Monday, June 13, 2011

Something Old, but Well-loved

When the long night comes,
And the tiger’s claw rips apart the twilight sky
What will you say to the one?
Will you give your excuses,
Or will you stand tall and proud?

I see this tattooed around a cartoon-ish tiger with with the claws of one paw ripping blackness onto my shoulder blade... The tiger would wind around my side...perhaps..

That is, of course, dreaming I'll ever have money for tattoos again. Or enough pain killers to get me threw it. Fibro makes tattooing almost unbearable. So sad. I wanted more ink than I've got, that's for sure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cheesy Romance Story Plot

Okay, so I had this dream the other night about a Gibbs (Character on NCIS) -- like man and a 30 yr old woman.... He was 40-something, and had two sons. He was a Navy Commander, I believe.... She was very not Navy... They knew each other, somehow, like online emails, not in person... But she comes to visit him and sparks fly. The sparks, oh how hot they were.

I can't really get him out of my head. I'm thinking of writing their story. Or rather inventing it, because there isn't much story to the dream... I mean, I do realise meeting man you thought of as friend, getting all hot and bothered, then fucking him spur of the moment isn't much of a story! I suppose I could do a lot of sexual tension, but I'm more about fulfillment. Besides, I am a terrible flirt, meaning, I'm BAD at it. Like really bad.

So! I was thinking, if this was a cheesy romance novel, what would happen? The woman, or both of them would have to be in some kind of danger, and he/they would have to same her/themselves. This woman isn't in the military, she isn't a cop or a P.I.. she's just your average business type. Everyday Jane, so to speak. What kind of trouble could she get in? Not much. My Navy Commander could be threatened. Maybe he killed some 'terroists' and they want payback, or someone could be blackmailing them to have him endorse their company/product or to embezzle money for them. BUT, if someone wanted to get to the Commander, they would go through his kids, not this woman he'd only just met. That leaves her to be in trouble. Or his kids. They could get themselves messed up in something and the father and woman could do something. BUT if she's just a regular everyday jane, how could she possibly help? She'd have to have some kind of special skills. Maybe a techy that could track the phone calls and find the boys???

The only other possibility I thought of was a stalker. What if she had a stalker, who was like hardcore, and followed her to this other city where the Commander lived. He staked out the house and saw them through the curtains of an upstairs window, naked, and kissing. He goes ballistic, and decides she's betrayed him and has to die. He could bomb her rental car. Try shooting her when she gets the paper in the morning. Take shots at her when she's going to her business meeting, that sort of thing. Then the Commander can be her hero, and catch/kill the stalker.

The other trouble is... Well... I've been watching a LOT of NCIS. So I'm thinking Military, especially Navy.... So do I write these as Americans?? I mean, how much Navy does Canada have. I'm kinda under the impression our Military is tiny and sad....

I'll have to do some wee research on the topic of placement and country.... But I think it could be a lovely, cheesy short story. I'm hoping so anyway. lol.

I can't believe I'm seriously thinking of writing a cheesy romance story!! Gah.

Also, Victoria BC, for the Naval base, OR Ottawa for the Headquarters of National Defense? I originally thought he'd be in Ottawa riding a desk, or maybe training.. But I don't know as they DO training in Ottawa.... They do in BC... And I have no idea what RANK he should have. I was thinking Commander, but that's like WAY up there.... like, running the base up there... I was thinking a leeeetle less high profile than that! Maybe I'll ask for advice.. I do know someone who was a cadet.. Though she'd likely throttle me if I told her why I wanted to know. LOL.

Anyway! Lots to think about! I hope I get some time soon to do some writing!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Makes a Story A Story?

You'd think after taking a class I'd have that question more sorted out, but I really don't. In part, I think all writers struggle with finding the story, it's all part of the craft. But I can't seem to see when I don't have it. I'm not sure I've really found it yet for any story...

The trouble is, I don't like conflict. I really don't. So the bits of the stories I'm drawn to, that my mind seems to easily come up with is the... back story.. The bit that happens when things aren't interesting. Just everyday kinda life stuff.

