14 April 2010


A school paper from last semester...

Frost and Snow Fall, Mingled with Hail

Ubi sunt? Where are they now? Winter becomes a personification of Death; falling snow as an emblem of loneliness. A snow covered, wind-battered wall as a picture of man’s infinite sorrow. And yet, in the distance, the light of hope in heaven is pinpointed on the horizon, and the wise man sits “apart in private meditation” (Greenblatt 113). These are some of the stronger themes and motifs in The Wanderer, a poem of lament from pre-tenth century England, enriched, as is characteristic of poetry of the time, with beautiful and creative kennings, a formula of descriptive words used to stand in for a noun. The elegiac poems of Old English literature shared much in common while still displaying a certain individuality, laying the groundwork and using many of the same themes and ideas as later writers such as “Donne, Arnold, Tennyson, and Milton” (Greenfield 2). In turn, Greenfield conjectures that the De Consolatione Philosophiae, written by an imprisoned Christian awaiting his execution might have influenced the authors of Beowulf and The Wanderer (34). The Wanderer and another elegiac poem The Seafarer “were, in earlier criticism, disintegrated into pagan and Christian strata” but now are both “viewed as unified structures and the product of the cloisters” (Greenfield 217).

The theme of Ubi sunt pervades such poems as The Wanderer; mournful cries of “‘where has the horse gone? Where the young warrior?’” echoing throughout (Greenblatt 113). Traces of the lament can even be found in Beowulf, which has sometimes been described as an epic, although in his essay The Monsters and the Critics Tolkien declares that “no terms borrowed from Greek or other literatures exactly fit” and rather describes it as “an heroic-elegiac poem; and in a sense all its first 3, 136 lines are the prelude to a dirge … one of the most moving ever written” (31). With such a powerful emotional pull being even stronger in The Wanderer, it is hard to believe any other ideas could have room to breath, and yet the entire poem is full of vivid imagery that stand in good harmony with each other and with Ubi sunt. The first part of the poem shows the unnamed protagonist as a broken, weary soul who longs for close companionship and family to unburden his sorrows on, mourning, “often before day dawned I have had to speak of my cares, alone: there is now none among the living to whom I dare clearly express the thought of my heart” (Greenblatt 112). The haunting sea that the protagonist seems doomed to roam forever, empty and restless, is a symbol of the wanderer’s exile.

After this, the poem changes directions in two ways; namely that the character of the wanderer seems to have undergone a change to be more thoughtful in a philosophic way and less self absorbed, and the language of the poem itself varies slightly in that it only once more references the sea; all other notations as to allegorical surroundings site things to do with dry land such as horses, walls, and “snow, the herald of winter” coming to bind the earth (Greenblatt 113). And all this leads up to the poem’s end; an exhortation to look to God and the next world to provide the stability that this world lacks.

Greenfield claims that the syntax of the verse’s opening lines suggest that Christian values are already being hinted at through delaying the “conventional association of ‘wretchedness’ and ‘lone-dwelling’” and replacing it at first with “often the lone-dweller experiences mercy” (76). But just as easily, the reading could be interpreted as avoiding reference to Christianity, and slowly revealing the wisdom the wanderer finds through his long years of suffering and his final philosophical conclusion, almost as if the listeners – or, today, readers – were experiencing both the pain and the somber joy for themselves.

While Beowulf is a mixture of the heroic and elegiac, Greenfield again points out that The Wanderer is “in the tradition of the Classical and Christian literary genre of the consolatio” (218). However, it is interesting to note the distinction made by another author, Hill, who compares Beowulf to two other poems of a slightly later period; The Battle of Brunanburh and The Battle of Maldon. He states that while these latter two were “composed carefully by makers who understand complexly the situations and persons involved” they are “simply much more polemical when compared to Beowulf and its inset stories. They are shaped more as arguments than as presented worlds, arguments regarding entirely justified violence” (Hill par 9). According to Hill, these other stories have a political undercurrent where “traditional loyalties are appropriated to model new ideas of loyalty to a state” (par 5).

