A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

The Storyteller in Uncertainty

Inspired or nudged or something by both Shan Jeniah and Shah, I’m adding my two cents into Shah’s Storyteller Challenge due today.  Or maybe it was the cool picture–See?

Does she manage to soar?

As She Said

The wings felt heavy, unnatural.  It should have been a clue, but the desire to escape the confines of her day-to-day life seemed so strong, so powerful, Naria accepted them.  How could she not, she thought?  How could anyone refuse the chance to soar free, above the clouds, to live, even for a moment like the birds…

The  djinni had warned that few could wear the wings and make themselves a part of the living bird spirit that existed within them.  Death came to those the bird spirit refused.

But what of those it accepted, Naria had asked, several times, demanding the djinni answer her, even to the loss of her last favored wish.  She had to know.  Could she become as the birds in the sky?  Would she stay human, bird, both?

The answer had been unsatisfying to say the least.  How could a djinni not know such things? He had sworn even to the oath of his royal family in the Planes of Ether that there had been those the bird spirit in the wings had accepted.  Death had not taken all those he had been sent to gift.  And yet, he could only answer her with “They became what they were already.”

A truly unsatisfying answer

Still, even if it were a moment of escape, a moment to try on the life that she would never experience again, to see the world in a new light than than of her husband’s kingdom, her oversight of the servants, the petty squabbles of her fostering ladies…  If she could have but a moment to be more than she was, she would not refuse to take it.

“I won’t fall,” she told herself  as she crept to the top of the highest tower of the castle.  She paused at the window ledge, weary from hauling the large wrapped bundle up the stairs, held as carefully away from her body as she could in the tightness of the stone stairways.  It had suddenly seemed vital to protect the delicate barbs of the fathers from harm.  Every quill must remain solid and firm.

She knew this, and as soon as she’d entered the tiny chamber, she had gently laid out the plumage, inspecting it carefully, soothing it, feeling it, cool yet warm and alive under her fingers.  And, though the djinni had told her otherwise, saying she should spread the wings out inside out and lay upon them till they became with her flesh,, Naria erected them, tenting them over her body as she crouched, bare to any eyes that might see.  The wings felt heavy and unnatural, pressing her body into the stiff straw pad of the bed.

And now, they felt even heavier, drawing back her shoulders as she tried to stand straight and proud the way she’d always been taught.  Chest in, she heard her nurse scold, though the woman had been dead many years now.  Do not show  a man more than he need see to know you are virtuous, her tutors had lectured.  But try as habit forced her to do, she could not, her back wearied from her journey up the several flights of stairs already, and  Naria felt herself drawn forward, chest pressed to the world defiantly.

Forward, unsteady, weary, wobbly, from where she stood, looking down over her husband’s lands.  “I will not fall,” she told herself once more, even as she felt herself totter.  A moment’s panic gripped her, but she vowed it yet again.

“I will NOT fall.”

And she did not try to hold on.  She faced what was to come, whatever her choice would bring.  She could not fall, she realized, because she had already escaped.  She was already free.  She had already done as she’d wished.

Naria did not fall.

There was a second prompt to write about; a timed prompt for 3mins.  It could be in any genre, any form, just three minutes…
————————

Treacle:

TIMED WORD ASSOCIATION:Treacle, Bloated, Yesterday.

Sweet the pudding words you told me, treacle to my ears and heart
Yesterday your mind was showing, you spoke some thing,
Pop art, urban deco, bloated with your self-importance, thinking foolish
hardly worth my time and thought

Yesterday, your words were treacle,they tasted sweet, they warmed my soul
Today your words smell of noxious vapors, putrid bloated in my bowl

I don’t want to touch them, don’t want to taste, don’t to smell.

I can’t even wash them

 

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Continuing on a regular feature here at the Garden of Delights, welcome to Book Review Monday which alternates with Your Inspirations twice a month.  Last time Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War was the feature piece.  Today, let’s enjoy something a bit lighter.

