Another guest!

Another guest!

I had been hard at work for hours on end, composing my next blog post, and I may have dozed off at my computer. The next thing I knew, my elven cleric was shaking me, as if to wake me from a deep slumber.

“Huh?” I tried to focus. “What time is it?”

“It is about 2 o’clock, Mistress,” she replied, ever so politely.

“Two in the morning?” I tried to figure where the time could have gone. It hadn’t even been lunchtime when I had started working on my blog.

“No, Mistress,” my cleric replied, trying to suppress a giggle. “Two hours past noonday.”

“Huh? Two in the afternoon? Then what are you doing here? You rarely visit in the daylight hours.” I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs. “And why are you calling me Mistress?”

“I thought it fitting to engage more formal comportment, Mistress, as we have company.”

“Company?” I started to sweat, remembering the company we had entertained the previous week.

“Oh, do not fret, Mistress,” my cleric replied. “Today’s company will be most welcome, I am sure.” As she spoke, she nodded toward the doorway. “Mistress, may I present Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm. Sir Oliver, this is my mistress, whom you may address as Marge.”

I looked toward the doorway, and was pleasantly surprised to see a large, elegant Old English Sheepdog standing there.

 

Ollie 2

 

“Sir Oliver? Would you be author James Stack’s companion, Ollie?” I smiled broadly.

“Indeed, I would!” my visitor replied. “And you would be the fantasy writer who is regularly plagued by her own characters?”

I nodded in response. My elven cleric blushed furiously.

“If you have no further need of me, Mistress, I will leave you with your guest.” She flounced out of the room without waiting for a reply. I snickered at her retreating back.

“So, Ollie, what brings you to my humble abode?” I motioned him into the room, and offered him my best chair.

“If it’s all the same to you, Marge, could we take a walk in your garden while we talk?”

“Of course!” I showed Ollie the way to the French doors to the garden, then allowed him to take the lead, both in the walk and in the conversation.

He took his time sniffing around. He quivered as he caught the scent of the numerous rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks that scampered through my yard every day. “I need to visit here more often!” he said, with a goofy Sheepdog grin.

After exploring the garden, Ollie sat down and gave me a serious look. “Marge, may I ask you about your characters?”

“Of course, what would you like to know?”

“Well, James said something strange the other day about your characters. He said that someone was batting your dragon around, bouncing him off walls like a handball. He said he couldn’t imagine a dragon being used as a ball, and, quite frankly, neither can I. Can you explain that?”

I considered his question.

“Well, Ollie, first of all, do you believe in dragons?”

He looked at me with his soulful puppy-dog eyes, as if trying to decide what I wanted him to say. “I don’t think so, Marge. I think they are what James would call fic…fict…er, make-believe.” He wiggled his backside and his little bobbed tail tentatively, hoping, I suppose, that he had not offended me.

“You’re right, Ollie,” I reassured him. “Dragons are make-believe.”

“Then, no one was really bouncing a dragon around like a ball?”

“Yes, someone was.”

Ollie woofed in frustration. “But you said dragons don’t exist.”

“They don’t, Ollie. Not really.”

“Then…then…how could anyone bounce one around like a ball?”

“It involves something called suspended disbelief, Ollie.”

The dog cocked his magnificent head and looked at me as if I were speaking human.

I explained. “When you read non-fiction – that is, something that is real, like a newspaper article, or a biography – you trust that the people and situations in the story are as real as you are. When you read fiction – that is, something that is make-believe – you have to treat the story as if it could be real. You put away your disbelief for a time, and accept the characters and situations in the book as being real.”

“But that does not make them real.” Ollie looked totally confused.

“No, but it makes the story more enjoyable.”

The poor dog almost whimpered in his effort to understand.

I tried again. “How could you enjoy a story if you were constantly saying, ‘That can’t be true. People can’t fly! Unicorns don’t exist. Dragons can’t become small enough to be used as a ball.’?”

“I think I understand, Marge. I will have to try to explain it to James. I know he will be interested. Can you give me more information on this…this…”

“Suspension of disbelief,” I prompted him.

“Yes,” he replied with a grateful sigh.

“Well, the term was coined by a writer and poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in reference to drama. Coleridge called drama ‘that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith …’”

“Drama?” Ollie asked, scratching behind his ear.