Regardless of how one interprets The Wanderer, its inherent beauty of imagery remains unchanged, and the human sorrow of the nameless exile calls out to the reader; the poignant image of emptiness and loss captured in the wanderer’s dream of home when “he wakes again, the man with no lord, sees the yellow waves before him, the sea birds bathe, spread their feathers, frost and snow fall, mingled with hail” (Greenblatt 112).

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.

Greenfield, Stanley. A Critical History of Old English Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1965. Print.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984. Print.

Hill, John. "Shaping Anglo-Saxon Lordship in the Heroic Literature." Heroic Age 3 (2000): n. pag. Web. 30 Nov 2009. .

13 April 2010

Baba Yaga

I can't seem to figure out how to load my final project for my World Literature class onto Blogger, so I'm linking to my youtube account, which is how I plan to play it for my professor.  This is a professor I've had for several other classes, and she's very easy-going, so I felt free to get a little silly with the captions.  I hope you enjoy!

12 April 2010

A Review of Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Wow. There’s a lot to discuss here. I placed Midnight Hour on hold from the North Carolina Digital Library about a month ago, because a) I thought I was getting an audio book and not an e-book, and b) because I thought it sounded mildly interesting, and if it wasn’t, my mind could just wander and I could let the pulp just wash past me.

Not so. Set in a world described to be the real one, its inhabitants are largely unaware of the supernatural creatures cohabiting this ‘real world’ and instead of working largely to continue the deception and concealment, the plot works toward a revelation – dragging most of the characters with it. This is especially interesting to me, because in my current WIP, I’m doing something similar; I’m almost positive that by the end of my book, the ‘real world’ inhabitants will become painfully aware of my magic-users from an alternate reality.

Vaughn has an interesting and detailed take on werewolves, in some aspects similar to Terry Pratchett in his Night Watch story arcs, most of which feature Sgt. Angua, a female werewolf. In Vaughn’s mythology, her interpretation leads to some rather disturbing sexual elements in the beginning of the story, but as the MC progresses through the story, she also shakes off the exploitation she has been suffering at the hands of her pack’s alpha male. Whereas Pratchett develops an idea of “Good dog/Bad dog” (as in the desire to be a Good Dog and the fear of becoming a Bad Dog), Vaughn explores the idea of needing companionship, needing an alpha, needing the approval of the alpha. In this vain, I was favorably impressed that Kitty separates herself from Carl, the pack leader, and does not enter into a different sexual relationship. Vaughn therefore shows the need for Kitty’s reliance on herself rather than simply on a different and better man than Carl.

Also, throughout the book, the author explores the different balances the individual members of the pack maintain between their “wolf” and “human” selves. Carl is portrayed as almost completely wolf-like, while his “mate” Meg, who schemes throughout the book, is portrayed as more human, therefore having the ability to scheme. Kitty lets her Wolf influence her actions throughout the novel, but in different ways at different plot points. In the beginning, as mentioned earlier, she lets Carl take advantage of her because of her Wolf’s need to please the alpha. Later, however, she completely surrenders to the Wolf’s more aggressive side, attacking and killing a rogue werewolf created by one of Meg’s plots to get rid of Kitty and dethrone Carl.

While I did find the book to be compelling, I have to wonder if the books in the rest of the series will be as good. It's hard to maintain depth of character when there are a lot of books with the same character in them. Once you work out the issues, they're worked out; anything after that seems shallow. The second book is on hold for me, but I have my doubts.

As a note on style, I have to say, Vaughn is excellent when it comes to dialog. She knows just when to have markers and when not.

And we haven’t even discussed the vampires yet! But maybe that’s for another day…

11 April 2010

Memorial Gardens


10 April 2010


To make posting easier (finding topics), I've changed the title of the blog to reflect some of my other main interests aside from art and writing. Whether I'll be any more assiduous in posting on a regular basis... well, that remains to be seen. I do have a short essay brewing in my head (plus a book review), but with two college papers due by the 28th, we'll have to see. How on earth am I going to survive once I transfer to UNCC? *Sigh* I'll just have to dye my hair blue.