I keep finding characters I like, bits and pieces of stories, but I don't know where to take them. I know something is missing, and I can't seem to figure out what it is/how to fix is.

One thing I've not yet tried since the course is just blurting it all out on the page. I want to try that. And soon. Just write everything I can about the characters, the scenes that speak to me, and see if somewhere in it all a story presents itself.

Our teacher told us that the story begins when the status quo is challenged, that's the crux of things. But it's tension and conflict, overcoming obstacles, that's the story, that's what makes a story as opposed to a pleasant anecdote.

Part of my trouble is, of course, is that I love pleasant anecdotes. That's what I've spent my life telling myself when my life isn't what I'd wish. Or when my life was too full and I needed to to drift off to sleep. I'd escape to another world, be another person, live another life. I wouldn't go have adventures, so much as I'd go have romances. Gods, that's embarrassing to admit! But I guess, for most of my life, that's the bit that was most glaringly missing. We didn't have conflict/trouble/adventure to pull us together, but rather time. A slow, true deepening of trust, knowledge, etc. Or sometimes they'd just be hot flings. Much more like life than any story.

All this leaves me wondering if I'm capable of writing stories at all. It's the conflict, the tension, where it all seems to fall apart for me. *sigh*

Maybe I just need to keep writing. Maybe I just need the courage to allow myself to try, and fail. It's okay to fail, as long as you keep trying, as long as you keep writing. If Alice Munro (who is apparently amazing) has false starts, and takes many wrong paths before she gets to where she knows what she wants a story to be, then it's perfectly natural for the same thing to happen to me, a novice.

I just have to learn to let go. To just write, without expectation. To just see. To not feel the effort wasted if the story doesn't come immediately. *sigh*

So where do I get all this courage?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good Dream

I had this amazing dream last night about vampires, predators, aliens, crazy hotels, and in the middle of it, dildos and chocolate chip muffins. LOL.

It started out... at an old house. Three stories. Turn of the century. Farm house, middle of no where. I don't fully remember why I was there. I think I was protecting someone, or rather a group of people. We were under attack. Vampires. So very fast. I'm almost positive I had a gun.... Like AK47. Semi-automatic. But they were too fast to shoot. I couldn't even see them. We were trying to get them out, the people we were protecting. Many of my men and women died. Fast bloody deaths. But we got some of them out. Some of them just didn't make it. We had planes standing by, though heilos would have made more sense.... Maybe they did take heilos.... If I do turn this into a story, it will be heilos. lol.

I remember being on the first floor. It was a battle just to get there. I think we were on the second or third floor to start. Fighting our way down. Me and another woman. We made it down. She captured one of them. I said we should just kill him and get the fuck out. But she wanted to take him with us. I told her she'd be responsible for him then. She used a wooden chair to break one of the huge windows and threw him out onto the lawn. We were making a run for the last plane. I have this vision of an old school plane with two sets of wings. But the inside was high-tech. Dreams never do make sense.

Anyway. I lost the other woman and her captive in the field, I think. All I know is I made it on the plane, and got the thing to take off. The pilot was just gone. It was just me. I remember thinking: Fuck, I don't know how to fly this plane. But how hard can it be. I can do this. I must know how to fly the plane. LOL Even in my dreams bits of me realise I'm dreaming and don't know my characters whole backstory. So, I get the plane in the air, everything is going fine, and then boom. One of the engines gives out. Hell, I could very well have been shot down. The plane spins out of the control, and crashes in a field by the house. At this point I realise I'm dead. There is no way I could have survived the crashed and lived. And yet I keep going. I keep running.

This is where I meet up with the other woman and her captive. We are in the snow-covered field trying to hide from whomever is coming after us. They have guns. Vamps don't have guns. Or at least, vamps don't NEED guns. It's not vamps chasing us now, it's the military.

I'm laying in the snow, willing them not to see us, realising the grass isn't tall enough, or the snow deep enough. They should be able to see us. But they walk right by us. Human military. Machine guns. Black army boots. Helmets. They appear to be looking right at us, but they don't see us.

