Living in Nature

How often do you notice the tree just beyond the gas station? The vineyards that march along beside the road, the green carpeting blanketing the ground?

So many times, I’m just driving. I see it, but don’t really SEE it. I don’t appreciate the beauty of it. Because, well… because I’m used to it.

I am so lucky to travel so many country roads, full of beautiful scenery, both at the start and the end of my day. It takes me about 15 minutes of driving on those country roads to get to the freeway.

And yet, i stopped really seeing what’s around me.

Recently, one of my friends tagged me on the 7 days of Nature challenge on Facebook (**hi Rie!**). I love it. I could just use one of my many, many pictures from the beach. Instead, I started opening my eyes.

Day 1, I posted a picture of the bark on the pine tree in our front yard. It was very pretty, different…

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Day 2’s post got ate my my iPhone, so i used the back up of one of my beach photos… and then they were both there. It was of a very cool tree by the gas station where I go in the morning. Friday’s got eaten completely, a flower blooming unexpectedly.

Today’s picture? Well… it was from a Mini Hike the boyo’s and I took (the princeling and his cousin). About 5 minutes, like I said a mini hike. But so pretty!

hike

The mini hike was because we were going to a museum on free museum day… along with everyone else is the whole area. But the hike from the overflow parking lot to the museum? A nice little treat.

Most of the time, Facebook feels kind of disconnected from real life. But this challenge? It’s brought me back to looking for the beauty in every day life.

And, it brought me back to a place that centers me. This morning, during Mommy time, I took the time to go to the river and… breathe.

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Flash Fiction Contest

Hello, my lovelies! I know many of you write, whether to publish or just for fun right now. Why not get your feet wet with a Flash Fiction Contest, sponsored by Mocha Memoirs Press? It’s for Women in Horror Month, but it is open to all writers. Information on the contest and rules are below.

Hope to see your work soon!

Good luck!!

 

Women in horror month:

February Flash Fiction Contest

February is Women in Horror Month, and we here at Mocha Memoirs Press love our ladies of horror! In celebration of “Ghoul Power,” MMP is hosting a February Flash Fiction contest! Flash fiction is quickly becoming popular on the eBook scene. They’re super short pieces (usually less than 1000 words) that you can read on your phone, tablet, or eReader while you’re waiting your turn at the salon, stuck in traffic, or right before bed. So here’s how it works:

  1. Write a short horror story with a female POV character that’s 1000 words or less.
  2. Submit your story to mochamemoirs.marketing@gmail.com with WIH FLASH FICTION_Title_YourName in the subject line (Example: Re: WIH FLASH FICTION_BathtubOfDestiny_AlexandraChristian) by February 15, 2016. Please take note that all stories must be submitted as a Word document attachment!
  3. All stories will be posted on the Mocha Memoirs Press blog**:  http://mochamemoirspress.blogspot.com/  by Feb. 17th.
  4. Our panel of judges will choose the top ten finalists’ stories by Feb. 22nd. Voting will open on Feb. 23rd, allowing readers to vote for their favorite finalists.
  5. Grand Prize Winner: $20 Amazon Gift Card.
  6. All TOP TEN FINALISTS will have their stories featured in a promotional mini-anthology used to promote Mocha Memoirs Press.

Even though it is Women in Horror month, authors of all genders may submit. Just remember:  FEMALE PROTAGONISTS! So there, that’s not so complicated! Now, the submission window is narrow, so get to work on those stories!

** Please note that all standard MMP guidelines concerning content apply.  While this is horror, stories that feature explicit descriptions of rape, bestiality or abuse will not be accepted. Also stories that glorify violence, racism, or misogyny will not be accepted. Violence and sex are acceptable but make them integral to the plot. Remember, these stories are for Women in Horror Month and therefore we are all about empowering women!

About our “Ladies of Horror” Panelists…

Eden Royce: Eden Royce is descended from women who practiced root, a type of conjure magic in her native Charleston, South Carolina. She now lives in Kent, The Garden of England, and writes stories loosely based on her childhood. She has had over a dozen short stories published in various anthologies and her current release, Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror was on the Horror Writers’ Association’s recommended reading list for 2015. Eden is one of the writers for The 7 Magpies project, a first of its kind: a short horror film anthology written and directed entirely by black women.