04 April 2010

The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium

In Deorsa, during the early part of the Gray Pantheon Cycle (approximated to be equal to the early part of the twenty-first century of Earth), there were three types of magic being practiced. There was the most civilized, organized, efficient and most dangerous form, known as extractionism (notably, it was the only movement to identify the three magical branches with ‘ism’s) which was practiced by both sexes; then there was the mostly feminine magic practiced by Mystics (most famously, the Ice River Mystics), and then their was the mostly masculine branch of practitioners known as the Eldritch, or simply, Eldritch. Both of the latter forms of magic were considerably more difficult to master, and purely impractical on a large scale. Which is precisely why the people who practiced them chose to do so, and why they disliked and mistrusted the extractionists. In fact, due to the combined, if disjointed, efforts of the Mystics and the Eldritch, the extractionist movement, on the most part, had, largely, as a whole, died out. Nearly completely in fact. Nearly.
The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium, vol. 146(-9 [or possibly {-12}]), chapter 542, (usually located on) page 7,234,567,314

03 April 2010

The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium

In the multiverse, there are always two definitive versions of one particular universe. (Of course, there are all the parallel verses and their associated branchings-off, but they are shadow worlds, unreal and without body, unless there is a serious train-wreck in the workings of… things… and one of the shadow worlds, in an extreme emergency, is shunted onto the track the previous verse was derailed from. All this is managed by The Stationmasters.) In these two definitive versions of a smaller verse within the larger multiverse, one of these worlds will have magic, and one will not. Traffic between them is generally discouraged by The Stationmasters. Sometimes, though, it is possible, by dint of dogged perseverance and cat-like patience, to obtain an inter-dimensional passport. One of the most extraordinary instances of such a document being issued involves the sister verses of Deorsa and Earth.
The Stationmasters' Guide Book: An History and Compendium, page 1 (sometimes), paragraph 1 (nearly always)

02 April 2010

2010 Garden Notebook (thus far...)

March 20:
Prepared garden bed
March 21:
Planted (vegetables)seeds of Mustard**, Arugula**, Spinach***, Radishes**, Cress**, Chamomile, Parsley. (Flowers) Scarlet flax, Money plant, Bunny tail grass, & Lobelia
*Sprouted by the 28th & 29th
**Doing well by April 2nd
***NOT doing well by April 2nd
April 2*:
Transplanted garden center bought: Tomatoes, Rosemary, Yarrow, Rue, Peppermint, Feverfew, Camellia, Periwinkle, Foxgloves.
Planted seeds:Lupine, Astor, Sweet Marjoram, Chamomile, Borage, Basil, Swiss Chard
*Started active watering
Hopefully the 2nd round of Mustard and Arugula + 1st round of Lettuce will be started tomorrow.

27 March 2010

The Journey

Hello imaginaries; this is just a rough draft of a poem I've been thinking about for a while now. I'm not happy with the whole second half, and even in the first half there could be improvements. But with my record of procrastination, this might be all that ever gets done. I was thinking it would be called "The Journey"

