Writer’s Don’t Take Sick Days

czhuxiqjilg-alejandro-escamillaOkay, we do, but it’s different. While we might be tucked under the covers, a thermometer in our mouth, an ice bag on our heads, we are still writing in the midst of being sick. For me, it was random snippets of poetry that I actually forgot to write down so needless to say, promptly forgot. I have used being sick to be a whole plot point for one of my novels. This time around, my flu was so nasty I wasn’t up for much in regards to writing, having to actually cancel my writing group. I did sit down today and work on a piece of short fiction for my local library’s writing contest. It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme

It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme is “Snowed In” and I have actually dabbled in a story about being snowed in. Downside, it’s close to ten thousand words which exceed the 3-page limit with this contest. Not to mention it’s more romantic and adult to send off for just the heck of it. So I started working on a new story, that after reading the premise to my writing group two weeks ago, they said (or completed for me) was a Hallmark story. I had the image of this snowed in cabin and from there I got a three-page story.

Now, seriously, I find it hard to write a beginning, middle, and end three-page story. Just over 2 thousand words, I’m a little impressed this worked and I do actually have all three parts. It might be a bit choppy, but you can’t add much detail into a three-page story. (have I stated this is a three-page story? Just checking) I’ve kept it to just some dialogue, a bit of a back story, and even an epilogue of sorts. I’ll let it settle in and ‘bake’ for a bit before the submission date at the end of the month. I might make it better, I might see some areas that need correcting.  I wouldn’t mind making it longer and add in detail, but you know, sometimes the best stories are short and sweet.

But like I was getting at, at the beginning. Even while being sick, and being uninspired most of the time (it’s hard to be inspired while coughing, running a fever and not feeling like eating) I still find myself writing. Now if only I could remember the poetry I didn’t write down.

Kate

With Apologies to Poets Great – A Poem

A while ago I created prompts for my writing group using lines from famous poems. Just a line here or there to just get you going. Well, this last Saturday, feeling uninspired, I pulled out almost all of those prompts and came up with this little number of a poem that, well, I give apologies to the greats. I took your words and mashed them up into a, well, mashup. It was fun, it got a laugh and it flowed, surprisingly enough. All without adding in much more than just a few little articles and where’s and when’s and I’s. Enjoy.

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It happened on a whim of an Autumn evening and in the morn,
when shadows, and the sun falls in little sprays to be picked by anyone
when the golden mists are born
that I traveled to Ithaca last night
and I will be in Syracuse at noon;
But it was in Cedar Rapids tonight that
I found myself, walking in Dragon street one
fine August night, and I just happened to meet
a man whose eyes where midnight shames the sun
Hair of night and sunshine spun
And he had a mermaid on his arm
an anchor on his breast
He had the looks of a man that books take ages to tell
And he told me how he fell far through
that pit abysmal, a nameless one
Indolently dreaming, puzzling till there
came a great voice to the sound of thunder
like the ancient gods
“O Lord he will hang upon him like a disease
as she doth teach the torches to burn bright
Let there be wings and yellow dust and the
drone of dreams and honey…”
And when he woke, the stars were the only
ships of pleasure at night when reddest flowers
are black, a slash of blue, a sweep of gray
Some scarlet patches on the way
And he asked me if when I go up through
the mowing field, smooth land like thatch
with heavy dew, if there is a garden,
grey with mists of autumntide where
ornamental clouds compose an evening song
And I said here lies a poet who would not write
To which he asked,’Have you forgotten
how one Summer night we wandered
forth together with the moon to
a land where the morning mist is curled
and I pondered on the complacencies of
you in your peignoir, and late coffee and
oranges in a sunny chair
And you told me the Frogs got home last week
As we sipped and ate toast and marmalade
for tea contemplating ships upon the sea…

My apologies to the poets and songs in order within the poem: P.B. Shelley, M Strobel, Philip Booth, e.e. cummings, A.C. Swinburne, Langston Hughes,  Mika, e.e. cummings, J.C. Mangan, C. Reznikoff, Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare, Rilke, Stevie Smith, Christina Rossetti, Robert Penn Warren, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, and the song Toast and Marmalade(a classic song)

I have pulled out my poetry anthology from Poetry magazine, years 1912-2002, marking lines that I have plans to type up, on the Royal, to add to the prompts. It’s rather fun to dabble in poetry this way. Totally nonsense, but fun. I have one other member in the writing group that has taken my prompts, not just poetry ones, and created some beautiful words. Short vignettes or poems. She’s brilliant.

Kate

Let Me Occupy Your Mind As You Do Mine – Flash Fiction

A darker version of a similar idea for Bookends bookstore.

