it was a Dark and Stormy Night


Ok, maybe it was more of a sunny but stormy morning. I like contradictions, the unexpected, the bits that make you say, wait, what? And I love the feeling when a new character’s voice gets strong and clear enough for me to begin putting fingers to keyboard.

And so, here I am. 22 pages into a New Thing. This many pages and it isn’t a short (for me, I know many write long shorts, I’m not one of them) but while the main character’s voice is clear in my head, and I’ve got a shadowy silhouette for the narrative structure, I don’t yet have enough of a story to know this can be a full length manuscript. I’m excited.

I know some who play with words are always excited by their new characters and stories, but I’m not one of those people. I always like them well enough–or, more accurately, not always like but am intrigued by them. But I’m not always excited. As a general rule, the more marketable (hah! as if I understand what’s marketable) the characters/story seem to be, well, the less tied to my words! my sweat! my opened a vein through the keyboard! I am. This is not a given, everyone’s process and experience is different. I’m sure I’ve blogged about this in the past, when I talked more about writing. I’m just not someone who feels each manuscript is a baby I’ve given birth to. I don’t feel any manuscript is a baby I’ve given birth to. Everyone has their own parenting style, but if I don’t feel a limb of any given kiddo is as perfect as I could have made it, I don’t chop it off.

That said, there are a few pieces I’ve been quite attached to, with 210% faith that weird or not, they were damned fine work, with a to-be-found audience that would pay money to read and not feel ripped off at the end, despite my fondness for killing characters. A couple of years back I swore I wasn’t going to write any more of those. Too consuming, too crushing when there was interest but no offers.

So what the hell am I doing with New Thing? It isn’t speculative fiction or magical realism–it’s been years since I’ve written anything over 3000 words that didn’t fall into those categories. Don’t misunderstand, it isn’t like I’m excited by a character or story that’s practical (read, marketable). No romance, no coming of age, no heartwarming friendship story, no thriller or cozy mystery. I’ve got a caustic, no-holds-barred 73 year old woman with early-onset age-related word finding issues, thoughts that skip around like a heart that needs a pacemaker, a love of bourbon, a greater love of cursing, memories of a family she abandoned close to 35 years ago, with no apologies for who she is and certainty that she’s going to die within the next two weeks. She’s offensive.

I’m using 1st person (I instead of she/he) for the bulk of it, which I’ve rarely done and am not particularly fond of, but it feels right for her. I’m using a framing device for the narrative (story within a story) which I’ve never done, and the frame is written in 2nd person, which no one is particularly fond of. It’s, I’m pretty sure, going to be, satire, which no one wants unless you’re Chuck Palahniuk, or Kurt Vonnegut, or John Kennedy Toole. All three are male, two are dead, and I’m neither. Sometimes you see Jane Austen on those satire lists, and I’m pretty sure the only thing my words/stories share with hers is that we both draw/drew from the English alphabet. But I’m kinda sorta falling in love with this bitch of a character. Bitchy, not snarky. I read the opening chapter to Husband (I always read my opening chapters to him–he’s a good sport, supportive of my words, but it’s more an exercise in me needing to read it aloud *to* someone than belief that he’s going to want to hear/read more), and he likes it. Genuinely laughed in all the spots I would hope someone would laugh. This is fucking terrifying.

Instead of a song/youtube vid, I’m closing this with the last few pages of the first chapter. Good, bad, or indifferent, Fringelings, feel free to share your thoughts:

Ha! You make me choke, think I learned to cook in the restaurant. Rest-o-rant-ay. I learned the restaurant to cook. No, I didn’t. I brought my secret in with me and took it when they closed. I’ll learn you to cook, if you want. Otherwise it’s just gonna go with me to the grave. No. Not learn. What’s that word? But I can’t start with cooking. Or the restaurant. If you want to hear my story, you gotta know there’s more than one. It’s a whole lotta stories, like everybody. Even you. You got one story in you? No, you gotta buncha em that brought you here, and a dozen more will chase you into your grave. But you don’t want those. You want what they tell you to want, one long happy ending. Because we’re women. 

