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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Inspiration, Vision, and the loss of grandparents

What will inspire you this morning? I know not. The picture above (filtered) was from an art installation shown in several cities, including one near me. Does it inspire you? From their website

"Rainbow City Shreveport is presented by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and will be on view from November 2 to December 8, 2019. RAINBOW CITY Shreveport will be a place to make new friends and entertain families during a six-week, fun-filled festival, as the people of Shreveport celebrate the grand opening of the City’s first urban greenspace—CADDO COMMON. CADDO COMMON, with its RAINBOW CITY, is located at 869 Texas Avenue in downtown Shreveport in the Shreveport Common Neighborhood. It is FREE and open to the public. Arts in Education Tours, with hands-on STEAM activities, begin Monday, November 4 and continue to Friday, December 6. Dynamic programming continues throughout the six-week festival and includes Walking Wednesdays, Food Truck Court lunches and suppers, Friday Night Dance Parties, Sunday Brunches, a Weekend Arts Market and special events"

The brilliance is amazing, the size and grandeur is impressive. Not what I would've done but I applaud the artists wholeheartedly. They certainly got my attention. Given the palate of an open outdoor space, what would you create? 

As far as writing goes, I have been working on how to develop characters through various methods including dialogue, setting and actions. Good friend Dave Owens prods me occasionally, which always helps, but productive moments are eluding me like they're related to Bigfoot.

I am also currently reading Vellichor, a dark fantasy novel about a 'special' book store. It's the latest release by author Dawn Napier. Good book so far; chapter two really grabbed me and drew me in! You can check out some of her other works here, though a word of warning: some of her fantasy/horror books cover touchy subjects, which ought not to surprise readers of said genres.

And for all you crazy people (including my wonderful wife) who have decided to participate in #NANOWRIMO this year. Good luck! I don't think I'll ever jump on that crazy train given the time of year it happens in, but maybe I'll do my own version over the summer sometime. 

On a more somber note, I recently lost my last two grandparents. As a writer, what do I say about them? Memories mostly. The way we laughed, cried, 'familied' together. The easier one to write about would be my grandfather. An army vet, he was one impetus to my military career as well as several other members of our family. Great man, unparalleled welder, excellent provider, great American Dream story, wonderful role model for any and all. A true Man. His smile could light up the room and his anger could cower any foe. I won't be able to hear the phrases "Como tall-ee voo" (how are you in French) and "How's the weather up there?" without thinking of him. He invariably said both at every meeting between us, which in hindsight now strikes me a little odd, considering I am not the tallest member of the family! My fondest memory of him? Him trying to pass on to me his love of fishing. It never stuck, but days by his side at Leg Lake and other places never fail to bring a warmth to my life.

My grandmother on the other hand, my Nana. Deep breath. Swallow. She would be the harder to write about. Especially without my eyes leaking. The superglue of family, she held it all together through every storm. Picture the actress Claudette Colbert, so close they could be twins. They even had the same color hair. 

Memories are probably the easiest way to write about my Nana. 


Yeah. I can hear her laugh and hear her yell in my mind, almost at the same time. She had much to be sad about and much to be happy about, and carried the emotional weight of both with poise and grace. I can picture the wave of her hand as she dismissed the worst things in the world as if by magic. "Holocaust?" *Wave of hand. "What do I know about such nonsense? Come and sit down, get you something to eat, you skinny child!"

Sitting at the table, waiting for food. You didn't ask what deliciousness was about to be served, you just sat down and enjoyed it. Usually while guarding your dish from air strikes by your uncle's silverware. 

"Mi Hijo!" Son. She had every right to call me her son, though nieto would be more accurate. She raised generations with love and care, including me. 

Opening one of the greatest Christmas presents ever when I was a teen. A book. Changed my life and still affects me to this day. Amazingly perceptive woman. 

Thanksgivings. Tamales. mouth-watering Turkey mole. Family dozens deep, crowded happiness more than can be described. And while this is the second holiday memory, and you could easily assume the most pleasant memories would be during those times, you would be wrong. Even the regular everyday moments were wonderful. There was just this joy in the house when she was there. I'm not sure how I will feel being there with her gone. Will I still feel her presence?

All My Children, General Hospital, One Life to Live. What happened today, Nana? Soaps, Little Rascals, Three Stooges (I can hear their theme song Three Blind Mice playing right now...). Wonderful wonderful memories beside her in front of that big ole TV that drew down to a spot in the middle of the screen when you turned it off. I can still her Dada's TV in the bedroom way down the hall too, turned all the way up so he could hear it. 