Water goes flowing, flowing, flowing

In the riverbeds, along the secret ways

Ever coming, ever going, going, going

Down the mountains, through the valleys next

Never caring, never knowing, knowing, knowing

All the fallen leaves drift away, pulled

The current always towing, towing, towing

For a moment stilled but now the sun looks down

In dry summer slowing, slowing, slowing

But the land has touched and having touched does not forget

And all the green things growing, growing, growing

Reaching up, reaching out to stretch and breath

And the winds keep blowing, blowing, blowing

Across the trees, across the fields, to gather up what’s there

And brushes the weary gardener hoeing, hoeing, hoeing

The gentle stalks are bending, bowing to the breeze

All the seeds now lost will soon be sowing, sowing, sowing

A long way from where flowers in a field once nodded to the wind

Over the land to the sea, with the waters glowing, glowing, glowing

Such a journey on the fickle wind, now a gust, and now a storm

With the high spray throwing, throwing, throwing

Glistening, gleaming, ice white droplets in the sky, in the eyes

In the faces of the tired oarsmen rowing, rowing, rowing

Fear goes on, as does the sun and the night is very long

And the dreadful music of the waves is lowing, lowing, lowing

The drowned siren calls, and sings, and sighs through the dark

But dawn and storm break and the love of life is crowing, crowing, crowing

But some say the piper must be paid, and so, too, the siren of the sea

So, standing on the shore, remember what is owing, owing, owing

26 March 2010

Bits of Brains & The Fall of Civilization

No, my dears, this post isn't about zombies. Well, not really. And, ok, maybe "fall of civilization" is a bit melodramatic. Anyway.
In my psychology class, the professor handed out a packet on education in other countries; specifically Japan. The discussion was about how our educational system favors reading and mathematics so much and neglects music, the arts and physical education. There was a list showing the different hours per school year each subject got in a typical Japanese child's education from 1st to 6th grade. The hours for right-brain vs. left-brain activities balanced out pretty equally. The point was to illustrate something he was trying to tell us about creativity. Apparently, you can't be creative if you don't know anything, and the more rounded and extensive your education is, the more creative potential you have. Gah, what I would have given to be educated in Japan.
Similarly (or they seem similar to me, anyway), in my anthropology class a few sessions back, I got quite an interesting insight into the minds of my classmates. We were discussing the rise of civilization and the prof asked, "What do you think of when you think of civilization?" What answers she managed to squeeze out of us ranged from "Skyscrapers" to "Government" to "Highways" ... really. Exasperated, the professor asked, "What about the arts? What about science?"
What about the arts? What about science? Is this limited perception of civilization held by more people than just those in my anthropology class? A tall building, a long road and someone to tell you what to do. I don't know, maybe we are talking about zombies here.

24 March 2010

Little Red Riding Hood

I finally finished this water color I posted about a while ago. I'll try to do a writing post in the near future; once my three test/projects are dealt with for this week and next. Stay imaginary!

19 March 2010

Random Sketches

Hoo, boy. Just got over a doozy of a flu-type illness. Now, I'm getting back to my life; these sketches are all about five minute studies to relax. Enjoy!

04 March 2010

Three Bags Full

Miss Maple is the smartest sheep in her flock – in all of Glenkill, really. Mopple the Whale is the best memory sheep his flock has ever had. Zora and Othello are the bravest sheep in the flock. But when the flock’s shepherd is murdered, all the sheep will have to pull together in order to solve this crime and escape the butcher’s block!
This book is extremely clever and well written. The author, Leonie Swann, does a really good job in creating a believable culture for the sheep; according to her, sheep equate the size of a creature’s soul with the ability to smell (needless to say they consider humans as soulless). We see human behavior through the (often quite hilarious) misinterpretations of the sheep. Add in a good mystery and you have a quite entertaining read.

01 March 2010

Jumbly-like behavior

Urg! I've been knocking my brains out all afternoon over some seriously bad plot holes - I feel like I've gone to sea in a seive!

22 February 2010

Another excerpt...

yeah, another one; I don't really have time for anything else due to a family issue that came up last week. I will tell you, though, that this is an out-dated draft. I'm going to be making a lot of changes - cleaning up the prose, adding some characters, etc. Enjoy.