 

She is also the horror submissions editor for Mocha Memoirs Press where she conceived and edited several anthologies, one of which is The Grotesquerie, twenty-one horror short stories written by women. She also writes a regular feature for Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site dedicated to purging the black female horror fan from the margins, where she interviews female authors and reviews their latest work.

 

In her dwindling free time, she is a proofreader, book reviewer, and ice cream connoisseur. Learn more about her at edenroyce.com.

Selah Janel: Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Big Bad 2, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery. Olde School is the first book in her series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own. Catch up with Selah at http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

S.H. Roddey:  South Carolina native S.H. Roddey has been writing for fun since she was a child and still enjoys building worlds across the speculative fiction spectrum filled with mystery and intrigue.  She brings to the literary world a unique blend of humor, emotion, and wild ideas filled with dark themes and strong characters. She is a voracious reader, wannabe chef, and video game addict with two full-time jobs: administrative professional and mom to a cat, teenager, and pair of precocious little girls. She also enjoys being married to her best friend and full-time muse and moonlighting as romance author Siobhan Kinkade. Visit her at http://www.shroddey.com.

Sumiko Saulson: Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian, and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She is a horror blogger and journalist, graphic novelist, horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer. Her works include “60 Black Women in Horror,”“Death’s Cafe: Ashes and Coffee,” “Solitude,” “Warmth”, “Happiness and Other Diseases,” “Somnalia,” “Insatiable,”  the Young Adult horror novella series “The Moon Cried Blood”, and the short story anthology “Things That Go Bump in My Head.” Visit her at http://www.SumikoSaulson.com

Writer Shame

I was filled with writerly shame today. Not imposed by an outside source, no one made fun of me.

I realized that my 9year old son’s “book” had more words to it than mine did. And, to add insult to injury? He has me type it for him.

Forehead, meet the smack!

I changed that tonight, btw. But it’s so easy to let our writing time get chipped away by other things. And while yes, my son is important… God, yes, he’s the most important thing.. maybe, just maybe I should make important too.

So tonight I took some time just for me. I wrote in my novel, and the word total grew even though I had to delete part of the scene. (Deletion occurred because of research, finding out how hard it really is to get yourself up on a roof lol).

I think my word count now exceeds his.

I took a pledge floating around facebook that says I’ll write 1 page a day in February. I can do that. As long as I learn to say no.

No, sweetie, I’m writing. I’m not going down the research hole for Minecraft.

No, sweetie, I’m writing. You cannot use my computer right now.

I love you sweetie. But this is my hour to write.

We shall see how it goes. But if I want to get a draft done, then this needs to  start happen a lot more.

My file, Dragon Queen, is at 715 words.

His file, Galactic Guardians, is 450 words.

Now… if I can just keep all of them growing.

 

Ta my lovelies!

 

 

Lets Dance

So the week has been sort of rough. David Bowie… broke my heart. I stood in the kitchen, had the little catch in your chest. The tiny “oh” that breaths out and you realize…

That the world is changing. Our role in the world, too, is changing. But that blog post, the one about mortality and all that is for another time and place.  In this post, in this post…

Many people have talked about the role Bowie had in making it ok to be “other”, to be ok in your geeky self. And I get that. I really, really do. But what made the biggest impact on me was something else.

The first is the way he is a chameleon. If Bon Jovi suddenly changed genres, we’d all be scratching our heads. Even die hard fans might be… um… maybe not. David Bowie was a chameleon, taking on wide ranging music styles (he sang a Christmas carol with Bing Crosby for crying out loud!) and changing his look just as quickly and confidently. Fashion. Art. Music. Theatre/acting.

He was the zebra that changed his stripes and I loved it. I ate it up, begged for seconds. Why? Because I hate being tied down to one format, especially in my writing.  I like romance and epic fantasy and funny fantasy and paranormal urban vampire sometimes scary and and and… I hate being tied down. Do I write all of that? Not yet.