My fondest memory, the moment I wish I could go back to with all my heart? Driving her to work, at near midnight, up the streetlamp lit openness of a near-deserted La Brea Avenue. Eating breakfast burritos before digging into a night of returning a movie theater to pristine condition. Memories inside of memories of running down the aisles as a little child while the adults swept and vacuumed up popcorn and mopped the stickiness of spilled sodas. The feel of fresh sunshine as we finished for the night/day, her gossiping with friends, weary but filled with satisfaction at a job well done. Then heading back down the traffic of morning La Brea Boulevard toward big comfy home somewhere south of the Ten. Odd memory for some maybe, to be tear-filled and held so close to the heart, but then again, she was my Nana, as she was to so many others, and I will cherish my memories of our days together any damn way I want to. It's what she would have wanted.

I miss her. 
I miss her red hair. 
I miss the smile on her face. 
I miss her hugs, her love, and her caring about you no matter what you were up to. 

I blame my sister for today's writing. Thank you sis. Love you.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

NWLA Artists Directory, Pushcart Prize and a little Texas

A statue in the park next to the Historic Market Square
San Antonio, TX. Bird does not look impressed.

Howdy All!

Just came across an old post about the NorthWest Louisiana Artists Directory, so I hopped on over there and posted some more artwork. Shots from Las Vegas, Belgium and photos from around Louisiana were added to my artist profile. I need to place some more writing over there as well. Neat to see the different styles I prefer -macro, abstract, geometric. Been a year or so since I last wandered around the LA art site. Wish it were more active, or that my wife and I were more involved in the local artscene, or both! Who knows. Someday maybe. It's a great idea, a site to gather together creative types in the area. 

Also heard that Catherine Shields was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which recognizes the best literary works in the small presses. She is nominated for "My Phantom Ovaries" published in Ariel Chart. Intriguing title! You can read it here.

Another short piece of hers, "Blessed Curse" appeared just a couple of months ago as part of Dave's excellent series on how to Micro Write. You can read it here. Good luck, Catherine!

Picture up at the top of this entry was from a trip down to San Antonio. I didn't write down who the statue was of or what the statue was for. The bird resting on the end of the rifle is what caught my attention. He's not normally part of the statue! Got distracted after I took that picture because a helicopter was landing on the roof of the Children's hospital right next door. Had a lot of fun down there visiting relatives and taking a few pictures. Here's another, from inside the Historic Market Square...

May your days be long and good upon this earth.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pale Divers


Two posts in two days. That's what you get when I'm off work. I'm not really off-work, just off of my main tasking, too much energy to just sit around and enjoy the silence. But the upshot is you all get another peek behind the scenes as I post another work in progress. This is a longer story, looking for a home on the timeline for my world and more time for me to work it up into a full-fledged novel. Notes are mixed in with the text. 

Here's a shaman, telling the story of the Pale Divers, who stole Secrets and Power from the sea...  This is a tale of High Fantasy, and will make a nice addition to my others tales of the world as it merges and diverges with other worlds...

The Pale Divers

The family lives along the blustery, granite coast of one of the islands between the Old Country and the New World.

For generations they have tapped a hidden source of ancient power that makes them incredibly strong, healthy and long-lived. 

Centuries earlier, the founder of the family line, a sailor named Tamnir, was shipwrecked and investigated this strange coastline. After years of exploring the area and its shape-shifting ways, he stumbled upon a glowing, undulating underwater cavern, at times huge, at times small, at all times maddening. The water would churn and grow opaque as silt and rock broke loose and mixed with the water. The shifting of water, land and space in this area cause many problems, earthquakes, destructive waves and hurricane winds. Ferocious beasts tore up and down the waterways of the coastline, tracking a subtle scent of prey.

When the water cleared, Tamnir saw that the underwater cavern was lit by glowing pearlescent orbs lining every surface. The orbs were large, the size of a crouching man. Each one pulsed with a living light, soft and throbbing, that sequenced together with the other orbs in the cavern. The lightshow was enchanting.

What were they, Tamnir wondered. Ancient treasures? A hidden cache of magic from a lost empire?

The orbs are full of warm, nurturing power. Shortly after finding the cavern, Tamnir was rescued from the dangerous island. He returned several years later to further investigate the curious cavern.