Men are supposed to have lots of stories. But women? Women are supposed to learn one thing, and learn that one thing to their children, and then sit quietly in their rockers and knit booties until it’s time to go. I say fuck. that. I seen too many knitting needles used for other things. Them spindles on those rockers hurt my back, I’ve lived too many stories to take that. 

Take this. 

Oh, now, don’t get all offended. It’s just a finger. You sit the rocker if you want, I’ll keep the recliner. See, it fits my body just right, cloth rubbed smooth from my fingers, crooks and all. 

Where did I learn to cook? In the mountains, from my grams, same as most. Told ya, nothing dramatic. Bet ya didn’t know the Appalachian mountains go all into Pennsylvania. I know, most people think of Kentucky when they think Appalachia, but it’s a whole lot more than that. And don’t leave here cracking wise about banjos and moonshine. Sure, a little splash of bourbon is ok now and then. In fact, go ahead and top me up from that bottle in the cabinet next to the stove. No, no danger in mixing it, I told ya, I ain’t takin that damned medicine. A smoke, a tea and a splash, that’s all the medicine I need. Anything else is snake oil. 

What the hell did they learn you up there in the Bronx? No cooking, no stories, too much medicine. Thank the lord I didn’t move up there. My husband wanted to, in the eye-talian section. Where they got those salamis hanging in the windows like shlongs looking for their shriveled owners and pastries laid out like communion wafers. No, Frankie ain’t Italian. He just wanted to be, thought those sharkskin suits and slick-haireds were the way to be men. He’s German-Irish, but not like me. He got all watered in with New York-ese. He mooned over Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin more than I did. I was more of a Bob Dylan gal, myself.

Teach! That’s the word. I’ll teach you to make my dumplings. But now I’m tired. Is something wrong? Nothing’s wrong, I’m old. Heh, who told you 73 wasn’t old? Musta been one of them rich women you visit, someone with a fancy dog and a book club. Women like me with stories and crooked fingers, we’re old. And we’re tired. 

If you come back be useful. Bring potatoes and buttermilk, I’ll learn—I’ll teach you the secret. My gram’s dumplings and the restaurant’s guknockys. Both kinds but the same secret. Also bourbon. 

“You Ain’t No Nice Guy”

W 4th Street Courts, aka "The Cage" Tiny, but one of the toughest, most competitive courts in the city.

W 4th Street Courts, aka “The Cage.” Tiny, but one of the most competitive courts in the city with some of the greatest streetball players.  Unusual because it has nets!

The post title above is one of those quotes that tattooed itself on my brain as soon as I read it–many, many years ago.  It’s from The Stand, by Stephen King, earlier on in the book, before Captain Trips has completely taken over, said to the character Larry Underwood.  Simple, clean, all-encompassing, and it stayed in the character’s head the way it’s stayed in mine. I love those types of characters; not nice but interesting.  I will always vote for interesting, and I think that quote shaped the characters I create as much as anything else I’ve read and learned.

Last year, someone mentioned to me that “satire” is currently the kiss of death in a query. Naturally, I immediately started thinking, “what a great idea, I’d love to try satire!”  Thoughts of not nice guys married the idea of satire, they honeymooned in the too-many maudlin days of nostalgic thinking I had while recuperating from my fractures, and Jack was born, he’s the protagonist in the short I’m posting today.  (I think I posted back in the early days of Mrs Fringe about growing up in Brooklyn and falling asleep to the sounds of dribbling basketballs and hard popping handballs in the park across the street.)

I don’t know how other writers do it, but this is me. Bits and pieces of brain mishmash that probably don’t belong together, but in my peculiar mind they do. In some ways this is a continuation of my last post, about it being ok to reach and try new things, even suck.  While part of me mourns for my quickly fading dreams of publication, another part of me sees this as an opportunity (excuse?) to stretch and try all the out of the box ideas that I’ve got without worrying whether or not it’s publishable. Marketable.