I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing; that’s how they got me so easily. If it hadn’t been for Flint sounding off inside my head, I would have gotten the ice knife between my shoulder blades instead of in my side. And still, all I could think of as I lay bleeding between two cars in the parking lot of the University is how fitting an end it would be, and how I wouldn’t have to worry about Rafe’s letter any more. I wouldn’t have to care that he had bought a farm on the west coast and wanted me to come there with him to be his wife, and that if I didn’t accept that option, I might have to accept that he would leave. Forever. It really would have been a fitting end; an enchanted blade of ice from my ‘homeland’ putting a stop to the organic functions of the enchanted lump of ice that lived in my chest and served purpose as a heart.
It would have fitted but it didn’t end, because, right on queue, Rafe was striding toward me across the lot, the sun shining on his pure silver hair that stuck up in front no matter what he did with it and was getting too long in the back because he hated going to the barber. He knelt down and touched the blade sticking out of my side. It fizzled and sank deeper in. Chewing on the collar of my jacket to keep from screaming, I showed my teeth at him in the universal signal for displeasure. “Careless,” he muttered.
I know; that’s what I told her. Said Flint.
“Can you get rid of it here or do you need to get to your apartment?” he asked, trying as gently as he could to ease the ragged tear in my shirt away from the knife.
“Vaking Shoda,” I tried to growl, but it came out as an indistinct mumble. Pulling my teeth out of the cloth, I tried again. “I need some baking soda.”
With his help, I inched onto my feet, and he tugged at the flap of my jacket so that it covered the blood. We made a slow and painful way across the parking lot and through the hedge that was the shortcut from my university to my apartment building. I was in pretty bad shape when we finally got there; the two curses seemed to be feeding off of each other, and I was beginning to think I was going to freeze to death right there in the mid-seventies degree weather. Even my lips felt numb. The only part of me that was unaffected, as always, by my discomfort, was Flint. Baking soda! And you call yourself a sorceress. What can you possibly do with baking soda?
With great effort, fueled by great irritation, I formed the thoughts that would shut him up. Obsidian, be quiet or I’ll stop fighting it and just black out.
You wouldn’t do that; you’d die because Rafe doesn’t know what to do.
My physical body couldn’t quite manage it, but my mind’s eye of myself smiled grimly. Oh, you think I wouldn’t? Flint must have felt the ripples of my expression, because he stayed quiet and watched – he was always watching.
Rafe came hurrying out of the kitchen with a pack of baking soda in his hand and a doubtful expression on his face, as if he wasn’t sure if he had the right thing. Or maybe he doubted my sorceress abilities too. Maybe it was excusable for him to do so; after all, in over four years I hadn’t been able to break or lift the bleak magic ice-curse that resided in my chest. He knew that, he just didn’t know what the curse was about: him.
“Pour some into my hand, and then sprinkle the rest over the flat side of the knife.” I clutched my handful of baking soda and tried to breath. When the warm wetness on my side was replaced with cold moisture I knew it was time. Blowing a little into the air for good luck, I slammed my hand, full of powder, down onto the wound in my side. Although the baking soda had eroded what part of the blade was outside my body, there was still an un-melted shard squirming further away from the surface and toward my heart. After a while, I did black out, but not until I was sure the baking soda had done its job and I could feel the wound beginning to knit itself together again.
When I came to, I was on the couch and Rafe was sitting opposite me, staring off into space. He had a smear of baking soda on his chin and it was all over his hands and clothes. There was even a fine dusting in his hair. “What did you do, bathe in it?”
“You’re quite welcome; I’ll be happy to save your life any time, my lady,” he said evenly. I threw a pillow at him. It wasn’t that he caught it that annoyed me; it was the absent minded way he did it that got to me. But the curse that was still with me, the one that even baking soda couldn’t cure, wouldn’t even let me feel that little twinge of fury that showed I cared without seizing up and freezing a few more degrees.
I started to snap that it was all his fault for sending me that stupid letter, but stopped just in time. The farm in Oregon was the last thing I wanted to discuss right now. Instead I decided to instruct him in the arts of sorcery and household paraphernalia. “You know, Americans always swear by duct tape, but baking soda is really, really underrated. I mean, it’s white and powdery like snow, it absorbs bad smells, and it’s an excellent scrubbing agent. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.”
“It has symbolic purity, as well as the practical ability to render things clean,” I said, just to make it harder for him. Although actually, baking soda would probably only work for me, and not any other sorceress, because I was the only one who saw magic in it – the magic of the Trolling Wood Sorceresses worked that way; different for every one practitioner. It was something even non magical women could accept easily, but men, even Trolling Wood men, just didn’t seem to get it. The lack of structure and rules bothered them.
Rafe changed the subject before I could continue my lecture. “Is it getting easier for them to get to you? This is the third attempt in a month; before it was only one every couple of months.”
I sighed and rubbed my face. “We always knew, or at least I told all of you that the shield of breath and mirrors would only be a temporary solution. Yes, my continued life makes it harder for them to enter the Utherverse from the real world, but conversely, it becomes easier with my every breath.”
“Yeah, you told us, but all I remember is that it didn’t make any sense.” He grumbled morosely.
“It doesn’t have to,” I said in the patient tone of voice that is only used by people with very little patience.
“You sound just like your father when you talk that way.” Rafe looked at me unblinkingly. The flat tone of his voice was his equivalent of my pretending-to-be-patient one.
Ignoring the disapproving frigidity in my chest, I reached out and took his hand. “Do you think he’s still alive?”
Rafe squeezed my hand in response. “I don’t think even Srevnad could get away with killing him,” he said reasonably. I could tell he meant it.
I knew I shouldn’t be smiling, but I couldn’t stop the wry little twist that played havoc with the already odd proportions of my face. “Do you suppose he’s had enough magic by now?”
Rafe’s shocked expression dissolved as he choked on a breath of air and started laughing. It wasn’t the best kind of laughter, relaxed and happy, but with a hint of frayed nerves around the edges. It felt good anyway, and it eased the tension.
My father’s hunger for the magic he couldn’t have was what started this whole mess. Actually it’s what started the whole mess of my life; not to mention my sister and brother. My half-Nereid mother was at the peak of her promise as a young sorceress in the Trolling Wood when the king of Castle Sea – all the monarchs of which, down through the ages, had seemed unable to grasp that the Trolling Wood was something different and apart – had ordered her to become his concubine. He hoped thereby to instill some magic into the royal line. How unfortunate for him that he could drag the sorceress to the castle, but he couldn’t make her practice sorcery, and how stupid of him not to realize that my older sister, in his exact image, was the least likely to have any magic, whereas I, not only in the image of my mother, but also sheltering in my own mind the life of my twin brother whose body at birth had been too weak to live, was much more likely to be a sorceress. And lastly, how very lucky for my mother and me (with my brother in tow) that he ‘banished’ us back to the Trolling Wood.
“I think we should go up to New York and talk to Chip and Ja––Astor.” Rafe interrupted my thoughts with an unpleasant suggestion. Of course, I thought my sister’s alternate personality ‘Astor’ was a vast improvement on the ‘Jade’ personality she’d been born with, but I still couldn’t quite forget…