The next few generations of divers learned how to harness the power of the orbs and survived through the appearance of several gigantic creatures. Tamnir’s grandson was the first to connect the large hard-shelled creatures as the source of the glowing orbs. They were eggs! The orbs of power were the unborn offspring of a race of realm-spanning, snail-like ‘sea’ creatures, sort of magical, gigantic abalones. The creatures have a muscular underbelly and a hard, mother-of-pearl shell protecting them. The cavern was a safe harbor for the creature’s eggs. The gigantic snail creatures ate spatial growths and creatures that survive along the edges of existences. They are in turn occasionally eaten by huge furred, otter-like creatures and shelled spatial horrors with claws. The adult snail creatures mindlessly drop their eggs and sperm in the cavern as they blindly crawl and swim through.

Planned voyages to the Old Country and shipwrecks brought in more ‘family’ members.

Once an egg has been fertilized and matured, the creatures break away from the rock and grow a nacre shell. Some of the family felt protective of the young, but the desire for the power contained in the orbs was too strong. 

The adults’ shell material was also useful for making protective armors and mirrors to peer into other worlds. The adult creatures use their powerful muscles to cling onto rock formations. They also anchor themselves in space-time as well, a power useful as the realms move about.

The family used the power of the eggs and the nacre shells of the adults. The shells make excellent armor, proof against creatures that break through planar barriers. Enchanted necklaces made from the shells prevented the wearer from crossing planar boundaries. In essence, it stuck the wearer on the current plane.

I hope to devote a lot more time to this story. Knowing me though, I'll probably place this one to the side as I work on other snippets laying around.

To end on a funny note, here is another picture: 

 FYI: I don't drink coffee. :) But if I did, it would look 'perfect'

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Book of Shells, Take II


Starting writing again tonight. I haven't written much in the last few months since my normal day job started up again. Felt good to get back in the writing saddle. Below is some of what went on tonight. Another take on a story scrap I jotted down a few years ago, called The Book of Shells. Enjoy. If you want to see how the story has evolved, you can read the original post here

The Book of Shells

The noon air was warm and misty, filled with the sounds of gulls and the waves crashing on the cliffs nearby. Would be a postcard moment if not for the body waiting for him in the shack below. The detective ducked under the police tape and pounded down the rickety wooden stairs. Didn’t take long to reach the sandy bottom of the nearly hidden beach cove. Victim had this secluded spot all to himself. Cables strung along the stairway provided phone and electricity from the road above.

The detective opened the door and entered the sparse quarters. Guy lived a simple life. Small main room held a rattan chair and a coffee table. No pictures, no rug, no personal items anywhere. He stepped over the limbless outline, decades of cop superstition and Roman Catholic upbringing making him wary of disturbing the victim’s final resting place without cause. Bathroom sink held the usual toiletries, a dozen economy-size bottles of mouthwash, a gallon jug labeled Syrup of Ipecac, and a pyramid of toilet paper rolls. Interesting. He made a mental note to check on the plumbing. On the night stand in the bedroom was a long book, spiraled on the left side with brass loops, the kind that can be opened and closed. The book was wider than tall, reminding him of the shape of an old-fashioned ledger. “The Book of Shells” was written in neat black marker on the front, surrounded by strips of burlap. Scrap-booky but not in a bad way.

He reached out with the end of his pen and flipped the cover. Cover and title looked and sounded innocent enough, maybe a memoir of long walks on the beach and the treasures found there. The inside pages were gone, torn out.

That's all for now.

Two pictures for today. One is a message everyone should take to heart: 

This one is a science funny. FYI, ants have an acid called oleic acid that they emit when dead. If you put that acid on an ant that is alive, other ants will carry him away and the ant itself will not resist, because to all ants, including himself, he 'smells' dead. Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

What Will My Influence Writing Today?


I never know when the muse will strike, when something in my day to day will transfer to my writing. I can't tell you of all the weird and wonderful things that happen in my day to day job, but those experiences must carry over somehow to the fictitious stories I try to sell. I don't know how the events of Rowling's mundane days infused her mythic tales of Harry, but they must have tainted her tea, so to speak. 