“Plays. Stage productions. But the term is relevant to any creative work. My writing involves a medieval world where magic exists. The world I created is populated by many make-believe creatures, such as my shape-shifting dragon. But, in that world, in the pages of my books, they are real. And when you read my books, you need to approach them as if they were, truly, real. You need to suspend your disbelief.”

“I understand now!” Ollie yipped for joy, and ran in circles for a few seconds. Then he became serious again. “Marge?”

“Yes, Ollie?”

“Can I meet your dragon? I think I’d like to play ball with him.”

We heard an indignant snort coming from behind the lilac bush. Ollie raced toward the sound, mouth open and tongue lolling in a big puppy-dog grin. I raced after him, hoping to avert a tragedy. I did not want to have to explain to James how my imaginary shape-shifting dragon had incinerated his beloved Ollie.

 

 

 

I would like to thank author and #platchal friend James Stack for the loan of his wonderful Old English Sheepdog, Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm, or Ollie, as he prefers to be called. Be sure to check out their excellent blog here: http://siroliverofskygatefarm.com/

Ollie 1

James Stack’s memoir, WORLD’S FAIR, was serialized on The Huffington Post in 2012, and his blog, “Postcards From Lebanon,” about his experience with chemotherapy, appeared on The Huffington Post during 2013/2014. Published in 2013, his memoir and a collection of poetry, PLEASURES & SEASONS OF VERMONT, are available on Amazon.com. His poems have appeared in the Maine Review (Grand Prize winner), Ash & Bones and as part of the 22nd Annual Artists Embassy International’s Dancing Poetry Festival. One of his short stories was a semifinalist in the New Millennium Writings.

You can follow James Stack on social media: https://twitter.com/SkygateStack and https://www.facebook.com/JamesStackAuthor/?fref=ts

Advertisements

The Crossover, Part 2

The Crossover, Part 2

 

If you have not read Misadventures in Editing: The Crossover – amariesilver’s blog post from December 14 – you may not understand the following narrative. You can find her excellent tale here: https://amariesilver.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/misadventures-in-editing-the-crossover/

 

I have not been inebriated since high school, which was more years ago than I’ll ever admit. I had forgotten what it felt like. Dang that A. Marie!

“Have another” she said.Margarita-new

“What’s in it?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s mostly fruit juice.”

“It doesn’t taste like fruit juice!”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Marge, would you, for once in your life, just loosen up and have a little fun?”

Fun evidently included dancing on the tables until Morris, the bartender, requested we leave. I think. I really can’t remember.

I don’t remember stumbling home and crawling into bed, either. What I do remember is waking up thinking I was in the middle of an earthquake. It turned out to be just my favorite elven cleric, frantically shaking me awake.

“Conference room. Now!” she commanded, trying to keep her voice low, so she wouldn’t wake my husband who was snoring loudly next to me.

As I slowly focused, I noticed her cornflower-blue eyes were wide with uncharacteristic fear. “Oh, no,” I groaned. “What’s that arrogant elf done now? Didn’t I tell him no more staff meetings unless I was the one who scheduled them?”

“It’s not him,” she whispered.Elf

“Then what?”

In response, she handed me my robe and tugged me out of bed. She had dragged me halfway to the conference room before I managed to wrench my arm free. She had a surprisingly strong grip for an imaginary elf.

“Suppose you just tell me what’s going on,” I demanded.

“We have company.”

“Company? Who?”

“I’m not entirely sure, but the belligerent one in the peasant top, flowing skirt, and a belt full of bells says she’s a Wiccan.”

A Wiccan? I groaned. I had a bad feeling I knew who our visitors were.

I opened the door to the conference room and saw a bunch of A. Marie’s characters terrorizing mine.

The Wiccan…Cecilia? Clementine?

“Celeste!” she shot at me. Dang! Is mindreading a Wiccan ability?

Anyway, CELESTE was playing handball with my dragon. Let me clarify – she and my dragon were not playing handball together, she was batting my dragon around, bouncing him off the walls.

Dr. Potter…

“Palmer,” he informed me indignantly.

Oh, great, they’re all mindreaders!

