Monday, January 27, 2014

Snowpocalypse! Or, A Funny Thing Happened at the Grocery Store...

Hello, gentle readers!
Well, this week's been one for the books hasn't it? With half the U.S. freezing and/or digging out of snow, another polar vortex is heading our way bringing even more cold and freezing weather. And this time, ladies and gentlemen, it's personal.  Because, this time, I may get snow.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not a fan of snow.  I lived in the Great State of Alaska for fifteen years and have had more then my fill of the white stuff.  Once, after a blizzard, I waded through waste high snow to get to work.
So, when I returned to my ancestral lands, in the Southeast U.S. of A., I thought I'd seen the last of snow anywhere except the television.  Alas, it seems I'm about to experience snow anew.
The weather reports say that we could get as much as eight inches of the stuff tomorrow.  For those of you tuning in from Russia (Hello, lovely Russians!) or Northern Europe (Hello, lovely Europeans!), eight inches of snow is nothing.  It is the meteorological equivalent of a silent fart. 
Alas, I live in the South, where, if so much as a single flake of snow strikes the ground, people fly into a panic.  There are runs on the supermarkets for the Holy Trinity of Snow Supplies: Toilet Paper, Bread, Milk.
Since I am living among my southern brethren once again, and anticipating that tomorrow's commute might be problematic, I decided to get a jump on the mobs and go to the grocery store today.
I intended, dear reader, to buy a few microwave dinners. Maybe some extra soda and a can or two of ravioli. (Yes, canned ravioli. My apologies to my Italian readers.) Just enough stuff to fill the basket I always pick up at the door.
Unfortunately, they were out of baskets so I decided to grab a shopping cart.
Huge. Mistake.
I was just going to use the toddler seat of the cart, I swear to God, but things sort of got out of hand.
To make a long story short, lovely readers, I filled the shopping cart.
I bought things that I never normally buy. A loaf of bread? Milk? Cereal?
I think I can blame the bread and milk on innate Southern genetics which seem to become dominant during snow-related events.  But generic Pop Tarts? A big container of pimento spread? String cheese?
By the time I walked out to my car, pushing a bag filled cart, my hands were shaking.
What had I done?
What had I become?
Turning, I saw a pair of women, bundled up in quilted jackets and snow pants, hurrying toward the store.  It's sixty five degrees right now and these ladies were bundled up as if they were about to go skiing.
And I realized, in one of those sudden bursts of clarity that we all sometimes get, that in about five more years, I would be just like them.
Immediately, I went right back into the store and bought a four pack of wine coolers, then came home to write all this down.
And as I sit here, reflecting on the ridiculousness of the situation, I cannot help but think: Should I go buy extra toilet paper? Should I?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mercy Killings

Hello, gentle readers.

As I write this, I am wondering if I have made a huge mistake.

Not five minutes ago, I deleted two stories. One, I had just started. The other, I started last year. Yes, one was the sequel to Dawnwind: Last Man Standing.

At 30,000 words, that story was dead in the water.

I think it’s time I fessed up to that and accepted the fact that it was never going to progress as it was written.

The second story was a sequel to The Marvelous Land of Ap, and was deleted because, to be honest, I couldn’t make up my mind where to go with the damned story.

I know, I know. I can hear the critics now:

"Why don’t you ever plot your stories out? You might not have so much trouble if you did that. Aren’t you a professional? You should know this."
To which I respond with a firmly raised middle finger and the words, "Piss off, you little shit. You think it’s easy writing a decent story? Fine! You do it! You sit down every day for a year and slave to write something that’s good, according to an outline set in stone and see just how long you stick to it. You don’t get to make any changes because you’ve written an outline and that means its perfect and there can be no changes even if you get an idea for a better ending or a change in character that you feel would make the story so much better. Oh no, sweety. Just stick to your outline, keep doing the literary equivalent of Paint-By-Numbers and call me when they haul your ass off to the loony bin, because I want to point and laugh."

Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, I went off on a bit of a rant there, didn’t I?

I’m not happy about deleting my work, but I think it was a necessary thing. Neither story was progressing. They were just sort of there, taking up space on my hard drive. I had started to actually loathe opening my files and seeing the Dawnwind sequel just sitting there.

So, these were not executions. These were mercy killings.

For my sake, if not the stories.

And for the sake of the readers who would have been subjected to that crap.

We’re starting fresh, going back to square one.

So, what’s next?

New beginnings.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fic: Snow

On the screen, snow fell. Fat white flakes drifted down from a slate gray sky to carpet the world in white. It was a pretty scene, as familiar to Jessica as Santa Clause, and just as real.

She turned away from the screen, to glance out her front window. Through the gauzy curtains she could see her front yard. It was a vast expanse of sand, raked into zen-like patterns, adorned with ornamental stones here and there.

When Jessica was very young, there had been trees and grass. No more. The trees - tall, slim pines - had been infested by some kind of beetle. They had been cut down and hauled away. The grass had simply withered and died due to drought and heat.

There won’t be any white Christmases here, thought Jessica. It was late December and the temperature was almost eighty degrees.

The only place she saw snow these days was on the television. During the holiday season, one of the channels ran the Snowfall video on an endless loop. It had become more popular than the fireplace video in recent decades, mostly among older viewers, nostalgic for the world that had been.

Like me, thought Jessica, wearily.

She sighed and reached for the remote, shut off the television. Sitting in her silent living room, Jessica stared out the window, at the arid landscape beyond the glass, and dreamed of snow.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Happy New Year, gentle readers!
I hope you've all had a fine holiday season and that your new year has been nice so far.
Mine has been smashing.
Because I've already accomplished my New Year's resolution which was to eat cake.
Yes, you read that correctly. My New Year's resolution was to eat cake.
Which I did.
Pineapple upside down cake to be precise.
I ate it with great pleasure and a strong sense of satisfaction that I had, once again, completed another New Year's resolution.
Once upon a time, however, I made foolish resolutions. Lose weight. Watch my spending. Try not to get irritated with people.
These all tended to last about a day before I would say, 'To hell with it!' and generally feel bad about failing.
Then, one year, I decided to make more sensible resolutions. Wash the dishes in the sink. Replace the toilet roll.  Get the car washed in Spring.
You know, sensible resolutions.  One-offs, if you will.
They may not be grande resolutions, but they're still resolutions and I feel a small flash of satisfaction whenever I accomplish one.
Of course, the easiest thing to do is not to make resolutions at all.  But that strikes me as somewhat lazy.  Granted, a resolution to 'Eat cake.' may not require a lot of fortitude or effort, but it's the thought that counts. Right? Right!
So I have started 2014 on a high note.  I ate cake.
What next?
Well, wait and see. :)