Friday, August 18, 2017

The Eros Portal

Well here it is another fiction Friday. Is it just me or did this week go by really fast? The good news is my bookcases have been put back together, more or less. The bad news is my office still needs work - a lot of work. But that’s not why I have no new fiction to showcase. My writing this past week consisted emails, blog posts, and notes on things I’d like to work on. Not exactly something you could take an excerpt from.

So once again I’m forced to use something I’ve written previously. But I’m tired of having to dip into the vault and type out something old. This time I’m using something a little more current, namely, an excerpt from my NaNo novel.

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this one - it’s definitely a romance, and probably more science fiction than fantasy, although not really in your face science fiction. In a nut shell, a man in another dimension builds a machine that uses a person’s DNA to open a portal to where they can find their perfect mate. But things aren’t always as they seem, and the course of true love never runs smoothly.

The following scene is from the beginning of the novel, where our heroine Makayla stumbles across the portal in the woods near her home while out looking for the cat she was supposed to be looking after.



The Eros Portal

Everything looked the same in the dark. If she was lucky, she’d be able to retrace her steps. If not, she’d be as lost as Mittens.

“Stupid damn cat,” she muttered under her breath.

A flash of blue light off to the right caught her attention. It flickered, like the light bulb was about to burn out. It couldn’t be from the highway, could it? She’d been walking for a while but it was unlikely she’d walked that far. And she hadn’t been going in that direction, unless she got turned around somehow.

Didn’t most people walk in circles when they had nothing to guide them? That would make the source of the light her own house, which didn’t make sense either because she didn’t have a blue light. Shrugging, she made for the light anyway. Light meant people, so even if it wasn’t her house it was bound to be one of her neighbors, not that she had many of those.

The light was further away than she thought and she was getting dangerously chilled. Her fingers were totally numb. What kind of an idiot took off in the dark in nothing but a sweater? No hat, no gloves ... But the sweater had been right there and she would have lost precious time going back through the house to the back door for her coat. This is what came of being in such a rush. She was probably going to end up frozen to death while Mittens was curled up on her porch having a nap.

The light was still ahead of her, and the woods were growing denser. Had the trees been this close together on her way in? She pushed through some shrubbery that still had a few dead leaves attached to it and stopped to stare. A doorway of iridescent blue light filled the space between two slender trees.

“What the hell?”

Makayla took a single step forward and stopped again. Then she took a couple of steps to the side and the door seemed to disappear. Moving back to her original position, the door shimmered into view again.

As curious as the cat she’d been looking for, Makayla moved forward, one step at a time. A ripple went through the shimmering blue and she paused for a second. The light settled back into a staticky glow, like the snow on the TV when the cable went out.

Another step closer and the snow turned blue again and seemed to clear a bit. It was almost translucent. One more step and she could see vague images in it. It wasn’t the woods in behind it, it was something else altogether. Some place else.

Maybe it was some kid’s science project - holograms or something like that. His parents probably made him set it up out in the woods in case of accidents. Like, if something shorted out and set fire to something. It was pretty advanced looking, if that’s what it was.

One more step and she was able to reach out and touch it. It tingled on her fingertips, a ripple effect spreading out where she touched. It wasn’t until she tried to pull her hand away that she realized what a stupid thing it had been to do. She appeared to be stuck fast.

Makayla yanked her arm back but her fingers remained glued to the shimmer. In fact, it actually seemed like the shimmer was pulling her hand further in.

“Oh, no no no!” She twisted and turned her hand and her fingers turned easily, but they wouldn’t let go. “Hello? Is anybody out here?” What kind of person set something like this up in the middle of the woods and then just abandoned it?

“Hey! I could use some help here,” she yelled. Surely whoever made this couldn’t be too far away. Wouldn’t they need to monitor it or something? “Look, I’m sorry I touched your experiment or whatever, but I need you to shut it off.”

There was no answer. Millimetre by millimetre her hand was being enveloped in the glowing light. No matter how much she pulled it refused to let go of her again. Digging her heels in she tried to wrench free, but slipped on the damp ground and only succeeded in causing her whole arm to become enveloped.

Panting from the effort, she glanced around but she was surrounded by darkness. It was getting really cold out. It was starting to hurt to breathe. She didn’t bother calling out again, if there really was someone out there it was obvious they were only going to watch, not help.

While the point of contact with the light tingled, the rest of her arm didn’t seem to be affected at all. She tried wiggling her fingers, but the rippling effect made it impossible to see through the door. Looking at the ground where the light made it easier to see, she looked for an electrical cord or whatever was powering the thing. There was nothing that she could see.

