Thursday, October 25, 2012

ALL HALLOW'S GRIM Blog Party 2012! Today's Story is called: The Necklace

Waxen rays of moonlight filtered through the gauzy clouds casting shadows across the graves.  Dave was having second thoughts.  He shouldn’t have accepted the dare but, Mason could be quite persuasive in that forceful compelling influence that only a bully can pull off.  All he needed to do was find the necklace that Mason had stashed among the statuary.
 
 
His only tools were a flashlight whose battery threatened to die out and the hand drawn map that Mason had given him.  Kicking himself for not being stronger he replayed the memory in his mind.
“Relax chicken shit.  It’s just a Treasure Hunt.  Haven’t you ever been on a Treasure Hunt?” and with that, he shoved the crumpled map into Dave’s chest – the force pushing him back a couple of steps.  Mason’s eyes bore into Dave daring him to do something.
 
“Alright, fine. I’ll do it.”  What else could he say? If he didn’t agree, Mason would rearrange his face with his corpulent fists.  He didn’t have a chance against him.
 
“Good! You have an hour to find it and bring it to me.  Otherwise, kiss your chances with Mindy goodbye.” Mason sauntered off chuckling.

 
A hooting sound in the distance snapped him out of his reverie, and reminded him that he didn’t have much time to find the stupid necklace and get it back to Mason.  If he could, if only he were strong enough, he would shove the damn thing down Mason’s throat.  He moved forward, darting from grave to grave aiming the flashlight this way and that.  He was farther into the heart of the cemetery than he had wanted to be and so far, he hadn’t found it.   Mason hadn’t given him a description of it and he had never thought to ask.  All he could do was hope that the necklace reflected the flashlight’s beam.
 
The cemetery was creeping him out.  He had never been afraid of them, but it was completely different at night. The darkness gave the myriad obelisks, Gothic Angels, age-worn tombstones and archaic mausoleums an eerie substance that contradicted the peaceful essence it emanated during the day.  He wasn’t sure if the effect was caused by the feeble moonlight that occasionally made its presence known or the pallid streams of light his flashlight emitted. 




He felt as if the watchful eyes of the Gothic Angel statues disapproved of his trespassing.  He couldn’t help but look at them twice keeping the flashlight directed at their faces for longer than necessary, just to ease away the feeling of being watched.



Dave made one more effort to figure out Mason’s basal attempt at cartography. His rudimentary writing skills left no doubt in Dave’s mind that Mason was a prime example of why socially promoting kids should be outlawed.  The artless drawing showed a clumsy arrow indicating to turn left at the Jacob Frankel grave.


 
Dave turned swinging the flashlight from left to right trying to cover as much ground as he could.  A shimmer in the distance caught his eye and Dave hurried in that direction which took him even deeper into the cemetery. 

 
 



 



After several steps continually pointing the flashlight in the direction of the shimmer, he came to a mausoleum, dilapidated with age or neglect. And that’s when it happened. 
 
 

He knew that red eyes are always a bad sign and in a flash he replayed in his mind every horror movie he had ever seen. The first thing he did was run, his legs moved of their own accord while the rest of his body wrestled with the confusion of either being frozen in terror or releasing his bowels in ardent fear.  Dave shrieked like a banshee running in the direction of the shimmer, somehow not forgetting the darn necklace.  After all, he didn’t know what he was more afraid of – the undead or Mason. 

He could see a mound of dirt where a fresh grave had been dug.  Next to it was the statue of a weeping angel, kneeling on a marble base, wings spread and hands covering her face.  Chest heaving, heart pounding and legs trembling Dave stood in front of the angel.  His eyes focused on the glint of the tiny crystal embedded on the center of the necklace’s locket. 

The crystal must have been what was reflecting the flashlight’s beam.  Now that he had found it, he convinced himself that he had imagined the red eyes he saw. The necklace was out of reach and Dave had no choice but to climb on the marble base.  He was sure he could get it and leave the cemetery before he hallucinated again. 