A darker version of a similar idea for Bookends bookstore.

Rafe Simon sat at the small table that separated Bookends from The French Press coffee shop. It was both the most unpopular table, from eight in the morning till two in the afternoon, or the most sought after table, from two-thirty to five.  It became a very popular table mid afternoon when high school girls would fight over the coveted table just to have the chance to watch Jeff, Mia’s Elvis Costello wannabe assistant, working in the bookstore. Personally, while Rafe enjoyed chatting with Jeff, he couldn’t quite understand the girls’ fascination. Especially the floppy hair, skinny jeans, and thick, black, plastic-framed glasses.

Currently, though, Rafe’s view of the shop was quite improved as he observed Mia unloading a shipment of books at the front desk. The Devil’s Food cake slice added to the sweetness of his view, the cake moist, and for once, more chocolatey than most. The lyrics to the song playing in the shop didn’t hurt either. Gotye was eerily singing “Let me occupy your mind, as you do mine….”

Mia glanced up and at Rafe just at that moment, a frown between her brows before it lifted and she smiled. Rafe jerked his head in a hello and he watched her duck her head still grinning. Mission accomplished. Now he was in her mind.

About bloody time, he thought to himself. The woman hadn’t left his thoughts since meeting her two weeks ago. She had taken up residence and while he was loath to kick her out, she did make life rather distracting when it was as if she was twirling her finger in the hair near his ear while he went about his days on holiday. Bloody woman had to be his mate’s girl as well.

Rafe sipped his coffee and watched as Jeff came to take the stacks of paperback books Mia was setting out on the counter. She stopped and grabbed on, flipping it open excitedly.

“O Lord! He will hang upon him like a disease!” she exclaimed, dramatically leaning against Jeff, her forearm pressed to hear forehead.

Rafe chuckled, both at her and at Jeff who had rolled his eyes heavenward and shook his head in mock surrender. “Bravo, Beatrice,” he called, clapping his hands.

Mia blushed and stood upright. “The books for the high school’s play have come in,” she explained. “I love Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Classic play,” Rafe agreed.

“Best play I’ve seen in Ashland,” Mia sighed. She scooped up another stack of books and swirled off, leaving her to occupy Rafe’s mind even more as he pictured taking in a play with her.

the-bookends-love-triangleI started ‘Bookends’ (working title at this point) over ten years ago and I have only recently started thinking of working with it. It’s a love triangle romance with my characters inspired by Colin O’Donoghue, Martin Freeman, and a lovely model from the Garnet Hill catalog.  Like my earlier post about Regina and Luke, this is another Hallmark style story. Granted, in all my original drafts, unlike a Hallmark film, sex is involved. Love scenes are so much fun to write. But as I continue on, I find that sometimes you probably don’t need that. You can add it if it fits the storyline, but it’s not necessary. Unless one is writing a Harlequin Blaze….. I have contemplated that as well.

But at this point, all my stories are a Hallmark style story, and like the film, Love Actually, everyone in every story is connected at some point. Be it best friends each have their love story, or other stories are just connected somehow. One day, ONE DAY, I might have them all written. Sigh. Right now, I play out my characters in my head more than writing them.

Revamping Poetry

cxyhfbkc0vs-calum-macaulayI was a little undecided about entering into the Writer’s Digest Chapbook Challenge from all of November’s poetry. I just didn’t feel like anything gelled and I was at a loss for how I could put the poetry together into a collection.  Well, then I finally started looking at some of the work and reworking it for readability and I came to the decision, almost a month after November, that I am going to enter. I have been busily typing up the poetry and making it look pretty. That is where the challenge has been.

People always say that reworking a story is hard. And while that may be true, reworking poetry is really hard, trimming the fat and getting rid of excess words. Trying to make it flow and sound nice. You have only so much you can work with without it being prose or heck, a story itself. Not to mention that sometimes what you started with is not that great. I sat there with several of the prompts from November bothering me and not really liking the thrown out poetry that hit the page. I sort of just threw out crap, in a lot of instances. Some was good, some had potential, but most was just fiddle farting around with words. Some, well some are so good that I want to actually submit them to something else. I just haven’t gotten around to doing that.

I have been rushing around trying to write new poetry, fix old, and compile it into a chapbook file. It’s been fun and exhausting. I found a theme; a lot of my poetry centered around my mind and a guy I was interested in this summer. Seeing his life go to shambles as he tries to pick himself up, while still being semi interested in a weird sort of way. There are a lot of things he does that drive me nuts, but oh, I would love a good long kiss from him.  Such is life.