13 February 2010


As maybe you can tell, I'm on hiatus this week; I'll be back next Thursday. Have an imaginary day ;)

10 February 2010

The Paradise War

The Paradise War. Awesome title, from an author I usually enjoy (Stephen Lawhead). The plot? Meh.
MC and MC's best friend visit ancient cairn in Scotland, best friend gets sucked into other world, MC has nervous breakdown before managing to go after best friend. Ends up in ancient Celtic setting. In the first scene in Albion, the other world, a man's head gets chopped off (by the best friend, who has, due to inter-world-time-discrepency, been there four years) and the MC is forced to carry it. MAJOR graphic adjectives. Not the best way to endear the book to this reader.
I'm almost seven hours into it, and I hate the MC's best friend, the MC I'm not too impressed with, and the macho dudeness is really, really getting to me. The obligatory tough-gal narcissists aren't helping either.
...On rereading this entry, it seems kind of harsh. Maybe I'm just not the target reader. Maybe the narrator of the audio book is just annoying.

09 February 2010

Preparations and Dub vs. Sub

Good evening, imaginaries:
I'm really excited about doing my English paper this semester, because it's a Wolrd Lit class, and the teacher has given us free reign from the 1600s on ward. Anything goes. Authors, characters, books, etc. So with this vast sea to choose from, what shall I do? (As if I didn't already know.) I'm going to write about Baba Yaga! I've already got two books of fairy tales from the library, and I'm going to order this later tonight. I really should have been a folklorist. (was anybody else as breathless as me when they found out folklorist was actually a job?) Part of the final grade for this class is a visual presentation, and I like to prepare videos with a mixture of pictures and text with music - I already have the PERFECT music chosen out; I'll post it when I get it done.
In other news, I was sick over the weekend (very, very glad that I had the posts scheduled from Wednesday all the way to Monday), and so I didn't get to watch the four English dubbed episodes of One Piece that Hulu releases every Saturday until last night. Major anime-habit high. Now, I know there is a lot of, haha, let us kindly refer to it as "debate" in the anime watching community about whether dubbed versions or subtitled versions are better. I say, why does one have to be better than the other for everyone? Now personally, I prefer dubbed versions because, while I love listening to the voices, I manically HATE any and all subtitles. [Redundant] period. I can't watch English soundtrack movies with subtitles, and I can barely force myself to watch Japanese soundtrack shows with subtitles. I would literally rather watch it in Japanese without the titles and try to figure out what's going on by the actions of the characters. Once I (sometime in the distant and vague future) learn to speak Japanese, it'll all be good :D

08 February 2010

"Monsters from the id!!!"

