On being a professional

Every now and then I say something that makes me think, Yeah. That was good. Today is one of those days. So I turned it into a meme.

Presented here without further comment…

ProfessionalMeme

How did this happen?

blonde-1296489_1280Here it is – more than 2 weeks after the end of April.

2 weeks after completing the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

3 weeks… THREE!!!… after participating in an outstanding short story intensive.

And what have I done in the last two weeks? Not write. That’s what I’ve done.

It’s not that I didn’t have very good intentions. There are a couple of short stories that I started and want to finish. There is the novella that began on my blog. I want to keep practicing with the techniques learned in my class so my writing continues to get better and faster.

And I haven’t done any of it.

I could enumerate the reasons. Some of them are actually good.

But I won’t.

Because the reality is that no matter how good my reasons, if I want to be a writer, I need to write. It needs to take priority over Facebook and other time wasters, for starters. It needs to be at the top of my To Do list on a daily basis.

I struggled with that and (mostly) won during the blog challenge. There were days that I had a lot going on, but I’d made a commitment and I followed through.

But as soon as the challenge was over, I gave myself permission to take a couple of days off. A couple of days became a couple of weeks, and here we are, more than halfway through the month and this post is the most I’ve written.

So, effective immediately, I’m making a new commitment to myself. My commitment is to write.

  • I will work on fiction at least 5 days a week.
  • I will post on this blog at least once a week.
  • I will not allow myself to make excuses for putting off my dreams.

I might not always win the struggle… and make no mistake, for me keeping any kind of routine is a struggle. But I will continue to do this thing that gives me so much pleasure. I’ll continue to create and lose myself in interesting worlds filled with interesting characters.

I will write.

And hopefully you’ll be glad I did.

Shouldn’t I be writing?

Really I should print this out and keep a copy right by my desk at all times…. as a reminder.

Yes, that’s the reason. It’s a reminder.

Essence – Blog Hop January 2016

lublin-712028_1920“Please, you can’t do this.”  Tara pulled against the binding on her wrists to no avail. “Please, you don’t understand!” The panic in her voice sounded shrill to her own ears, but seemed to have no effect on the man shoving her into the back of the transary.

She cried out again, louder this time. “Please!” It was almost a shriek. She wondered why the street seemed so empty.

This time, the man turned his head. Not enough to look at her. Not enough that he could see her, she was sure. But she knew he was listening.

“My magic,” Tara continued, her voice slightly more controlled. “It isn’t what you think,” she said. “It won’t do what you want.”

The big man grunted in a way that made his shoulders jerk. “It don’t matter. Tek tells me get a magic wielder, I gets one.”

“But I’m not even in the guild. How…”

“Better for me. Easy,” he said, cutting off her protest. “People know who ain’t guilded, and most don’t like you much. They point the way if you ask right over a pint.” He grinned with broken teeth over his shoulder at her. “Plus, you can’t access Essence much without the guilds. Less chance you’ll turn me in ta somethin’.”

“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. The Essence. It…” She stopped talking again, breathless with fear as the big man put up a hand.

“Don’t matter,” he said. “Tek has all the Essence you could hope for. Just needs someone to shape it.” He glanced at her again. “You’ll do.”

Tara slumped back and screwed her eyes shut tight, whimpering at the thought of what might happen to her when they realized her gift was worse than useless.

It seemed like hours before she felt the momentum of their transary slow and then stop. Tara opened her eyes again only as the door lifted with a hiss and a large hand encircled her arm.

The man who had taken her was surprisingly gentle as he helped her from the transport and led her toward a low brick building. Tara thought it looked like a warehouse, but who would build a warehouse this far from the city?

The brute – had she really been kidnapped? – led Tara past a contingent of armed guards at the entrance. She could see several more farther down, she assumed at another entrance. More voices echoed from the surrounding hills. Each of the men she could see was tall, broad, and thickly muscled. Every one looked unobtrusive yet deadly in their plain brown uniforms.

Inside the warehouse she was hurried past crates labeled in a language she didn’t recognize. More guards watched as she was ushered through a door clad in unblemished copper.

Behind the door was an office where a smaller man sat behind a cluttered desk, his back to them. Tek, Tara thought, but her attention was drawn to a dully metallic device laid on the desk. She was sure it was magic, but could not imagine its use. Without Essence she couldn’t read magic. But with it…

The door banged shut, her head whipping around to see that her captor had left. Alone now with the other man, she turned back towards the desk to see green eyes staring at her. It took another moment for her to realize they belonged to a woman with close-cropped hair – not a man at all. That fact terrified her more than being kidnapped, Tara realized. She could not have said why.

A cold smile played across the woman’s features as she stood and leaned across the desk. Her eyes never left Tara as she reached down and lifted the metal object from the desk.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked, then continued before Tara could answer. “It’s an Essalyst. Once you power it for me, I’ll be able to use Essence for myself. No magic wielder required.”

Tara gasped, feeling a shudder of fear course down her spine. “I… I can’t,” Tara stammered.

“You will,” Tek responded. The woman reached under her desk and Tara heard a soft click. Tara felt a flush rise to her cheeks as Essence began to flood, unseen, into the room.