I guess that is the best way to look at it. I must sift through what I experience, pick out the tastiest and most flavorful moments, tie them together in a bag of thought and time, and drop them in the hot water of an afternoon's writing session. The moment someone's phone went off in a middle of a lesson, twice, causing the n-word to be sung liberally over and over again as the student sort of, not really, quickly tried to get his cracked screen to respond to his commands and shut off the insipid noise. The maddening sight of scores of blurry pictures turned in from the yearbook staff at the end of a wonderful pep rally filled with precious and perfect yearbook moments that will now never see the light of day. The look of utter happy embarrassment on several faces as a goofy, somehow in-focus photo from the aforementioned pep rally was displayed onscreen for all to see. Heated discussions of Trump, people who identify as a different race and the ramifications thereof, and why did slaves allow slavery to happen. Who knows how those moments will end up? 

Pic for today is a scene down a long building, eerily lit at regular intervals. Not Halloween yet, but a hint of it floats through the air...

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Motivations & Musings


The first week of my regular job is done! Finished! In the books! Next extended break is Christmas. Geesh that's a long ways off!

Work on writing has obviously slowed to a crawl but should pick back up after a bit of getting back into the pattern of my regular job. My regular job has a definite sequence to it, with well-defined (though meager) lulls and many busy periods. I still have many incomplete writing projects, some big, some little. No new ones lately, which is good. I don't need any more story ideas for now! 

But as an author, my mind is always going. Today, for some reason, I thought that perhaps my grandchildren will ask why so many people wore glasses back in the day. Will laser eye repair be so common that glasses fall by the wayside and become anachronistic? I already feel old. 

Next major goal is to continue to put out quality stories, build up an inventory, pausing to do some marketing every once in a while, but not until I have several more products to market. For a behind the scenes peak at my future marketing plan, I am going to offer a free story at the end of stories available for purchase, in exchange for signing up for a newsletter promoting new stories. This is a marketing technique known as 'magnet readers'. If you are already interested in future releases from me, go ahead and comment on this post. I will be getting a business email address in the future to handle correspondence. No need to clutter my regular inbox.

Pic for today is a filtered photo of a wall sconce at a nearby Hilton hotel. I'm really enjoying the Comic Book filter on my iPad. Hopefully knowing it's a hotel light doesn't ruin the image for you. I might spend some time and clean it up with GIMP and make it into a short story cover for the light and darkness frontier stories I'm working on. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019


04 AUG 2019

No writing-flavored post today. Shootings, multiple shootings, have got me thinking instead of writing. Our country has some growing up to do. Somehow, someway, we need to figure this out.

We can't get rid of the Second Amendment. It's part of our soul. But we can't keep going on like this. 

To my science teacher brain, these shooters remind me of cancer. 

Cancer, at its simplest, no matter what the root cause, is uncontrolled cell growth. Our bodies need cell growth, just like families and countries need to grow, but we can't have uncontrolled growth. It's not healthy. These shooters are trying to grow, to increase their ideologies, their reach, their power, etc., but in ways that are unhealthy and deleterious to America. 

In our bodies we have portions of our immune system that watch out for rogue cells. Every day our body fixes itself, policing our organs and tissues, destroying cells that are pre-cancerous. In America, we have societal norms that, for the most part, control killer urges in our citizens. 

Sometimes our bodies need help getting rid of aggressive cancers that overwhelm or otherwise bypass our immune system. We use HIV/AIDS medicines and immuno-therapy techniques to do that, just like our police and security forces take out these shooters that attack and kill their fellow citizens. 

America has its roots in 'growth'. We left our prior lands so we could enjoy the freedoms we hold dear. 

George Washington, one of our original bad asses.

But by following these desires, we've created a country that is fertile ground for these killings. Sort of like someone eating the foods they enjoy, but these foods increase their cancer risk. What are we to do? Change our 'diet'? In other words, we, as America, need to do something to lower the odds of a citizen becoming a killer. We need to change our societal norms so that these citizens don't decide to kill but instead they decide to prosper and grow in healthy ways. 

Much to ponder... 

My best shot at this dilemma? We need to instill in Americans an increased value for life. Somehow. Tighten societal norms so that Americans will not resort to shooting sprees. Sure, maybe close some loopholes in existing laws, try harder to keep weapons out of the hands of lunatics, but these are treating the how people kill, not the why. How do we stop people from wanting to go on a shooting spree. Why do these people kill?

Pics today are my final thoughts on this topic. I would much rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war. We must be able to protect ourselves, but without descending into the madness of shooting sprees.

May your days be good and long upon this Earth.