We escape.

It's a dream. So it's all fuzzy. I'm not sure exactly what happens next.

I remember walking along the edge of a wall - something a human couldn't really do, something *I* could never have done. I hear a voice in my head, images. I follow where the voice leads, in a section of city. So very pretty. Black wrought iron balconies. Yellow brick, low-rise apartment buildings. Eyes everywhere watching me, but I can't see them, only feel them on me. Watching, appraising.

The voice tells me about vampires. Fast. Strong. Long-lived. Hard to hurt, very hard to kill. Heal so very fast. Powerful minds, powerful enough to change the way humans around them see the world, see them. They are the perfect predator. They have no rival. But nature hates imbalance. That's why she created the others. So very like the vampire in every way, strong, fast, agile, powerful mind and body, great healers, hard to kill, hard to stop. And that's what we are. What you are, it tells me. We hunt them. They hunt the humans. We lay with the devil and they have no idea we aren't them. This thought terrifies me. Vampires are a dangerous lot. If they found out what I was, that I wasn't one of the, they'd do worse than kill me. I was already dead. Goddess knows what they'd do. You're one of us the voice keeps telling me. Hard to believe that.

Somehow, once again, I meet up with the woman from the farm house. We meet a group of people, well, not people. They are other. I can't tell if they are vamps, or this not-vamp the voice in my head keeps going on about.

There's a male, shorn head (very very short dark hair), Collin I think. He has a lovely Irish accent. He's wearing a sleevless t-shirt. Kinda athetic/mountain climber type. There's a man with long dark hair, dark eyes, reminds me of Antonio Banderas, but he's got an English accent, or at least he does when he wants to. Calls me 'puppet'. Seems kinda nice, for a vamp, or whatever he is. Another male, shoulder length blond hair, muscular, beautiful, very Eric Northman, has the voice too. He's a total asshole, but he's beautiful. There was a thin, fit, petite, dark haired woman. I think she's the one that talked in my head. There's at least one more woman, but I can't quite picture her....... Tall, lean, very like a french model. She pouts perfectly. This sounds like the woman that came with me, but it's NOT the woman that was dragged away... and that IS the one that came with me.. So this one must be the one at the table. The one with me was my height, dark shoulder length hair, strudy build, muscles, fit.

We, me and the woman from the farm house, meet up with this group as they are going into a hotel I think? It ends up being a hotel anyway. Somehow along the way she seems to have lost her hostage. Or at least I don't see him here. We join them. Sleep in some large room. Get up and go to breakfast. I think they have some kind of meeting, and we join them at the table. Or rather Collin is at a table in what looks like a food court. Farm warrior and I sit at the table with him. But two men in blue coveralls come out from two swinging doors behind the table and drag her away. A few mintues later the rest of the gang joins us. I'm shocked. I have no idea what's going on. Who took her, why, or what's to happen to either of us. Collin seemed to give the order, but I don't know why, or even what the order was. I think she was to be incarcerated, but I don't know by who. He wouldn't tell me who the men were when I asked. You don't need to know was all he told me.

When we were up in the hotel room, he and I were talking. I think he talked about losing his family. About some kind of loss that made him sad. They weren't a touchy group. I didn't know any of them, or even my standing with them. Why had they let me stay? I had no clue. But his sadness touched me. I thought of my mom and pa. I thought about how heartbroken, how devastating the news of my death would be to them. I wanted to call them. To tell them I was okay. To not believe that I was dead. But I was dead, wasn't I? I didn't know what was going to happen to me. But I didn't care in that moment. All I wanted was to not hurt them. And I saw, or thought I say a kindred spirit in this man. Before we left, I stopped him, and said, I hoped he wouldn't take this the wrong way, but I just had to do it, and I hugged him. I hugged him and told him I was sorry for his loss. Then I let go abruptly and walked to the elevators with everyone.

