A Muse’s Tale

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Yesterday was a sad day for Christine’s muse. Christine had grabbed her, shaken her, and screamed, “This is it! Spring is coming, my last-summer wardrobe is toast — and you keep filling my head with crazy blog posts. Out you go!”

To add insult to injury, some trash flung out of a passing car smacked her in the face, there in bushes where she’d been tossed.

Copyright Liz Young

Photo copyright Liz Young

Yet she smiled. “Just wait, my friend. I’ll rise again. You’ll see another prompt, I’ll be whispering ideas in your ear, and you’ll abandon your sewing machine for your keyboard. You’re so predictable. That’s why I love to haunt you.”

And she’s back already! Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been her accomplice, via the Friday Fictioneers prompt. My muse thanks you, Rochelle, for faithfully feeding her bright ideas. (I’m hoping putting my icon first will have it show up on the link. Oh, for tech smarts!)

The word count on this one is 105, but I’ve no time to search and destroy excess words. I’m finally in the mood to sew a spring dress and it’s GOING to happen.

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi Everyone!

As you will know if you visit my main site, Christine’s Collection, I started chemo-therapy in April to treat my leukemia. I had my last treatment Sept 9th, almost two months ago. My oncologist is quite pleased at how I responded to the treatment; they feel there are almost no cancerous lymphocytes left and I should have about five years before they build up and become a serious problem again.

So many things fall behind when you aren’t feeling well. then when life starts to return to normal you tray to catch up on the house-cleaning and other pressing stuff. So I’ve left this blog inactive, but it’s time to get back to writing and posting here. Actually I have done a few fiction tales on my main blog and will re-post them here in case you don’t follow Christine’s Collection.

Another thing that’s stimulated my urge to write fiction is sitting in on Jerry Jenkins’ writing classes. Last month my husband joined the Jerry Jenkins Writing Guild and we’ve both been watching the webinars on how to produce quality writing. I’ve learned a lot from his “How to Become A Ferocious Self-Editor” sessions. “Ferocious” is the perfect description as he puts some writer’s first page through his Manuscript Repair and Revision.

Anyway, a few days ago I did an exercise for The Write Practice, then posted it on Christine Composes. You can read it here: Metaphors — Prose & Haiku

Wishing everyone a lovely week. For those of us who live in free countries, let’s not forget on Nov 11th to pause a moment and give thanks for the peace we enjoy and the personal freedoms we have. No, life isn’t perfect, but folks of past generations have sacrificed so much — even their lives — so we can have it this good.

O Molly, I’ll Never Forget!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile. For those of you who don’t follow my main blog, I had my first round of chemo-therapy April 11th & 12th. Each day involved about six hours hooked up to IV. You can read about it here. By now I think I’ve mostly recovered; this week I’m starting to feel more energy and tackle more household tasks.

I may not be doing a lot of fiction stories for awhile, but I still get the urge be-times. Yesterday morning I wrote this scrap of poetry just for fun:

Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke
my colleen from county o’ Cork
Oh, I’ll soon be sailing
and she’ll soon be wailing
My fortune I seek in New York.

Says Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke,
“Your colleen from county of Cork
sure, you’ll be forgettin’
as soon as you’re settin’
your eyes on the girls of New York”

I says to her, “Love, don’t be clowned—
a truer love never was found.
I’ll send for you, sweetheart;
sure, we’ll make a new start
and light up the streets of York town.

Instant Addiction

Blame Emily Wenstrom. She started this.

Two days ago I clicked on and was reading the latest post at one of my favorite writing blogs, The Write Practice. This particular post gave us five different sources for writing prompts, all of them loaded with potential for whatever we want to write.

I need more writing time — less procrastination — and more stick-to-it (aka perseverance) but I really do not need more bright ideas. Nevertheless I followed the link to an innocent looking site called diymfa.com. And there I found a type of writer’s slot machine called Writer Igniter. Four wheels to whirl around, generating writing prompts.

Different characters, events, props, and scenes tumble around until they finally settle on (i.e.):
— Runner-up…finds a baby on the doorstep…basketball…a lane through the woods
— Mime…receives the wrong direction…tickets to a sold-out event…downtown tourist spot near a castle
— Garbage truck driver…inherits something bizarre…something new…cobblestone streets, old stone buildings, a lake in the background.