DR. PALMER had wriggled out of his straight jacket and was chasing my elven king around. Whether he was attempting to have a conversation with the royal personage, or assassinate him, was not immediately apparent. His Royal Highness was managing to keep two steps ahead of the Doctor, so it seemed a moot point.

Ruby…

“Amethyst!” she yelled at me.

Right, AMETHYST! Amethyst was…well…I’m not quite sure what Amethyst was doing, but she seemed to have several of my characters cowed in the far corner of the room. I stared at them for several long minutes before I stopped trying to figure out just what was going on. Maybe ignorance really is bliss.

“Okay, this has gone on long enough. Listen up!” I screeched over the general din in the room.”

All activity stopped, and all eyes were on me. It was more than a tad uncomfortable, as some of the looks I was getting seemed absolutely malevolent…and those looks were from my own characters!

“Everyone vacate the premises. Immediately!” I tried to sound authoritative. I failed, miserably. The characters ignored me and resumed their various activities.

“Immediately!” I yelled again. “A. Marie’s characters go home. My characters go back to…to…to wherever it is you hang out between staff meetings.” I concluded lamely.

Ceceila…

“Celeste!”

CELESTE approached me, her hard eyes narrowing. “You’re as bad as A. Marie! You don’t even know where your characters live when you’re too busy to write!”

“Out!” I commanded, refusing to be drawn into this particular discussion.

Cecelia…

“Celeste!” she reminded me forcefully! “C-E-L-E-S-T-E. How hard is that to remember?”

If she had to ask that question, it was obvious A. Marie had never taken her out drinking!

Anyway, CELESTE seemed loath to drop the subject of my knowledge (or lack thereof) of my own characters. Luckily, A. Marie chose that moment to burst through the conference room door and throw a net over her characters.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, her eyes averted and her cheeks aflame.

“No need to be so embarrassed,” I assured her. “That’s just what happens when we leave our children unattended.”

A. Marie nodded glumly, then departed with her disgruntled characters in tow.

My characters raced out of the room, back to the relative safety of the pages of their books.

I wearily headed back to bed, vowing to assert more control over my characters in the future. I also vowed to stay away from beverages that were mostly fruit juice, and from tabletops.

If you’d like to see whose characters visit in future episodes, feel free to stop back from time to time. I’ll leave the porch light on for you. Just, please, no playing handball with the dragon.

My thanks to A. Marie Silver and the characters from her NA Paranormal series-in-progress, for their gracious appearance in this week’s blog post. When A. Marie and I aren’t dancing on tabletops, or trying to control our miscreant characters, she is a busy lady – a wife, a mother of two, an editor for Pilcrow & Dagger (http://www.pilcrowdagger.com/), and a writer working on her first novel. Remember to check out her blog: https://amariesilver.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/misadventures-in-editing-the-crossover/

Insomnia and staff meetings

Insomnia and staff meetings

Insomnia

I had been tossing and turning for hours. Sleep, illusive sleep! How I needed to fall into its sweet embrace! Finally, I felt my brain quieting, my eyes growing heavy. Then, I heard it, softly at first, then louder and louder.

I sat bolt upright, feeling as if I were in an Edgar Allen Poe poem. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “ ’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.”

The problem was, the tapping and the rapping was becoming more and more insistent. I looked over at my slumbering husband, wondering how he managed to sleep through all that racket.

Knocking on doorMore knocking…this time, it sounded like someone was going to break down the door, so I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. (Great, now I was in another poem.)

Upon opening the bedroom door, I was greeted by a familiar figure – a graceful elf with jet black hair, cornflower-blue eyes, delicately pointed ears, and a sour expression on her face. “He’s done it again,” she announced without preamble.

I didn’t need to ask who he was. Instead, I hastily grabbed my robe and struggled into it as I followed my visitor to the conference room.

“Again?” I asked with a sigh, as we entered the room. In response, a haughty, brown-eyed, flaxen haired, pointy-eared figure sneered at us in greeting, and snapped at me, “Your presence is not required.”

“Oh, really?” I motioned to the speaker to get out of my chair. Instead, he leaned back and put his feet up on the table.

“Really,” he replied. “These meetings are actually much more productive without you.”

I laughed. “And just how can that be? I’m the writer, remember?”

He snorted. “I believe we established, some time ago, you are not The Writer, merely the stenographer.”

