. A dark, nearly black purple regimented on a field of succulent green. She had helped her mother hang the paper near thirty years ago and been so enamored with it she had recreated its charm in the yard surrounding this house.

Acres of grass kept more perfectly groomed than putting greens framed a dozen flower beds where a prize purple tulip stood at attention for one month of every year. The only thing to spoil the effect was her neighbor Clay Quincy’s insistence on growing a variety of flowering vines on the fence between their properties. All spring, summer and fall there was an effusion of vibrant color cascading over her fence. She was sure he took a perverse delight in spoiling her creation. He had once referred to it as evidence that even psychiatrists were not proof against neurosis.

Marion left the narrow confines of the hallway, keeping a hand on the doorjamb to get her bearings before stepping into the wilderness of her house. Use a cane? In the house I grew up in? I know it like I know myself. But she often turned back to her room and waited for Ernestine to see to her. Her daughter--raising a daughter of her own, while nurturing a radio talk-show--saw to her mother’s needs with barely a hitch in her lockstep.

Light inhabited the cavernous kitchen like a dragon its lair, slashing at Marion’s eyes. She blinked rapidly behind splayed fingers until her eyes adjusted to brightness, listening to Ernestine fix breakfast--the tinkle of metal against glass (a fork stirring eggs in a bowl?) the clang of metals (a pan being lidded?) the percussion of cupboard and fridge doors, the jangle of utensil drawers. Across the room, Verna croons counterpoints of contentment to her dolls.

Marion was emerging from a winter’s mourning for dimming eyes and withering womb--a double whammy. Though her resolve to contribute no more defective genes was twenty years old--the age of her widowhood--menopause at forty-eight seemed as much a failure as failing eyes.
No matter what Clay said. Clay Quincey, an EMT, spent off duty days making pottery and courting Marion with patient perseverance. She held him off with scrupulous decorum.

Except her scruples went the way of her eyes and ovaries last fall, during a week spent hiking on the coast. They began in separate sleeping bags but confronted with the depth of their friendship, Marion found her grounds for naming their relationship inappropriate, shaky as the sand at sea’s edge. With Clay’s whispers in her ears relentless as the surf, their bags were zipped together. Then Clay proposed again.

"What objections are left?" He brushed her bangs back to plant a kiss. "Time dissolved most of them. Your mother’s been gone five years. And I never thought she’d object."

Marion hid her face against his shoulder. "She never saw you as a suitor. You saw how she treated them."

"Because she feared they’d take you away, which I wouldn’t have. Since age fourteen I did chores and errands for her, and escorted her about. She treated me like a surrogate son."

"Your eighteen to my twenty-eight made it impossible for her to see you as more than surrogate kid brother for me."

"Two decades has lessened the shock-value of that if not proved my commitment." He tightened his arm about her.

"I never doubted your commitment. Just the wisdom of it. Age difference aside, I wouldn’t deny you the delight of having your own children and they couldn’t be mine."

"I don’t want to father children who can’t have you for a mother. I’d have been content as step-father. I felt like father enough the night Neal was born. Almost delivered him myself! If the paramedics had been five minutes longer…"

"The night you found your vocation." Marion remembered the gray-faced boy kneeling beside her in as much awe of the life-savers as the life giver.

"And my heart." His hands cupped her cheeks. "Two callings which I never repented."

"I know." She caressed his lips with her thumb.

He caught his breath. "So how can you still object?"

"How can I subject you to the burden of an old blind lady?

"The same way you do Ernestine."

"That’s different. I cared for my mother as she did hers. She needs to be home anyway. Her Drew flew the coop."

He gripped her shoulders. "So let her and the kid have the house and move in with me. With your career you needn’t follow tradition and be so dependent. Doesn’t take good eyes to be a good listener. If maneuvering clinic and hospital mazes is too much, I got room for you to set up at home."

"You make it sound fated." She laid her cheek on his chest to feel his heartbeat.

"It always was." He kissed her with long-denied urgency.

