Catapult

rainy

via Daily Prompt: Catapult

The relentless drizzle had been going on for so long that his skin was actually sore.

“Impossible,” he thought. But that didn’t change facts.

William slogged back to the pile of stones and wrestled another free. The soupy clay sucked at his boots, and he slipped and slid before catching himself and heaving the jagged rock into the bucket of the catapult.

“Enough is enough,” he muttered. He brushed a hand across his face, clearing rainwater only to replace it with a thick smear of mud.

Huffing out a breath, he bent to the release rope and gave it a savage yank. The catapult arm sprang upward and cracked against the crossbar, rocking the entire engine as the missile sailed off to who knew where. William hadn’t bothered to readjust it since the last time the commander had passed through. That had been—

“Dreck!” Wilhelm cursed. He bent to the task of cranking the arm back into place, hoping the commander would ride past. Keeping his head down and his back turned, he stomped and slid back to the mound of ammunition, but the horse had stopped, and William heard the squelch of his commander’s boots as the man jumped down into the mud.

“Soldier! Have you even looked at your trajectory in the last hour? What do you think you’re doing?”

Wilhelm didn’t turn, but the shouting was getting closer. He made a face, then straightened.

“Sir!” he said, spinning briskly about. “Porter was called to Hopkins’s engine several hours ago. I haven’t been able to make the proper corrections. Could you just lean across the bucket and hold this lever for me while I dial the range back in?”

The commander stopped, put off his game by William’s calm response to his blustering.

“Oh, erm. . .” The man leaned across the bucket and took hold of the lever as requested. William saluted smartly, then yanked the release rope. And that was when his commander went ballistic.

 

 

Voices

car

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Word Count: 100

“No one else in the car,” the officer told his partner. He bent back to her window. “Sure you’re all right?” He peered into her eyes, a slight crease between his brows.

“Fine. Thanks.” She clasped trembling hands together, stilling their shaking.

“All right. Maybe get some rest,” he said.

She nodded, swallowed. She wanted to jump out, to bolt to the safety of the squad car, but what would she tell them?

“Drive safely,” he said in parting.

She turned desperate eyes to the passenger seat. Teeth flashing sharp in the darkness, the demon laughed. “They’d have you committed.”

# # #

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for another fun Friday Fictioneers prompt! Stories must be exactly 100 words. Come and play!

Grabbing the Ring

via Daily Prompt: Pursue

When I was a kid, I knew I was destined for great things. I was probably going to be an astronaut, but also an undersea explorer, famous actress, artist, dancer, martial artist, composer (working with John Williams, no less), and of course an author. How was this going to happen? Serendipity! Somehow, people in places to haul me up the ladder of success were going to stumble upon my work (never mind that there was no physically possible way for this to happen!) and be moved to tears by my greatness.

Now, enthusiasm and believing in yourself are undeniably important variables in the equation for success, but in the end, it mostly comes down to plenty of hard work. In the writing world, this means doing things that aren’t really fun for me: researching publishers and agents, and writing and sending out tons of query and cover letters. There are fun things, too, though, like the various internet and Twitter challenges that are becoming popular. Personally, I’m really looking forward to Query Kombat, #SFFpit, and #PitMad.

I suppose it’s possible that a freak accident might cause the brass ring to eject itself into your lap, but you have a much higher chance of getting it if you reach out and grab it. Don’t just dream, and don’t simply follow those dreams; pursue them!

 

Time and Tide

Please excuse my temporary silence. I started this journey as undisputed captain of my blogging ship, but when I put in to shore to see the sights, it floated back out to sea without me. It took some swimming against the tide, but I’m back at the helm now.

Since I’m already on the subject of digression, today’s post is a swerve from the norm as well. Lately, the whole thing about being “in the moment” has been clicking more with me. It can be hard, in the digital age, to be fully present and consciously aware of what is happening *right now.* When your attention is divided between several things at once, and you’re simultaneously planning, anitcipating, and executing tasks and communications, it’s impossible to experience presentness.

As I become more aware of this, the reminder to be present is beginning to occur to me on a daily basis—usually when I’m doing something “unfun”—and when I’m able to contain the maelstrom of thoughts that wants to  constantly spin outward, and direct my awareness and senses to just that very moment, just what surrounds me exactly then, it’s a profound feeling.