I remember sitting at the table eating a chocolate chip muffin. I felt I needed to eat, though I don't actually remember being hungry. The rest of them had said something about being very hungry. They'd gone somewhere else to eat. I was sitting next to the gorgeous blond. I think my eating offended him. I was steaming mad at Collin for betraying my trust, for not telling me what the hell was going on. Somehow the question of who I would kill came up. It think Collin asked me. I told him I'd kill him first and the the blond. The lady sitting beside him asked why - the tall model thin one. I said because he was so beautiful. He got all strangely cocky, asked if I really thought he was beautiful. I said, of course I did. I had eyes, I could see. he was lovely. Everyone in the room looked at him and knew it. He said if I thought he was beautiful now, I should watch something. There was a sort of sitting area behind us, we were on the edge of it I guess. He walked to the far wall, all calm business, then RAN through the middle of the sitting area. He was magnificent when he ran. It was almost like he shone, or bled golden light, and not just from his hair. But no one looked at him. No one paid him any mind at all. It was as if he wasn't there, or as if they just couldn't see him. He came to sit down, he took a large bite of my muffin then yelled something unintelligable at me, spitting large pieces of muffin at me. It even stained my white tank top.

I guess I knew he was offended by my eating after all. He sat down. I told him yeah, yeah, you're beautiful when you run as well. so what? Were you using your eyes he asked me. Of course I was. But what did you really see he asked. I saw you run. And how did the people react to him this time, asked the same model lady. They didn't. They acted as if they coudln't see him at all. Very good, said the blond, you were using your eyes. Yes I replied sadly. I picked up what was left of my muffin, threw it in the garbage and walked away from them.

As I walked what I saw changed. I kept blinking and my vision changed. At first it was almost like I could see two versions of the world, then it came in focus again, just one version, but not the one I was used to. There were aliens everywhere. People hiding as human, but I could see the bits they hid. Large heads, third eyes, technology in the floor, lights, maps, data, all in the floor.A man and a woman were playing a game, but as I blinked, I saw them pouring over some kind of document in the table, and the game pieces were like drives of some kind holding more information. Their bodies where totally human, they were shapped just a little wrong, and they were wearing white jumpsuits, not khakis and t-shirts. I kept walking away from the vamps, or whatever the hell they were. I never looked back. I didn't falter. I didn't want them to know what was happening to me.

I ended up near the concierge desk, and a woman appeared out of no where to one side of me. She held a white translucent clip board that was actually some kind of computer. She was wearing the hotel's uniform and asked if she could help me. I told her I wanted to go back to my room, but I didn't have a key, and for that matter I wasn't sure I could even find it. She knew just where I wanted to go. Said the son, Andrew, 10, was in the room, and he'd let me in. We were staying with his family, but they didn't actually know we were there. Strange that. I thanked her and made my way to the elevators, that were now WAY more complicated than they were a few minutes ago.

To be continued..... (hopefully I'll remember!)

It's very late. My husband had gone to bed. He doesn't like going without me. Nor does he like it when I stay up. So I better get my fat fungus infested self to bed.

Assignment #5, Option 2 - No Strings Attached - 500 words

Maddie stared out the car window at the dark, empty street, her heart in her throat, a question on her lips. Phantoms of the salsa music from the club pounded against her skin. Tonight the silence between them was suffocating; it stole her voice. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Alejandro?"


“Um… Friends of mine are having a party next Saturday. It's a couples kind of thing.” Maddie squeezed her eyes shut, "I'd really like to introduce you to them. Will you come?"

"No," he replied, staring resolutely forward.

She sat silent, still, waiting for him to say something more; he didn’t. "Is that all the reply I'm to expect?" Maddie finally asked, fighting a bad English accent as she stole Mr. Darcy's line from Pride & Prejudice. Had her pride led her astray, just as Darcy's had, she wondered.

Alejandro shrugged, "What more is there to say?"

Maddie watched his broad, muscular shoulders roll gracefully under his tight polo shirt. She would not be distracted. "How about why?"

"Does it matter? The answer is still the same." He said sullenly.

"Yes it matters, damnit." She said, crossing her arms.

