Friday, 31 October 2014

A Halloween Treat: a short story to amuse


A rhythmic thudding echoed through the tree trunks, bouncing off the leafy canopy. Crouched at the base of a tree, the woman froze, her hand almost touching a mushroom hiding in the thick leaf mulch. Terror held her rigid for a long moment before she leaped to her feet and ran, bare feet noiseless on the hard-packed dirt. She zigged through the green-laced shadows, harried by the sound. 

She had only one chance for escape. She ran faster, breath rasping in her throat. A sharp branch tore at her scalp. The stinging told her she’d left hair behind.

Gasping, she slowed down. Think! Think this through! Just because it’s close by doesn’t mean you’re caught. Be quiet and it’ll lose you.

She needed to calm her breathing, calm her heart-rate. The metronome of a quiet heart never caught its attention but galloping heart beats could. No-one knew how it heard a single heartbeat  but it did.
One, two, three, in. One, two, three, out. Her heart slowed and thumped away quietly now, hopefully invisible to the hunter searching for prey.

A flicker of motion to her left. She remained still, only her eyes betrayed her, leaping from shadow to shadow.


She closed her eyes. If it got her, she didn’t want to see.

A melodic whistling sounded nearby. A catchy tune. Ba-da-da-dum. Ba-da-da-dum.

She pressed her lips tighter together, resisting the urge to hum along. It would hear that for sure, it was so close.

Thump, ba-da-da-bum. Thump, ba-da-da-dum. Thump.

It was right in front of her. She could feel its rancids breath on her flushed face. It was too late. A high-pitched singing joined the drumming and the whistles. Then a single, plucked note vibrated, adding to the song.

Her foot began to tap. She fought to regain control—it was her foot, dammit!— but it jerked up and down, keeping rhythm with the drum beat pounding through her body.

She was caught. A tear trickled down her cheek. She’d never see her family again. Their faces flickered behind her closed eyelids, Mother, Father, her sister, her friends. She would be lost to them forever.

But she could face it bravely. If she were done for, there was only one thing left to do. Curiousity compelled her to it. She’d heard such terrible tales of them over the years; horrid stories of the desiccated bodies they left behind, all the life sucked out, only a husk left. She had to see what these terrible monsters looked like. 

She opened her eyes, just a crack. Smooth pink skin. Round and glistening slightly. It loomed in front of her, an eyeless tube. Its gaping mouth was lined with rows of tiny white teeth.

Aghast, she realized she was humming along with its contagious song. Caught in its trap, she felt the life leaving her body, felt her skin crinkling, her very brain being devoured by the monster’s deadly song. 

Held by its eyeless stare, she swayed back and forth to the beat, mesmerized by the dreaded Ear Worm’s melody.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Writerly Questions

A friend and fellow writer tagged me in a blog hop so that I can answer the following questions:

  1. What is one thing you've learned about writing that you wish you knew when you started?
  2. If you could go back in time to witness one particular historical event (knowing that your presence wouldn't alter the timeline), what would you choose?
  3. If you could delete 3 words from the English language, what would they be?
  4. What is one piece of writing advice that you think is really overrated? Why?
1. I really wish I'd known the value of talking with other writers when I first started. They've encouraged me, taught me so many things, and kept me going when I wanted to give up. I'd have joined a writer's group much earlier.

2. Some of the things I'd like to see if I was companion on the TARDIS: taking a voyage with Capt Janeway, visiting the Burrows, watching the Doctor defeat the Silence... wait, you meant non-fiction historical events? I'd rather travel in fictional lands but if it has to be non-fiction, then biblical events would definitely be top of my list, or maybe First Contact, whenever that is.

3. I wouldn't get rid of any words. I may not like their meanings but we still need the words themselves to describe the ideas. I'd rather get rid of the NEED for misogynistic, racist or otherwise insulting words.

4. The most overrated writing advice: "write what you know." If everyone wrote only what they knew, we would never learn anything. That being said, I can certainly write with greater authority when I know my subject very well.

Thanks for tagging me, Christina!

Saturday, 14 June 2014


The past couple of years, I've been making a big effort to be professional about my writing. Dreaming is lovely but persistence is far more effective. I've been writing for a very long time but if I hadn't started sending stuff out in 2011, I wouldn't have had my few pieces published--a  big thrill whether they are considered professional sales or not. I'm piling up the rejection letters but it's the acceptance letters I reread when I need a lift. (Actually, I reread the personal rejections too, I've gotten awesome feedback from some very generous people!)

Being professional doesn't just mean increasing the hours I spend writing. It means meeting people. I went to my first writers' convention this year (yay Ad Astra!) but mostly its been online. Twitter and Facebook are part of the digital playground where writers, editors, agents, and publishers interact. And I've been reading dozens of articles on how to edit, submit, write a query letter or a synopsis or a grant application. I sometimes feel like Alice falling through the rabbit-hole, there is so MUCH to learn.

The first thing I learned, the thing that amazes me over and over again, is how friendly, open and helpful everyone is! Whenever I have a question, someone is more than willing to share their industry knowledge with a middle-aged newbie. I've seen total strangers cheer each other on, give e-hugs of commiseration, applaud others' successes. There's an occasional sour spot--the battles for equality and diversity are still raging, I've put my two cents in a couple of times but the overwhelming sense I have is that the literary community is inclusive and welcoming. That's a relief, because I plan to spend a lot of time here.