How often we take for granted what we see, hear, touch, and smell. I believe we’re probably more aware of taste than the other things, because we plan for meals and prepare, or at least choose them. But how easy it is to ignore the way the light falls on the side of the desk, the sounds of birdsong, or traffic, or voices, and the smell of jasmine tea and laundry softener. This morning as I was getting gas I practiced some presentness. Rather than champing at the bit while waiting impatiently for the tank to fill (as is my wont), I paused. I felt the simultaneous touch of cold air and warm sunlight on my neck. I smelled gasoline, exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and fresh grass as the gas gurgled into my tank and cars swished past. I felt the smooth metal sides and jagged teeth of the keys in my pocket as my eyes wandered to a crabapple tree at the roadside,  plump pink buds bright against soft-needled pines. I noticed dust on the gas pump’s digital display as the black numbers spun past, smelled the sun on the crumbling asphalt at my feet. All these things took a fleeting forever, and then the pump snapped off and my tank was full. Time flows strangely when you’re in the now. Temporary and enduring become so easy to confuse.

 

 

Just Write

This follows on the heels of my Procrastination post for a reason. Sometimes you need to write, or you know you need to, but you just can’t get started. (Hence the procrastination.) I think we’ve all been there at some point or another. When that happens, the key is to just write. What comes out doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it shouldn’t be. If you’re taking the time to craft flawlessly exquisite sentences on your first draft, you’re holding yourself back. Let everything flow, and yes, you can let all the nonsensical stuff out too. You can sort it out later, and you might just find some of those silly things worming their way into your work in a more serious capacity on the rewrite.

For the most part, just sitting there (AIS!) letting whatever happens in your brain flow out onto the paper will get you started. It’s a bit like stretching before you exercise: once you’re limbered up, things get easier. However, if you’re well and truly stuck with whatever you’re working on, you might switch to simply writing a short poem, or dashing off a flash fiction. Of course looking at photos or writing prompts might inspire you as well. I find “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg very inspiring. But caveat lector! It’s all too easy to let the inspiration hunt turn into procrastination. Almost without exception, if you simply sit there and make yourself start, you’ll find that you can keep going. You can reward yourself later with those inspirational goodies. 🙂

 

Procrastination

Procrastination is a sneaky bugger, often trying to disguise itself as “usefulness.” Maybe you’re sitting down to write, and you think, “oh, a picture of a setting like this will really get the creative juices flowing!” Or perhaps your mind tells you that NOW is the time to mop the floor (even if you somehow haven’t mopped in weeks, because isn’t that all the more reason to do so?) Hours later, you’ve bunnytrailed from scenery pics to weird news articles, to bizarre dictionary definitions; or your floor is sparkling and you’ve moved on to vacuuming everything—even the cold air returns and the corners of the ceiling. And although you were sure you’d be focusing on your plot while you scrubbed, really you ended up pondering possible new cleaning product scents and daydreaming about what they could be called.

When I met Douglas Adams, he said that his procrastinating sometimes took the form of “getting acquainted with the furry things in the back of the fridge.” I, too, have felt the call to unburden my fridge (often to learn with dismay that the few things left in my shining fortress of frostiness were technically condiments.) But I digress.

One of the best ways to combat procrastination is to practice AIS, or Ass in Seat. Seriously, getting your butt in the chair is half the battle. The next step is to open your writing program and NOT that amazing portal to the fantasy realm the internet. As Mary Heaton Vorse told Sinclair Lewis, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

That said, I’m off to bulk up my word count. Let me just grab a glass of water first. . .

 

 

A Change of Scene

My blog has been dormant this last week while I was visiting my mom. It was a mixed blessing having no internet there. On the one hand, I’d have liked to keep the flow going here on my blog, but on the other, it was wonderful having uninterrupted time with my mom.

I did take a laptop with me, and while I didn’t use it at my mom’s house, I did use it on the train rides on the way there and back to work on my middle grades novel, Golem! Boy, did I get a lot of writing in! 🙂

It occurred to me yesterday, as the words were flowing oh so freely, how much a change of scenery can help the writing process. It may not always be the answer for unblocking your writing chakras, but sometimes it’s just the ticket! Get it? Ticket. Because. . . trains. OK, sorry. I’ll go now.