There weren’t many options here. Maybe she should just get it over with. Steeling herself, Makayla took a deep breath and then stepped through the doorway. She was aware of light and heat and then nothing at all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Twofer

I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell writing wise lately, even when it comes to poetry. So once again I’m digging in the vaults for my post. Good thing I’ve got a lot of poems to choose from, eh? And because today’s poems are a little on the short side, you’re getting a two for one special.

You’re welcome. LOL

This first poem was part of the Writer’s Digest PAD challenge I partook of several years ago. The idea was to write a poem a day, to their prompts, over the month of April. If nothing else, the challenge was interesting, and it introduced me to the Sestina, which set me on an exploration of other forms.

I believe the prompt I had to follow for this one was something to do with being dead, or things you'd like to say to people after you're dead, or something along those lines.


Now That I’m Dead
Now that I’m dead I can finally say
all the things burning inside me.
None to prevent me having my way,
to speak serious or blithely.
I can speak of my love without any fear
of derision of my choices.
I can speak all the words you never could hear
in a chorus of many voices.
Did you think with me gone my words would be too?
You don’t really have to answer.
Words, like money, often accrue.
My words will be here forever.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

For my second poem I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. This poem is a parody. It may surprise you to learn, considering most of my poetry is rather dark, that I love parodies. I love taking a classic poem, twisting it around, and making someone chuckle over the results.

Unless you slept through English class, you should recognize what poem I used for this particular parody. For those of you who did sleep through English class, the original poem was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal How Do I Love thee. If you’d like to read the original, check this out. And now, my version:


How Do I Procrastinate?

How do I procrastinate? Let me count the ways.
I procrastinate to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling lethargic
For the ends of Boredom and ideal Laziness.
I procrastinate to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by neon and halogen-light.
I procrastinate freely, as men strive for Progress;
I procrastinate purely, as they turn from Television.
I procrastinate with a passion put to use
In my old excuses, and with my childhood’s justification.
I procrastinate with an energy I seemed to lose
When faced with work, – I procrastinate with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if the Muse choose,
I shall continue to procrastinate until death.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Maybe It Is My Fault

It started with the idea that there was too much space on the landing at the halfway point going up to our second floor. It was the perfect place for a bookcase or two, or so I thought. Part one of the story can be found HERE , part two can be found HERE  and part three can be found HERE.

In a nutshell, the six foot high bookcases we bought did not work on the landing, which resulted in a massive shakeup of the bookcases throughout the house. The transition pretty much sucked up my whole vacation and I still have to put my office back together.



The thing is, I really have only myself to blame. It was my idea in the first place, I talked the hubby into buying the bookcases. All the measuring in the world can’t beat seeing the real thing in place, so we had no clue those bookcases just weren’t going to work. The rest of it just kind of snowballed from there.

I suppose there wasn’t a rush to get everything put back together again, but for some reason it brought out my inner OCD and I not only wanted stuff back on the shelves, I wanted some kind of order to it. No more books stacked up, no more double rows of books, no dust covered knick knacks blocking access to the books...

And while using the tall, square bookcase for DVDs made sense, it didn’t really have to be switched over right away. It held an eclectic mix of books - hardback, paperback, really old cloth bound - and knick knacks, all of which needed to find new homes.

When all is said and done, it looks like in the long line of reasons for putting off my writing, I pretty much came up with the ultimate one. All that’s left is putting my office back together and that’s something I can peck away at over the coming week. It’s not like I get a lot of writing done in there anyway.

But once that is done, no more excuses!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Firebrand and Stormbringer

Once again I’ve made it my fiction Friday with a zero word count for the week. If you read Monday’s post you’ll know why. I am STILL sorting out those darned bookcases. The ones in my office are just about done, but there’s still a lot of “stuff” laying around and as I type this I can’t help but notice the shelf I have my CD player on seems to be ...um... bending in the middle under the weight of the books I have between the player and the speaker. They’re pretty big books. I might move them to the bottom shelf of the last bookcase (which currently has nothing on it) and put something lighter there instead.

In any case, not only do I have no fresh words for you, I have no pearls of wisdom to send your way. Other than if you ever decide to swap out bookcases in your own office - don’t! ;-)

So today I’ve revisited the vault and came up with the fantasy novel I started when the creative well ran dry on the Saturn story. It started with a dream... The landscape was rolling hills. Tucked away amongst the hills was small pond of crystal clear water. Beneath the water there was a warrior, dressed all in black - he even had a mask concealing his face.

When I woke up I knew the warrior’s name was Brand, short for Firebrand, and he was the son of a sorceress from the mysterious Witch Hills and the warlord who captured her. He carries the sword of blood and amber, and if he recites the spell the sword becomes a living flame. His mask is part of a curse put on him by an evil sorceress name Giselle.

