Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Home Sweet Home

 

I hear the Island calling me
Though I'm far away
I dream of it at night
My cradle in the waves

Sand beneath my feet
Salt spray upon my face
When I see those red tinged cliffs
I know I've found my place

With calls of "Hey der buddy
Hows it goin? Where've ya bin?"
Feels like I've never left
Though it's been ages since I've been
Home sweet home
Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

The Fairy’s Cure

A fairy tale that I started writing for last week’s Prompt for the Promptless. It was a 30-5 Challenge and was written in 30 minutes.

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Once magic was wild and free. Depending on magic’s mood, rain could change into food or lava. The days could end up being bright with life or dark with despair.

Magic seemed to bless different creatures by giving them powers. Fairies were given the power of light and childlike wonder. Dragons were given wisdom and strength. Gnomes were given control over plants and water.

The people thought they would be blessed if they followed magic’s whims. But, try as they may, magic never seemed to bless the people with more power.

Ages went by with the people watching magic bless other creatures. The people began to crave the power that magic was giving away. Some tried to harness magic’s power and use it for themselves. But magic was too strong for them and the power consumed their bodies.

Many died in this quest for power but still the people tried.

Eventually someone had the idea to weaken magic. If magic’s power was weakened, then it would be easier to obtain.

A disease was created in the hope that it would attack magic. But it didn’t work the way they had planned. The disease attacked people and weakened them.

Confused, the creators of the disease worked furiously to create a cure. One attempt after another was made but the disease only grew stronger.

The people cried out for a hero; someone to save them from their mistake. But no one stepped forward.

Years went by with each generation growing weaker than the last. Parents were living longer than their children. Grandparents were raising grandchildren who rarely lived past their childhood.

Eventually, when the people had given up on their fate, a fairy appeared in the village. The fairy, at half the size of a small child, seemed to glow with an inner light that made grown men cower.

The fairy laughed as she danced through the streets gathering the people. “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to help you. Follow me and I’ll teach you the secret of a long life.”

The people of the village followed the fairy, attracted by her light and the promise of a cure. When everyone was gathered in one area, the fairy began her story.

“People were created by magic. Every person has a piece of magic inside of them. When you try to steal magic that does not belong to you, then everyone suffers.” The fairy looked around. People were standing with their arms crossed and faces turned toward the ground. “When you try to make your light shine brightest then you end up dimming it instead.”

The adults of the village scoffed and dismissed the fairy. One by one the adults wandered away but the children stood in awe of what the fairy was telling them.

“When people tried to steal magic’s power, you destroyed your own magic.” The fairy pointed at the adults who were leaving. “It is too late for them but it may not be too late for you.”

The fairy stepped toward the children and sat down among them. She gestured for them to join her on the ground. “I am going to tell you how to get rid of the disease that is plaguing your people. I need you to listen closely to what I say.”

The children nodded and silently moved closer.

“You need to stop being selfish. Your light grows brighter the more you help others.” The fairy opened her hands in front of her with each palm holding a small flame. “You all have a light inside of you that is like the flames I hold. When you think only of yourself and your own power, the flame grows smaller and you grow weaker. This is what you call the disease.”

The flame in the fairy’s left hand slowly grew smaller and the children gasped in fear.

“If you help others in need then your light will grow.” The flame in the fairy’s right hand grew to twice its size. “The more you help others; the more your light grows.”

A small child, no older than four, crawled closer to the fairy. “How does you help him?”

The fairy smiled and her eyes lit up with hope. “You can help others by being nice. If someone has trouble with their chores, you can offer to help them to finish what is left. If your mother feels sick, you can clean the house or make the food. If your father is hurt, you can feed the animals or tend the crops.”

“Why are you telling us this?” asked an older girl who had her arms crossed in front of her chest. “It’s not like it will fix us.”

The fairy laughed. “It won’t fix you but it will keep you from getting sick. I’m here because magic sent me. We’ve seen the plight of people and we want to help.”

“Mom says that the disease was sent by magic because we were close to destroying it and taking its power. If we can get magic’s power then the disease will disappear.” The girl reached over and tugged on the arm of a younger girl who was sitting beside her. “We need to go Carol. Mom will be mad if we’re late.”