“You don’t have to do much,” Tek said. “Simply hold the essence and channel it here.” She indicated a dark receptor on the side of the device. “Even an untrained, unguilded wielder can do that much.” Her voice was crisp with disdain.

cat-746242_1920“But the Essence,” Tara started. “You don’t understand. I can’t…” Tara felt the tears welling in her eyes just before her entire being convulsed with what she had always thought of as a sneeze, though it was nothing so ordinary. She opened her eyes to see a green-eyed kitten on the desk, rubbing its chin against the Essalyst.

“I can’t control Essence,” she whispered. “I’m allergic.” She wondered whether Tek would enjoy being a cat.

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

 

I hope you enjoyed my story! I often surprise myself with how things come out, and this one was no exception. Especially considering that my initial idea was a blind girl. 😀

If you liked it and aren’t yet on my mailing list, please consider joining to receive a free short story.

And for more reading goodness, please visit the stories from the other authors in this hop:

Elizabeth McCleary – YOU ARE HERE
Katharina Gerlach – Scars
Karen Lynn – My Story
Angela Woodridge? – Uninvited Guests
Barbara Lund – New Space
Kris Bowser – Smithereens
Justine Ohlrich – Two Deaths on My Birthday
Rabia Gale – House Bound
Juneta Key – Untitled
Mel Corbett – If It’s Not Yours

 

These were the stories from the last hop… just in case you missed them.

Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died

The Door – Storytime Blog Hop

door-5316_1280Jeremy knew it wasn’t going to work, not this time, but he had to try something.

The door had given him everything he wanted—everything he needed—for years. All he had to do was ask… imagine… believe… and then go to the door. He had no idea how it worked; magic he supposed. But that part didn’t really matter. What mattered was that it worked. Whatever he wished for, if he really, really meant it, when he opened the door, there it was.

He smiled as he remembered his grandpa showing him the door for the first time. Make a wish he said. All your dreams will be fulfilled. But even then, it wasn’t exactly true.

At ten, he had the best bike on the block; the envy of the neighborhood. That bike was cool. It sparkled in the sunlight with its red paint and blue flames. Nobody had a bike that looked like that.

And it was fast. Seriously fast. He could beat even most of the highschoolers, racing around the neighborhood.

That bike made him awesome. Even now, the memory made him smile.

But not everything he wished through that door was so cool. He learned quickly why grandpa told him never to wish for anything alive. He cried for weeks about that puppy, and even now the thought of it sent chills down his spine.

No. The door had limitations.

But the door also lived up to his expectations is so many ways. The guitar he wished for when he was 16 was directly responsible for his career. He played that thing for hours, shredding his fingers as he learned to play shredding leads.

Because of that guitar, he started a band.

Because of that band, he met a girl.

Because of that girl… that beautiful, perfect girl…

Jeremy scrubbed tears from his cheeks as he remembered the way Melissa’s eyes lit up when she saw that ring. He thought that might have been the best thing he’d ever wished for. The best thing the door had ever given him.

Because of that ring, he got the girl. That beautiful, perfect girl.

Then she got sick. Cancer.

Melissa always wanted kids. She would have been such a good mother. But the surgery stole that from her, and still it didn’t stop the disease. Jeremy sat by her side as months slid by and his beautiful girl disappeared before his eyes.

It didn’t occur to him until the end how much he had been looking forward to making wishes with his children. Their children.

Now there would be no more bikes. No more guitars. No more perfect rings for perfect girls.

Jeremy stared at the door, Melissa’s ring held tight in his fist.

He knew what he wanted.

He didn’t know if it would work, but he had to try something.

He wished harder than he had ever wished, for all the things that would never be.

Then he opened the door, and walked through.

bloghopI hope you enjoyed this! I certainly enjoyed writing it.
If you aren’t yet on my mailing list, please consider joining to receive a free short story.

Also, please take some time to visit the other stories that are part of this Blog Hop, and if you enjoy their stories, join their lists too. 🙂

Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl

Hello again…

OK. I’m here.

I have not been here as much as I would like. But life happens and busy happens and time sneaks away to canoodle with focus, leaving me to my own devices. That’s never a good thing.

Anyway, here’s hoping I get back on a regular schedule around here.

Blog Hop

bloghopIn the mean time, I’m happy to tell you that I plan on participating in a blog hop on August 26th.

What’s a blog hop, you ask. Well, a bunch of authors will be writing flash fiction or short stories and posting to their blogs, along with links to everyone else who is participating in the hop. If you follow me, you’ll be able to come read my story, and then follow links to read the stories that other writers have posted. If you like their stories, you might choose to follow them, too. Hopefully, some of their fans will also choose to follow me. But either way, there will be a bunch of new, free stories available to read!

Free stories are always a good thing.

All the authors posting will be writing in the speculative fiction arena… sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, maybe even horror. But there will be no graphic sex or violence, so this should be safe for a PG-ish audience to read.

So don’t forget, join me on August 26th. Maybe you’ll find you next favorite author … after me, of course. 😉

Incarnations of Creativity

I’ve always been a believer that everybody is creative in some way.