Early in his travels he hooks up with a witch who becomes known as Stormbringer. The thing about Storm is, technically she’s blind. She has no sight of her own, but she can “borrow” the vision of the birds and animals around her. In the beginning it’s just a platonic relationship, he rescues her, then she rescues him, and that’s where it all falls apart.

This was real early in my writing days and I had no clue as to what I was doing. Rather than write a cohesive story, I wrote a series of kind of mini-stories. But not really stories, more unconnected scenes, if you will. Of the longer stories we have one that begins with Storm being awakened from a spell that put her to sleep until certain conditions were met, whereupon she goes off to rescue Brand from his enchanted sleep in the pool which is now in a cave of crystal. The other one has Brand rescuing some random girl from a cult of wizard priests as the price to have her mother remove his mask.

Some day I will sit down and use index cards to organize all this information and then tell the tale of Firebrand and Stormbringer. Some day....

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from where Storm rescues Brand from the pool. Storm was awakened by Hess, her sorcerous father’s apprentice (and a young girl when she last saw her), who told her where to find Brand and how to save him. She’s made her way past several obstacles to inside the crystal shrine. And yes, I know I said she was blind, but she must have got her vision back at some point:


Storm drew on a pair of thick, leather gloves and picked up the sword. Her mouth was dry and the cavern suddenly seemed colder. Saying a quick prayer to the goddess Shima, she grasped the sword firmly by the hilt and pulled the scabbard away.

In a clear, ringing voice, she said, "By the magic arcane that forged stone, in the name of the twin gods Fell and Mo-Rel, I command the power of blood and amber to come forth!"

For long, breathless seconds, nothing happened. Then, like a storm gathering, power began to build. Storm's breath caught in her throat. A flicker from the red core of the sword travelled outward. Power flowed, making the amber sword glow. A beam of white light shot from the tip of the sword straight into the air.

Storm cried out, ducking her head and closing her eyes.

"Who dares to call forth the flame without our leave?" The booming voice echoed through the chamber.

"I, Bringer of the Storm, do so dare," Storm called out in a shaky voice, still holding tight to the sword. She opened her eyes to mere slits. "He who serves the flame lies helpless. The power of the sword is needed to free him."

The beam of light began to spin. It moved until it touched the man in the pool, then expanded until it enveloped him. It pulsed, almost a living thing. The body levitated to the surface, then gently settled to the bottom again. The light moved away until it spun over the altar.

"Know you not the price the one who wields the amber blade pays?" a second voice boomed out.

"Who will wield the blade for you if this man dies? You spent centuries waiting for him."

The two voices began overlapping. "She has a point . . . her point is weak . . . she can be of assistance . . . he is near to death . . . she makes him stronger . . . he has served us well . . . the land cries out again . . ."

The column of light began to spin faster.

"We will help," the first voice boomed out. "But know you there lies a price ahead for you both."

"Agreed," Storm said.

The column of light vanished. Again the red core of the sword flickered and power flowed. Storm's hands tightened but she was still unprepared when the sword burst into flame. Quickly she moved to the side of the pool and plunged the point of the sword downwards.

The water hissed, steam billowing upwards in a great, shimmering cloud. A hot wind raced through the cavern, but Storm stood fast. It swirled around her, plucking at her hair and clothing; then suddenly it was gone, taking the water from the pool with it. Even the warrior's clothing was dry.

"Flame shall conquer water." Hess' voice seemed to echo in the chamber.

With trembling arms, Storm raised the sword high above her head. Locking her arms in place, she called out a single word in an ancient tongue. She was trembling, not so much from the weight of the weapon as from the pain in her hands. Every nerve felt like it was on fire.

A streak of blue, as from a lightning strike, shot from the tip of the sword into the body below. Storm's head was thrown back, her mouth open in a silent scream.

"Pain shall free the lost."

Her arms shook and sweat beaded her brow as she slowly lowered the sword again. The warrior's body convulsed, then arched upwards. Storm stepped into the empty pool, knelt beside him, and carefully placed the hilt of the still flaming sword into his open hand. His fingers closed around the hilt. His eyes opened. Storm backed quickly away as he surged upwards.

"Flame shall feed the fire of life."

He did not know her. She could see that in the instant before he swung the sword. He yelled something in the language of Witch Hills as she ducked beneath the fiery arc.

"Brand, no! It's me, Storm!"

She was forced to dance out of the way as he swung again. Frantically she tried to think of a spell that would calm him, but her mind refused to cooperate. She was forced to give way again and again until the backs of her legs struck the altar.