Knees Up, Mother Earth by Robert Rankin

Knees Up Mother Earth

If you’re like me, living across The Pond, you may have heard news stories about European “football” (rugby) teams and how violent and reactionary their fans can get.  And if you’re like me (or even if you actually enjoy sports), you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

I mean, it isn’t as if seeing your favorite team lose a game once in a while is the end of the world!

Or is it?

Enter the Brentford United FA (Football Association) whose members have been contracted to win every single game of their season and achieve the coveted FA Cup, lest their football field be sold off to a land developer.  Since the team’s plummeting streak has held solid since the 1920’s, there seems to be little chance of saving their beloved club.   But the stakes end up being far more dire.  And even as the team acquires a new captain empowered to propel them to victory, member begin falling by the wayside, only to be replaced with members of a traveling circus.  Still, Brentford United must win, because the alternative is the end of the world.

Knees Up, Mother Earth came to my home by accident almost two years ago.  And once I realized what I’d bought, Borders refused returns on anything because they were closing all their brick & motor stores.  So I shoved it into a pile of ‘not dealing with this now’ books and magazines that monopolize the little bookshelf in our bedroom.  And there it sat, gathering dust while I worked through other books in my list.  Finally this January, I picked it up for my (failed) attempt at the Fifty/Fifty/Me challenge (I still haven’t watched another movie since V for Vendetta).  Oh, and yes, I’ve sat on writing this review for nearly two months now.

So let me first say that my initial reaction to this book was just above ‘negative’.  I’d perhaps heard Rankin’s name somewhere on a random webpage or in conversation somewhere, but it had meant nothing.  And the cover art, as you can see (although my copy has a different cover), didn’t give a real sense of its fantasy genre.  Indeed,  neither the blurb on the back nor the Wikipedia  description of the storyline nor even most of the characters recommended this book to me.  It was about sports (rugby no less, which I only know a pittance about) and hanging out in taverns, boozing…  Heck, the heroes are the town drunks!

I had trouble putting the book down.  I think I could have married Old Pete, wonderful curmudgeon that he was.

Oh, there were lulls,  and it wasn’t really a matter of the super suspenseful  story arc that held me….  Knees Up made me laugh.  I’m sure I missed over a hundred of the little side jokes Rankin included simply because I wasn’t familiar with his “world”, but that didn’t matter.  It is hilarious.  The writing was wonderful too.  Through Rankin’s writing, each character, each place in the story came alive and breathed with believability.  The details not only popped, but were beautifully written (Rankin KNOWS his stuff with words).  As frustrated as the characters made me with their total …humanity!  I couldn’t “hate them”; in fact, I began rooting for them right from the beginning.  I even cried a bit when The Campbell died (though he wanted to, so I must respect that).

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse

I would happily read another book by Robert Rankin–particularly  when it’s noted that most do not consider Knees Up, Mother Earth to be one of his best works.  Perhaps next time, I’ll pick up a copy of  The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.  Seems fitting for just after Easter.

And just as a side note: Rankin based his book (and according to the Wiki most of his others) in  Brentford, UK (and on their very real football team, the Brentford F.C.)  Looking over online details make Brentford out as a very interesting place too, though nowhere as intimate as Rankin makes it in his book.  I do get the phenomena from my brief time in the UK.  There is a very different feel to towns in the UK to town in the US., and I don’t mean this in criticism to either place.  But I remember sensing much more intimacy and awareness of community in most places in the UK, even larger “towns” which could be easily compared to small cities in the U.S..  (my closest example would be obviously Solihul since that’s where we stayed during our time in England.  Located just south eat of Birmingham, Solihul would easily be comparable to a small city size and population-wise here, but it felt more like a hamlet than anything more.)

Oh, and one other last note…  I have to add a “Thank you” here to Mr. Rankin, for had I not read his book and inspired to look up what inspired him, I would never have found out about the Syon Abbey Monastery.  Now little more than a ruin that is being slowly excavated, it was once the largest monastery in England.  I eventually must return to England just so I can visit Brentford.   I love this sort of thing.

And yes, I would recommend this book to a friend.

Another Mini Mash-Up today…  Really, it’s difficult to do anything but mash-ups when so many interesting things are going on all over the web lately.  It feels really wonderful to be part of such a creative global community.