Sometimes I wish I started earlier, like in my 30s or even 40s. I heard about a man, Harry Bernstein, whose book "The Invisible Wall" was written at age 93 and published at age 98. He said, "My 90s were the most productive years of my life."

I've still got a few years left ahead of me.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Ad Astra 2014

I survived my first writer's convention!

Ad Astra's been running for a few years but I've never been able to convince myself to go (not to this one nor any of the others I keep reading about)... because you know, they're for 'real' writers.

But with 3 short stories published, I can't deny it: I am a real writer. And after hanging out with other scribes for most of the weekend, I also know I'm just as conflicted, guilt-ridden and doubtful of my ability as any other writer out there.
Linda Poitevin,author of Sins of the Angels
 So... I went.
I had a blast! Met a great group of writers and fans of all ages and stages, pubbed and unpubbed, old pro and newbie, novelists and poets, cosplayers and panelists. As a new friend and member of my critique group said recently, "I have found my people."
And they're wonderful.
One of the Dalek conventioners
I attended a few panels, listened to some amazing readings, chatted at parties, and wandered through the dealer room buying books. I exchanged pleasantries with a few of my favourite authors and met a few more who instantly catapulted to the top of my TBR list. I was awed by the depth and breadth of talent in one convention center. And by how friendly and welcoming everyone was.

The only fly in my particular jam jar was heading home a day early because my whiplashed neck and arthritic back couldn't quite keep up with my desire to stay.  Next year.  Oh yeah, I am definitely doing this again.

Some of my loot...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Have you seen the movie Unbreakable?

Samuel L. Jackson plays a guy who has brittle bone disease. His bones break at the slightest provocation. Just being born would have broken most bones. Naturally his character grows up stunted, not physically but emotionally. Because he can't do all the things that other people do.

I'm feeling a lot like that guy today. Breakable.

This week I went to the chiropractor and we talked about my recent neck x-rays. I fell on the icy sidewalk on Valentine's day and gave myself whiplash--it still hurts almost 6 weeks later. Being cautious, my chiropractor wouldn't do an adjustment until after an x-ray proved I hadn't cracked anything.  Fortunately, I hadn't. But it shows narrowed discs and bone spurs, evidence of degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis.

This isn't entirely surprising, three years ago I had disc replacement surgery in my lower back for those very reasons. But the cervical area is different than the lower back. It's not so easy to fix, not so easy to prevent the damage from worsening. I already have tingling in my hands, neck stiffness and pain. And I'm barely in my 50s--how much worse is it going to get? How much longer will I still feel my hands enough to type? Another 10 years? Maybe 20 if I'm lucky?

I'm a writer. If I'm going to finish all the stories I want to tell, I'd better get going on them.

And start looking into voice recognition software.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Sitting at my kitchen table.
Working hard, focused.
Mind filled with words- rebuilt sentences, restructured story.
Suddenly a sound intrudes.
Familiar, yet not heard for so long that it is new again.
High-pitched and musical,
A long moment to identify the source.
Birds. Tweeting, chirping in my backyard!
Perhaps spring will return after all.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Knitting Excuses: Part 2

Well, here I am again and it wasn't a month between blogs! Aren't you impressed? I know I am. ;)

I've promised friends and family that I would post pictures of the first sweater I knit so here goes...

Oh wait, that's not the first one!  This is my second sweater. I finished it and added a few extra details (the red edging) to really make it my own.

And now that you can see I know how to follow a pattern and be successful... now I will show you what happens if you don't follow a pattern when you don't know what you're doing.

I can hear you saying "That doesn't look so bad!".  Yes, it does look good, doesn't it? Shall we see what it looks like on the body it was intended for?

Just a touch too big, eh?

I haven't decided what to do with it yet. I haven't the heart to just take it apart.  Maybe I can turn it into a blanket...

But in the meantime, my hubby wants a vest, my daughter wants a purple sweater and my son is undecided.

And my writer's group needs a piece to critique so I'd better put down my needles and get writing!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Excuses... excuses!!!

I started my blog with such good intentions. I treated it like a kind of New Year's resolution, planning to work on it daily. Well, weekly at the least. Okay, monthly, yes, I can do monthly.  Maybe bi-monthly would work better? Quarterly? Yearly?

I have figured out that if I don't have an actual deadline, I just don't get around to it! Everything jumps the blog in my to-do-queue.

Especially knitting.

So today I will show you all the stuff I've made since I taught my daughter to knit this summer. Yes, I might have gotten slightly carried away.  Most of my family got a scarf this year. A small sampling of the nicest ones:
 The scarf that started it all!
My first infinity scarf & matching hat, made for my niece, modeled by my daughter.

My only foray into sports-themed apparel!
Another infinity scarf with matching hat
This is my favourite infinity scarf, I almost kept it for myself!
Hogwarts finery for my kids (Gryffindor & Ravenclaw)
Learning how to knit cables, it turned into a gorgeous scarf!
An experiment that may never get finished. Most of my earlier
scarves took 1 to 3 days. THIS is 3 days worth of my invented pattern!
It's the most labour-intensive thing I've ever done.

Now I've graduated to creating sweaters.  But considering the debacle that my first sweater was, it would take a blog of its own. So I'll leave something for next time. See you next week. 
Or maybe next month. ;)