Today she blushed to think that she and seriously considered his proposal for several weeks after their return home. Until symptoms of menopause consumed her thoughts and nibbled away her courage. His call this morning had penetrated her self-absorption. "You, a trauma shrink, hiding from life?" a vulnerability in his voice had twisted the knife in her guilt. Time to end his agony. Better to ruin a friendship than the rest of his life. Today she was off to Clay’s for a long-postponed pottery lesson. Where she would firmly put their relationship back into the safe zone of friendship.

Marion eased one foot forward, reaching for the table, its mahogany surface a splash of shadow against pale linoleum and cerulean walls. Her fingers followed the edge to the south window-wall, where plants of a variety of shape and hue sat on shelves and hung from the ceiling. She took a mister among them, bestowing halos of mist, fingers brushing lightly the vines and leaves, hovering over blossoms as she inhaled an ecstasy of life.

She knelt beside a fern growing vigorously from a glazed pot, hands halting over a cluster of wilted fronds. "Feeling poorly today?" She probed its soil and sniffed her fingers. "OD’d on water, poor thing."

"Is Fern sick today Mare-Mare?" Verna asked in a sick-room whisper.

"Might say so. Sometimes too much of a good thing is worse than too little. She’s got a little root rot. Best leave her be for a bit." she set the mister down and stood, wiping gritty fingers on her denim skirt and adjusting her black T-shirt’s seams. It fit snugger this spring than last. The winter had laid more than heavy thoughts on her.

"Hmmmm." Ernestine approached, "Your grunge-work get-up." Silver letters across the chest read: Down and Dirty. "I see you’re up and about."

"So you do and so I am. Up to no good and about to be caught." She winked at Verna.

"Go wash up you two. I’m about to set the table."

"I’m about washed-up already." Marion mimed a morose look in an imaginary mirror and giving herself a finger face-lift made a face at Verna, who squealed and ran for the hall.

"Verna Ruth! Walk!" Ernestine commanded. "Better yet, come help Mare-Mare."

"No need. I may be washed-up but I’m not laid up." To prove it she stepped forwards without reaching for support. With the second confident step she grinned but the next instant her grin was plastered to the wall as one foot surged forward, surfing the waxed floor.

"Mother!" Ernestine lunged for her.

Marion watched the red slime slide past her eyes as her face floated down the sky-blue wall and the bright white floor drifted up, a fathomless cloud offering endless embrace….. Slugtrail slugabed snuginbed snugasa bugaboo bugout slugitout knockout knockabout knocked…

(to be continues next week)

ummm. If you can't wait until next week to see the rest, the entire story is posted over at Joywrite. The link is in the sidebar somewhere. I'm lazy. It's late And I have less than two hours to try to generate some NaNo word count for today. So I probably won't be making my visits until I've done that.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #60

I think it is time for another batch of those silly Title/Author combos. I warned in October that I might resort to this when the pressure was on during NaNo and 70 Days. I won't run out of these anytime soon. The list sent to me vis eamil some years ago is eleven pages in 10pt font. I haven't even read them all myself yet. This third batch doesn't even finish up the first page, though I will have to move into page two to make thirteen the next time I do this.

See the post below this for a progress report (of a sort) on NaNo.

Thirteen Funny Book/Author Combos.

At The Bottom Of The Can: Hazel Nutt
Athletic Supporter: Jacques Strap
Back Row Of The Orchestra: Clara Nett
Bad Cow Jokes: Terry Bull
Bad Falls by Eileen Dover
Bad Gardeners: Wilt Plant
Bad Investment: Les Riches
Banquet at McDonalds: Tommy Ayk
Baseball Tales by Homer
Battle Axes: Tom A. Hawk
Big Fart! by Hugh Jass
Blonde Hair by Bim Bow
Blowout!: Vlad Tire

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!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I'm so far behind now, I feel like throwing my hands up. I'm only about one quarter of the way to the goal on the night before the halfway mark should have been met. I'm closing in on 13,000 but should be closing in on 25,000. Which means I need to average 1.5 times the 1667 words per day pace for the last 16 days. And that is not looking doable from where I sit right now. We're talking a daily pace of 2500 words per day. It isn't outside the realm of possibility but so unlikely I am feeling really discouraged.