“But I want to stay with the fairy.” The younger girl pulled back away from her sister.

“It’s alright child,” the fairy said. “You have heard enough to help. As for your sister’s question, the disease was not sent by magic but was created by people. It was made to weaken magic but those who created it did not know that people were made of magic. This is why the disease attacks people. This is also why you must strengthen your magic to overcome the disease.”

The fairy looked around at the children. The older children looked sceptical and the younger children looked hopeful. “I will not keep you much longer but I will leave you with this knowledge. When you help others you will feel the warmth of your flame growing. The more your flame grows, the more people will try to stop you. People want to extinguish your magic; they will tell you that there is no need to help others. They will try to stop you. You must not let them extinguish your flame.”

The fairy disappeared before the children could ask more questions. Slowly, they wandered off back home; each of them lost in their thoughts of the fairy.

At first life in the village remained the same but soon it was obvious that the children were acting different.  They were helping each other with chores and doing more around the house.

The more the children helped others, the older they were before they grew sick with the disease. Some of them were able to avoid getting sick at all.

The next generation learned from the fairy’s children and grew to an age older than their parents. The generations that followed grew much older than the generations before.

Soon, the disease itself was a distant memory but everyone knew the story of the Fairy’s Cure.

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Different Languages

Innis Seun 2“So, what you are telling me is that the girls where you are from speak very differently than we speak here?” Sheehan looked at Barbara with a confused expression on her face.

Barbara nodded. “Yes, they speak a lot different from here. They still speak English… or Innis as you call it here, however with the way they speak, it is almost as if they are speaking a different language.”

“They speak Innis while speaking a different language? So they speak two languages?” Sheehan picked up her left hand and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.

“No, they speak one language but they way they speak it sounds as if they are speaking a different language.” Barbara shook her head and her hair waved back and forth along her back.

Sheehan stopped walking for a moment and just looked at Barbara.

Barbara rolled her eyes and reached out to give Sheehan’s arm a tug to get Sheehan moving again. “The way they speak it sounds as if they are speaking a different language when they are not actually speaking a different language.”

“Well, could you give an example?”

Barbara seemed to think for a moment. “Well, like, they like talk like this and they say like whatever and like oh my god and like things like that.”

“What does that mean?”

Barbara laughed. “I did say it was almost as if they spoke another language. I much prefer how people speak here. At least everyone says what they mean.”

“Everyone does not say what they mean.”

“Well, they mean what they say. And that is the same thing.”

“That is the same as saying I breathe when I sleep is the same as I sleep when I breathe. The sentences have different meanings.”

“Are you quoting Alice in Wonderland?” Barbara said with a light laugh.

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Road Trip

Sisterhood“Are you sure you know where we’re going?” Emma asked for what seemed like the hundredth time.

“Emma, how many times do I have to tell you that I don’t know how to get to Winterwood? I haven’t been there since I was five.” Carrianne gritted her teeth in an attempt to keep her voice level.

“But you own property there.”

“Correction, Grampy owned property there and I only get the deed after I come of age,” Carrianne said in a slow manner. “Mom hired a caretaker and did everything over the phone. We never had to go there.”

Emma grew quiet and Carrianne grew more concerned.

Carrianne sighed. “Why are you asking? And don’t say ‘you’re curious’ because I know that’s not the reason.”

Emma stayed quiet for a moment, letting the sounds from the radio fill the small car. “Maybe we should pull over and ask for directions.”

“I gave you a map of the area before we even left. You have the map on your lap and have been looking at it for the last 20 minutes.”

“See, maps are funny. They don’t always have the town you’re looking for.”

Carrianne groaned. “Grab my phone and use the GPS app.”

“Yeah,” Emma dragged out the word until it was painfully distorted. “I tried that and it didn’t help. According to the maps of the world, Winterwood doesn’t exist. It’s like Narnia.”

“And you didn’t think to tell me sooner because?”

“Road trip?” Emma’s voice was small but hopeful.

Carrianne didn’t need to look to know her friend had on a wounded puppy dog expression. She sighed in defeat. “You owe me.”

