Archive | September, 2013

Senior Air Traffic Controler – A Flash Fiction

20 Sep

Super Moon - Summer of 2013   

The last fingers of red and gold have long since sunk into the horizon.  Night has captured the landscape, with the veracity that only can come when one knows that victory is fleeting.  The landscape is dark, but far from gloomy, for here and there you can see that happy glow of a candle or lantern peeking between the parted curtains of a parlor window; or spilling from the front door as someone is welcomed home for the night.

But this is not our purpose; this is not our story.  Our story lies ½ mile east.  Buried in the pastoral tranquility of outlying farms, lies the hustle and bustle of this town’s dirigibles port.  Surrounded by the drone of a thousand beehives, a young man named Berkeley Plotters stands atop a tall tower.  His job is not an easy one, but of it he is immensely proud.  You see, Berkeley, has only just achieved the rank of senior air traffic controller.  This is not to imply that he is the master air controller, but with this new rank he is most pleased, having reached it after only two years training.

And now stands our young man, binoculars scanning the horizon, looking here, then looking there; keeping an eye out for all new arrivals.  Dropping the binoculars to his chest he reaches with his left hand and flips the top of the communications tube.  After first blowing twice, as was the procedure, he announced to the master controller, “The Arabella from New Town is approaching from the east on schedule.  Pad C is not yet cleared, they will have to wait.”

With a practiced turn of his head, he moved his ear to where he could hear a confirmation. “Loud and clear, tower.  Arabella in the east, arranging alternate landing pad.  Over and out.”

Standing straight, Berkeley, knew at that moment the tower master was telling the radio-telegraph operator what to say to the Arabella.  While giving the port grounds a once over, he entertained for a moment a wandering thought of what his job would be like if he himself could communicate with the approaching craft.

Giving his shoulders a shrug and his head a shake, our senior air traffic controller, went back to surveying the skies.

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The Texture of Hope

19 Sep

Hope. Such a valuable, invaluable, element of life and creativity.

Random Acts of Writing

Lately I have really been delving deeply into what words mean to me. Looking at my inner self and seeing what it is that moves me, drives me forward. Well, today while surfing the web I stumbled upon this writing prompt and I loved the idea and thought to share with you my answer. The prompt was this: What is the texture of Hope? I now have a passion and want to explore some of the words I have already very recently looked at, and keep up with my inner explorations. In the meantime, here is my answer:

Hope holds a texture all its own. It is the texture of the softest blanket and the roughest sandpaper. Soft because hope gives so much to the heart and mind. It creates the idea of so much more. Rough because, the road following hope is often filled with bumps. You fall, you…

View original post 129 more words

Video

Multitasking: Is It Your Friend or Enemy?

18 Sep

I think, to an extent, it comes down to your personality and what you are trying to multitask…er, with.

If you are juggling a few things at the same time and you can make it work just as well together as apart, then good for you. There are some tasks which seem to go together very well, and it is no real stretch to work on them side by side.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE2jy23iG2M

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On the other hand, if you are a focused type, who prefers to concentrate on one thing at a time, you might do better to steer clear of multitasking. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out by mentally (or physically) running around in circles.

Or…

If you are trying to do something important while also letting yourself be distracted by something trivial, your work will suffer. Either it will take twice as long, or you will end up having to edit the tar out of it at a later date. Not really a desirable outcome.

Say you are trying to get an essay written. You are typing away on this project that is due tomorrow afternoon, when your friend starts texting you about the movie they’re watching. This divides your brain’s energy between two very different things. You’re trying to sound smart in the essay, but using texting short-cuts on your phone. You are also trying to remember your research facts, and pull up memories of the movie they are referring to. The essay will suffer, and your friend will think you’re not interested in the conversation because you take an extra couple minutes to reply.

Not an ideal situation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34OZ-dsNkBw

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That’s not to say that technology is bad for productivity. Word sprints with your Twitter friends look like they could be a lot of fun while helping you reach your word count goal for the day . But here, you agree to do a task, set a time limit, put Twitter aside while working on your writing, then switch back to Twitter after the sprint is finished.

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So, I’m not saying that multitasking is bad for you. I just think that there are times when we need to concentrate on one task at a time so that we can get it done better and faster.

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Now if I could only remember this in every day life. *eye roll*

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What are your thoughts on multitasking?