I should be feeling rather pleased with myself though because today I made nearly 2000 words. But because I was aiming for 3500. And I had a fairly good chance of reaching it too because I made 1500 in 90 minutes this morning. I took a necessary break after that frantic push, intending to get right back to work but when I got back to my computer it was not cooperating with me. I though maybe I'd finally pushed the envelope to far with too many aps and windows open. But it turned out that my laptop had been commandeered by the update manager. My attempt to get back to work was met with frustration after frustration. Moving from window to window became exercises in meditation on the spinning hourglass against whited out windows. I was nervous that I was going to have to force a restart but I couldn't remember if I had saved my work before walking away from the computer.

Then the computer announces to me that updates had been downloaded and a restart was necessary to complete installation and the computer would restart automatically in 4:55; 4:48; 4:32.. The buttons gave me the option of: Restart Now and Restart Later. I clicked later and started saving my work and closing the applications. The dang alert came back every five minutes. That whole process took me longer than pumping out those 1500 words. I was so mad. Why today? Why in the middle of most peoples prime work hours. I fumed and ranted in my head during the whole procedure. If only I could have been typing those thoughts. I'd have had a much more interesting post than this.

Really, I don't get this proprietary attitude of programmers over a product that is no longer in their possession. I mean, it feels like a kind of theft to me. It steals my time and productivity. It commandeers the major tool with which I work right in the middle of a work session in which I am on a roll! How many employers would put up with the technology in the workplace if this was done to the computers of the average cubicle worker? I mean, REALLY!!!

And of course getting all worked up about it served no purpose other than to take my focus off my story and onto a frustration in which my obsessive-compulsive mind just glories in wallowing. By the time I the laptop got back to the welcome screen and I was able to click onto my desktop, I was exhausted. It takes another ten to fifteen minutes just to load my desktop. It was after noon by now and I'd been awake since six-thirty on less than seven hours of sleep after being awake for twenty hours on Tuesday--2AM to 10PM during which I advanced over 2000 words. I was tired of sitting on the edge of the bed watching a screen which I could do nothing with. I was just plain tired. So I lay down.

I was contemplating going ahead and making the walk to the library again this week even though neither me nor Ed needed any more books to see us through another week. I just wanted to get out of this room! I was going over in my mind the things I needed to do to get ready to leave. The next thing I knew I was opening my eyes in a dark room and it was 5:06. I was disgusted with myself and my mood has not improved in the last six hours.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm How Many Seconds Old?

I was just wondering yesterday how many seconds in a half century. Then I found this fun calculator today and now I know. I plugged my birth date in and got my answer--and a whole lot more:

13 November 1957

Your date of conception was on or about 20 February 1957 which was a Wednesday.

You were born on a Wednesday
under the astrological sign Scorpio.
Your Life path number is 1.

Your fortune cookie reads:
You were born with the skill to communicate with people easily.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 5 & 7.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 3 & 9.
You may or may not get along well with those with the Life Path number 8.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 2, 4, 6, 11 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2436155.5.
The golden number for 1957 is 1.
The epact number for 1957 is -1.
The year 1957 was not a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/31/1957 and ending 2/17/1958.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Rooster.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Snake; your plant is Thistle.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Tyby, the first month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 20 Heshvan 5718.
Or if you were born after sundown then the date is 21 Heshvan 5718.

The Mayan Calendar long count date of your birthday is which is
12 baktun 17 katun 4 tun 1 uinal 11 kin

The Hijra (Islamic Calendar) date of your birth is Wednsday, 19 Rabi'u'th-Thani 1377 (1377-4-19).

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 21 April 1957.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 21 April 1957.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 6 March 1957.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 9 June 1957.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 16 June 1957.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Tuesday, 24 September 1957.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Sunday, 14 April 1957.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 5 March 1957.