But I know I can.

The other thing David Bowie embodied for me was the loveable villain. I’m going to make the assumption we’ve all seen Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth. If not, go watch it. Right now! GO!

But… The Goblin King, Jareth.. the first villain I ever fell in love with. I can’t even remember the girls name, but it would have been very different had I been that character. She never would have come back home. But happy, oh yes. (in real life, probably no… but we’re talking fantasy movie with muppets and DAVID BOWIE).

This makes writing the bad guy so much harder. So I think in my WIP, I’m going to try seeing about making the bad guy a little more… more. There needs to be layering, although I’m not sure even Bowie could make him irresistible. But definitely layers…Not everyone is the villain because they are completely evil.

Sometimes everyone is just trying to do what they think is right.

Meanwhile, I think I’m going to grab my red shoes and dance the blues tonight.

 

 

 

 

And yes, I know that the world lost another amazing talent today. I just… I can’t.

 

New Year + New Goals = New Novel

So, I’m setting myself up with a goal for 2016. It’s a goal I haven’t achieved since 2003. Yes, my lovelies… I’m going for the novel.

Novella.

Novellette.

Too many definitions abound. I am trying for 55,00-75,000 words of one story. There. Clearly defined.

Wheee!

So. In order to meet this goal, I’ve been getting ready. Started kind of sort of plotting it out. I have most of the arc of the story, as well as a few bright bits to write towards. I like having those bright bits… It’s like a way-point reward :)

One thing I will have to be careful of is that this story uses characters defined and originally written in my first novel (If There be Dragons), that was never published. I think that’s ok, that I can work with it. My writing style has changed, but..  Of course, my world building and description have always been spotty so am going to have to work on that.

Work on that a lot!

So I asked my very dear friend, my sister from another mother, my favoritest editor in the whole wide world if she can coach me through this. Because knowing me, if the descriptions aren’t there… by the time I’m done with the rough draft I will make tweaks but not add majorly with description and world building. I suppose I could… it’s just that historically I never have.

I’m really excited about this. I’ve started writing (is it cheating if I start now? or does anyone really care? I just want to write it to completion, edit and be sending it out this time next year).

Hopefully, we’ll be going on quite a nice journey together. I know I’ll be having fun playing with my favorite imaginary friend.

Let’s go play with dragons!

 

 

 

Christmas Reads!

I love reading Christmas stories. And writing them :) Stay till the end, where I’ll hook you up to some great reads, a holiday blog hop and more!

 

Santa Cindy

Cindy ran down the steps of the museum, heels clattering on the slick stone. Damn that Ella, anyways. Promising her that this party would be different. The people gathering at a museum fundraiser had to have better manners than those other goons. These people wouldn’t stare, or whisper, or ask pointed questions.

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong again.

Did everyone know? Did they all feel as if her pain existed for their personal entertainment? Fingers shaking from cold and nerves, she searched her small clutch purse for her keys. Keyes to the monstrosity, as Ella called it.

The only good thing to come out of the whole mess, the brand new truck gleamed silver in the moonlight. Relieved, Cindy’s fingers found the keychain and pressed the button that would let her into the driver’s seat.

Gratefully, Cindy squashed her full length skirt into the cab of the truck. The red satin gown would be ruined but at this point she didn’t care too much about it. She turned the keys in the ignition, waited a few moments for the defroster to work its magic. As soon as the pale frost cleared from the windshield Cindy shoved the truck into gear and left.

She pushed buttons until she found a radio station that would lift her spirits. They were playing Christmas carols, and Cindy found herself humming along. “Who needs another Grinch? They’re all at the museum tonight!” she sing-songed to herself. A laugh escaped from her mouth before she could stop it. Damn it, she wanted to be in a foul mood.

One of her pearl earrings broke free from her ear, bounced on the skirt of her dress and fell to the floor. Her mothers’ earrings, one of the few things she had been able to keep from the witch. Scanning the empty road, Cindy took a breath then bent down to begin groping for the pearl.