The poetry will be compiled into a chapbook titled She and Him: Poems of Them. Yes, the pronouns are not correct, but that’s part of the play on words and the fact that there is discord throughout the poetry collection. I also sort of stole it from the band She and Him with Zooey Deschanel.  Sorry Zooey, but it’s a great title.  There are sadness and melancholy in the poetry. There is sweetness as well. It’s supposed to be an up and down kind of thing that plays on your heart and mind.  I’m excited about submitting the chapbook. I would like more than ten to twelve poems, but I’m starting to run on empty and I only have until the 15th to get it to Robert Brewer at Writer’s Digest.

I’d love to know if others decided to enter the Chapbook Challenge.  Did you find November inspiring? I felt it was a mental cleanout. A wash for my brain. Needless to say, I have felt a little drained. Okay, a lot of drained and I’m still draining my reserves rewriting poetry. It is good and I will be glad to get it over with.

But I conclude; revamping poetry is gosh darn hard at times.

Kate

A Christmas Vignette – Regina Decorates Luke’s Office – Flash Fiction

ysnkckdkyty-rodion-kutsaevRegina whirled into the lobby of the hotel, her ruby red, velvet cloak whirling around her. Her arms were laden with bags and there were also a few hat boxes clutched in her hands.  She sniffed appreciatively at the warm pine smell coming from the very large Christmas tree in the lobby. Currently, it only had its lights, twinkling fairy lights, but soon it would be decorated. Late at night, the staff would set to work turning the hotel into a Christmas dream. The bannisters would be strung with garlands, greenery would be around windows and doors. Bowls of glass ornaments and strings of shimmery beads. Glittery snowflakes and icicles dripping off of the balcony overlooking the lobby. The hotel would be alive with classic Christmas music and every member of the staff would have their holiday uniforms; sparkly dresses for the ladies, and festive vests and bow ties for the men.

Regina hummed The Christmas Song, Karen Carpenter’s voice in her head as she plopped her purchases in Luke’s office. Luke was out, it appeared, and Regina grinned deviously. She picked up the phone on his desk and rang up the kitchen.

“Hi, Margo. Could you have a bottle of champagne, a plate of shortbread cookies and some finger food brought to Luke’s office? I’m decorating.” She couldn’t stop the giggle to Margo’s groan of “oh God.”

Luke, while festive, did not like his office touched. Even by Regina, and they were a thing.

Regina had just plugged in some holiday music and was pulling things out of her bags when Craig came in with the things she’d ordered, the champagne in an ice bucket and the rest on a tray.

“Put the champagne on the desk and the two plates on that table,” she directed, pointing at the small table between two comfortable chairs she frequently confiscated when she was writing.

“The boss ain’t gonna like this,” Craig warned as he set the champagne flutes next to the bucket of ice and popped the cork on the bubbly.

“That’s because he’s never had me decorating. Besides, he can’t fire his woman.”

“Just don’t say I had any part of this,” Craig warned.

“Why would I? You only brought my order,” Regina said, confused.

Craig grinned and stuck his head out of the door. “Oy! Jason. Sam. Bring it in,” he called.

Two of the other bellhops came in carting a faux, fluffy, white Christmas tree and set it up in front of one of the long windows that looked out on Ashland’s bustling East Main. They plugged in the cord hanging near the base and the tree was lit up in glittery white.

“Lissa ordered this for your suite, but when she heard you were decorating the boss’s, she told us to bring it in here.” Craig and the boys left and Regina stood, staring at the tree in glee. She knew she always liked Luke’s assistant, Lissa, but this was extra perfect. And she was amazed that the word had gotten around that she was decorating in the twenty minutes since she’d ordered the food. Ah yes, living in a hotel was like a small town. Gossip was always a hot topic.

To the sounds of Bing Crosby and many more classic Christmas artists, Regina pulled ornaments from bags that had come from Paddington Station, one of Regina’s favorite stores along Ashland’s shopping district. There were other bags of ornaments from other stores and soon there were silver and gold and glittery red ornaments hanging on the tree. Thank goodness she didn’t have to put the lights on herself. She wound glittery pine garlands around the windows, she sipped the champagne, she nibbled the good eats, and soon, the office of the very prominent owner of the very luxurious hotel, was a warm and cozy winter wonderland.

She had the shades up so passersby could look in the windows, and she caught many open-mouthed “whoa’s” as she fixed things. Some she would wave at, others, she would toast with her glass of bubbly. It was fun.