“Road trip!” Emma did a happy dance in her seat.

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Burial

This piece is an accompaniment to Do You Remember Winterwood? and, as such, has a sad tone. If you have problems dealing with illness and death, I would ask you to skip this piece.

(Sadness warning included for Fibee5 and anyone else who needs it. 🙂 )

Continue reading “Burial”

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

I Can Read Your Mind

This was written for the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Taglines. Where we were asked the question “What if people had taglines?”

I also used this opportunity for a 30-5 challenge. 30 minutes to write and 5 minutes to edit.

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Karen sat down at the round metal table and watched the people coming through the small café. She didn’t know who they were or where they were coming from. She couldn’t tell you their names but she could still tell you their purpose in life.

Ever since she was a small child she was able to tell at a glance whether someone was going to heaven or hell. Her grandmother said it was the second sight but Karen knew there was more to it.

That’s why she had come here, to this café. She was meeting with a known psychic to find out what she was doing.

Karen looked at everyone in the café and wondered if the psychic was there yet. She had tried to get a picture of the man but was told it would ruin the experiment.

She rolled her eyes at the memory of their conversation. The psychic, who was apparently well-known in the supernatural community but not the mundane community, kept pausing when he was speaking. If she didn’t know any better, Karen would have sworn that it was all a joke.

But she was the one who had contacted him. Rayne, the psychic of psychics. If you were trying to figure out your power than Rayne was the man for the job.

Karen looked around and watched as a few people entered through the open doorway.

Suddenly, Karen’s laughter filled the air.

Rayne, the best man to find out your psychic power, was actually a woman. A very pregnant woman.

Karen read the words above Rayne’s head again. Instead of the usual “Heaven”, “Hell”, or “Undecided”, Rayne’s tagline read “If a man can’t do it, a woman can.”

Posted in Character Development, On Writing, Post a Day/Week, Useful Sites

Naming Your Babies

For those who don’t want to read a long, rantish post, there are links to helpful naming websites at the bottom.
Character
What would you name this character? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A name can make or break a character and, at times, a story. Names can set the expectation for that character at an unreachable high or unbearable low.

One of the main reasons for these expectations is that everyone has an idea of what type of person belongs to which names. This idea could be about the character’s personality or looks and is usually based on past experiences.

It is possible to break these stereotypes with strong characterization. However, as a writer, you need to be aware that these preconceived notions exist in order to overcome them. By knowing these stereotypes you can use them to highlight the differences in your character.  For instance, naming a character Mary may mean that your readers are shocked when she suddenly starts throwing punches and shooting up heroin. But, if you use the stereotypes, you can gradually ease the reader from Mary’s pristine name to her actual character.

Some writers try to get around name stereotypes by creating names or changing the spelling of common names. While this can work, the laws of language still need to be followed.(1)

One of these laws is in the use of symbols. Most symbols, outside of letters, have a name and not necessarily a sound. An example would be the “$” symbol which is not pronounced as “s” or any other letter. I recently read a few paragraphs of a story where one of the characters was named $tarr. I was left wondering if the $ was meant to replace the S in Starr or if the name was suppose to be pronounced Dollartarr. If there is a story behind the absurd spelling then it can be workable but, for the most part, it’s annoying.

Another law is in vowels and consonants. This law dictates that when letters are put together, they shall be pronounceable. If you name a character Zhtbnaeaapkw, I can guarantee that you will need a pronunciation guide to make your story readable. It is possible to fob it off by having the character part of an alien race that speaks a language human vocal cords can’t grasp, but that’s just pretentiousease (2) for “I’m too lazy to figure out how to pronounce this name”.

The last major language law dealing with character names, which is related to the first one, deals with the use of apostrophes. Anyone who has read science fiction in the last twenty years has probably had headaches from this one. Apostrophes do not take the place of much-needed vowels or consonants. In fact, they are generally used to join two words or to show possession. Names like Aa’euo and Ch’d just looks weird.

Edited to include a note from Deby Fredericks who let me know that apostrophes do actually have a slight sound. The pronunciation is somewhere between a gasp and a click.

