Prompt: A New Love Blooms in Old Age
Words: inheritance, walk, dust, dapper, husky, squirrel, planation, berry, silk, shovel
“I don’t know how much time…” Maggie couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.
“Don’t think about the future, just concentrate on today. Now. This walk.” Matt squeezed her hand while they strolled through the plantation grounds.
“But I’m not ready to …it’s not enough. I didn’t realize how much…how attached I’d get.” Maggie dabbed the corner of her eyes with a silk handkerchief. Surely the tears were irritation from the duct they kicked up – not emotion.
“Oh, look. It’s Casper’s newest friend.”
Ahead, the white-muzzled husky dapper in a bow-tie festooned collar frolicked with a gray squirrel. They chased each other around through a berry patch until Casper collapsed in a panting heap, tongue lolling from a grinning muzzle.
“We’re doing a good thing here, Maggie,” Matt said. “I can’t think of a better way to invest our inheritance. Look how happy he is. How happy we can make all these old dogs.”
As he spoke, a Labrador sauntered over and plopped down next to Casper, nosing at his neck until Casper made a move to play. The lazy back and forth ended as the two elder dogs nodded off in the Southern sunshine. There would be no need for the shovel for a while, but until then, hopefully, the old dogs would learn love and new trick in their sanctuary.
Word Count: 222
It’s Wednesday and suddenly I thought, “Holy Cow! Blog day! EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!” Because not I have to be pithy, well, maybe not pithy. Coherent maybe. Coherent is a good goal.
Today I want to talk about “whelmedness”. That’s currently my goal. I’m trying to reach a point of “whelm”. I’ve been UNDERwhelmed by amount of output because of reasons I’ve already talked WAY too much about. But I’m also OVERwhelmed by the amount of STUFF currently on my “to do” list – both Day Job and Writing. The Shoulda/Coulda/Woulda/Oughtas (the Brain Weasel Brothers) have set up shop in my head and here we are.
I look at the List of Things and don’t even know where to start. I look at the length of the List of Things and the To Be Read pile and I don’t know what to pick up first. The Time Management Monkey is sitting on the shoulder saying, “hey, you can always set timers and work on one thing at a time for X-number of minutes” – which for some things might work really well, for other things? No.
So then there’s time spent trying to figure out if there’s something small that can be accomplished to chip away at that list. My Monday calendar at work starts with “Water Lucky” (Lucky is my bamboo plant. He’s called that because 1) he came with a tag that said lucky bamboo and 2) he’s lucky to still be alive – I have a brown thumb.) Why? So I can mark it off the list and start my week with a sense of accomplishment. How sad is that?
The rest? I have to admit there are days I “ostrich” and don’t deal. There are others I try to muddle through on one thing or another. By golly, I’m going to get steps or get to yoga, or something that helps chip away at that wall of “EEEEKKKKK! TOO MUCH STUFF!”
Yesterday, that wall of “Overwhelmed” chipped just a little. I managed to make progress on things in small steps. Today maybe a little bit more until the “over” part erodes down to a state of “whelmed”. I live for the state of “whelmed”. A nice, even-keeled “whelmed”. Let’s get it done.
This is another Star Wars pen collection – this one from Sheaffer (which if you notice in the writing samples…I CANNOT spell correctly). I ordered these from iPenStore when they were available for pre-order. They’re now available in retail stores like Office Max (if you can find one) and likely Office Depot as well. Sheaffer put out pens for Darth Vader, R2D2, and Yoda in both fountain and rollerball. They are the Star Wars Pop Collection.
These are higher end pens than the BIC line, and thusly cost more. The barrels are plastic with idealized designs and metal accents. Darth Vader look like armor. R2D2 is almost schematic like. Yoda boasts the great phrase “Do or Do Not. There is No Try.” All three have the iconic colors. The caps post pretty securely. The rollerballs run about 5.5” long. The fountains are about 6.5”.
The fountain pens have “medium” stainless till nibs and come with classic black cartridges (though I didn’t/don’t use black in the R2D2 – he calls for blue). The rollerball is also a “medium” point in the Slim Rollerball refill. The inks are dark and smooth. The nibs are flexible but not too fragile. The chrome clips have cut outs in the “white dot” design but are sturdy.
