Monday Earworm: HAMILTON again

How far are you into your NaNoWriMo?

This song is so much mood. I can’t even.

Holiday Music Is Coming…

Next month will see the return of my annual 12 Days of Holiday Music Fill-In-The-Blank-Etc. series. Any requests or songs you think I should take a look at? I can’t guarantee they’ll make it onto the list for this year (which is partially set already), but I’m always open to suggestions!

Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Tree’s done.

NaNoWriMo 2019

I have to admit, it creeps up on me every year.

We spend a good six weeks in Happy Hallowe’en mode around here. We even throw a huge annual bash, usually the Saturday before Hallowe’en (unless the 31st is on a Friday or Saturday, and then it’s the actual day). This year was our 20th annual Masquerade. And when there are several days between the two — as there were this year — it can feel like our party is the big event and it’s just limbo until the 31st after that. It’s a pleasant sort of limbo, though, one in which I can appreciate the other things going on in my life a little better — or get a little more work done — until trick-or-treating time.

So I have to admit my focus isn’t entirely on NaNoWriMo when November 1st rolls around every year. But oh, I do love it when November 1st is here.

If you’ve been following my blog a while you know that I’m not a traditional NaNoWriMo participant. I don’t actually even attempt to write 50,000 words during a month which includes a busy time in the semester and Thanksgiving break. (We host at our house, so no rest for the blissfully weary. Also, every holiday from school is, in one way or another, a working holiday. It just is.) But I do make the commitment to work on my writing in a meaningful way every day or night for the entire month of November. This looks a little different each year and depends significantly on what my current writing projects are.

I like to post about it here on my blog for accountability’s sake, among other reasons. So here we go, my ambitions for 2019’s NaNoWriMo:

*  I’m working on revisions for my next book in the Animal Affinities series, and I need to get it very much finished up in the next few weeks. If you enjoyed Finis., you will also probably love the next story. The working title is Homecoming, although my editor might change that. This story revolves around a girl named Raqia. She’s in eleventh grade, she’s a Lebanese immigrant to Texas, and she’s navigating some very weird stuff. Also, if you were intrigued by the wolf packs in Finis., you should know that Homecoming features the wolves quite prominently. And that’s all I’ll be saying about that for now…

*  Once Homecoming is out the door, I’ll be back to working on my next novel, which at the moment I’m about a fourth to a third of the way through. I put it on hold while I edited another novel (currently on submission) and Homecoming and put together my next collection of poems. (I mean, yes, it’s been a busy year. But honestly, when is it not?) But I have made a promise that I will get back to this novel as soon as possible, and so that’s on the horizon as well.

*  I participated in the August Poetry Postcard Fest again this year, which has been awesome yet again, but I admit I am still a handful of cards behind. (No shame, though. Last year I was still getting cards from other poets all the way into February. So.) Anyway, I need to finish those up. I’m really close to that, so I’m calling it a NaNoWriMo goal and that’s that. (And once those cards are all out the door, I will register for next year’s fest!)

Some people might feel annoyed that I’m using the month this way. I am not concerned about that. One day, I am confident, I will be able to approach the NaNoWriMo the way the creators of it intended. One day. Not today, though. *shrug*

Onward and upward, shall we? Yes!

Witchy Weekends: The Frog Wish (part 4)

Hello! Sorry this post is a little late, but there were too many holiday festivities over the weekend for me to get this scene into a readable state in time.

So below you’ll find the fourth installment in a new story I’m working on, working title “The Frog Wish.” I hope you’ll read it and give me your opinions on it. It’s best to start with the first scene and work through them in order for them to make the most sense.

Click this link for the first scene.

Click this link for the second scene.

Click this link for the third scene.

*****

“The Frog Wish” (part 4)

The mirror world was cold. Eleanor wasn’t dressed warmly enough in the bum-around t-shirt she’d put on to move furniture. She let her hair out of its ponytail, but that only kept the wind off her neck and shoulders. It was something, but not enough. And she had no idea how long she’d been here because whenever she looked at her watch, the hands just spun around like a drunken compass pointing at everything but the time. And the landscape they gestured to appeared to be a grayscale world of nebulous wooded avenues and the vague sense of the outdoors. She couldn’t see far and didn’t want to go wandering, lest she become lost and unable to return to whatever portal Moira had sent her through. So she sat down in the shelter of a large silver tree and stewed in furious wait for Reginald to show up.

“A frog. How am I even going to recognize him?” He hadn’t looked particularly unusual, as frogs went, the one time she’d seen him in Moira’s shop.

Had that only been this morning?

Yes, she had just been in the shop today, and she remembered Moira had dropped something small and hard into her pocket. Eleanor was still wearing those same loose lounging pants and pulled the item out. It was maybe the size of three acorns tied together and wrapped in black and white ribbons. She unwrapped them and found a dark stone, almost burgundy-brown, covered in alternating bands of different shades of red. It was polished smooth and warm from being close to her body.