 
He stepped onto the base, grabbing on with one hand and holding the flashlight with the other.  The necklace was wound around the groove of the angel’s fingers, so Dave had to hold the flashlight with his mouth while he held on to one of the wings and simultaneously worked the chain of the necklace off the angel’s hand.  The cemetery’s quietude was blatantly loud.  The eerie silence engulfed him until all he heard was the beat of his heart booming in his ears. His hands shook but he finally managed to remove the necklace. He shoved it into his pocket, took the flashlight out of his mouth and started descending from the base.  His foot slid off, but he recovered quickly and carefully climbed down.


He did it, he had found the blasted necklace and now he was going to hurl it at Mason and show him what he was made of. He was going to stand up to him. Tonight was the last time Mason pushed him around.  

Feeling pretty good about himself, Dave took a step back not realizing the freshly dug grave was behind him.  His foot slipped, his arms flailed, he screamed and she caught him.  At first, he froze in surprise.  Long dark hair moved in a windless night, pasty skin, high cheekbones and almond shaped red eyes captivated him, while she gripped his hand at the edge of the grave. Her cadaverous beauty was unblemished and her delicate form belied the strength she possessed.
 
“Stay with me” She told him, her voice an enchanting whisper that promised hidden pleasures.
 
“I, I can’t” Dave barely managed to stutter - an involuntary whimper escaping his sweat beaded lips.
 
“Stay with me or death in the grave – choose.” The proposal uttered in a siren voice didn’t leave him much choice.  He didn’t want to die.  As much as he feared Mason, as much as he was scared shitless right now, he didn’t want to die.
 
“Okay, I’ll stay.” He panted, his chest heaving.  She smiled – a slow almost demure smile as she pulled him effortlessly away from the grave.
 
“A deal has been made.  It must be sealed with a kiss.” Dave still too close to the grave’s edge couldn’t back away from her embrace. His innards recoiled, his fists clenched, and his breath rushed out culminating in a blood curdling scream as her lips neared his.
 
 
Later that night, Mason woke up to the rapping sounds against his window.  He hurled the sheets aside and shuffled his hulking mass to the window which he opened with unnecessary force.
 
“Watcha want dumb-ass?” He slurred with grogginess.
 
“Brought the necklace” Dave answered blandly.
 
“You’re late, shit face. Give it to me.” He glowered, his menacing look no less threatening in his drowsy state.
 
“Fine, I’ll give it to you.  Let me in first.” Dave countered and Mason frowned at his sudden display of back bone. But Mason was all brawn and no brain, so he didn’t bother to think it through.
 
“Get your ass in here, dweeb.” He bullied and stepped aside crackling his knuckles - ready to backhand him across the room.  Dave’s expression didn’t change as he leapt swiftly into the room.

 
The following morning, police cars were parked outside Mason’s home – the emergency lights beaming red and blue.  Uniform officers kept nosy neighbors behind the barricade. Crime scene tape marked restricted areas and the flicker of flash bulbs quietly confirmed the gathering of evidence.  The detective shook his head, jotting notes, sharp eyes looking for clues throughout the room – finding none.

 
In the end, he took one last look at the bed where the mangled body of Mason lay contorted.  His eyes were open wide frozen in terror at the time of death. The gold chain of a necklace hung from his unhinged jaw and draped over his chin. The locket buried deep in his throat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Invitation to Magaly's Party




Hello everyone,

Join me at the ALL HALLOW'S GRIM Blog Party that Magaly from Pagan Culture is hosting. She has a great blog, is loads of fun and throws great parties.  So, on the 25th hop on over and check it out.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Changes


It’s been a while since I've posted anything.  A lot has happened.  I finally found a cocktail dress and went to my friend’s wedding.  Within the same time, another friend passed from this world.  There were electrical problems in my house, which lasted five days.  So there have been a few ups and downs in my life.

But I’m not the only one who experienced changes.