There’s a nod to ergonomics on the grips. There’s a slightly spongy rubber grip, but the grip rotates, so it seems like the point is not secure, but it is. There is a ridge where the grip meets the barrel that can dig in. The barrel diameter is just on the good side of being too wide for comfort. And just heavy enough to be well-weighted without being too heavy.
I’ve been using these pens pretty consistently for a couple of weeks and am totally enjoying them. They not only write well but are a lot of fun. There’s a bit of jury out on the Yoda rollerball because I’ve had issues with the rollerball ink in the past drying out or running dry rather quickly. With fountain pens, it’s expected because liquid ink and finite cartridges, rollerballs I expect more from. So we’ll see how that goes.
1. How does it work? – 1 – They work great. The ink feathers only a little bit on porous paper. And liquid inks are going to smear on shiny paper no matter what. But the flows are good and pigments rich.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – There are ridges that dig in after a while and the “not quite too wide” can get tiring after a while. I would have preferred a slightly longer and narrower barrel.
3. Material – 1 They’re plastic barrels with chrome accents and stainless steel nibs or tips.
4. Overall Design – 1 – They’re fun, functional, and if you’re a fan, or a kid or kid-at-heart, it won’t matter. These are too awesome for words just on a visual level. The fact they also work well is almost a bonus.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – These are not cheap. They’re running in the $20 EACH range. The roller ball is often cheaper than the fountain pen, but it’s a decent average. They are refillable (already on the second cartridge of Darth) so that makes them better about the price point. But these aren’t toss away BICs.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Prompt: A Small, Local Political Race
Words: coordinated, support, farmhand, spray, serious, rail, lips, taxpayer, fool, middle
“Better a farmhand than a meddler and a fool!”
“Is that two people or three?” Cletus asked scratching his cowlick.
Rhoda blinked. Was Cletus serious? She scanned the other small-town players and half seemed as shocked by the question as she. The other half mirrored Cletus. “Two. It’s two people. The candidate we want the one we don’t.”
“But who’s the fool then?”
Rhoda bit her lips to keep a lock on her first answer. That didn’t stop a guy to her left from spitting a spray of coffee on the wall. If Cletus weren’t a taxpayer – or so she thought – and she didn’t need all the support for Billy she could get… NO. No more.
“Now look. Billy has solid roots in this community. He’s worked hard for the farms around here. He knows what it takes to make it here. We need him as a commissioner, not some entitled rich guy whose daddy made a pile of money through the railroad.”
Rhoda played the crowd like a coordinated symphony. It wasn’t her first rodeo or her third – in fact she had an actual rodeo scheduled later. But if change was going to happen across the board, it started here. Local. Rural. Already plans were in place. Soon, no one would know what hit them.
Word Count: 216
I’ve never gotten around to writing up the FenCon report and now World Fantasy is in the rear view. I have one final comic con the week before Thanksgiving in Waxahachie. Then there’s a well-deserved break until ConDFW in February when it starts all over again. But for now…
There’s probably a whole lot I can say about FenCon, but that time was such a mental muddle given the Day Job Stuff happening at the time. I was there doing a significant number of panels – because Robyn (like SoonerCon which I’ll also be attending again in 2018) takes my stock answer to “how many program items…” as a personal challenge. I answer, “please don’t kill me”. Now it seems we have a Tootsie Pop Dilemma – how many programming items does it take to kill Rhonda? (Hopefully) The World May Never Know.
The panels were well-attended and participatory – especially the one where drama ensued. It was the strong women in fiction panel and the strong women ON the panel took on the one dude trying to insert his agenda into it in a man-splainy and pretentious kind of way. It was dealt with quickly and concisely on the panel and then reported and dealt with on a grander scale.
Overall, a good time – stuff done, books sold, and then right back to the Day Job. Even though FenCon reignited my desire and motivation to write more fiction, it’s taken a month to regain the mental capacity to focus. I did have two deadlines for short projects during October that I managed to accomplish – a short story revision and an essay – along with some blogs and exercises. It’s something… but…
Then came World Fantasy. Jimmy and I were volunteer/staff – him in the art show and me as guest liaison. I had the best/easiest GoH of all time. We ended up helping load in books and art. I have a much greater understanding of parcel handlers now.