Or whatever. There are oodles of main characters, situations, prompts and scenes that may turn up. Ignited — or just plain hooked — I sat here clicking spinning the wheels, amazed at the endless possibilities. My creative mind started throwing together stories around all these prompts. And I realized:

I’m weak. I’d better never step up to a real slot machine!

Yes, my current micro-addiction is harmless and temporary, but it does give me a tiny glimpse of the enticement people succumb to — sometimes intelligent, highly educated people — when they mess with slot machines. One lady, a bank manager, confessed that the very first time she stepped into a casino, she was hooked. She almost lost everything, including her marriage, before she went into addiction counseling.

Being weak myself, I can feel some compassion here.

Actually, the writing prompts here are pretty good and I’m including the link in case you really are stuck for writing ideas. But if you’re already bursting with stories and/or articles you need to get started on/finish, best don’t go there. Like me, you may lose half an hour just spinning those wheels to see what turns up.

But, hey! I gained a bit more compassion — and a blog post.☺

Aprosopol Romance

Today’s WP Prompt says to create a new word and explain its meaning. Here’s mine:

Aprosopol

I find that in most romance novels nowadays the main characters are aprosopol.

Prosopol is a Greek word meaning respect, as in “to have respect for someone.” Hence, aprosopol means without respect or no respect.

You could say contemporary romances are contramorous. The Latin word contra means against and amor means love.

I haven’t read so many contemporary romance novels in my life, but lately have investigated this genre again via e-books and I have been quite disappointed.

It seems to me that in years gone by the male MC and female MC met and usually fell in love — or at least into like. Even where they didn’t always see eye to eye they often had a certain basic respect for one another. There was usually some hope of them actually coming to terms by the last chapter.

Modern day romances tend to be so formulaic; I think most of us could write one in our sleep. Male MC meets female MC and detests her. Blah! He’d never marry this woman; she’s haughty, impulsive, headstrong, emotional. She won’t listen to his common-sense approach at all. NO WAY will he ever get involved with her!

And/or female MC meets male MC and loathes the man. He’s arrogant, unreasonable, unpredictable, insufferable. NO WAY is she ever going to be interested in him. So Chapter Two starts out with him spitting nails at her and she spits them right back at him. Lots of glaring, head tossing, fuming, insulting.

For the first few chapters every meeting they have serves to reinforce each one’s negative opinion of the other. However, somewhere near the end of chapter Two you get some physical attractions kicking in:
A) He’s thinking, “I want nothing to do with her, even if she’s knock-down drop-dead gorgeous.”
B) She’s thinking, “I’m keeping my distance from this ruggedly handsome hunk even if his physique sends hot flashes through my system.”

So they continue to spit nails at each other for another several chapters, but by now every second page mentions how he’s struggling to resist his attraction to her and/or she’s fighting the fascination she has with him. At this point it seems to be all sex appeal; they still manifest little respect for each other — but the world is turning.

Two thirds of the way through the novel either he gets himself into some sort of predicament or she does. He rides out with the posse and gets winged by the bad guys, or she falls in the river and needs to be rescued. His ship sinks and she must alert the authorities, or he’s in jail and/or about to be lynched for some false charge and she must step forward to plead his case even if she detests him. Or maybe she is at the mercy of some villain or gossip and he must rescue her/offer her refuge/marry her even if he’s averse to doing so.

In the end they get it together somewhat grudgingly, yet with promise of lots of steamy snuggles to come. (Though in some books these start to appear about Chapter three already!) So the theme actually seems more like “lust conquers all” than “love conquers all.” You just wonder if they are really going to live happily ever after when they detested each other so thoroughly at the outset.

I contrast this with the Biblical story of Ruth, where two people who admired and respected each other worked together on behalf of a destitute widow. And in doing so they found love for each other. Here I see so much better prospects for a true “Happily ever after.”

Anyway, I’ve managed to invent a new word for the Daily Prompt — and write my rant about contemporary romance — all in one post.