My cats have experienced some ups and downs too.  It’s my doing. I have two cats: a boy, Loki and a girl, Jade.  I love them, but they drive me up the wall.  They’re fully aware of what they're not supposed to do and make sure to do just that when I’m not watching.  For instance, they’re not allowed on the couch.  When I’m about, they don’t go near the couch.  When I go to bed at night, however, they go to bed too – on the couch!  In the morning, when they hear me come down the stairs they jump off.  You’d figured that cats being nimble and all, would jump off the couch light as a feather and soundlessly land on the floor.  Not my cats.  I hear the loud thump as they land on the floor and scatter.

Finally, I said enough!  I’m tired of cleaning hair off the couch.  It takes a long time and I don’t like doing it.  I've bought citrus scented sprays because I read somewhere that cats don’t like it.  Well, it only works while the scent is strong, but it doesn't last all night.  Eventually, I gave up on that.


I went on line and read that cats and snakes don’t get along.  I said: Aha!  So I embarked on my quest to find a snake prop that would deter my cats from getting on the couch.  At first, I thought I would get some cheap two dollar rubber snakes.  But I figured that once the cats realize that the snakes aren't going to bite, they would jump on the couch.




I kept searching until I found a motion activated snake prop.  It was more expensive than what I was ready to spend but decided to give it a try.  The moment it arrived, I removed it from the package turned it on and put it on the floor in front of the couch.  The cats immediately went to investigate the object in front of the couch.  Loki was the first to get close to it.  And that’s when it happened.  The snake activated and made a snapping motion with rattling sound.  Loki jumped straight up in the air and Jade scattered.  I have to admit, it was very funny to see my cat fly in the air like that.  But they’re learning not to get on the couch without chemicals or other harsh substances.  I've named the snake, Sheldon.




Here’s a clip I found on YouTube of the snake I purchased.



At first glance it seems mean, but I'm trying to train them from lounging on the couch. I've heard it takes longer to train cats than it does to train dogs.   So far, this method has been effective.  Yet, Sheldon has become annoying because every time I walk by it snaps.  But, if I don't have to clean hair off the couch, it's worth it to have Sheldon rattle and snap when I pass by.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No Writing Until I Find A Cocktail Dress

I’ve been sidetracked lately.  I haven’t written, blogged, visited the blogs I follow – nothing.  Why?  Because I have nothing to wear!  My friend is getting married in 9 days.  And I have nothing to wear.  Yes, I have clothes in my closet but those that I would have chosen to wear no longer fit as well as they did last year.  Actually, I have two dresses that might still fit but they are also black.  Black happens to be my comfort color so approximately 90% of my wardrobe is black.  My girlfriends tell me I shouldn’t wear black for the wedding; that I should instead find something to wear that has color.

I’ve been trying, but that’s not working out either. I’ve gone to a few stores and everything I find that might possibly fit is either hideous or so outside of my non-existent budget that I want to scream.   The other problem is that when I do come across something that may fit and possibly not burn a hole in my wallet, it turns out to be too slinky or inappropriate and built for someone who is a foot taller and has breasts.
I’m desperate! At this point, I need not one, but three Fairy Godmothers to show up and make me a fabulous dress. But I don’t want just any Fairy Godmother. 

I hope that Flora, Fauna and Merryweather show up and make me a dress – so long as it isn’t pink.  I’m sure Sleeping Beauty won’t mind since after all, she’ll be sleeping. 



She’s really lazy and after the divorce she moved back in with the Godmothers.  Between you and me, I think the Prince got everything in the divorce settlement.


But in this modern age of technology, waiting for the proper planetary alignment so I can send the Godmother’s a magical message won’t do.  I don’t know their Facebook page or email address but thankfully, I found them on Twitter:  @3badassfairies.  I’m going to hit them up on Twitter now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Medieval Dress For Renaissance Faire 2012


I finally finished the dress, which by the way is called a Bliaut.  I made tons of mistakes along the way but I’m very proud of my work.  My efforts were concentrated on historical accuracy and ensuring that I, in fact, made a dress and Not a costume.  Costumes are flimsy things that are constructed of poor materials and are not made to last.  Clothing is made to be used and of better quality fabric and I kept this in mind while I worked on the Bliaut.  Of course, the first mistake I made was purchasing a Brocade fabric when Bliauts are made out of Silk.  Well, now I know better for next time.