I was eligible for a panel – which was on Thursday night at 9 pm. It was called “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie” and was based on the Ursula LeGuin essay and Diana Wynne Jones material. LOVE the Tough Guide to Fantasy. The panel went on a 5 minute rabbit trail about STEW. Signed and sold some books at the mass autographing/reception. Came home with even MORE books.
Spent most of my time foisting my book-selling skills at the Skelos Press table. Mark Finn and Jeffrey Shanks were kind enough to buy one of my stories for Skelos 3 and include one of my stories in a future issue and have it available in a preview sampler (that story revision deadline). The least I could do was my part to sell them out of copies. So, HEY, two new stories out in print! Woo! And by helping out hopefully this is the beginning of a long and mutually productive relationship.
But now…there’s no resting on anything. I’ve had more than one person at multiple conventions ask not only what I’m working on or what I’ve done, but when the next long-form piece comes out. The answer is, um, when it’s written. It’s mightily motivating. Really it is. And flattering. Really it is. But now I have also have a new phrase – my To Be Written pile is about as tall as my To Be Read pile. Which means it’s time to hop to.
So as I go try to whittle down that pile, it’s also time for the annual “I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo” disclaimer. It doesn’t work for me. If you are and it does work for you – you go! Go get them word counts! Good luck and see you on the other side of the month.
Happy still setting up day for World Fantasy 2017. We are here and already stayed up way too late. Did my part yesterday by hefting and carrying HALF the supply of giveaway books from storage to hotel — plus art.
Stayed up way too late moderately helping (mostly watching) Jimmy and Scott – with Randy and Ruth — build the Art Show structure, because “married to Art Show”.
Already talked to some interesting people. Was witness to Houston friends gobsmacked by the Astros winning the Workd Series (way to go ‘Astro’s). And today is more of the same. Today my Guest Liaison duties begin, my panel is tonight.
Though it is a “working” convention, it’s still TRIBE, and I intend to soak it all in.
It’s not Friday…but it is Halloween. And a few weeks back Jimmy and I were listening to Stuff You Should Know and Chuck Bryant talked about old fashioned wheelchairs and a haunted one. Which is, of course, created a plot bunny.
I’ve jumped ahead in my calendar of Write the Story Exercises to the story I wrote today – Halloween – which was a hard topic (Chronic Illness) but I wanted to take on the haunted antique wheelchair too. This one cries out to be expanded but for today… a Halloween Edition Write the Story…
Prompt: Living with a Chronic Illness
Words: fever, weight, unpack, rollercoaster, surgeon, daffodil, Northern, patch, mossy, tendril
Maybe it had been the fever or the long rollercoaster ride of the last year trying to unpack the diagnosis, but Charlie was worn out. The weight of knowing it was never all in his head but an actual chronic illness was gone, leaving behind tendrils of pain and exhaustion and legs that no longer held.
“We found this antique wheelchair in the attic. We thought you might like it better than the regular ones. At least until we know more.”
Charlie spent his days in the wicker-backed wheelchair. Weird dreams and dark, horrific images floated daffodil-like through his patchy consciousness. He spoke to the surgeon about them, but was shrugged off. Side effects of the medication.
The longer Charlie stayed at Northern Hills Medical, the more vivid the disturbing images. It wasn’t the meds, he dumped those behind some mossy rocks by a water feature. Still they persisted and grew darker, more disturbing and then the voices began. Nothing curtailed his growing fear and agitation. His travels in the chair ranged wide and gained speed until it seemed the chair took on a life of its own, even as Charlie’s hovered in a twilight state.
“Stop!” But it seemed the chair wrapped around Charlie, not wanting to let him go. He hurtled them both into the water feature, drowning the voices.
The next time the nurse went to the attic, the chair was there. Waiting.
Word Count: 236
Yeah, I know…sorry. With only two days until World Fantasy, things are being compressed. Blogs being one of them. So here’s a Halloween-Themed Review rerun. I don’t know what this week holds. Going to try to front load some stuff around the stuff that is already scheduled to get done. We’ll see if that works. It’s that kind of week – heading into that kind of month. Super Busy November starts a few days early.
So… here we go… I think this was from 2014
I love doing novelty pens near holidays. So much fun. This one is a novelty I picked up at Party City. It’s a long, plastic ballpoint pen wrapped into the shape of a bat. They came in black and purple with black ink. I kept the black one. I gave a purple one to my buddy, Meredith. Because (theme music NANANA) BAT PEN!!!!