I glared at him. I felt my cheeks burning, but I could not deny his claim. Finally, I capitulated. “Okay, so I’m just the gal that transcribes notes. But if I don’t attend the meetings, no notes are taken, and the story never gets written.”

A sly grin spread across his face, as he nodded to the far end of the table.

“Cab?” I looked startled. There sat the half-dwarf hero of the first two books in the series I was currently writing…er, transcribing. He had a sheaf of parchment, a quill pen, and a guilty look.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Since you completed transcribing my great adventures, I have been feeling quite useless. This seemed like a good opportunity to contribute to book three, since you have written me out of it.”

Did my hero sound a bit resentful?

Someone behind me coughed. I whirled around to see an ethereal figure gliding into the room. “Sorry, has the meeting resumed? I thought we were still on break.”

“Who are you?” I demanded.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the figure said, extending his hand. “I am The King.”

“You’re Elvis?” I deadpanned, as I shook his hand.

He gave me what I assumed was a blank look, although I really couldn’t tell from his featureless face.

“Never mind. What are you the king of?”

He looked as shocked as someone with no features could. “Why, I am the reigning elven monarch, of course!” he sputtered.

“You’re not exactly what I had pictured,” I stated.

“That’s the problem!” the other elf snapped, his feet hitting the floor. “We don’t know what you pictured! There is an entire group of characters wandering around this book, without names, without descriptions…”

“Now, hold on just one cotton-picking minute, Bub! No one is wandering around this book! Every character has a very well-defined purpose!”

“But not every character has a well-defined appearance or even a name!” he countered, angrily.

“Well, of course not! Some of these characters won’t appear until the final third of the book. I haven’t even gotten to them yet!”

“Well, when you finally deign to get to them, they already have some scenes you can work into the book,” he replied smugly.

He motioned to Cab to read the minutes of the meeting.

“The king is suffering from insomnia.” Cab started, hesitantly.

“He’s not the only one,” I replied, testily.

Cab looked at the graceful elf who had dragged me to this meeting. “Mistress, the cleric who treats his malady is your…”

Elf

“Not another word!” I cut Cab off, knowing well what he was about to reveal. “Not everyone knows about that character yet.”

“That’s another problem,” the arrogant one asserted, banging his hand on the table for emphasis. “We have a king, a queen, a princess and her betrothed, and a cleric who all play a crucial part in this story, and they haven’t even been mentioned yet!”

“Some of them have,” I insisted.

He just quirked his eyebrow at me in his trademark infuriating manner.

“What are you complaining about, anyway? You have certainly had your share of good scenes,” I reminded him.

“I’m tired of carrying the plot alone.”

Alone?” my elven companion and a tall, elderly human sitting next to Cab retorted in unison. “What are we, chopped liver?”

“Should I be taking all this down?” Cab asked me.

“No!” I snapped. “All right, I thank you for your input, but this meeting is adjourned. And,” I warned, whirling to face the arrogant one, “I don’t want to hear about any more meetings being held without me. I am the only one authorized to call a staff meeting, understood?”

He just sneered as he left the room, the other characters filing out behind him.

“He means well,” my elven companion soothed. “It’s just…well…he’s so arrogant!”

“Yeah, well, if he doesn’t watch himself, he’s liable to be edited out of the book altogether!” I replied.

The look on her face told me she could live with that.

Back in my bedroom, I courted sleep for the better part of two more hours before I gave up and headed back to the conference room. An unfamiliar female elf in cleric’s garb waited at the table, as if expecting me. “I understand you wish to discuss remedies for insomnia,” she said, gracing me with a warm smile.

Maybe I should send for Cab and his sheaf of parchment, I thought.

If you, too, suffer from insomnia, feel free to stop back from time to time. My elven cleric may be able to help. I’ll keep the porch light on for you.

Some poetry this week

Some poetry this week

 

Writers write a lot of different things; among them are novels, short stories, essays, journals, blogs, and poems. Even though I am currently working on a series of Young Adult Fantasy novels, I have written other things. I used to write news and feature articles for newspapers and magazines. I also have a number of short stories and poems to my credit.