Actually, I finished the dress around 2:00 am this morning just in time to go to the Renaissance Faire today!  I did a lot of walking and I’m exhausted!

First I’ll show you some progress pictures and then I’ll follow it up with a picture of me wearing the dress.

I forgot to take a picture of the fabric before I began to work.  Here, I have the beginning of a dress that is mostly pinned and baste-stitched.  The sleeves you see here were not quite right, so I redid them.












Continuing my research, I learned that during the Medieval period grommets had not been invented yet.  All lacing was done using hand made eyelets.  I lost count at 40.  My hands hurt - a lot!


Another thing I learned is that lacing was done is a spiral motion instead of the criss-cross motion we use when we tie a corset or shoe laces. Here, I'm testing out the eyelets and practicing the spiral motion (the dress is inside out).  My hands, kept out of habit, trying to criss-cross the cord.  Also, the Bliaut is laced all the way up the upper sleeve.















There are many variations on the sleeves that were fashionable during that period.  I decided to scale down the bell sleeves this year because last year I had a difficult time managing my sleeves.  They trailed the floor and extended beyond my wrist.  The simplest things weren't simple and things became especially challenging when it came time to eat.  I can't help but think that perhaps I scaled them down too much.
















Also, purses as we know them today were not used.  Instead, a simple pouch looped through a belt was the way that people carried their valuables.  Originally, I constructed it with a belt and loop design.  After testing it with my wallet, cell phone, keys and camera, I discovered that the belt and loop weren't strong enough to keep it secure.













So, I removed the loop and added a clasp.  I instantly preferred this method not only because it was more secure but because it gave it that Medieval touch to finish it off.













Because the Brocade fabric I chose was so detailed, it was very difficult to find trim that wouldn't clash with it.  So, I improvised and purchased plain ribbon, some simple trim - sewed the trim onto the ribbon and used this to create the belt (girdle) and to trim the collar and sleeves.












Here I am in my front garden just before I left for the Renaissance Faire.






















I'm at the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York.  The sleeve of my chemise is peeking from under the bell sleeves.





















Although I wore a circlet, I wasn't historically accurate in that area. During the Medieval period people were ruled my modesty and religious piety - especially women.  

A woman's beautiful and classically long hair (reaching and sometimes extending beyond the hips) would've been an allure and temptation to the men and therefore a sin.  

You might see young girls and the occasional maiden on her wedding day sporting uncovered hair.  Married women always kept their hair covered.

To ensure historical accuracy, today I should have worn a wimple, a veil, and the appropriate head dress on top of that like a Torque (a type of pill box hat).  I did a quick search on Google and found the image below of a woman wearing a Torque with the attached veil and wimple.  This is what I should have looked like today.


















Monday, August 20, 2012

Terror In The Mansion


I had a dream that was so vivid, its lingering essence stayed with me for a while after I awoke.  

It was night time – not too late – perhaps seven or eight o’clock.  The night sky was clear, the moon large and beautiful and the wind calm.  Nothing so far gave any inkling of what was to come next.  I approached the Estate; it wasn’t a mansion in the modern sense but a Georgian Manor.  It had an air of Old Money – made of stone, grand in size and class.  I found myself inside where the décor was purely Victorian as if the house inside was different from what the exterior implied it to be.  

Immediately, I felt the change.  Where a moment ago I was calm, now I felt apprehensive but didn’t know why my instincts felt this way.  The environment was formal, ultra posh, stiff, to say conservative is an understatement.  The chandeliers glittered, the wood gleamed as if oiled daily and the diffused lighting was comfortable to my eyes but also lent itself to darkness.