The truck lost its grip on the road. Tires squealed, a woman screamed. A dull thud, then, blessedly, nothing.

“How’d she get here?” the soft voice tickled Cindy’s consciousness.

“I dunno. Thought you knew all authorized visitors.” This voice wasn’t as soft, and it brought Cindy fully awake.

“The only person I have on the schedule is the new… you know.” The soft voice became prissy.

Cindy moaned, tried to straighten from the steering wheel. Her arms strained, it was too much effort. “She’s hurt. We need to get her some medical attention.”

“Well, just as long as everyone knows it happened on your watch, not mine.”

Cindy’s eyes fluttered opened to see two small men, dressed in parka’s as long as they were tall, each reach to take hold of her arms. They’ll never get me out of here, she thought just before the blackness claimed her again.

The next time she awakened, she was in a large bed. King sized, at least. It dwarfed her, made her feel like a little girl crawling into her parents’ bed. Her fingers glided across a plush comforter, and there was a wonderful aroma coming from a bedside table. She turned to see what it was, and smiled at the cup of hot coco sitting on a warming plate. Gratefully, she took a sip from the mug and settled down to look at the room she was in.

Whoever owned this room was a big kid, she decided. An enormous doll house sat on a low wooden table, surrounded by plush teddy bears. Only one of them looked well loved, its fur worn off and its belly flat. The sight of it tugged on a memory, but she couldn’t quite place it.

“You’re awake,” one of the dwarves that had rescued her stood framed by the door. He had apparently opened a portion of the door made specifically for someone of his stature.

“Yes, thank you. And thank you for taking such good care of me,” Cindy sat the coco back on the table and smoothed the comforter around her.

“Do you know where you are?” She shook her head no. “You’re a wee bit north of where you meant to go. But I have a feeling that you are right where you need to be. Would you mind answering a few questions for me?”

Cindy felt her heart sink at the request. Here we go again, she thought. Though he had taken care of her, had made sure that she was warm and comfortable. Reluctantly, she nodded her permission.

“Do you believe in Santa?” The little man peered intently at her, his thick gray brows drawn close together in concentration.

Cindy thought about it. “I believe that there was a Saint Nicholas, who tended to children. And I believe in the magic of Christmas, of the possibility that there might be a Santa.”

The little man nodded, obviously pleased. “Then it’s settled. Good, I had a feeling that we were about to change with the times, so I had the room made special for you.”

“Special for me? Changing with the times?” Cindy shook her head, unsure if she was supposed to be able to follow his conversation.

“Yes, it was about time we had a woman Santa. Makes perfect sense, right?”

Oh great. He had lost his mind. Cindy watched as the little man walked to the drapes directly across from her bed. With several tugs, he was able to get the heavy material to part.

Cindy gasped. Walls made of ice encircled what had to be a courtyard. She could see the tops of trees, frosted with iced fruits hanging from their branches. Was she in a dream? Did she really care? “What ever you do, don’t wake me up.”

The short man smiled. An elf. He would be an elf if this really were the North Pole. “My name is Tobias, Santa Cindy, and it is my pleasure to serve you.”

“What about…” Cindy let her voice trail off. It wouldn’t be that easy to escape her past, to leave all the pain and anger and hurt.

“You’ve had a rough life, to be sure, darlin’. Santa Bobby followed it on the Chronometer. He saw the filthy woman who claimed to care for you.” The elf came to the edge of the bed and touched her hand lightly. “He saw, too, how you never let that affect your joy. How you faced the crowds with humor, never letting them see you cry.”

Cindy released a sigh. Her shoulders relaxed, finally rid of her burden. “Well, Tobias, if I wake up, I’ll just have to play Santa on a smaller scale.” What was the use of being the richest girl in all the world if you couldn’t have a little fun with your money?

There were a few on her list that she had perfect ideas for.

The gift of knowledge to the husbands of her step-sisters.

The gift of divorce papers for the sisters.

The gift of a perpetual calendar for step-mummy. So she would know exactly how long she was incarcerated for.

 

A new magic wand for a certain fairy godmother named Ella.