If you haven’t noticed from my other stories, I like things that are just a little raw, with jagged bits that stay with me.  With any luck, two of my readers/followers do, too. Please click here for “Blacktop.”

One More for the Road, or in this case, Three More

I suppose if you look really hard, a theme could be found on my bookshelf.

I suppose if you look really hard, a theme could be found on my bookshelf.

When we moved into this apartment, I packed away many of my books, and donated many more.  These are what’s left–not including cookbooks.

Followers have been listening to me whine about my writing (non)life, and my plan to take stock and move forward.  One of the ideas I was playing with was the thought of self-publishing short stories in groups of three or so.  Since I knew less than zero about self pubbing, I asked on the writers’ board.  I now know about zero, just enough to confirm that I am indeed too lazy and too broke to pursue self publishing at this time.  I’ve never done much in terms of submitting my short fiction. Most have never been subbed anywhere, the few that were sent out once and then filed away with the inevitable rejection letter that arrived a mere 9, 12, 15 months later.

Apparently my sanity plunged along with this week’s temperatures, so I sent off stories to literary  magazines, complete with crappy cover letters.  What the hell do you write on a cover letter when you’re unpublished and have nothing to say about yourself that ties in with said stories in any way?  “Mrs Fringe here, checking in with ovaries o’ steel.”

Why steel?  Because I will only submit to markets that (potentially) pay.  Doesn’t have to be a lot, doesn’t have to be The Paris Review (no, I didn’t send anything to them), but it is my work.  I’ve seen a lot of quotes go past on my Twitter feed recently, having to do with art and writing for the pure love and satisfaction. Most of these quotes attributed to writers who have reached some measure of success, naturally.

Nope.  My words are mine. I spend time, I edit, I pace, I obsess, I rewrite. They’re work, and if I don’t value my words, why/how would I expect anyone else to do so?  If I meet someone and mention that I walk dogs, and they then ask me to walk their dog, it’s understood that this will be a paid walk.  It has nothing to do with whether or not I love dogs.  I can just imagine it, if you really loved animals, you’d be completely fulfilled picking up my dog’s shit in the rain, just for the love of it, and be thankful for the exposure. The reality of this philosophy is that my already slim odds of having a story accepted go down significantly–there aren’t a whole lot of paying lit mags, and they regularly publish prize winning, bestselling authors.  All self explanatory as to why, though I write and have written shorts on a regular basis through the years, I’ve rarely subbed/queried them.

I expect my sanity to return with the projected rising temps.  I hope.

And because it’s Friday, a few tank photos, white balance adjusted.

IMG_3200 IMG_3201 IMG_3209 IMG_3211 IMG_3216 IMG_3224 IMG_3227 IMG_3233 IMG_3248 IMG_3251 IMG_3254

Enjoy your Friday, Fringelings.  And when it’s last call tonight, tell your bartender drinks should be on him, for the love of it.

Mrs Fringe Grows a Pair


If you’re a Fringeling, regular subscriber, or occasional reader, you know I have a completed novel looking for a home and champion, ASTONISHING.  In the meantime, I’ve decided to post Chapter One here on the blog.

This is the story where I’ve allowed myself to go the furthest with the concept of what-if.  It’s weird, the protagonist is an unreliable narrator, and if you’re looking for romance or happily-ever-after this ain’t your story.

It’s magical realism, my riff on what could happen if someone existed who was indeed a magnet for all the broken in our world–addicts, unmedicated and uncontrolled people with mental illness, those you don’t want to find across from you at the dinner table.  So we’ve got these broken who’ve been flocking to Christina, but she can’t help them.  Twenty-five years of this.  By now she’s more fucked up than they are.

If Christina feels familiar (or for those newer to Mrs Fringe who are interested) “Miserosion”–the story on the page labeled Fiction– takes place 25 years before Astonishing, introducing Christina.  Completely unnecessary to read to understand the novel, but it was a fun twist for me to write, and the original story idea that became the novel.