Do you do a lot of it, or are you a strict one thing at a time worker?

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Wednesday Stew – A Flash Fiction

17 Sep

This is one of the first tiny stories I wrote. I have been working on a small collection of Steam Punk flash fiction (and just decided to do another one on a zombie theme). This one will be in it.

Let me know what you think. 🙂

Here are some storm clouds to set the mood for you. :D

Here are some storm clouds to set the mood for you. 😀

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Wednesday Stew

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Andrew splashed through the muddy streets as the rain fell in bucket sized drops around him. All he could think about was his permanent room at the boarding house, and the hearty stew and corn bread Mrs. Lester made on Wednesdays. With his overnight bag thumping against his back with every bound, he leaped over the more treacherous mud holes in the pitted dirt road toward his home away from home.

Getting to the steps he scrubbed his boots good and well before opening the door, and letting the warm, goodness of her cooking envelope him. Life as a Dirigible Captain had its rough parts, but making it to Mrs. Lester’s dining room was the welcome respite at the apex of every week.

Dropping his bag beside the bench in the entry hall, and hanging his dripping coat and hat on the hooks above it Andrew was very thankful that he had one of the few steady routes. It took two days to take supplies and passengers from Spelling, Connecticut to Tellana, Georgia, and two days back again. If things went smoothly. If they didn’t…well, then he dealt with things, and made it to his midweek lodgings to find a small cast iron pot of stew with a crust of cornbread over the top sitting in the oven. The meat and vegetables may change every week, but the mouth watering aroma, and the made with love attention to taste did not.

“Is that Mr. Anderson I hear stomping about out there?” Called his hostess.

“It is, Mrs. Lester. I made it back for your good cookin’.”

“Sweet talker.” She chided, but he could hear the smile in her voice before he made it through the sitting room and into the dining room to see it on her face. She had set the huge pot on the trivet next to her seat, and was waiting for him with her arms wide for a hug. Andrew wrapped his arms around her and lifted her slightly off her feet, inhaling the wonderful smell of cinnamon and soap that clung to the plump old woman.

“You should get a wife. Then you wouldn’t be so eager for my poor fare.”

Setting her back on the floor, he grinned and said, “If I could find a girl who cooked as well as you, I would marry her on the spot.”

She waggled a finger at him. “Careful, one of these days a young lady might think you’re serious with that offer.”

“I am!” Putting a hand to his heart and striking a poets pose, he proclaimed, “Beauty fades, charm is fleeting. But a woman who can cook? She’s a woman worth keeping.”

Mrs. Lester gave his arm a playful slap. “Sit down. I don’t want you to have to eat cold food.”

Andrew chose his regular seat, and a maid came out of the kitchen with a fresh plate of biscuits, and a bowl, spoon and cup for him.

While pouring himself a glass of lemonade he exchanged small pleasantries with the six random passers-by who were seated around the table, all a little taken aback by the sudden change in their stoic hostess. Bustling around, she came and filled his bowl to almost overflowing, then went back to every other guest and asked if they would like a little more. “You’ll want to top off if you even might have a little room for more. Mr. Anderson here, could eat an entire pot of this on his own. So, just make sure you put away your fair share before he finishes it all off.”

Andrew chuckled, and split open a corn biscuit and slathered it with soft yellow butter. Biting into it, he sighed as the sweetness of the corn meal blended with the sharp saltiness of the creamy butter. After finishing it off with six bites, he dove head first into the long awaited bowl of stew. It took a few moments, but he began to realize that there was something different about this week’s batch. When he finally came up for air, about half way through the bowl, he asked, “Mrs. Lester, what did you do differently?”

“To what, dear?”

“To the stew? There’s something different.”

“Oh, it’s just the usual in-dey-go Wednesday stew.”

“Well whatever you did, I like it.”

“That’s good. Now eat the rest before it gets cold.”

Giving a mock salute with his spoon, he said, “Yes, Ma’am.”

The other occupants of the room seemed a little bemused, but after seeing how quickly Andrew had put away that bowl of food, they each in turn asked for those seconds they had been too prim to accept.

It took three bowls of stew and five biscuits of satisfy his hunger. With a hand on his belly, and a smile on his face, he congratulated Mrs. Lester on surpassing herself.