Silence filled the car, every long moment more stifling than the last. Alejandro rotated his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. Very carefully, he pulled onto the entrance ramp for the QEW. Her heart twinged; he was taking her home.

Maddie broke the silence first. "Come on, Alejandro, talk to me. I deserve a better answer than just no. Why don't you want to meet my friends?"

"It's not that."

"Then what?" she asked, her words sharp.

"I don't want to talk about it," was his churlish reply.

"Of course not. Well I do. Why are you being such a closed mouth jerk?"

"Do you really want to have this conversation right now?" He countered caustically.

"Yes!" She all but yelled.

"We aren't a couple," Alejandro said with hushed venom. "I'm not lying to your friends."

"I didn't ask you to," she said from between clenched teeth. "I just, want to introduce you, to, my friends," her words haltingly pushed through the sea of her emotions. "Is that too much to ask?"

"What kind of relationship do you think we have?" He asked in a carefully neutral voice.

"What?" She replied, genuinely confused.

"Just answer the question."

She brushed her bangs behind her ear. "I don't know. I mean, I thought I did, but now I'm not so sure."

"So what did you think?" He pushed.

"I thought..." Maddie shook her head, her eyes glassy. "No, I'm not humiliating myself further. Clearly I was wrong."

"Maddie, don't be like that. I like you, you know I do. We have a lot of fun together. You dance..." His voice went husky, low, "like sex incarnate. And everything you promise on the dance floor, you deliver. You're amazing, really. But I like things how they are. Casual. Do you understand?"

"Yeah," She coughed, choking on her tears, "I understand."

Assignment #5, Option 1 - The Adulterer - 502 words

Maddie stared out the car window at the dark, empty street, her heart in her throat. Phantoms of the salsa music from the club pounded against her skin. Tonight the silence between them was suffocating; it stole her voice. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Alejandro?"


"Um.. Friends of mine are having a party next Saturday.” Maddie squeezed her eyes shut, "I'd really like to introduce you to them. Will you come?"

"No." His anger dripped from his short, sharp word.

She sat silent, still, waiting for him to say something more; he didn’t. "Is that all the reply I'm to expect?" Maddie finally asked, fighting a bad English accent as she stole Mr. Darcy's line from Pride & Prejudice. Had her pride led her astray, just as Darcy's had, she wondered.

"You know I can't do that Maddie. I have a fiancée! I can't be seen going to a party with someone else. What if Carmen found out?"

"Are you going to tell her?,” she asked, her voice flat with anger, “Because no one going will; they don’t know her.”

“No, of course not.” He rotated his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

“We go dancing almost every weekend, how is this so different?" Maddie stared at Alejandro expectantly.

"You're just my dance partner to her. Like a football buddy, it means nothing." He said, his eyes obstinately on the road.

"Bullshit! Are you telling me if she saw us dancing tonight she wouldn't mind?! Your hands were all over me! Anyone could have seen us!" Maddie ranted, her hands gesturing wildly with her words.

The streetlights strobed across Alejandro's face. He paled visibly.

“So why is that okay, but you won’t come with me to a private party? Why?” Her words were so hot they almost burnt her lips.

“Because we don’t have that kind of relationship Maddie!” Alejandro snapped, his hand smacking the steering wheel. In a strangled calm he continued, “Whether we like it or not, I’m going to marry Carmen. I have to show her some respect.”

"Wait," Maddie shook her head to clear her thoughts, "whether we like it or not? You don't want to marry her, do you?"

"I didn't say that," he spat.

"But you aren't denying it either. Shit, Alejandro do you love her?” Maddie asked, forgetting her own troubles to deal with the bigger issue.

“What's love got to do with it?” He countered.

“Everything! Marriage is about love!”

“No. Marriage is about duty, honour, family,” he explained, every word bitingly crisp.

“Is that why you're marrying her? Duty?” Maddie asked, shocked to her core.

“You wouldn't understand. It was how I was raised. How we both were. Carmen gets it.” His voice was sullen now.