By the time Luke entered his office at half past four, Regina was a bit tipsy and belting out White Christmas. He should have been furious with his zen office now almost as richly decorated as a store, but when his gorgeous lady held up a bunch of mistletoe in a gold bow and presented her very red lips, who was he to make a fuss?

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So I have recently been writing little vignettes of my various novels and their characters. I wanted to give everyone a Christmas story. I read off one of my little somethings the other night and was told that it was like a Hallmark script. I had never thought about my stories that way; the stories I have been writing for 16+ years, but it was incredibly encouraging because I like to write nice stories. I have been trying to figure out what to do with my stories for ages. Now I might have some inspiration.

Regina and Luke are the start of something I wanted to write about Ashland, Oregon, and the glorious Ashland Springs Hotel. I wrote a character piece on Luke ages ago. You can read it here.

NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition – A Review

teal-niv-journal-bible-coverNIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is a very pretty journaling Bible for girls, or young women, or any woman that likes pretty. Each page has the place to write your thoughts, verses, etc. down the length of the page. There is a nice elastic to keep the Bible closed, and a lovely bookmark that matches the cover. I chose the turquoise edition to review (a personal favorite color) and the cover is incredibly lovely. The cover doesn’t contain text so it’s nice to have sitting out.  The book is more compact and a bit ‘smaller’ than a lot of Bibles, so it would be nice to slip into a book bag for  a Bible study or to cart with you.  There is a nice dedication page and unlike most Bibles, no maps or reference pages.

A horrible web cam image, but it shows off the cover without the  cardboard holder

A horrible web cam image, but it shows off the cover without the cardboard holder

This is a very lovely Bible, and I love that every page has a place to jot down thoughts, but I found the text really small in comparison to other Bibles I’ve read.  And because of the layout of the lines for journaling, I find the text to be a little compacted on the page.  I wouldn’t say this would be a good Bible for anyone under say 14 or so because of it’s small size, but at the same point, I don’t think most girls will journal under that age. I think for a young woman in Bible study it would be a nice edition to be able to jot down your thoughts and prayers.

I really loved the color and feel of the book. My biggest complaint would be the size of the text. Overall, it’s a nice Bible and it would be a lovely gift for a young woman for baptism or some other special occasion.  I would give it probably a 3 out of 5 stars.

This bible was provided to me for my honest review from Harper Collin’s Christian Publishing and BookLookBloggers. I have in no way been compensated for my review.

Kate

Devotions for Christmas – A Review

devotions-for-christmas-coverDevotions for Christmas: A celebration to bring you joy and peace published by Zondervan, is a lovely Christmas and December  devotions book that doesn’t just center on advent like many books for this time of year do. Instead, it takes you through the crazy, busy holiday season with very nicely done devotions. Simplifying life and giving you a moment to really enjoy the holiday season for what it is; a celebration of Christ. Each day has an incredibly appealing photograph of something Christmas-y themed, mostly over a two page spread, which I love. The images are clear and crisp and make you want to decorate. There are simple prayers and each topic is very appealing. Days like ‘Surprise Packaging’,  ‘Family Traditions’, ‘Home for the Holidays’,  ‘Holiday Memories’, ‘Christmas Leftovers’, and one of my favorites, ‘The Aroma of Christmas’.   Simple prayers, verses at both the beginning of each day and mixed within the text, and a whole 31 days of devotions, makes for an incredibly nice ‘coffee table’ book and a wonderful book for the Christmas season.

a-charlie-brown-christmas-abc-11302015-1276x850I was very pleased with this book when it arrived, one being that it is a hardback. I had expected a thin paperback and I am a fan of hardback books because I feel that they will last longer than other books.  The photographs are so incredibly beautiful feeling like they are right out of  a really classy magazine, like Martha Stewart.  The book will put you right in the spirit of Christmas, which sometimes is hard with all the ‘commercialization’ as Charlie Brown says.  It makes you want to sit down and take a moment. I am also very pleased that it is the entire month of December instead of just an advent devotional. I had assumed that this was only going to have 25 days, as it was a Christmas devotional, but it is for the whole month into New Year’s Eve. This is a really nice book for that reason. Because the holiday season doesn’t just stop on the 25th.

I was incredibly pleased with this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a really nice devotional that is not only useful, but pretty, for the holiday season. I also think it would be a lovely gift.   5 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me for my honest review with no compensation from Booklook Bloggers and Harper Collin’s Christian Publishing.

Kate

Live Like There is No Tomorrow

There is a new show on the CW called ‘No Tomorrow‘, all about this guy who believes the earth is going to be blown up by an asteroid in 8 months and so many days. Because of this, he has created his Apocalist…… his list of things he is going to do before the world ends. Now, first off, just saying, this is a fun show. Not horribly clean. But still, very fun.