The news first:

As I noted on Tuesday, I will be hosting my very first guest blogger, Elaine Stock, who will be sharing with us those things that inspired her to write and tell stories.  A writer of  faith-based fiction, Elaine’s curiosity and love of people has led her to welcome writers and readers from all over the world to tell their stories.  If you have the time, pop over to her page and check out some her guests.  You won’t be disappointed.

Now for the fun stuff:

Flash fiction!  Yep, as I posted for my recent ROW80 update, I’ve finally gotten myself back into the Swing of Things, and that means some Friday Flash Fiction.  It’s not as if I’ve kept up with my flash fiction of late.  No Five Minute Getaways…  No random prompts…  I am even behind on my Three Word Wednesday posts over at Many Worlds From Many Minds.

Well, to make up for some lost time, here is a piece of quasi-inspired writing to (hopefully) amuse you.

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog gets a lot of traffic on Fridays because of the flash fiction challenges he posts, and normally I wouldn’t have bothered with an expired contest, but I felt a need to write a piece (albeit a week late) for Chuck’s The 10K Contest  where people were supposed to write a full story of less than 100 words in five sentences.

Her footsteps creaked on the stairs as she came down slower than normal.  He knew she’d heard about the shooting as soon as he saw her tear-stained face.  Steeling himself, “Honey, there was a–,” he started to say.  He reached out to wipe away a tear, wrapping his other arm around her, but she stiffened against the bulk of the P225 under his coat.

Refusing to give up faced with going to their son’s funeral alone, he clung to her, sobbing in her hair, “I didn’t know it was Bobby–I honestly didn’t know….”

That’s it.  Not much to it, I’m afraid.  There was supposed to be more, but due to technical issues I regret to inform you that those pieces have been canceled.  I am endeavoring to reschedule them for a later date.  😉

Everything about domain names

Everything about domain names (Photo credit: Emilie Ogez)

A lot of bloggers I follow have done two things: one. I’m not sure I should do and the other, I’m sure I should but fear starting because I’m notoriously bad when it comes to schedules and stress (as in chaos, then burnout…). But it seems to me that there’s a good reason to do these things.  Or at least there must be to many people.

The first is buying a domain name. The biggest reason I hesitate is money. We need a car and it would nice to have some fun this year too. Marcus wants to go back to both Montreal and New York City. Plus we have family trips that need making and the Northeast Unschooling Conference to explore (first time). So the money has a place already… even just a $20.

But the biggest issue is that our present internet provider won’t allow us to run any kind of web server here (and has made no attempt to return my calls or emails about actually setting up such a service…). And I’m not sure how WordPress wants things run. Do they continue to host these pages? And do I want to spend money on just a name, when (for more money, granted) I could go to the wonderful people over at SFF.net that I’ve dealt with for years and get not only a domain name, but a full hosting setup (with WONDERFUL tech support, btw… there is a reason I’ve kept my email and such there since 1996). So, I’m curious as to the opinions of people who’ve made this jump. Please, let me know why you did or didn’t buy your own domain name and how your pages are being run now.

On the other hand… I know I should start scheduling my blog posts. Having some consistency can only help make this a pleasant experience for everyone. But how much is too much, I wonder. I wanted to keep to one post a week last year and couldn’t manage it. This year, I’m doing better (the regimen of the ROW80 challenge is certainly helping me there), but after the check-in posts and the few photography pages I’ve set up it feels overwhelming most days to get an actual “post” done. And as for fresh writing on my WiPs? Not happening unless I word print with the ROWers on Twitter or ignore my family. And I’m afraid I do that too much as it is.

So what do you find is the best balance? Do you prefer longer posts once a week with lots of info? Short sweet pieces that you see every day (like the WordPress version of Facebook and Twitter)? Do you find that you’re spending far too much time staring at the monitor and your kids are learning to type along with you? 😉

It’s Flash Fiction Friday again.  And it’s also the day that my very first guest blog post!  If you’d like to check it out, head over to Everyone’s Story by Elaine Stock.  I’d love your comments, but please don’t stop there.  Elaine has wonderful guests every week, it might be worth some time to look over her past posts.