Hey You: Story Time

Ahh, romance

Ahh, romance

I kept playing with that story.  It started with the idea of a twisted nod to the pressures of “romance” and idealizing others.  Sounds so modern, so 2014, right?  Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet over 400 years ago.  You know the one where a 13 year old girl and a 17 year old boy decide they’re in love, and within days both of them and several others are dead.  Who wants a glass of champagne?

While I was thinking about it and before I began writing it kept changing, of course.  Filling in some parts and omitting others.  I had the idea to put it in second person POV.  For readers who aren’t writers and well past grammar classes, second person is  when the protagonist is referred to as “you,” as opposed to “I” (first person) or he/she (third person).  Not a popular narrative choice, it can be disastrous, calling attention to the fact that you’re reading a story (as opposed to getting lost in it) or, on rare occasion, it can work very well.

I’m still undecided as to how well it worked, but it was an interesting exercise for me.  I’ve never tried it before, and it brought me very, very close inside the main character’s head, and left me feeling a little breathless, even while I felt the breath of the protagonist.  Strange.  And nice to stretch a bit while I created some new characters.

It’s got a touch of magical realism, which I might or might not leave in if I ever change or expand it, one of the bits inspired by a photo I took on the street recently of a dead rat next to a cigarette butt.  I was going to put it here,  but Husband tells me that would tip the scales from edgy to tasteless and gross.  My gut tells me at least half of my readers would agree with him, so I’m leaving it out–I’ll let Husband know you all said thank you.

Tentatively titled “The One,” I’ve added a page above (cleverly titled Fiction II), you can reach it by clicking up top or the link right here.  

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Mrs Fringe Gets Nekkid!


Exposed, and Overdue for a Pedicure

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the idea of posting one of my short stories, asking for thoughts from the Fringelings.  The majority opinion was do eeeeet.  I thought about it, and I’m doing it.

This certainly feels like I’ve stripped and opened the bedroom blinds.  Foolish, maybe.  But maybe some fresh air will do me good.

I’ve created a separate page here where the story is, and where any future stories might go, in an attempt to keep this house of Fringe clean and tidy. Perma-link to the page says “Fiction” on top of the home page, next to “About Me” and “Favorites.”

My short stories usually come into my head kind of fully realized as a brief scene, or a snapshot.  No muse, no magic, all the fabulous ideas and mental pictures don’t mean shit without that picture being followed up by BiC. Butt in Chair (or in my case, couch) and doing the work of writing.  Otherwise, I assure you, my imagination is vivid and fabulous, I’d have been on the New York Times Bestseller list three times over already, with at least one Pushcart Prize under my belt.

One afternoon last year I was out walking a dog through Central Park.  I had a moment, in my mind I saw the picture of an old, broken down  Brooklyn fisherman talking to a young girl by the water in the 1980’s, saying the word miserosion, the miseries of life translating into eroding body parts.  At the time I was working on Wanna Bees, so when I got home I wrote down the word, a couple of notes, and left it to be written when I was done with the romance/magical realism of Wanna Bees.

But the idea morphed, as these things sometimes do.  What if the story was hers, the young girl, long after meeting the fisherman, as an adult who has had years of broken souls drawn to her, a lifetime of if-it-wasn’t-for-bad-luck magical realism?  And so started Astonishing, my current WIP.

“Miserosion” is Tommy’s story, back in the 80’s, a snapshot leading up to his meeting with Christina, the young girl who becomes the broken woman of Astonishing.  Yes, it is magical realism.

Fringelings, I hope you read it, I hope you comment.  Most of all, I hope you feel something, whether it’s your kind of story or not.  It’s dark, and won’t be for everyone.

I hope you don’t mind, I left my socks on.  Now I’m getting a draft!