And some breath mints for that prince, along with a map to the other princesses. Perhaps he’d have better luck with Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.

Cindy clapped her hands together happily. “Oh, it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas this year!”

 

I hope you enjoyed the story of the first woman Santa. Want some more great reads? Mocha Memoirs Press has some great ones out right now! The little froggie will bring you to the Season’s Reading Blog Hop, and there’s a contest link below, too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll be back a little later in the week with some great holiday reads from MMP!

 

© 2015 Wynelda Ann Deaver, All Rights Reserved.

America the Beautiful

So I went off Facebook on Thursday. Before I did, I wrote  a post letting people know that  I was turning it off for a while, and that my heart hurt.

It hurt a lot.

I was ashamed to be an American, that’s how much it hurt.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

(Note, from America, by Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version)

I wasn’t seeing a lot of good on Facebook. Or a lot of brotherhood. Well… except for people that are just like them. The Paris attacks, we had 24hour coverage of. And I understand that we hold a strong affection for Paris. It’s the city of dreams for many of us. We’ve either gone there, or dreamed of going there. What happened was horrific, and reminded many of 9/11…

But what about all the other tragedies that happened that day? November 13,2015 was a horrible, horrible day in world history. In simple human lives lost. And yet…. I’ve only seen 1 news outlet even touch the fact that only Paris received the heart rending support.

Then the hate began.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

(America, Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version.)

People seem to forget that we are “the melting pot”. That we are a nation built (or stolen) on immigration. Ask the Native American’s if the Pilgrims are the hero of their story– or the villain. We have a long history with immigration, and it’s not always pretty.

Why does history matter when we’re dealing with a different enemy? (I actually read this and almost cried at the stupidity). Well, history might not tell us a lot about the current enemy. But it sure shines a light on us. And it’s not the  flattering, Hollywood set lighting either. It is harsh and ugly.

The memes that I’m talking about are basically sheep bleating to keep the wolves away. Only, they’re not keeping out the wolves. If you want to see the numbers break down, then go and check out Scalzi’s post on it here  He says it much better and more concisely than I can.

So, basically, we’re screwing the families. Just like we did to the Jewish immigrants before we stepped into WWII. We turned them away, as did other countries. And their boat had to go back to Germany. We sentenced them to death. Make no mistake about it. Our fear, our sheep mentality, cost people their lives.

And people are ok with making that mistake again. Forget what lady liberty has inscribed:

“Inscription on the Statue of Liberty”

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Author: Emma Lazarus

Just take that and throw it out the window. What we claim to hold dear is not, after all, dear to us. We want to slam our doors to the huddled masses, to people who have left everything behind to try and flee to safety… and people are ok with letting them go back to an enemy we hate. We’re not only ok with it…

We’ll one up it.

Yes, it has been suggested that we keep a “database” on Syrian refugees. Really? Really? Do you want them to sew a gold star onto their clothes as well? Or tattoo a number on their arm? Or maybe we should incarcerate them upon entry into the US because of their ancestry, regardless of if they are innocent. Or Americans. The worst deeds done in recent human history, and some people are not only willing, but eager to repeat them.

Never mind what it says in America:

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

See that. Those ideals we hold so dear…. Talking about the military and MERCY.

MERCY.

MERCY.

Something that is sadly lacking on Facebook right now. And it’s not only the froth that’s coming out on their pages. It’s the bullying that goes on with it. If you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot. All liberals are flighty ditz balls who don’t like the military (to which I say bite me). Ban the Syrians! Let me keep my guns! Go away!

Give me a freaking break.

So I’m taking a break from Facebook. Because it broke my heart.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

(America, by Kathrine Lee Bates, 1914 version)

Hopefully, God will shine his grace on us. Even though we are so undeserving right now. We’ve thrown brotherhood right out the window, and a lot more of what we hold dear. Maybe if the news could just report the actual, you know, news… instead of a candidates views of it, things would get better.

Or you know. If people would get their faces out of Facebook, and actually put a book in their face. Or talked with people. Had an honest debate with no name calling…

Yah. Instead, I’ll be on Twitter. Or with my face in a book.