As of 11/13/2007 10:19:57 PM EST
You are 50 years old.
You are 600 months old.
You are 2,609 weeks old.
You are 18,262 days old.
You are 438,310 hours old.
You are 26,298,619 minutes old.
You are 1,577,917,197 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:

Rachel Bilson (1981)Whoopi Goldberg (1955)Chris Noth (1954)
Jean Seberg (1938)Oskar Werner (1922)Nathaniel Benchley (1915)
Louis Brandeis (1856)Robert Louis Stevenson (1850)

Top songs of 1957
All Shook Up by Elvis PresleyLove Letters In the Sand by Pat Boone
Jailhouse Rock by Elvis PresleyTeddy Bear by Elvis Presley
April Love by Pat BooneYoung Love by Tab Hunter
Tammy by Debbie ReynoldsHoneycomb by Jimmie Rodgers
Wake Up Little Susie by Everly BrothersYou Send Me by Sam Cooke

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 7.14755381604697 years old. (You old hound dog, you!)

Your lucky day is Tuesday.
Your lucky number is 9 & 11.
Your ruling planet(s) is Mars & Pluto.
Your lucky dates are 1st, 10th, 19th, 28th.
Your opposition sign is Taurus.
Your opposition number(s) is 6.

Today is not one of your lucky days!

There are 366 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 51 candles.

Those 51 candles produce 51 BTUs,
or 12,852 calories of heat (that's only 12.8520 food Calories!) .
You can boil 5.83 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1957 there were approximately 4.0 million births in the US.
In 1957 the US population was approximately 150,697,361 people, 50.7 persons per square mile.
In 1957 in the US there were approximately 1,667,231 marriages (11.1%) and 385,144 divorces (2.6%)
In 1957 in the US there were approximately 1,452,000 deaths (9.6 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

In 1957 the population of Australia was approximately 9,744,087.
In 1957 there were approximately 220,358 births in Australia.
In 1957 in Australia there were approximately 73,696 marriages and 6,298 divorces.
In 1957 in Australia there were approximately 84,953 deaths.

Your birthstone is Citrine

The Mystical properties of Citrine

Citrine is said to help one connect with Spirit.
Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)
Yellow Topaz, Pearl, Diamond

Your birth tree is
Chestnut Tree, the Honesty

Of unusual beauty, does not want to impress, well-developed sense of justice, vivacious, interested, a born diplomat, but irritable and sensitive in company, often due to a lack of self-confidence, acts sometimes superior, feels not understood, loves only once, has difficulties in finding a partner.

There are 42 days till Christmas 2007!
There are 55 days till Orthodox Christmas!

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was waning gibbous.

Copyright © 2006 Paul R. Sadowski (


Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #25

Those Were the Days
by Joy Renee

Those were the days
When the sky blushed blue;
When the grass grinned green;
When birds sang true.
Those were the days
Love groomed my heart;
Trust bloomed my spirt;
Joy grew unfettered.
Those were the days
My soul sang Gloria;
My eyes saw clear;
My dreams soared.
Those were the days,
I was Daddy's delight;
I was Mama's eyeshine;
I was little brother's guide;
I was baby sister's glee.


I've posted this one twice already but had nearly forgotten about it because I don't have a copy in any of my files--paper or electronic. I wrote it right in the blogger platform on September 23rd and posted it on the 24th to commemorate the first anniversary of my Dad's passing. Then in late May in honor of his birthday (the second one without him) I did my TT on memories of him and reposted this poem. Rhian saw it that week and invited me aboard the Poetry Train.

I'm reposting it today in honor of my own birthday. After today it will be four years before I can write a 4 when noting down my age. Yes, that means I'm been half a century breathing earth's air.

In the picture, taken late summer 1964, I am seven and three-quarters, my brother has just turned six and my baby sister is about a month to six weeks. That hydrangea bush I'm sitting in front of had the most gorgeous blue and purple flowers; some nearly as big as my head at that age. I've loved hydrangea from my earliest memories. I remember being thrilled earlier that year when I got to move into that bedroom looking out onto that bush when my parents moved out of it and into the new addition.

My brother and I had shared a room since I was 22 months old. He got one of the new rooms because Mom wanted to keep him closer for awhile. About a year to 18 months after this picture was taken, my sister moved in and I didn't have a room of my own again until my brother left for tech school in 1977 and my sister moved into his room. I gave up my privacy 13 months later when I got married, December 2, 1978.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Serenity #31

I had no idea such things as techno remixes of classical music existed. I found them while exploring YouTube for Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Vivaldi's Four Seasons in relation to my NaNo novel, Spring Fever.