“Well, thank you, honey, but I didn’t cook it.”

Confusion flickered across his face. “If you didn’t…”

“’Tilda, sugar, could you come out here for a moment?”

As the maid once again entered the room, Andrew stood to his feet. Crossing to her side, he asked, “Did you cook dinner?”

Shyly the petite, brown haired, brown eyed Matilda nodded her head. “Yes, sir, I did.”

“What’s your full name and age?”

“Matilda Jane Ashcroft, I turned 19 last week.”

“Nineteen. That’s a good age. Do you do anything besides cook?”

“Oh, yes. Mrs. Lester has been training me to do all sorts of things around this old place. And Mama already made sure I can sew, knit, mend, clean, cook, garden. Just last month we canned the fruit preserves from our…”

“And you cooked this delicious dinner.”

Looking into his eyes with a hint of puzzlement in her own, she said, “Yes, sir, we already established that fact.”

Chuckling he said, “Yes, we did. Miss Ashcroft, is your Daddy still alive?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Because I believe I have a question to ask him in the morning.” Picking up her hand he kissed the palm. Turning to Mrs. Lester he said, “You, Madam, are one smart woman. You have bested a confirmed bachelor. Congratulations.”

Mrs. Lester just sat there and chuckled.

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😀 What did you think?

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Video

MMM… The Marx Brothers

16 Sep

It’s a Marx Brothers Mirth and Music Monday! Ha ha!

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Here’s the mirth:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CL6syWe6dE

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Here’s the music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=569Gy8BE5P4

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If you enjoyed this, or it stank but you’re willing to give it a chance, you can see more Mirth and Music Monday by going over to ReGi McClain’s blog. She’s the creator of this fun Monday meme. Not only does she post a MMM, she also has a little blue froggy thing on the right side of her blog page. Click on the top one and it will take you to a list of links of all the people playing along this week.

And if you like, you can add your own funny and musical post!

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Video

Writing in Cycles

15 Sep

I think my muse has ADD. Her attention seems to flit from one form of writing to another. One week I will add a dozen pages to a book, the next I have poems spilling out of me, then we take a couple days to pound out a few flash fictions.

All over the place.

I don’t mind being eclectic, that will certainly get me a wider audience, but you have to have something done in order to publish it.  At this rate it will all finish at the same time…three years from now.  *sigh*

Do any of you have a muse who gets bored easily?

One week or day you’re making great headway on something, the next all you can think about is another project?

Have you noticed a pattern to this, or does it just seem random?

I may have to start keeping a writing journal. Just to see if I have a pattern forming,

Not complaining here, really just noticing. It’s an interesting ride, this writing thing. 🙂

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNQ9_hPB2Ew

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Video

Daydreaming: A Key to Creativity

13 Sep

I came across this video while searching for a certain music video for a past post. It got me to thinking. I would like you to watch it, then we can discuss it.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLebgmPloJ4

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So basically what Jonah Lehrer is saying is that the mind comes up with creative things better and faster when we let it do a little wandering. There is a need for daydreaming, following that trail of what-ifs, just staring out the window watching the birds on the feeder.

If this is the case, what are some ways we can relax our brains so they can bring up our more imaginative ideas?

Jonah mentions taking walks, daydreaming, and staring out train windows. Are there other ways we can let our minds wander?

  • How about that lovely zen-ed out couple minutes while you wash your hair. (although for me it’s more than a couple minutes, since my hair is waist length.)
  • Listening to the rain.
  • Relaxing to your favorite music.
  • Those few moments when you are on the edge of sleep.
  • Thinking of nothing in particular while sitting in your recliner.
  • Just staring across the room at a random object.

This last one helped me write a piece of flash fiction (a story that’s, I believe, under 2,000 words long). I was trying to come up with an idea, but nothing was happening. I set my chin into my hand and stared across the room at a pile of random papers. Peeking out from the pile was part of a stage coach, that got me thinking about the wild west. Well, what is one of the best known stage coaches in modern advertising? TheWells Fargo’s logo. Now I am thinking of a bank in the old west. From there I thought about a steam punk outfit my husband and I had discussed making for me. Now I’m thinking of a woman, in a Victorian steam punk outfit in a bank in the old west. Now what could bring about some kind of problem in a bank. Duh, a gun. How would we introduce a gun into the situation?