Window half open

Window half open (Photo credit: shinealight)

Don’t Forget to Flush the Terlet!


toilet (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers les 66))

It’s been too long since I posted, and I don’t feel very deep this morning.  I haven’t worked on Astonishing in a week, and if I don’t get something done on it today, I’ll have to be flogged at dawn.  So, I’ll continue with my travel theme, and share a couple of my favorite public restroom experiences while we were on the road.

For the Fringelings without dangly bits, you know how important it is to have a clean, working toilet when you stop.  Fine, we’ve gotten really good at assessing this before even finding the sign, and most of the rest stops along major highways are reasonable.  In the interests of people watching/listening, public bathrooms top laundromats, and that’s pretty hard to do.

Earlier this week, Husband and I went south.  Just us, just for the day, a work-related thing for him.  As a super bonus, I was able to meet one of my long-standing online fish freak friends.  For the record, I have excellent online judgement, a super nice guy who was exactly who I thought he would be from our internet conversations.  Husband and I could have spent much longer chatting with him.

Husband did his work thing, we drove around and explored the area a bit, bought a couple of heavenly cantaloupes from the Amish, and then headed back home.  Stopped for dinner at a chain restaurant (not Cracker Barrel), where I–you guessed it–had to use the restroom.  Now, the tables were fairly empty, but the bar was crowded.  Serious drinking in progress.

And there in the claustrophobic stall, I heard the music of my misspent youth.  Yes, from two stalls over came the sounds of a young woman puking. There are the sounds of someone who is sick, upset, and then there are the sounds of someone experienced, stealthy.  Mind your own fucking business music.  Quiet, but unmistakable.  I didn’t see her, but I’m guessing young because of the baby bar flies falling off their stools.

Faye Dunnaway - 1970s Inspiration

Faye Dunnaway – 1970s Inspiration (Photo credit: What I Wore)

True, I could be wrong, but this was, without a doubt, the controlled retching of an experienced puker.  Could have been an anorexic, but my money’s on regular drinker.  You know who I mean, the gal who sits and drinks until she can’t force another drop, goes to the bathroom and empties her stomach so she can drink some more.  Totally took me back to the bars I hung out in when I was in my twenties, where that was a regular sight and sound.  Somehow it isn’t surprising this still occurs, and in its own way, it was perfect, because the main character in Astonishing is having a long term, destructive affair with wine.

Funny, I wasn’t so hungry by the time I returned to our table.

A couple of hours later, at a regular rest stop for coffee and bathroom.  First of all, it was weird because the main entrance for the women’s room was blocked off, and I had to walk through a gift shop and back outside for access.  Fine, it was well lit, other people were there, reasonably clean.  I walked in just behind a woman with her young daughter.  The little girl was probably around three.  If you’re not a parent, let me tell you there’s a special hell in public restrooms with young children, particularly at night when they’re overtired.  At three, they’re all either OCD or gleeful at the prospect of touching something disgusting.  Still years away from deliberate public puking to have that eighth  margarita.

This sweet pea was on the OCD side.  “NO!  I don’t wanna!  It’s gonna FLUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mom: “It isn’t going to flush until I flush it.  Now sit back down.”

“NOOOOOOOO!  It’s gonnnnnnnnna flush!”

“What are you doing?!  Sit back down, you’re peeing on me!”

At this point, I’m feeling totally sympathetic towards mom and the little girl.  I imagine meeting mom’s eyes across the row of sinks as we wash hands, giving her an encouraging smile.  I’ve been there.  Flushing is scary to young kids.  Powerful automatic toilets that can’t correctly read the weight of small children are terrifying.  Once they have the experience of unexpected suction and splash, every road stop can be a trauma.

“Don’t be a baby!  You’re a baby! I’m going to put a diaper on you.”

Yeah, there went my sympathy.  Kid is now beside herself, wailing uncontrollably.  Three!  She is a baby. I know, I know. I’m sure mom was also overtired and ready to cry, and we’ve all said things we regret.  But there was something about mom’s tone that made me think this wasn’t all that unusual, and it made me sad.