The servants because I had the sense that’s what they were, that they weren’t treated as employed staff but people who were beneath the elite’s station.  The servants’ were dressed in formal Victorian uniforms.  The man with stiff shoulders and scrutinizing stare that bore into you as if he could read your thoughts was, without a doubt, the butler and his demeanor was beyond reproach.  The maids with their impassive faces moved stealthily about the house and would appear as if from nowhere.  Their eyes, like the butler’s, were disapproving as if they had taken the measure of me and found me lacking.  I feared them, I feared them realizing that I didn’t belong there.  That I was an imposter and shouldn’t be served at the table along with my betters and should instead be relegated to eat on the kitchen floor like a common mouse.  The problem was that I didn’t belong in the kitchen because I didn’t belong with the servants either.  It was unexplainable how all these feelings kept projecting into me; some from glances or from tea service being served in restrained politeness. The type of politeness that lets you know without a doubt that you’re not welcomed here.  

I interacted with the Lady of the House, an elegant matron whose presence commanded attention.  She was impeccable in every way.  Her manner bespoke grace and good breeding; her age did not detract from her beauty.  I was in awe and I felt small, inbred and homely in comparison.  The conversations around me were muted and I couldn’t make out what was said.  Occasionally some of the other guests at the table would speak to me, but I don’t remember what they said or what my responses were.

I was dressed in a beautiful Victorian gown of a dark color that I can’t remember the details of, my hair coifed in an elegant bun with ringlets fringing my temples and the nape of my neck.  I wore pearls at my ears and neck and they were simple but elegant, my bearing was graceful – I looked like I belonged.  The sense that this was a bygone era but the modern me was going through the motions was very strong in me as if I was reliving someone else’s life.  The setting was so upscale that I had no doubt that the crystal glass I drank from was pure crystal, the china dishes I ate from were the finest china and the silver I cut the meat with was ultra fine. 

The servants watched in silence – forgotten statues until needed for service – their eyes missed nothing; and I knew they watched me.

The dream became scarier after that and yet I still don’t fathom where the danger came from.  The house was enormous – extremely expansive, where rooms let into other rooms and I knew that there was no getting out.  I knew that I was trapped and that I was running out of time.  What I didn’t know, which added to the feeling of dread, was what would happen once I ran out of time, once they discovered I wasn’t one of them. 

I measured my words, I was aware of my movements – how I walked, not too fast a Lady doesn’t rush, even how I drank my tea, handled the silver and how I managed to extricate myself from room to room opening doors, only to find other rooms beyond.  All my movements, all my expressions and mannerisms were controlled, repressed in order to portray a persona that would fit the environment I found myself in.

The inexplicable fear kept mounting urging me to keep searching for a way out of that house.  After the first few rooms, I barely noticed the lavish décor – the paintings, sculptures, richly upholstered chaises, and tile mosaics.  I rushed from room to room, the rustle of my skirts trumpeting in my ears.  The eeriness crept up my spine and I had to remain calm, smile when someone would enter the room I just trespassed and pretend that everything was fine.  I kept constantly moving, encountering people in some rooms but not in others and trying to appear at ease while moving on.  

At the end of a corridor behind thick drapes was a window, which I opened only to discover that I was three stories up when I didn’t climb any stairs.  This went on a bit longer, perhaps another minute, but my heart thudded.  I saw my gloved hand reach for a door knob, turn it and pull the door open.  The room was no bigger than a broom closet with a ladder that led the way up, I glanced behind me to see if anyone was coming and seeing no one lifted my skirts to climb up.  

I was terrified and never got to find out why because the alarm woke me up. It’s difficult to describe the dream and convey the suspense, dread and terror that I felt.  I didn't watch it like a movie, I lived it. And there wasn't a monster or anything I could point my fear to.  But I knew in my core that there was something utterly wrong with all of those people.  

I knew I had to escape if I wanted to live.  Although there were no signs that I could see or hear, my instincts told me to get away.  My life depended on maintaining the façade that I was like them.  

As the day went on and the fear finally began to ebb away, I realized that the reason I had been so afraid was because I had been the only Human in that house.  What they were, I don’t know.  