“Thank you for not traveling far from this spot,” came a croaky voice off to her left.

Eleanor spun around and saw a large frog staring at her. “Reginald?” she asked, hoping she wasn’t talking to some random frog and also, hearing voices that weren’t there.

“That’s me. Ribbit.” The frog’s tongue whipped from its mouth and licked its own eyeball.

“Moira sent you?”

“Ayup.”

“Did she tell you why she sent me into the mirror world?”

“Is that what you’re calling it? Ribbit.

“What else am I going to call it?” she asked, more shrilly than she intended. “How did she even put me here? How can I get home?” She lifted the book and the stone. “And what use are these?”

“You have any other questions?” Was it possible for a frog to look even more nonplussed than a frog usually did? If so, Reginald seemed to be attempting it.

Eleanor put her head down on her knees. “This experience has reached the limits of my ability to handle the surreal.”

“That’s okay.” She looked up at him. “I’ll wait until you’re ready to get going.” Reginald’s tongue flicked out again and caught something Eleanor couldn’t even see.

“Are you going to take me home?”

“Nope. Ribbit.

“I want to talk to Moira.”

“I don’t have a phone, so you’re going to have to wait until you get back to the other side.”

“How the hell am I supposed to do that??”

“Ribbit.”

Eleanor put her face in her hands and screamed. When she looked back up, Reginald was still sitting there, looking as calm as any frog she’d ever seen. Which is to say, just like all frogs. Frogs which sat on the edges of ponds, and under hedges near the sidewalk after a rain, and occasionally in the woods Eleanor had visited when she was a child and her family got out of the city for a couple of days. Frogs which could not, as far as she had ever known, do anything at all to be helpful other than eat mosquitoes.

Finally she got up and dusted off whatever black dirt might have gotten on the back of her pants. She held out the stone toward Reginald.

“What is this rock?” she asked. “Can you identify it?”

He twisted his eyes slightly. “Looks like a tiger’s eye.”

A stone of protection. Okay, best not to lose that. She stuffed it back into her pocket and wrapped the ribbons into a loop and put them in there, too. She held up the fairy tale book.

“And this? Why did Moira think I need this here with me?”

“Don’t you like to read? Ribbit.

She took a deep breath to avoid shouting at him. He was just a frog, after all. What did he know from books?

“How long am I going to be stuck here?” Moira had made it seem like it might be a while, if she was planning to take care of Eleanor’s house while she was gone.

And what about her client meetings next week?
And what about food? She was starting to feel hungry. So far she hadn’t seen anything in the twenty-foot radius she’d explored that might be edible.

“And what time is it, anyway? Do you know?”

Reginald’s eyes swiveled up at what passed for sky here: a dense canopy of metallic looking leaves. He looked back at her. “Night.”

She closed her eyes and took a slow, deep breath. Then let it out. Then took another, and slowly let it out. After her third cleansing breath, she could speak in a calmer tone of voice.

“What am I supposed to do here?”

“My guess is go on a quest. Ribbit.

“And are you going to help me with that?” Why else would Moira have sent him?

“I could. I know a pretty terrific spot not far from here where people sometimes visit.”

She wondered what people, and whether Moira had shoved them through their own mirrors, too.

“All right then.” She bent down, then untied and retied her shoelaces a little more securely. When she stood up, she made her t-shirt as presentable as she could. She put her hair back into its ponytail then thought better of it; it was still pretty cold here. She looked down at Reginald. “Lead the way.”

“Ribbit.” He turned around and hopped off, pretty fast for a little guy. She had to jog after him to keep up.

*****

Thank you for reading! In the comments, I welcome your feedback:
*  What did you like?
*  What confused you, if anything?
*  What needs work?
*  What are you most interested about?
*  What do you think will happen next?

The Witchy Weekends series is finished for another eleven months, but if you’re interested in reading more of Eleanor’s story, please do let me know! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little experiment of mine; tell me what you thought in the comments below.

*****

Want to read more of my writing that’s already finished and published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books in Houston at Blue Willow Bookshop!

Monday Earworm: Chris de Burgh

I was reminded of this song recently when we were discussing the Marie riddle, a moral dilemma from Donald Hall’s extremely dated piece “Argument and Persuasion.” The discussion was interesting, though, mostly because it exposed the societal prejudices my tenth graders have either absorbed or already, wisely, discarded.

This video used to be in frequent rotation in the early days of MTV, when I was glued to any screen playing that channel (much to my mother’s extreme consternation). How many of you remember this one?

 

 

Witchy Weekends: (Still Under Construction)

Hey there. If you’ve been following my new story “The Frog Wish” here on the blog, you’ll note that I haven’t yet posted this weekend’s scene. That’s because I’m still working on it and don’t feel like it’s really ready yet for an audience. It will be posted before Witchy Season is over, however, so just stay tuned…

If you want to catch up on the first three installments, here they are:
part 1
part 2
part 3