Moving on.  Do you have a list? I guess in a sense this is a bucket list, but I like a ‘no tomorrow’ list. A list of things like you will do like it’s no tomorrow. Personally, I don’t have a list, but I’ve been thinking of doing it just for the fun of it. I have a cute little notebook, one of the many, my family gave me this year for my birthday, and even if I never get to these dreams, it’s not a bad thing.

Some of the things on my list would be:

  1. Go to Paris
  2. Go to Monte Carlo and see Grand Prix
  3. Kiss Boris
  4. Kiss new guy I’m interested in
  5. Play the bassoon
  6. Play a flute
  7. Play a violin
  8. Meet the President (doesn’t matter which one)
  9. Go speed boating on Lake Tahoe
  10. Go to the Space Needle in Seattle……

Okay, so some of them aren’t terribly interesting; going places is a big thing of mine, but there are other things I want to do. I mean, it’s kind of fun to think of doing things and attempting to do things. Granted, a lot of them require money… well except for kissing Boris….. but still, one can dream.

Do you have a list? I think we all should start having lists.  Oh, I want to run a 5K and a 10K!

Kate

The Ultimate List of Bookish Gift Ideas {PLUS 11 Giveaways}

It’s getting to be that time of year where one actually needs to start thinking about Christmas gifts. Gads, it can’t be that time! I am barely out of fall yet! But the season will be here sooner rather than later and if you want to get a jump start on all things bookish delight for your friends, then hop over to this marvelous post of all things bookish. There are some amazing ideas here, things I want, things I need, and things I would love to get people.

I’m taking a brief departure from book blogging today to help you get a jump start on your holiday shopping. Over the past week I’ve had a lot of fun compiling The Ultimate List of Bookish Gift Ideas. You’ll find gifts on the list for men, women, and children because some people {myself included} are born with an affinity for words.

See something you like? Click on the store name to be linked to the item. Keep an eye out for exclusive coupon codes which are highlighted in green. Amid the collection you will also come upon 11 separate contests, sponsored by individual Etsy stores and hosted on the gleam giveaway platform. Simply click the word GIVEAWAY in order to enter each drawing. All giveaways are open 11/7-11/21, but each shop owner has decided for themselves whether to welcome international entries.

homeforcomfort

I chose AbbieImagine‘s art print to headline this post because when it comes…

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Writing Down Dat Dem Poetry

Ah PAD, not my strong suit this year. I thought I would have poetry flying out of my ears, but I seem to be a tad too emotional as of late for some of the topics to really come out in a good poem. Or one that is a decent poem right off the bat. Most of them are needing some serious reworking and editing.

I had started off rhyming in my head in a partial iambic pentameter, but then I would get stuck writing sonnets that weren’t going well. At all.  But it dawned on me the other day that I needed to stop trying to write sonnets. Just write. Write whatever comes to mind with the prompt, from spirit animal to wire (I liked wire), and just let it flow. Then if I want to take whatever I wrote and turn it into a sonnet with the ideas from the poetry just written, okay fine.  And it’s going better. If I don’t feel inclined to write a sonnet, I don’t have to. But if I want to dabble something out, I can. Which I have done.

It’s actually kind of helpful to have all of the poem written out with all of the ideas there, then to rework it into the sonnet. Now, I’m not saying the sonnets are good, and I only have one mostly done, but  it’s still there.

The fence is wired with rusty barbs and nails
And tangles tight to hold and grip the ties
The baling wire and hooks cling without fail
To posts that once held rails for trains that fly
~Katie Lyn Branson (Wired)

That is the start to the wired poem. Not great, but not bad. All about fence posts on the plains that are faded and held together with wire.

Who knew you could take such an ordinary thing and write a sonnet out of it. But I’m trying to get out of my head, which is harder to do than you think, and just let it come out. I think another part is I’m inspired by certain music I’m listening to, specifically the Strumbellas with their songs of  “Spirits” and “Wild Sun”, and the Lumineers “Stubborn Love”, which is a personal favorite song. I think the folksy aspect of it.

jackie-and-ryan-2014-movie-posterAnother inspiration is the film Jackie and Ryan, with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. I can’t explain how much this movie hit me (I was nearly crying at the end). But the music and the story line and the lyrical quality of it all. If you are a writer, or a musical lyricist, I recommend it. Best part, it is based on a true story of a man,  Nick Hans, who was playing at SXSW, if I remember the story correctly. So that is really cool.

So, is anyone else hard at work on PAD? I’d love to know.

Kate