There is something inexplicably terrifying about being in a room with people that may appear to be Human but who are not.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Too Busy Sewing To Write

I've been very busy sewing since I last blogged.  After looking at various gowns, I decided to make a Medieval gown (think Lady Guinevere) instead of a Renaissance gown.  And although I've been working without a pattern, I've made some progress. I started with the chemise first. The chemise is now finished and I can concentrate, worry and panic about sewing the over-gown (because unlike the chemise, that's what everyone is going to see).

I didn't want to make a simple chemise because what can I say? They're just too plain.  I found an image online of a noble woman's chemise and, of course, that is the one I wanted.  I printed the pictures, taped them to the wall and between scrutinizing the pictures, muttering to myself that I'm a nut job for adding more stuff to my plate, and re-watching the X-Files starting from Season One; I finally have something to show you.

Here it goes:

Luckily for me, I have a dress form that comes close to my measurements.  I picked up the fabric, pinned it to the dress form and then tried to figure out how to begin cutting it.


Here, I'm trying to give the fabric some shape as I stare and stare at the pictures taped to my wall and try to duplicate the form with the fabric.


Aha! Now we're getting somewhere.  By this point, I think I've developed a nervous tick and possibly Schizophrenia since I keep having these dialogues.  Yes, I said dialogues not monologues because I keep answering myself.  I suspect there's more than one personality inside of me.  That's alright, it'll go away once this project is finished.  At this point it's still mostly pinned and basted in some areas, but as the picture shows it's looking like a chemise - which is actually a dress used as underwear.


As you can see from the picture above, although the fabric isn't white it is quite sheer. So I will not be uploading a picture of myself wearing the chemise.  I did take a picture and once I saw it, I was like "Oh No, I'm not uploading this picture.  You can see my knickers!"


Here you can see the detail of the trim and button on the sleeves.  I like it - hope you like it too!


In the end, I wanted to show you what the garment looks like worn, but didn't want you to see my cellulite.  So I played with the camera trying different angles and finally settled on the picture below.


There I am wearing the chemise and you can see the trim at the hem.  I like the end result and am pretty proud of it.  Wish me luck with the over gown.  


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Writers Are Passionate People, But Can They Be Multi-passionate? Yes, They Can!


I’ve written before whining and moaning about my writing difficulties and insecurities.  But have I told you about the other things that I'm passionate about?  For one, I like to make jewelry.  I find myself staring at women in the street, the bus, the train or when I’m out to lunch.  No, not that way; I’m looking at their jewelry and trying to deconstruct it with my eyes so that I can figure out how it was made.  Then decide that I can do that. 

Another passion of mine is Archery and I try to enjoy the sport whenever I can.  Sadly it isn’t as often as I would want, but I try to do it once a month.  I’m also passionate about Halloween and love to dress up and make my own costumes which can be a bit time consuming.

Next up on the list of passions is that I like to go to The Renaissance Faire.  Last year, I dressed up in a blue Renaissance gown and pretended to be a Princess.  I had my hair braided with flowers and gave a slight bow of the head when the occasional peasant curtsied before me saying “My Lady”.  I really enjoyed that part.  Soon, it’ll be time to go again so I started looking online for a new gown because a girl, I mean a Princess, can’t go to The Renaissance Faire two years in a row wearing the same gown.  It’s a rule, look it up.  It’s in the guidebook of Renaissance Faire etiquette that I made up.

I found several gowns that I liked but unfortunately they were priced a bit beyond my budget.  Apparently my kingdom’s coffers aren’t as full of gold and jewels as I would like.  The reality is that I don’t have a budget for such things but you know how it is.  When you really want something you figure out a way to get it even if it means siphoning money from the utility bill payment.  Not that I would do that, of course, but I did think about it and was sorely tempted.  

But something happened instead.  I got this crazy idea.  You see, I looked at these dresses and decided that I can do that. Why not?  Just cut a few pieces of fabric, pin them together, stitch and voila – instant Renaissance gown.  This crazy wonderful idea wouldn’t leave my head, so I bought the fabric and I’m going to dive right into making this gown.  I don’t have any formal sewing training but my motto is “make it work”, so I’ll repeat it over and over like a mantra until the gown is done. 