Poetry was never my forte, but from time to time I was inspired to write some, especially some Haiku style poems. For those who are not familiar with Haiku, it is a form of poetry originating in Japan. It has very strict structure, and consists of seventeen syllables, broken into three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven, and the third line has five. Punctuation and capitalization is not regulated by normal rules of grammar, and Haiku rarely employs rhyme. Traditional Haiku should evoke images of the natural world, which is one of the reasons I am so drawn to the form. I do, however, appreciate other forms of poetry as well.
That brings me to one of the nicest outcomes of participating in the Platform Challenge (#platchal) back in October. Through that endeavor, I have come to know a number of writers through their platforms. Consequently, there are some new blogs I have discovered and enjoyed. Recently, several of these blogs have featured poetry. I have enjoyed browsing through the finely crafted works of poets I had previously not known. The rich imagery of their work inspired me to dig through my files and resurrect some poetry I had written in years past. In spite of my poetry not being very sophisticated (especially compared to the wonderful works of others I have read recently), I hope you might enjoy reading a few of my poems. They are simple poems, written purely to entertain; they have no deep meaning.

First, some in the style of the Haiku (as per the formula for Haiku, these poems have no titles):

Autumn’s first changeling:
bright orange and gold flapper
among puritans.

 
An eagle soaring,
motionless in the heavens,
floating on his pride.

 
Ebony shadows
slip across the horizon:
Mustangs ride the wind.

 
Fireflies twinkle;
a thousand minuscule stars
light the path to dreams.

 
Raindrops fall, silver,
softly touching golden sands:
nature’s treasures here.

 
Old and tired now,
wrinkled and weary am I.
Winter comes, so blessed.

 
Clouds blacken the sky;
wind whips the rain to frenzy.
Hell’s gates have opened!

 
Rising from the mists,
a stand of silver birches:
phantom sentinels.

 

 

Long, sleek and graceful,
silky and fluffy and warm:
love comes on soft paws.

 

 
Not everything I wrote was in Haiku format. Here are two longer poems, still simple and written solely for entertainment (I won’t bore you with any of my “message” poems):

Night Fears

Shadows steal through moonlit room,
Stairs creak and groan and sigh.
Tree limb taps on window pane
As wind moans through the pines.

Field mice scuttle through dry leaves;
Far off, some dog howls.
Trash cans rattle, curtains rustle,
Imagination growls.

Blood rushes, pounding in your ears,
Mouth grows desert dry.
Horror tiptoes from your heart
Up to strangle your mind.

 

 
Beat of a Different Drummer

It began with a tap, then another;
Mother Nature’s drummer played.
Irregular rhythm, broken meter:
Raindrops through leaves in the glade.

The rhythm was inconstant,
It ebbed and flowed at will;
The meter, very hesitant,
As the drummer tested his skill.

Harder, louder, softer, slower,
A symphony it created!
The drummer was no amateur;
The falling rain syncopated.

Snare, tenor, timpani –
He tried them all for size.
Upbeat, downbeat, offbeat,
The drummer improvised.

The beat of a different drummer.
Performed for inhabitant of forest domain,
And an occasional fool, the philosopher
Who knows not enough to get out of the rain.

 
As I’ve noted, most of my poetry, whether Haiku or some other form, was written in response to nature’s inspiration, or just to entertain. Some of my writer friends have written much deeper poems, using wonderful imagery to powerfully evoke deep emotions or examine difficult situations. I have provided some links here, if you would care to go visit their blogs and enjoy their talents:

https://sheepcarrot.wordpress.com/category/writing/poetry/

https://wordjunkie1966kimbaileydeal.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/my-voice-my-story/

https://wordjunkie1966kimbaileydeal.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/masks-and-words/

http://www.ghesslaumagrady.com/poetry

http://siroliverofskygatefarm.com/2015/11/29/thanksgiving-harvest-exciting-theatre-in-new-york/ (There’s a nice poem at the end of the blog post here)

http://siroliverofskygatefarm.com/2015/11/21/uninvited-guest-cancer  (There’s a powerful poem at the end of the blog post here)

http://fireflymagazine.weebly.com/issue-23.html (This link is not to a blog, but to a publication that featured 2 poems by one of my #platchal writer friends, DMG Byrnes)

 

 

If you’ve enjoyed my poems, or those of the writers I have shared, feel free to stop back from time to time. We can listen to the rain and write poetry. I’ll keep the porch light on for you.