The whole incident had me wishing we could just be home through a magic portal.  Maybe flushed through the automatic flusher.

English: Pedestal squat toilet

English: Pedestal squat toilet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Kin, Utopia, and Rape

For me, reading fiction is like a bag of dill pickle chips.  I’ve learned to resist temptation most of the time.  Earlier this year I was so blocked I couldn’t read even if I let myself.  But when I’m in a phase…I can’t eat one.  Once I start, I have to keep going until I’m licking the residue off of the bag.

Mrs Whyte's Kosher Dill Pickle

Mrs Whyte’s Kosher Dill Pickle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most novels are read, details forgotten within a day. (I’m a fast reader.) Maybe I’ll remember the general plot line, or the main character, and so I’ll remember the author’s name and look for more of their work.  Then, of course, there are the macaroni and cheese books.  You know, the comfort novels you can and do re-read.  Other books are like the  special dinners you remember forever.  Even if you only got to enter the restaurant once,  some meals have a huge impact on your life and memories.

The Kin of Ata are Waiting For You, by Dorothy Bryant, is one of those books for me.  *spoilers ahead*

Cover of "The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for ...

Cover of The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You

Initially, it was published in 1971 under a different name as a novella, by a small (I think feminist) press.  A few years later, it was picked up by Random House and retitled, maybe 1976.  I first read it around 1983, looooved it, but until last week I hadn’t seen it around or read it in at least twenty years.

Oh yeah, feminist sci fi, in line with Marge Piercy, Joanna Russ, and the queen, Ursula K Le Guinn.

The protagonist is an anti-hero, a truly despicable man who seems to represent some of the worst of what the Y chromosome can produce.  The book opens with him, an unnamed successful novelist who is in the middle of a fight with a woman.  It’s ugly, it’s crude, and he kills her.  An accident, but his thoughts in response are all about him, how this might impact his life, how he can get away with this.  He runs away, crashes his car, and awakens in an entirely different world. Ata.  A mysterious island, a utopia where the inhabitants are governed by their dreams and the greater good.  No violence, no sexism, no racism, no written word.  They know about the world he comes from, and somehow they keep the balance of that world by maintaining their own.  Sex isn’t puritanical, not only for procreational purposes, but it isn’t without consequence, either.  He does not magically accept this new world, the people, or their ways, and tries to bring the “real world’s” ugliness with him.  As he starts to accept where he is, and begins to understand them, he thinks he will return the favor.  Yanno, benevolent privileged white guy, gonna teach the savages the error of their ways, help them out with all his words, studliness and of course, his superior understanding that more is better.

This is not a likable main character.  It takes a while to find anything sympathetic in him, and just when you think you have, Bryant raises the stakes and you’re disgusted with him all over again.  But because she keeps raising those stakes, you keep reading.  He’s one big “id” and the kin of Ata are all “superego.”  The book is very Jungian, which fascinated me when I first read it thirty years ago, and fascinates me now.  Her descriptions of the island and the people, their customs, all beautiful.  There is growth for the protagonist, and a definite (though not easy) character arc, and redemption by the end.  But again, not easy.  In the same way he confuses the kin for simplistic people, it’s easy to assume he will be saved by acknowledging their spiritual “superiority,” without facing any consequences.The Protagonist

Because it’s been so long since I last read it, some of what I took away is different, some of what I noticed are things I didn’t notice then.  The time period?  My youth?  I don’t know.  But I do see some “preachy” factor now, that I didn’t then.  I wondered, as I read, if Bryant was raised in, or had spent time with, the Quakers.  Quite a few of the customs and beliefs made me feel like I was in a Friends’ Meeting House.

Part of the book is a love story–though not a romance, and this is the part that has me rambling on today.  I have one absolute rule in reading or writing romance.  Rape is not romantic.  I can never, and will never, accept a hero as a romantic lead if he crosses the line.  For me, crossing the line doesn’t mean intercourse.  Any scene where the “hero” uses physical force to restrain a heroine, or hold her down long enough for her to realize and acknowledge those “strange new stirrings” and I’m done.  I’ve heard some writers of historical romance (not many) say well, you have to understand the context, the times….  Umm, no, I don’t.