Well, why don’t you read it for yourself?

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A Misunderstanding at the Bank

She walked into the one and only bank in all of New Wells, Colorado, head held high, shoulders back. Walking like a woman in a new dress, which she was. A high necked number in burgundy, with a black leather waist coat, and black and white patent leather ankle boots. In her right hand she held a brown valise. It seemed to be a little heavy for her comfort, but she was darned if she was going to let it show on her face.

The lady in the new dress walked expediently up to the teller on the left, and set her bag on the counter to the right of the clerk’s window. The clerk, a skittish man in his mid thirties, was always afraid when a woman approached his window. They were either confused as to what they wanted, or had a tendency to try and bluster or wheedle more out of him than he should extend. Either way, women made him nervous.

This one really made him sweat. She seemed to have been sewn into that red dress, and her manor of walking told him that here was a woman who was used to being in control of situations. Since he was rarely in control, this type of person made him feel twitchy.

“Hello, Mister…” She glanced at the little pin on his shirt, “Popskie. My name is Miss Delia Anne Walters, and I would like to open an account here today.”

Taking his kerchief out of his pocket and swiping it over his upper lip, he replied, “Very well, Miss Walters. How much would you be putting into your new account?”

With a satisfied smile, she opened her valise, and began digging through its contents. “I have $300.” After a few moments the smile started to fade into mild frustration. “It was on top a few minutes ago.” Now the innards of the bag were being pulled out and placed in a neat line along her side of the counter. A bottle of perfume, smelling salts, a compact, a paper bag which smelled of peppermint, and there were a few more things, but Mr. Popskie’s vision narrowed to include only one of her items. A brand new, fully charged lightning pistol.

While she was busy grumbling into the seemingly bottomless pit that was her bag, he quietly reached a hand beneath his register and pressed the alarm. Without taking his eyes off her gun, he reached into his vest pocket and retrieved his kerchief.

Miss Walters, on the other hand, finally got hold of her envelope of crisp new twenty dollar bills. Pulling her head and right arm out of her bag, she waved it in front of herself triumphantly. “Ha ha! It thought it could hide!”

Turning her attention now to putting her varied objects back into her bag. She did not see the sheriff and two of his deputies walk quietly in the front door. She thought everything was going to go smoothly, until she picked up her little pistol and was about to put it back in with its travel mates. That’s when the Sheriff said, “Stop right there, Miss.”

Looking around in confusion, she turned to see two powder rifles, and a large lightning pistol aimed straight at her own self.

“Lower your weapon, and step away from Popskie.”

“Lower my…?”

“Put your weapon down, Miss, and no one will get hurt.”

“I was just…”

“Well now you are going to drop it on the floor, and kick it to me.”

“Why on Earth would I drop this perfectly good, brand new pistol on the floor? Don’t you know that’s a terrible thing to do to a gun? Not to mention that it might go off.” Shaking her head, she turned back around and dropped it back into her bag. Swiping her envelope of cash off the counter, she also put that into her bag. Closing it with a snap and a huff, she pulled it off the little ledge, and marched straight for the door.

“Of all the hair-brained things.” Giving the door a shove, she walked straight through, and headed for the train station.

Mr. Popskie sighed and sagged against his desk. With shaking hands he wiped the beads of sweat off his face. “Thank you, Sheri…” Catching the look in the Sheriff’s eyes he didn’t have the nerve to finish.

“Popskie, did she SAY she was going to rob the bank?”

Giving his head a shake, he replied, “N, no.”

“Did she hand you a note that implied such an intention?”

Again, shaking his head, Mr. Popskie had to answer no.

“Then why did you press the alarm?”

Pointing to the counter before the Sheriff, he said, “She, she…”

“Had a gun.” The Sheriff shook his head. Rubbing a sudden pain above his left eye, he said in exasperated accents, “Mr. Popskie, this is Colorado. It is quite possible that YOU are the only person in this entire state who does not own a gun of one kind or another. And would you two quit snickering back there?! For the love of…Mr. Popskie, I really think you ought to move back east.”

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What are some ways you zone out to find creative inspiration?

And, if it’s not too much to ask, what did you think of my little story?

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Video

A Writer’s What-Ifs: The Positive Side

12 Sep

Today I am following up on an idea I had about yesterday’s post.