Storm stood tall and proud, her calm gaze meeting the madness in his eyes. "Firebrand of Witch Hills, if my life is what is needed to make you whole again, then so be it. I offer it gladly to know you will live once more."

Brand raised the sword. Storm held his gaze fearlessly and something flickered in his eyes. He faltered, the sword wavered. He shook his head slightly and swayed in place. He looked at her in confusion and slowly sank to his knees. The flame enveloping the sword vanished and it became once more a sword made of amber.

"Love shall conquer madness."

"Storm? What happened? Where are we?"

Tears started from her eyes as she knelt beside him. "That, my love, is a tale and a half. Let us leave this place, quickly. It is a tale best heard where the air is clear and the stars can shine down on us."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last Dragonflight

This poem is an oldie but a goodie. In fact it’s one of my earliest poems, probably inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. I wrote it for no particular reason other than the desire to write a poem that told a story.




Last Dragonflight

Slowly dawns the red sun
To mark a dragon’s birth -
Once master of the heavens,
Now master of the Earth

You found your beginning
In smoke, ash and flame -
Creature born of legend
Like the phoenix rise again.

Awake unfurl your wings,
Your time has come this night
Uncoil, cry out your challenge,
Then launch, at last take flight.

Wheeling silent skyward
Exhaling smoke and fire
Phosphor rains but still you’re
Soaring ever higher.

Silence marks your passing,
Envious eyes will stare.
Man would subjugate you
Creature of the air.

Cloaked in rage and silence
They’ve watched you on your flight
Blind with superstition.
Against your will you fight.

Belief dies too easily;
Myths vanish without care.
Rear up once in protest -
Death’s not always fair.

Slowly dies the red sun -
The dragon seeks his den.
Slowly dies the legend
Never to rise again.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It’s Not My Fault!

My master plan for this long weekend (at least if you’re Canadian it’s a long one) was to get myself all organized, writing-wise, for the week. This was to include making some cosmetic changes to my blogs, make a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and come up with a workable writing schedule that would take me beyond my week of holidays.

What happened was not entirely my fault. The hubby has to shoulder some of the blame for agreeing.

For a long time now I’ve felt that the landing at the halfway point going upstairs needed something. It just looked so empty.



I thought it would be the perfect spot for a bookcase, maybe two, and the hubby agreed. The result of this brilliant idea is why neither of us got anything we’d planned on doing during our long weekend. You can read about the first part of the story HERE. In fact, I suggest you do because this is really the second part of the story.

Swapping out bookcases is a pain in the butt at the best of times, and of course five shelves are not enough. Even if you only buy hardback books you still need at least six shelves. And a lot of my tree books are paperback, which take up even less space. So my old bookcases had extra shelves. Unfortunately, they were in the wrong colour.

So off the hubby went to the lumber store to pick up a couple of shelves. Except they don’t sell shelving in the colour we needed, the best they could do was real wood that would have to be cut and finished and still wouldn’t match exactly. And it would be expensive.

Then it was the hubby’s turn to get a brilliant idea. It wouldn’t cost that much more to just buy another bookcase and cannibalize it for parts. So we went to Walmart, again, and bought a third bookcase. But wait!

The bookcase that was already in my office was just a slightly different shade than the two new ones, so the hubby thought why not put together the third bookcase and swap it out with the mismatched one?

One of the things I don’t like about the new bookcases is the fact their permanent shelf is in a different place than the old ones, so I can’t adjust the shelves the way I had them. But this is the only reason I was willing to swap out the last bookcase, so the permanent shelves would line up.

Anyway, by the end of the day the bookcase wall of my office looked like this:



I have run out of both energy and extra shelves. It wasn’t until I tried to use one of the shelves from the old bookcase that I discovered the new bookcases are close to an inch wider than the old one, making the old shelves useless.

The good (?) news is that Walmart also sells a much shorter version of this bookcase which has shelves exactly the same size. The bad news is I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get one. And then, of course, I’ll have to take the time to finish re-stocking the bookcase.

And that, my friends, is why I not only didn’t get any writing done, I didn’t get organized for writing either.

Maybe once I get my books organized. ;-)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Prompt Me - Forest Angel

Would you look at that, it’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another picture prompt. :-D



This is the picture I couldn’t find for last month. You know, the one I already had the story idea for? Unfortunately, I never thought to write my idea down so I’ll be starting from scratch. Just like you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem, story, or non-fiction article inspired by the above picture. You have until the last Friday of the month, and if you email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com I’ll post it here. And just an FYI, the end of the month is a Thursday, so the last Friday is actually the 25th.

Now get writing!