The Castle of Blood

Once Upon A Time…

Trembling with every step, I made my way down the dim corridor of the castle. I knew what was ahead and I dreaded it, but one of the noble princes of our land had commanded me to appear there and I could not escape my fate.

At the end of the hall a woman waited, grasping in her bony fingers a long rubber band. I shuddered as I advanced toward her. She wanted my blood.

Where, oh, where, can my fairy godmother be staying these days? Why does she not swoop down to rescue me from this ordeal?

For me there has been no reprieve from this long corridor and this constant bloodletting. Oh, so many times I had to present myself to this woman with the sinister smile. So many times she reached out and took hold of my arm, drawing me into her room. So many times — yet it was never enough. All too soon she wanted yet more.

I cringed as she punctured my vein, laughing all the while. She would take my blood and spin it, twirl it, torture it. Would she love to do the same with my body, I wonder? Thankfully, permission has not been granted her to torture my flesh — and she is not allowed to pierce my jugular vein. So I have escaped with my life.

She drained enough blood to fill three pots, relishing the bright red tone. Then she released me and I fled that terrible enclave. Outside the castle door my knight in shining armor waited to carry me off to his mansion, where I might recover until the next summons comes and they want yet more of my precious blood.

As we walked back to our carriage, we heard a sound like a bull frog and turned to see what odd creature was lurking nearby. At last our eyes located the source of this unearthly sound: up in a pine tree beside the castle a raven peered down at us. No doubt he was disappointed there was no flesh for him to feast on.

My reply to today’s WordPress prompt isn’t quite a fairy tale, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

The Road I Did Take

No doubt everyone is familiar with Robert Frost’s lament in his poem, The Road Not Taken. Our writing prompt one day was to stand at that crossroads ourselves — and choose the other road. What do we find at the end of it?

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My Own Imagined Journey:

I stood for a few moments contemplating the two roads, then chose to follow the one more travelled by. For hours I walked on the gravelled path, descending at times into little wooded valleys. At one point I caught the smell of the sea and concluded the coast couldn’t be far off.

Over one last hill I went, paused on its brink and took in the blue horizon. Then I spied near the shore below me a neat little town with folks strolling here or there. Beyond it I saw a busy harbor scene with half a dozen ships at anchor. Sailors were carting kegs and trunks off or onto several ships.

I quickened my steps and arrived in the town an hour later, feeling the need of some nourishment. I stopped a friendly-looking stranger to inquire where I’d find an inn and he steered me in the direction of the Crab & Crow. There I found a cheerful hostel with a decent meal on offer and a room where I could spend the next few nights.

For several days I wandered back and forth through the town, enjoying the feel of the place and the good humor of the inhabitants. I decided to put down some roots in this congenial spot, so I found myself a job braiding rope and located a tiny house for rent.

In time I made the acquaintance of my neighbor, a ship captain who told me of all his voyages across the seas. Something began to stir within me, a vague unrest I couldn’t understand, a feeling there must be something more for me than this quiet life.

Then one day the Captain says to me, “I’m to take another ship across to France. You should come along for the ride. We can always use a man on board who can mend our ropes.” My spirit was roused and I felt a yearning such as I’d never known before. Dreams of gliding over the briny deep and visions of exotic places filled my mind.

I walked down to the pier one morning with the Captain and stood surveying his vessel, its sails billowing in the wind. A surge swelled in my bosom and swept me up to castles in the air. I had the same sensation that I’d had a year before when I stood at the crossroads and chose the path that brought me here. Now my little home and present life were on one hand and another road was beckoning to me.

I quickly accepted the Captain’s offer. Had I only known where this road would take me!

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And there I leave you to imagine a suitable ending for this tale.

Home Invasions: the Furry Kind

Spring Brings new Life to our Yard

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day today! After snow and more snow Sunday and Monday, we have bright sunshine and a nice wind to keep the afternoon at a perfect temperature for me. It was17° C (63° F) this afternoon – that’s about as warm as I can comfortably handle.

The birds are almost all back now; a flock of blackbirds has been scavenging under my bird feeder this week. And this morning the swallows returned.