Hopefully the end result won’t scream "amateur home-made dress!" So this is now my latest passion that I have to schedule into my life and maybe it won’t intrude into my writing time too much. I might do another post and upload progress pictures.  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can't Find The Time To Write? Make Time - Use A Kitchen Timer


I like to visit writing websites for tips and ideas on improving my craft.  Recently, I came across an article giving a helpful tip for those of us who have a busy schedule and can’t find the time to write.  The tip is to not only turn off phones, not check e-mails, visit social media sites or even surf the net, but to buy an analog kitchen timer.  And my first thought was “yeah right, I have a kitchen timer app on my phone; I can just use that.” – then dismissed the tip.

But then I remembered that the article said to turn off phones because phones are a distraction – calls coming in, checking voicemail, calling your teenage daughter to see where she is and what she’s doing, who she’s hanging out with today.  See?  All of that distracts you from writing.  And the point of the article was that we all have the same twenty-four hours to work with.  There isn’t any extra time.  So we have to carve time out for ourselves and not allow anyone or anything to distract us from it.  Basically, we are to set the timer for twenty minutes and write unimpeded.  Once the timer rings, we’re to stop writing.  Maybe some of you can set your timer for longer but I thought this was a great idea because twenty minutes doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for.

Last Friday, I set out to get the kitchen timer.  I knew just where to get it, Bed Bath and Beyond – a place that I can’t go to without adult supervision and a 20% off coupon.  I went anyway by myself sans the coupon and yes, I put quite a few things in the shopping cart.  Why was I pushing a shopping cart when all I went there for was a kitchen timer?  I don’t know.  I have a problem.  The good news is that at the end I put everything back and only bought the kitchen timer. 

Okay back to that.  Every kitchen timer I saw had a face: owls, pigs and even a very cute ladybug.  I didn’t want a kitchen timer with a face because my crazy imagination runs rampant sometimes. Okay it happens all the time and I didn’t want to imagine the ladybug telling me in a nagging voice: “That’s all you wrote?”  So I kept rummaging the shelves until I found the One!  It’s a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket timer and I thought perfect!  This timer is a symbolic representation of celebration and it was the last one and at $3.99, I said “Sold!”

I haven’t used it yet but I’m anticipating that I will carve out twenty minutes this week.  I’m very excited!  Of course, I’ll be even more excited if someone sends me a 20% off coupon so I can go back to Bed Bath and Beyond.  Just kidding!  I told you I have a problem.  Maybe I’ll write about it or maybe I’ll browbeat my friends into handing me their coupons.

Anyway, when not in use it’s stored on my wall cubbyhole so that it’s in front of me gently reminding me to use it and also as a sort of Law Of Attraction subconscious nudge.



P.S.: This post isn’t really about writing.  It’s about my insane obsession with getting 20% off coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond.  You know what?  Why don’t you scan your coupon and email it to me?  Will they accept that? I wonder…

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review of Become by Ali Cross

Become is the fabulous story of Desolation, a girl torn between two worlds - Helheim, where she grew up and Midgard where she now finds herself. 

Desolation struggles with the decision to become what her father, Loki, wishes her to be or to give in to the warmth she guarded deep in her heart. The warmth she knew came from her mother - a Guardian - a mother she never knew.

Desolation is placed in the care of fallen humans under her father's command as she deals with past memories, unresolved turmoil, self doubt, and the urge to take the easy way out and return home. Her only source of comfort came from Lucy, a woman who embraced her with love.

Loki expects her to Become - to give in to the darkness and transform into a being that personifies mankind's depravity. She despises her name and what it signifies for her to transform into that which her name means. Instead she insists on being referred to as Desi – her small attempt at rebellion knowing that in the end her father will get what he wants. In order to Become, Desi is to assist Miri, an alcoholic and tortured soul end her mortal life, but in the process Desi opens her heart and instead chooses to protect Miri.