If you’ve followed the stereotypes and you haven’t used any strange symbols, punctuation or letter combinations, you may still be setting your character up for failure. This is because names have to fit in with your society.

If you were to have a baby right now and name him Crawford (3), he would probably get teased by his classmates. This is because Crawford is an old-fashioned name that isn’t used much anymore. A simple way of getting around this hassle would be to check baby name sites and census details for the year your character was born in.

If you’ve already checked birth years or are sticking with modern times, it may also help to check the area where your story is set. Some countries (such as Iceland) have naming laws which would mean your character could not be named Apple.

By now you’re probably shaking your head at some of the ridiculous rules and laws I’ve created to help with naming. Unfortunately, these laws have all come about from stories I’ve read (or attempted to read) where the character names were a detriment to the story.

Luckily, I know my readers have a good grasp of their characters and how to name them. If you have any tips, pet peeves or links about names, feel free to share them in the comments. I would love to hear them.

Footnotes:

(1) I say language laws, but I really mean A.P. Roberts’ Laws of Language. These laws were created to help me write stories which are readable without coming off as a pretentious idiot. They are based on my research and I am welcome to learning what others have found in their searches.

(2) Pretentiousease is my little term for words intended to sound nice but are showing how much of a douche-bag you are. A prime example would be when people complain about not being allowed to break the rules even though they are “important” and “do you know who I am?”.

(3) My dad’s middle name is Crawford and I do think it is lovely and very distinguished. However, it is an old-fashioned name which would stick out in a classroom today.

Useful Sites:

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Box with the Blue Ribbon

Jeremiah's Story

Jeremiah slipped his hand into the front inside pocket of his jacket. His fingers gently caressed  the satin ribbon which he knew was tied around a small velvet box.

The box held the key to his existence. Without this box, he didn’t know if he would be alive.

He gripped the box tightly in his hand as memories of her gripped his mind.

She was the reason for this box. She was the reason he was still here.

He remembered her teaching him. Days spent sitting side by side as she showed him the ways of steam-powered technology. He remembered the feel of her skin  as he brushed against her in the library and the smell of aether as they built their machines.

As he pulled the box from its resting place, he remembered the day she gave it to him. He remembered the way the sunset danced on the horizon; the way her eyes teared up as she sat in her wheelchair. The years had been hard on her body, though her mind was as sharp as the day they met.

As she handed over the open box, she finally told him the truth. Truth that she had kept from him for twenty years. Truth that he could never let anyone else know. Truth which he kept hidden in a small velvet box tied shut with a blue satin ribbon.

Posted in Post a Day/Week, Writing

Through The Walls

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz
Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

I can hear you,
Through the walls.

I can hear your shouts;
The slamming of doors
And the tears of anger.

Will I hear mending?
The whisper of “I love you”
Amongst tears of forgiveness.

Or will I hear sadness?
The shatters of broken hearts
Mingled with tears of loneliness.

I can hear you,
Through the walls.

Posted in On Writing, Post a Day/Week

The Dual Mindset

When dealing with stories and poems I like to say that I have two mindsets. I have my writer mind and my reader mind.

With my writer mind, I can create. This is the mindset I use when I’m writing stories and poems. It is the mindset that helps me to put words together in a pleasing format.

The writer mind is also the mindset that I use when I’m editing and revising my writing. This mindset focuses on the words and how they fit together. It catches grammar and spelling errors. It makes me stop when I come across awkward phrasing and plot holes.

When I want to improve my writing, I rely heavily on my writer mind. However, when I want to enjoy a story or poem, I need to turn off my writer mind. At that point, I need to use my reader mind.

This is the mindset that allows me to relax and enjoy a story. With the reader mind, I don’t worry about phrasing or spelling. This mindset only notices problems when they are very obvious(1). When I’m not focusing on how it was written, I can focus on enjoying what I am reading.

What about you? Can you separate your writing and reading? Do you have a special ritual you have to do to switch from writer to reader? Or do you find yourself thinking about the writing when you pick up a book?

(1) When stories have no paragraphs and writers fail to use a basic spell-check, even my reader mind has to stop reading.