I like.

I'm not sure how serenity inducing this remix of Beethoven's Ode To Joy is, but since I began Sunday Serenity for the purpose of injecting more of both peace and joy into my weeks I say this counts. I love Beethoven's 9th Symphony and it's last movement is my personal anthem. I dig this version.

There is more where this came from. Explore.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Crash Courses

I've had a major slow down in word production on Spring Fever, my NaNo novel, this week. When the words stopped flowing and I found myself all in a tangle on Tuesday, (a great disappointment after such a feverish start,) I began spending more time on the various crash courses I needed to flesh out the plot and the character's lives.

See my TT this week for a glimpse into the story and an idea of how many topics are involved. It is to be expected, I suppose, when you have two professors and a grad student as major POV characters and each with special interests and needs. Below are just some of the resources I've turned to so that I can pretend myself into the mind of a poet living with MS; a professor passionate about Dante; a grad student incorporating dance and the tarot into her thesis and who gives birth twice in the course of the novel. Which reminds me, I still have to research surrogacy, embryo freezing, and midwifery. Since I'm creating this to collect my resources as much as anything else, I may have to update as I add resources.

Among the books I've been reading are:

>>Joseph Campbell's Masks of God, leaning heavily on V.1. Primitive Mythology
>>Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
>>Jamke Highwater's Language of Vision: Meditations on Myth and Metaphor which is organized around the Major Arcana of the tarot and gave me the idea to do the same for my story.
>>Dante's Divine Comedy--Since I have a copy in the Britannica Great Books set, I've been dipping in now and then to read a paragraph or three.
>>Also in the GB set is Aristotle's works and I've dipped into his Rhetoric and On Poetics. Something I expect a professor of Medieval Literature would know.

Always useful as a resource whenever music is involved or excerpts from documentaries might be helpful is YouTube. So when it occurred to me that Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Igor Stravinsky's ballet, Rite of Spring, might merit some kind of involvement in a story called Spring Fever, that is where I headed.

Vivaldi ~ Four Seasons

Joan Bunning's Learning the Tarot.
>>What is especially helpful with Bunning's site is the list of actions associated with each card. This is good for triggering ideas for the plot.

Emotional Toolbox. [Hat Tip Joely]

Info on living with MS

On Dante's life and works:

Dante at Wikipedia
>>but of course I've used Wikipedia for all the other topics as well.

Dante Alighieri on the Web

An Exhibition of Renaissance Dante editions.

There is a lot of Dante material at this Columbia University site but it is the collection of images they have that drew me there. It always feeds a writer's imagination to have images to look at.

Similarly, The World of Dante is a gold mine of info, texts and translations but their collection of maps is really extraordinary.

Here's a bit of fun: you can take a test to see where in Dante's Hell you will be sent.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test


Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Snippets 18

This is another snippet from the same story as last week. It takes place some nine years after last week's scene. But this was the first scene I ever wrote for this story and it is in the omniscient POV. Since most of the rest of the novel is to be told in Vivian's POV this will have to be rewritten. Though another option would be to let it stand as prologue.

Brooding Instinct

They found her beneath the tree where she'd fallen. Rather, young Kirk found her. On a visit to the drinking fountain during Sunday morning's song-service, he made an unsanctioned detour past the side door to gaze wistfully at the yard beyond. That is when he saw the foot snared in the apple tree's rope swing.

Beneath that slowly swinging foot, arms flung wide above her head, she lay in an abandoned sprawl. She clutched with one hand a scarlet apple sans one snowy bite. Bulging eyes stared unseeing at the sky. For the first time that morning ten year old Kirk's voice joined with those raised in praise inside.

Through the fire-doors and the double-paned insulating windows shut against the bite of an early fall morning, they heard him and fell silent. They streamed out of the Meeting Hall and flowed around the rock-still Kirk, many holding hands to ears against his scream and when they saw her, hands flew against eyes and mouths and heaving breasts. With gasps and murmurs they encircled her.