Things get complicated when she discovers that Michael, an Angel of Asgard and the boy from her memories, goes to the same school. She's conflicted by feelings of warmth and love whenever she's with him - feelings that spark old memories of a garden. It’s too much to bear when she looks into his golden eyes knowing he’s an Angel and she's a demon – and demons can’t love nor do they deserve to be loved.

Akaros, her father’s right-hand man and the demon who trained her in combat, is preparing for war. He’ll stand at nothing to either force Desi to Become or destroy her in the process.

Now the time has come to make a decision - to fight and protect Midgard or Become as her father has commanded.

I really enjoyed this book. The story flowed smoothly and the characters were believable. Desi had to choose between Helheim, the world she’s always known, and Midgard, a world in danger of destruction and the world where her friends live, while at the same time learning to believe in herself and her destiny.

Desi is a strong character, who is full of self doubt but her inner strength grows as the story develops. When we first meet Desi, she’s a character with amnesia, whose brief remembering of old memories leave her fearful and impotent but in the end she discovers her true purpose and gains the strength to fight for what she believes.

My favorite aspect of this novel is the way the author infused it with Norse Mythology. It's a refreshing change from the heavily saturated Catholicism that permeates most stories of good versus evil.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Time Out For Writing

I’ve been away for a while and my reason or better yet my excuse for going away was that I needed the time to get back to writing.  Yet my focus remained foggy and redirected to other areas.  I guess that’s fine.  Sometimes, life gets in the way of things and people can’t just sit around and write all day and forget about every aspect of their lives.  It would be nice if things just sorted themselves out so that I could while the hours away daydreaming all sorts of adventures.  But after a while, the laundry piles up, the dishes need washing and the dust bunnies are larger than my cats.  Then there are the other aspects of life, like the relationships that we have with our family and friends.  How the dynamics of these relationships will not survive nay tolerate neglect.  And even though I took that time off for myself to focus on the whole “I’m a writer” bit, it didn’t actually happen.  Not the way I had envisioned it would, anyway.

I worked on a book review for the book I finished reading called Become by Ali Cross.  It took me forever to get it done and I sweated and struggled through every bit of it.  I’ve never done a book review before.  How could I call myself a writer if I can’t write a book review, right?  After all, writing a book review is writing, isn’t it?  Eventually, I finished it and that is the product of my time off.  Can you believe it?  One page - just one page of writing in over a month.  But the real secret is that it didn’t take me a month to write it.  For the first two weeks off, I did nothing!

I’m amazed at other writers who manage to amass 1-2,000 words a day.  When I try to write keeping track of my word count, I freeze up.  The word meter plummets instead of rising.  I’m weird; the way I write is strange I guess.  Usually inspiration hits me and sometimes it actually feels physical.  It’s like a left hook that leaves me reeling and other times it’s an almost electric nervous energy that courses through me.  Each time and regardless of the symptoms I must get the story out.  I type and type heeding nothing else - not food, drink, or household chores and often don’t stop until I’m about to collapse from sleep exhaustion.  If, I don’t let this happen; if I restrain myself from letting the story, chapter, scene whatever it is out – it dies.  I lose it never to regain it no matter how hard I try.  And let's not talk about plotting; that's like pulling teeth.  It's either painful or it puts me to sleep because there's nothing happening in the gray matter.

So I began to believe that I must be a writer because normal people don’t go through this.  Do they?  Yet at the same time, I think that no, I couldn’t be a writer because the compulsion to write everything down doesn’t touch me.  I detest journal writing – could never write my personal feelings down – ever.  What if someone were to read them?  I don’t write about what happened on my vacation, not like I’ve had one but you get the idea.  I make lists but that’s different.  I relate that more to a sense of organization.  If I don’t make a list, I won’t remember everything I need to get from the store.  It’s as simple as that.

Well, I don’t know what I am but I hope someday to finish the novel I’m working on.  Maybe then, I can say I’m a writer and all this nonsense about what I am and what I’m not won’t matter.