How could I not have remembered this scene, or loved this book anyway?  Yes, he rapes his love interest, Augustine.

He knows she doesn’t want him, but she doesn’t fight him off, doesn’t yell for help, so he justifies his actions, telling himself if she really didn’t want it, she would have called for help, hit him, something.  Not only does he do this, but a relationship develops between them later, paralleling his spiritual growth.  Can this be?  Can I, as a modern pseudo-feminist, accept and still like this novel?  Should I oppose it on principle?  If I had never read this book before last week, had no associations with it, I would have stopped reading.

The scene itself was interestingly written, and in many ways, it made sense as a powerful statement for a gender neutral, post misogynist society.  She could have fought him off, she was at least as strong, if not stronger.  The impression was that it was him who was reduced by this act, so ridiculous, so disappointing, it was the tantrum of a child, and she would wait until he had finished his fit before she took care of herself.

Augustine becomes pregnant from this rape.  Yes, it’s part of Bryant’s theme of consequences, action/reaction. I assumed he would never, as long as he was on Ata,  be able to forget who he was, what he brought to the table and thought was superior, every time he saw the baby/child.  I kept waiting.  No matter how he evolved, truly loving Augustine, their child, and Ata, I was disappointed.  In his depths, it’s clear he understands his actions were wrong, even as he committed this act.  And again, this never tries to be a romance, and the protagonist is never a hero.  Even within the framework of a “love story,” as opposed to a romance, Augustine’s feelings for him are complex, and never overshadow what she believes is the greater good–or better for herself.  And on Ata, the greater good and the individual “good” are so entwined they cannot be separated.

I understand why Bryant included this scene, this heinous act on the part of the protagonist.  He was a murderer, but it was through the rape that he realized just how his belly was scraping the bottom, and begin the climb towards caring about others and his actions.  I understand it, but I feel squinky every time I think about it, and writing about it.

On Ata, there is very little disease, illness, or disorder.  There is pain, injury, aging and death; the kin are human beings, not supernatural creatures.  But another detail I hadn’t remembered, the one specific mention of a physical disorder, was of a member with epilepsy.  He wasn’t seen as special, having a direct path to God or dreams, nor was he seen as less than anyone else.  He was kin.  And it gives me a connection to who I am today, what my life includes in reality, not the fantasy of what I thought would be.

I’m wondering what will happen if revisit some of my other old favorites.  If I blow the dust off of The Once and Future King, will I find might makes right, after all? Happy Hour Happy Hour (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

Purple Prose and Heroes

Front cover of True Life Romance #3

Front cover of True Life Romance #3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fine morning here in Fringeland.  I did the mama thing, then came home to take a fresh look at the story I finished yesterday.  I have to tell ya, I’m not being hard on myself, there’s some major suckage in there. I corrected some glaring instant-humiliation-if-I-drop-dead-and-someone-goes-into-my-Word-files mistakes, and then closed the file.  I realized two very important things. One, I meant what I’ve been saying. It’s just fine to have written a crappy story, it was an exercise in forcing myself to write again, and write fresh. I’m shocking myself with how true that feels–especially since I also spent some time lurking on the writers’ forum, reading a thread about the best short stories ever written.  Two, low sodium Wheat Thins taste like crap.

I then opened the file of the romance I started a while back.  I’m not sure I remembered I had three completed chapters. And you know what? I like it. And I was able to get right back into my heroine’s head. I always forget how much fun it can be to read or write a light romance.  And I think this is exactly where I should be right now.  So, how come I’m not writing at the moment?  Oh, that pesky life thing.  I have a dog to walk in an hour, and then I have to pick up Flower Child an hour after that.  I’m also hoping the jackhammering going on across the street will be finished for the day by the time I sit down. With a little luck and a lot of self discipline I’ll be able to block everyone and everything out later this afternoon.  I need to do a little more outlining before going further with the story.