"Vivian! Vivian! It's my Vivian!" A woman broke from the circle and threw herself down beside the plum-faced body. "Help her"

"Only our Lord can help her now." Brother Curtis intoned.

"Let us pray." Brother Joel commanded. Heads obediently bowed as he began. "Dear Lord we beseech you to look upon us with Mercy as we face this trial. We commit into your hands our Sister Beth in this, her hour of great need. Your Will is often a great mystery to us but we trust in Your Wisdom and Your Loving-Kindness towards us. With grateful hearts we remember Your Gift of Salvation bought for us with the Blood of Your Only Begotten Son. For this and for Your Daily Blessings we thank and praise you. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

"Amen." a chorus answered.

Those who had kept their eyes closed, opened them upon a miracle but the few who watched witnessed the saving of Vivian Christopher.

They saw a stalwart Kirk, having transmuted his scream into a preternatural serenity, pull from his mother Valerie's embrace and approach sister Beth who was alternately pushing on her daughter's chest and puffing into her mouth.

"That's not the right way, Grandma." he whispered, untangling Vivian's foot from the swing. "Besides, she's choking on the apple and you can't get air in 'til you get it out. Here, help me roll her over."

He handed Vivian's floppy arm across to her mother, who took it and pulled as he shoved against the shoulder. With Vivian now face down with one arm trapped beneath her and her cheek resting against the apple still clutched in that hand, he straddled her.

Vivian's mother took the apple from her daughter's hand as Kirk slipped his arms around her ribs and lifting her into a kneeling position, placed a fist below her breast bone and gave three sharp squeezes.

The bite of apple shot out and Kirk lay the still lifeless Vivian, her face a reflection of the storm cloud rolling over the churchyard, on her back, tilted her head, pinched her nose and blew into her mouth as though it were a balloon--once, twice, three times.

Then he lay his ear to her chest. He frowned, "Here, Grandma, you do like I did when I say." With one fist inside the other and elbows locked he leaned heavily against Vivian's chest, counting five. "Now." he said. "Three times."

On the third repetition of their joint efforts Vivian sucked in a lungful of air and her chest began to rise on its own. The blue slowly faded from her face until it matched the pale wound on the apple now clutched in her mother's hand.


For those of you who've seen both last week's snippet and the previous week's from, A Tale of a Wail, you will note yet another mention of Curtis. He is only my second attempt at drawing a villain. The first being Brandon in Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes. You need all three snippets to get the full sense of his sociopathic tendencies. I don't like working with villains. I resist writing the scenes they appear in. That is one of the biggest obstacles to my finishing the novels I start.

The following would be spoilers if there was much hope of this ever hitting the shelves. But you all have earned the right to a peek inside the plot.

Kirk is presented in this snippet as the son of Valerie and the Grandson of Sister Beth, mother of Vivian. In last week's snippet Valerie was presented as Vivian's older, married sister who had suffered several miscarriages. And last week, fifteen-year-old Vivian was climbing this same apple tree in the middle of the night for a secret rendezvous with her twenty-five-year old cousin, Curtis. That was the night Kirk was conceived. Kirk is then given to Valerie to raise.

I'm not sure yet who all is aware of this. In one scenario Vivian goes into premature labor on the same night Valerie is having another miscarriage and Curtis switches the live baby with the dead one. Now he could be the only one who knows this, or he could have persuaded Vivian it was the best thing, or he could have been in collusion with Valerie's husband or Vivian and Valerie's father--Brother Joel in the above snippet and lead Elder of the Assembly. I like the options in approximately that order. I'm sure neither Beth nor Kirk are aware. I know that Vivian left home after graduating from high-school when Kirk was nearing three and that this is her first visit back.


Sorry this is getting posted so late. You can blame NaNo for it again. Though this week it isn't because I was swinging from sentence to sentence like Tarzan among the vines but rather because I fell to the jungle floor and wandered into a quagmire. I'm stalled out at 6622 since Monday. I should have hit 15K by midnight tonight. It's not hopeless yet. But closing in on it.


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