This pen is long – it’s about 8.5″ long. It’s narrow – very narrow – but this isn’t meant for long-term writing use. It’s meant for a silly thing at Halloween. The point may be a 1.0mm but it feels finer than that. It COULD be a 0.7mm. The ink is smooth for a novelty. I’ve actually found myself using more than I thought. It does have a clear plastic cap that keeps trying to skitter away, so there is that.
For a weird, seasonal novelty, it does write surprisingly well – if you don’t mind the lack of balance and the thinness of the barrel. The bat is fun to try make “fly” (just be careful, the plastic tubing can crack at the pinch points. But it’s somewhere between $1-$2. It’s something that can be used, abused, and rebought for the next haunt season. The selling point is that it’s CUTE. Really cute.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It works like it’s supposed to. It’s a ballpoint pen that writes well, with dark, even ink.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s a very narrow barrel, that’s also really long. It’s not comfortable for tight grips and the balance is non-existent.
3. Material – 1 – It is what it is, an inexpensive novelty pen in inexpensive plastic
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I like it. It writes. It’s fun. The inexpensive plastic might break if you play with the bat too much, and the cap is easily lost.
5. Price Point – 1 – It’s not more than $2 at a party store. It’s economical for the fun factor.
That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Prompt: A Bartender’s Best Night Ever
Words: airport, appreciate, curve, grumpy, ruthless, record, nerve, acoustics, alarm, expert
“You could make a whole lot more money elsewhere, you know that, right, Nikki?” The patron slurred his words.
“I appreciate your concern, but I do just fine right here.” Nikki smiled tightly as she wiped the curve of a glass. “Besides, the acoustics in this place are a lot more soothing than a downtown club.”
“If I hit a nerve, I apologize.”
Nikki continued smiling. She never thought she’d end up as an airport bartender, but here she was, an expert in calming grumpy travelers with the liberal dosing of alcohol. But she hadn’t lied. She did prefer the overhead Musak and even CNN headlines to bass-heavy techno beats, and belligerent drunks tended to be flight attendants’ problem.
“Help! Stop! Security!” The alarm raised, and everyone leapt to their feet. “Help!”
Nikki saw the blur of movement, and without realizing it began to move. She shouted for everyone to stay where they were as she leapt into action. As the fleeing perpetrator approached checking behind him, she crouched, planted, and lashed out with the heavy vodka bottle. She took the person out at the ankles, ruthlessly sacrificing the bottle. Security and airport police descended in seconds followed by the victim.
“OMG! It’s…” The name was lost in delighted squeals and screams. Nikki melted back into the bar.
Later, when the furor died down and her bar empty, she heard her name. She pulled up the photo. Recording artist, movie star, and celebrity draped across her in the selfie. A wad of cash as a thank you.
Not bad for a typical day at the office.
Word Count: 266
Since I’ve been kicking deadline behinds but not taking names, I’m going to get a blog post in today – before Wednesday is completely over. I finished an essay due on Halloween and got it turned in. Don’t know if it’ll suit, but it’s done 0 to 1600 words start to finish. That’s something right there. It’s a major step in the correct direction – onwards and upwards.
Some of the distractions that I’ve probably over-indulged in includes Murdoch Mysteries which is a lovely indulgement (Go, Team George!) of a world where one Canadian police detective in 1895-1905 (ish) invented everything around forensic science. But one of the things I love a lot about it is that the writers bring in real Candanian historical figures (and US ones as well), like LM Montgomery – the author of Anne of Green Gables, or Clara Brett Martin – first female lawyer in the British Empire. I only know about some of these figures, like Carrie A. Nations, because of the other indulgement…
Stuff You Missed in History Class and Stuff You Should Know both are amazing podcasts that have been giving me all kinds of interesting tidbits and plot bunnies. They’re very entertaining and educational podcasts, which doesn’t immediately help with the distractions – plot bunnies are both useful and an annoyance when there are other things to be done.
But the podcasts have made my commutes and some of my afternoon walks more interesting. I’m unsubscribing from one of the podcasts I listen to because I’m finding topics and guests hosts less than gripping (and in some ways annoying). So I’m open to suggestions for a new podcast. I already listen to Writing Excuses, Talk Nerdy, and LeVar Burton Reads — all so so good. So what do you find distracting? It’s okay, a distraction can also be an inspiration.