I know some can just pick up their pencils, or open their files, and write whenever they’ve got a spare 20 or 30 minutes. I’m not that disciplined, and need at least a two hour block of time.  Trust me, it isn’t a wri-tah thing for me, I can’t get into the right head to exercise either if I’ve only got 20 minutes.

In case anyone was wondering, Little Incredibly Dumb Dog is still filthy, and Big Senile Dog is back to counter surfing.  He drank Husband’s coffee yesterday, and I had to drag both of them away from a smooshed rat when giving them a walk this morning.  I wonder why no one writes a cookbook for roadkills of the city?


NYC Rat (Photo credit: zacklur)


Once Upon A Time

fairy tale pic

fairy tale pic (Photo credit: Kjirstin)

In a land in which no one ever expects to reside, there were two little girls, born just days apart. One called The Empress, and one called La Princesa. The two girls didn’t live close to each other, and each was busy with the business of their kingdoms, learning to talk, and eat, pester their respective older brothers, and throw royal panties out the tower window.

One day, the beat in The Empress’s brain began to count out a new and unusual rhythm.  Not long after, La Princesa’s brain also began keeping a new rhythm. Suddenly, each kingdom was regularly experiencing strange and terrible lightning storms. Healers were called and many potions were tried, but still, the storms persisted. La Princesa’s mother and The Empress’s mother each sent carrier pigeons with messages for the new world, called The Internet, hoping to find others who had battled these storms and defeated them; or at least knew how to protect their families while the storms raged.

Many Queens formed a Great Alliance, loaning each other shields of understanding and swords of knowledge. Many only stayed for a time, but the most weather beaten grew powerful and remained, through storms and strange beats, through potions that offered relief and those that were poison, helping each other to laugh and dance, when they were rooted, shin deep in muck.

Image of a letter sent by carrier pigeon

Image of a letter sent by carrier pigeon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Empress’s Queen and La Princesa’s Queen began noticing they were sending out very similar messages. Soon, they began sending messages directly to each other, in addition to the ones they were sending and reading from the other Queens of The Great Internet. La Princesa and The Empress had both begun their lives small but mighty.  Years passed, they remained small, but each began having periods of weakness, succumbing to the vapors as if the castle mice were stealing their feasts. Queen Empress and Queen Princesa realized not all of the other Queens with stormy kingdoms had such enchanted mice. They compared tales of storms and threats and events and spells, and the crumbling walls and general disrepair of their castles, moats leaking sewage into their grand halls. Potions and Healers and Seers were exhausting their riches. They whispered prayers carried by the wind. Still, their golden girls’ spirits were powerful.

Each Queen traveled to new seers, seeking answers and resolution. The Empress met a powerful seer, who offered answers, though no resolution.  La Princesa’s Queen continues the quest. As the two Queens formed a stronger bond, and their pigeons knew the way to each kingdom without thought, La Princesa and Empress began to recognize the birds from each other’s lands. With their Queens’ help, they began sending messages to each other.

Each girl learned she had much in common with the other. Neither girl was bothered by asking or answering the same questions several times. Neither girl used unkind words about the other.  All the kingdoms around were struck by a terrible storm, and the carrier pigeons couldn’t fly. La Princesa worried about The Empress, and The Empress worried about La Princesa.

One day, a special dove brought a great gift for La Princesa. It was a colorful drawing– rendered by The Empress– of the two friends and told the tale of their friendship. This treasure was so special La Princesa couldn’t speak, but her smile…her smile brightened her sleepy eyes and the gloomy day, casting a glow over the Queen’s eyes, making them leak in that way she hated! but she couldn’t see the cracks of the castle walls or the dusty cornices. She saw the pink streaks behind the gray clouds, and the miracle of the bird’s wings against the sky as he soared back towards the land of The Empress.

Fairy Tale ...

Fairy Tale … (Photo credit: lapidim)