Here’s the bit that got me thinking.

Then there are the what-ifs.

What if it doesn’t sell well?

What if it isn’t good enough?

What if I’m not good enough?

What if all that time and effort was for nothing?

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This list of what-ifs left me feeling…unhappy.

So I have come up with a list of positive what-ifs.

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My list of positive what-ifs for writers:

What if some of this fear goes away after my first book is published?

What if that first book is a hit?

What if the next book is the start of a great series?

What if I can quit my job by the end of next year?

What if I become an Amazon best seller?

What if I make it onto the New York Times Best Seller List?

What if someone wants to turn one of my books into a movie?

What if I’m the next J. K. Rowling?!

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Hmmm, if I’m not careful I’m going to set off another attack of the day dreams and not get anything done today.

A little dreaming is fun. A lot of dreaming can get in the way of being productive.

So have fun with your happy what-if list, but don’t forget to get your tush in that chair and add more words to the book.

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Now, to practice what I preach.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gifkCgoJ7SY

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Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Writer’s Holding Pattern

11 Sep

I have had this song in my head since I woke up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAdTsAKvVTU

What’s interesting is that it seems to be my subconscious telling me that imagining wonderful sales numbers is not the same as getting things finished and actually seeing real sales numbers.

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How many of us creative types do this?

We create these grand schemes in our head, follow them all the way to multinational best selling author status, but neglect to spend that hour a day actually writing. We feel safe in our imaginary world. No one is telling us we’ve used too many commas. No one critiques our work on sales sites where hundreds of people can see it. Our hopes and dreams are safe, inside our minds.

Actually getting that thing (book, invention, theory) out there would mean finishing. Finishing means having someone else see it. Having someone else see it means possible rejection. And who wants that.

Then there are the what-ifs.

What if it doesn’t sell well?

What if it isn’t good enough?

What if I’m not good enough?

What if all that time and effort was for nothing?

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The more practical side of your mind is probably screaming at you most of the day. Pointing at your unfinished projects. Telling you that if you don’t finish the dratted thing then you’ll never make any money at it. If you don’t try, then you have already failed. Imaginary money doesn’t buy groceries or pay the electric bill.

You have set goals; decided on rewards for accomplishments; tried to beg and plead the creative side of yourself to get things wrapped up. Charts have been created. Schedules have been written out. Nothing has worked. All self-imposed deadlines have passed at the speed of sound and the blur of shredded self confidence as it flew by.

What are the reasons for this hesitation?

You are so close!

Why can’t you finish?

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I don’t know.

If I knew I would be making money from this thing they call writing.

If I knew I would probably have all these outlines filled out and for sale on Amazon, making money from 6 romances, a couple sci-fi’s, and 3 children’s series.

Yeah. It’s all waiting. The ideas are there. The follow through is not.

What is wrong with me?

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Are you stuck in this writer’s holding pattern? Circling the thing that you both love and dread?

How are you dealing with it?

Or

Have you found a way to get out this cycle? What worked for you?

Please, if you have discovered a way to get passed this stage, share it. That tip might be the one thing one of us starving artists needs to hear.

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Photos from My Road Trip

10 Sep
Pink sky behind blue hills

Pink sky behind blue hills

Saturday was a lot of fun. I got to drive a long ways, with my Grandma and a fun Aunt in the car with me. While that may sound like some kind of torture to a lot of you, it was a blast for me. We’re talking about another one some time the first half of October. 🙂 Not nearly as far as this one, though. Still, it could be a lot of fun.

Pink hills. We couldn't pass up that photo opportunity.

Pink hills. We couldn’t pass up that photo opportunity.

A car full of females, of course someone had to take a photo of sunset tinted hills. Pink! lol

Tree covered hills in the background. The bug coated windshield in the foreground.

Tree covered hills in the background. The bug coated windshield in the foreground.

This one only served to remind me how bug coated our car was by the time we got home. Those things stuck like super glue. Time to wash the car again.

Sorry, guys. That’s pretty much it. Turns out most of the photos that ended up on my phone were of relatives. But since that was the main reason for this trip, I guess that’s O.K..

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When was the last time you went on a road trip?

Was it fun?

Or a cautionary tale of what not to do?

Either way, it could make for a great comment.

(especially the one where everything went wrong, but you had a blast anyway.)

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