“Marriage isn't a short term commitment… How can you risk it?” She breathed, her mind reeling.

“I'm not risking anything.” He scowled.

“Oh Ale, you're risking everything.” Her voice betrayed her heartache; she’d thought she loved him, but here sat a perfect stranger.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Playing to Your Audience

So, assignment 5, the last one, is to revise a previous assignment in 500 words. I decided to go with Assignment 2, about Maddie the homewrecker and Alejandro the adulterer. No one liked my characters. It's hard to be likeable when you're dating an engaged man, and the audience is all married. LOL But I like her. I want her to be likeable. A younger woman I know read my piece, and said she felt badly for Maddie. So maybe it's just that they're all old?? I really don't know.

Anyway, the point is, I revised my work. Twice.

The first time, I reworked their relationship entirely, so they were dating casually, with no strings attached anywhere. The cravat being that Maddie wanted more from the relationship that Alejandro wanted to give. Argument ensues.

The second time, I reworked the piece so the ending was very different. Maddie was still dating an engaged man, but we learn that he doesn't love her (the woman he's going to marry), doesn't want to marry her, but is. Maddie is shocked to say the least, and heartbroken for him.

I'm not sure how I feel about the casual dating rework. It feels kind of wishy washy to me. I'm not sure how to explain, but I guess it feels unreal to me, the argument feels false. Maybe that's because I've never had that particular argument.... Maybe it's because I didn't write it well. I can't really tell. Maybe it's because I know full well that I'm playing to my audience of white middle-class, conservative, married women, and it rubs me the wrong way.

I'm not why playing to my audience irks me so, but it does. It just feels so damn wrong. Though I"m sure part of it is, I really don't identify with them. I guess I am technically middle class now, but I don't feel it. I was raised by labourers, that's who I identify with, that's the kind of life I understand. I'm a practical person, but I'm also very young at heart I think. I understand that you can fall in love with someone you really shouldn't, that you can't always help it.

I want to write this story. I want to write it so badly. But I'm afraid it won't make sense, that no one will understand. That, as my husband put it, I've bitten off more than I can chew. *sigh* Maddie is so much a part of me that I can't help but love her. Heck, I even love Alejandro a little bit, and he's pretty much a jerk. I want to tell their story.... but I'm not so sure now which part of it IS a story. Blarg.

Stories, good stories, are the significant moments in people's lives. Little blocks of time, at least the ones I tend to read, where they are faced with a decision, with a change to the status quo.... I can't write them falling in love, that bit takes time. But maybe, just maybe, I can write the moment when Maddie realises she has fallen for him, and her decision process on what to do about it. Is that a story?? I'm not sure I can tell anymore.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Knitting - GASP!

I know. It's been a damn long time since I've talked knitting. Don't fall over or anything!

So, last summer I went yarn shopping with my husband. Isn't he sweet coming to a yarn store with me? He was so patient too. Let me fondle all the wonderful yarns. He even bought me the yarn I was sad to put down, bless him! It's by Tanis Fiber Arts (go Canadian yarn!), their Blue Label Fingering Weight, in Seabreeze. It makes me think of shallow Caribbean waters or a sunny summer sky.

I wanted it for a Seraphim shawl. I made one in a buttery, sunshiney yellow last summer, and was so enamoured with the pattern I wanted to knit it again. I should also say, a year later, I still love this pattern, and I still intend to make a Seraphim shawl with this yarn.

I started the shawl last summer, on 5.0mm needles, and got about 20% done before it got close to my wedding, and I had other things I needed to knit. Like finishing the Spanish Armada shawl for the wedding, and knitting wedding octopuses. This spring, when we had a nice warm day, last week, I started knitting on it again. I got to about 25% done, and realised that on the 5.0mm needles I was getting too dense a fabric. I wanted this shawl to be very light and airy, I think that will show off the colours best, and I just wasn't confident that blocking it would stretch it out enough.

I frogged it, and it was painless! Let's hear it for frogging last summer's work! Now I'm going to start all over again with 6.0mm needles and see if that's more to my liking.