Not everybody becomes an author or artist. Not everyone takes award-winning photographs or sings like Leontine Price (or Taylor Swift). But every human being has an innate urge to create. It’s in our DNA.

Many of us create in multiple arenas.

Napa2011-304 Obviously I do the writing thing. I also dabble a little bit in art (not well, but I do dabble). I’ve been involved with music most of my life. And I’m a pretty reasonable hobbyist photographer.

Recently (well, maybe a year or so ago), I had the opportunity to make some greeting cards for an event using some of the photographs I’ve taken over the years. I’ve been offering cards for sale, on a very small, local level, ever since.

But I’m actually thinking about branching out a bit. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m seriously considering setting up an Etsy or similar shop to sell cards and prints of my photos. I may eventually include some original artwork as well … or even cards and prints from my artwork.

August 2013-599It feels very nervy to consider it. It’s an entirely different kind of publishing than I’ve been working on. But it would be exciting to know that something I created got to wish someone I never met a happy birthday. Or whatever.

Anyway, just thinking at this point. But I’ll let you know if/when I decide to move forward with it.

FWIW – the photos on this page are a couple of my favorites! And the cover of my most recent collection, Flashes of Magic, is based on a photo I took.

These images were taken by me and are copyrighted – All Rights Reserved

Monday Mumblings

Yeah… don’t know if that name will stick. We’ll see.

This past weekend I had a really interesting opportunity. I got to participate in a class on life coaching. It’s potentially the first step to becoming certified as a life coach.

This isn’t exactly something I’ve dreamed of for ages on end. Nope. Never even really thought about it. But then the opportunity opened up, and there I was.

And I have to admit, I was fascinated.

Unlike so many things, Life Coaching isn’t about teaching someone what they need to do or how to live their life. It’s not about training someone to become  mini version of the expert. It’s not counseling.

board-784363_1280Life Coaching is about drawing out the wisdom someone already has, and letting them figure out how to use it in their own favor. A coach asks a lot of questions. A good coach doesn’t give a lot of answers – they let their clients come up with those answers for themselves.

It’s an interesting process. I’m still trying to decide if I’d be good at it.

But here’s the thing – I am (as you might guess) passionate about creativity. I think everyone is creative, but a ton of people just don’t understand what creativity really is. I’ve played with the idea of helping people determine the kind of creative they are. And I’ve thought about what it might look like to help people explore their own creativity in a judgement-free environment.

I won’t be giving up writing – probably not ever. But the possibility exists that I might add Coaching to the list of things I do.

It’s an intriguing possibility.

If I pursue it, I’ll let you know.

Story planning

In January I got my flash fiction collection out, and I was happy.

In February I re-published my short story, making it a free-range offering for the first time.

Now it’s been several weeks and I need to get myself on track for my March Publication. I really want to keep up with the goal I set for myself of getting something published every single month this year. It simply would not do to drop the ball only 3 months in.

So I’m at a crossroads of deciding what I should write. I won’t necessarily limit myself to working on only one of these projects, but I will have to have one be my primary focus or I won’t get anything finished. Here’s what I’ve got brewing…

picture by  jesuscm - flickr, cc-attribution

picture by jesuscm – flickr, cc-attribution

  • I’m working on another collection of flash fiction, which may or may not have a theme tying them together
  • I have some ideas for a couple of connected short stories in a sci-fi world. One of those (possibly two if I write fast) could hit the pages this month.
  • I’ve been outlining a story that is loosely based on traditional European fairy stories, though I would hesitate to call it an actual Fairy Tale retelling. It’s not so much a respinning of one tale as it is a new story in keeping with some of the thematic elements normally found in fairy tales.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have time to finish the Fairy Tale, which I think will end up being more novella length than short story. So it will either be flash fiction or sci-fi shorts.

Any votes? My Muse would be happy with any of it. I just need to choose quickly. 🙂

Advent Calendar 2013

advento
Rosa Pomar / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I couldn’t be more excited! I am part of a group of authors offering an Advent Calendar this Christmas season!

For those who may not know, an Advent Calendar, at it’s most basic, is a means of counting down the days from December 1st until Christmas. It started as a German tradition, but has taken hold almost everyplace where Christmas is celebrated. Many such calendars hold daily surprises for the children they are intended to instruct. I’ve seen them with tiny pictures behind the numbered doors, or tiny books with stories to read. Many people have Advent Calendars with candy or other goodies awaiting each day of the countdown.

Our calendar is being sponsored by Katherina Gerlach, a wonderful fantasy and folk-tale author who publishes in both German and English. She and 5 of her writing friends (yours truly included) will be sharing original stories, character sketches, recipes, and even a few songs. Each of us writes in the fantasy genre, so some of what you receive will be fantasy. But much of it will also be seasonal fare.

I sincerely hope you’ll join the fun and sign up for the calendar. Our commitment is that you’ll receive 25 daily emails, and then a reminder next year to sign up for Advent Calendar 2014. No spam. (Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to follow any of the participating authors on their own lists, should you choose to do so.)

To sign up, go here. ==>> http://www.katharinagerlach.com/advent2013/calendar.html