Yesterday afternoon when Bob and I were puttering outside there wasn’t a tree swallow to be seen. I climbed our ladder to clean out the swallow nest, thinking they’d be back before long. This morning around 9:30 am my daughter came, bringing Evan, their youngest, for me to babysit. As we stood outside talking I noticed a bird fly over. The very first tree swallow!

It was around by itself for awhile, then six more were twittering around. A couple of them came swooping and twirling around me, as if to say “Hi” to their old friend. One swooped so low it was almost at eye-level with Evan, which delighted my grandson. They soon went to the nests to check them out. They seem to understand “First come; first serve” and have already staked their claims.

Perhaps I could say spring has robbed us of our sleep this past week. Last Thursday night in the wee hours there was a bit of ruckus in our house; Bob got up to check and discovered the stray cat in our hallway! He told me I must have let the cat in when I let ours in but I was certain I hadn’t.

This cat, black like our Angus, normally stays at the neighbour’s yard but comes here quite often to hunt mice in the stubble beside us. I have sometimes mistaken him for Angus, but he wasn’t anywhere in sight when I let the cats in just before midnight.

Bob put him out…and before long he was in again. We got this sinking feeling…

Bob went out with a spade and filled in a hole at the back of our trailer. Ten minutes later the cat was in again. By this time it was almost 4 am and sleep was gone, so I got up, filled in the hole and put firewood logs on top of it. That kept the cat out until the next night, when we had to get up and fill in another hole.

It was 2 am Saturday night when we heard the cat meowing in the house again so I gave up on sleep and went outside to deal with a fresh hole dug right by our side doorstep. I covered it with a chunk of plywood we had around, with a rock on top. Then put the “not-our cat” out. I was up until 4am; about 3:30am I looked out and saw the real culprit – as I expected – a black “kitty” with a pointy little nose and a white stripe down its back and plumy tail. It was digging furiously, trying to make a new hole beside the one I’d covered.

The last thing you want is a skunk coming and going where you are coming and going! I certainly didn’t want to alarm him, but had to do something, so I opened the window and said softly, “No-o-o, Moufette, no-o-o.” He paused, then started to dig again.

“No-o-o, Moufette, no, no.” This time he gave up and went away. Nevertheless the stray cat was in again the next morning and Moufette was likely snoozing snug and warm under our trailer for the day. In the morning light we could see he’d come back later and finished his excavations.

The cat is an opportunist; where there’s an opening, he’s in where it’s warm and dishes of cat food are sitting around for him to polish off. But he isn’t the digger. Our trailer is surrounded by a hard-packed ridge of gravel; it takes a determined invader with claws to dig through that!

Anyway, yesterday Bob went out and filled in holes, sprayed Critter Ridder around and we slept peacefully last night. The skunk will have to find a more secluded place to doze away his days. (We went through this last fall, too, if you remember my posts from back then.)

As to my health, I’m feeling okay except for being hot and sweaty a lot. It’s my “thinker” that gives me the most problem; I forget so easy and I have a harder time concentrating than I ever did. Feel sort of tired mentally, don’t have much enthusiasm for projects — even getting my children’s book ready for publication. But I am working at it.

Saturday was our His Imprint Christian Writers Conference. that took a lot of my attention this month; now that this event is out of the way I plan to focus more on my own writing.

Colourfully Created Crawlies

crab-298346_640“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”
Genesis 1: 20-22

Just think how much fun He must have had designing this one!

(Reblogged from Swallow in the Wind)
Crab from Equador; Photo from Pixabay

Guilty As Charged, Your Honor

Our exercise on The Write Practice (see link at right) today was to tell about an adventure we had while traveling,  focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a small part of our adventure when I went with my daughter to Mississippi for a Teachers’ Prep Class. Hope it gives you a smile.
(Hope I don’t get a very belated ticket in the mail. ☺ What’s the US Statute of Limitations for driving offenses?)

Back in ‘95 our daughter wanted to go to a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less — and she didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I’d read some pretty awful accounts…  Right then we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50?

As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I passed another 55 mph sign, I asked myself, Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Will they arrest me if I don’t? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser (one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!) I saw in my rear-view mirror that others had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when I didn’t, they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?