But wait!  That has nothing to do with Flash Fiction.  The Five Minute Getaway image that LS Engler used for her piece was lovely, but not the inspiration I needed.  So I went to the I Can Haz Cheeseburger site and found this great image (and Sharon Howard chose for her own for a delightful piece you should check out) and chose this one (isn’t it AWESOME?):

Illluminated Ice Palace, Schwarzsee, Switzerland via The Guardian

Ice Palace via The Guardian

Valistii grimaced as he looked over the barren expanse.  Dividing the Family like this had never been his intentions, but the way things had been between his brother and he…  He looked over at his wife, as she stood off by the excavating equipment, pulling the furs around her body closer.  She wasn’t looking at their soon to be new home.  She wasn’t looking at him.  She wasn’t even looking at her children.

She was looking, as always to the north and the  warm equatorial archipelago that formed his brother’s home.  Their old home…  Just because he couldn’t bear the thought of living there any longer didn’t mean, in her opinion, that she should have been forced o leave her home.  That Valistii had been able to convince her of the move at all only.  The sovereign had requested them personally as the new lord and lady of this new district.

This new district…  This wasteland of ice!

Why when he was finally old enough to be the lord of anything this problem land of nothing!  There were times he–

A burst of static broke through in his wrist com. |Sier!  We found something!|

Valistii allowed his binoculars to fall against his chest.  Something?  Out here?  He wobbled his way over the icy crust toward his step-son’s scout crew.  “Something?” he said as he slid the last few steps.

Lir waved a hand in front of him toward the rest of the crew.  “Look for yourself, Father.”

He needn’t have said so.  Indeed, Valistii hardly had heard the younger man.  He was too busy staring.  “Méykis bless!” he whispered.

To be the Lord of such a magnificent place!

So, the first three paragraphs were the only ones that fit in the 5 minutes.  New stories were just not flowing tonight.  But as I wrote it did get easier…  except that I still need to wake up around 6 am and it’s already 2am.  😛

I have other things I should be posting about such as updates for my Telling Tales and Bookmark Challenges.  Nothing doing tonight.  I’ll just leave you with a list of some wonderful Flash Fiction to enjoy.  Have a great night!

Weaving through mountains

Weaving through mountains

It’s Friday.  I looked over the Flash Fiction options today and my eyes just glazed over and my brain …which is set on some temperature well over 100 degrees at the moment…  just stopped.  So, I’ll forward on the lovely prompt that L.S.Engler posted for her Five Minute Getaway piece.  I’m going to give you the link for Chuck Wendig’s frighteningly detailed assignment for this week.  I’m going to apologize to myself (and Albert) for not even trying to start the Flash Fiction February challenge.

And I’ll send you over to my writing process blog Many Worlds From Many Minds for the opening of a story line I’ve played with for some time.

I am also putting out a request for guest bloggers.  The topic will be “What Inspires Me”…  The posts don’t have to be writing related only.  In fact, I’d be delighted if they were not.  We’re all far more than the accumulation of our words.  Contact me via email at mouse(at)sff(dot)net or @Kymele on Twitter if you would be interested.

Hopefully tomorrow after some sleep I will feel energized enough to finish my photography posts (at least one of them).

Oh, and to add silliness to more silliness…  I’m adding yet another online challenge to my list of to “get done”s.  This one, of course works wonderfully between the two other reading challenges I’m involved in: 50/50/Me and Telling Tales 2012.  I’m not sure I could pull it off well if it didn’t.  This one is called The Bookmark Break Challenge.  It’s to encourage me to finish all those half-red books I was enjoying then got sidetracked from for some strange reason.  You should check it out and spend a bit of time looking over Aubrie Anne’s earlier posts.  She has some amazing tidbits hiding in there.

I have a confession to make.  I stood up a dear friend today.  I didn’t mean to.  I was supposed to go over to his house and hang out with the people in his Changling LARP that is being held at his house (at this minute still at 9:45pm).  Instead, I ended up spending the whole evening writing and posting pages here. Read the rest of this entry »


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