So. Psychology. Fun. Right? Ha. Inspiring? Maybe. What if you wrote a short story where the id (subconcious), the superego (conscience - y'know, like the little shoulder angels) and the ego (conscious) were eternally bickering in a surreal landscape - except at first, the reader wouldn't KNOW who or where these characters were? What if it was a slow discovery process? And what if it ended with a look at the real world and had the unfortunate person to whom these elements belong doing something shocking while they are busy snarking at each other? That would be a good contest... Well, if you happen to stop by and think this sounds like fun, go ahead and send in your own version, meanwhile I'll be working on mine [probably].

06 February 2010

The Saturday Issue, vol. 2

Missed the first volume? Find episode one here.
Mockin’bird stood absolutely still; watching the circle of animals around her, mind flicking desperately through the spells she might be able to use. 'I haven’t been trained for this – heck, I’ve never even been to Faerie before! What can I do, what can I do?!' Spells of protection she knew by heart only that morning were now disjointed shreds on the pressroom floor of her brain. The leader of the pack circled in closer than the others, testing the air with his nose. He opened his enormous mouth, ringed with yellowed teeth.
“Passport, please,” Mockin’bird blinked.
“What?” she asked faintly. The wolf eyed her severely. At least, Mockin’bird got the impression he was being severe, and not – at least not intentionally – terrifying.
“No passport, huh? Well, that’s unlucky for you.” Mockin’bird gulped as she saw the other wolves licking their chops. Their manner was downright suggestive.
“Wait,” she tried, going up on her toes in an effort to get the words out fast enough to keep the lead wolf’s attention. “I’m not here of myownfreewill!” The wolf looked at her again and his nose twitched. “My cousin was tricked into accepting a dampener short-circuit charm, and when I tried to stop him, I was sucked in, too; we came here together,” she looked around helplessly. Ending rather weakly, she said, “Except he doesn’t seem to be here now.”
Mockin’bird tried not to flinch as another wolf, smaller than the first one but, oh goodness, still large enough, came up and sniffed her hand. It turned and said, “I smell it on her, Captain; she’s telling the truth. Also, I have the scent of the other human fixed.”
The Captain nodded. “Then all of you begin searching; it will be dark soon. If you need me, I’ll be escorting this one to Dyre Hollow.” Without a word, the other wolves turned and left, leaving nothing but the sound of their paws beating on the snow, soon fading into the wind. “Come on,” said the Captain, wheeling and heading off at a purposeful trot. Mockin’bird hurled herself through the snow drifts to catch up and blurted out, “What was that? Wh-who are you?”
“Border Patrol.” The wolf glanced sideways at her and asked, “Is that the new Sigil mach IV you’re wearing?” Mockin’bird touched her dampener, which was disguised as a choker necklace. She was already out of breath from trudging through the snow, so she just nodded.
Taking a few quick, short breaths, she added, “Gully… wasn’t, though. His is still… on order.”
The wolf nodded. “That’s why you got separated. The short-circuit charm wasn’t nearly as effective on the mach IV – in fact, if you had accepted it instead of your cousin – Gully, was it? – the charm probably wouldn’t have gone off at all.”
“So he was sent further in than I was?” Nodding curtly, the Captain said, “That’s enough talk; we need to make faster tracks. Get behind me and walk in the path I make.” Not daring to disobey, Mockin’bird did as she was told. It seemed like forever before she finally decided to pause and invoke a dry sock charm she had stored ready to use in her dampener. After she again hurried to catch up, it seemed like another forever until they finally got to what the wolf had called Dyre Hollow. Snow was once again beginning to dump itself all over the landscape as they entered the clearing, and Mockin’bird had to squint to see. Lining a path that crossed the open space were snow covered garden beds, visible by their outlines, and some small livestock sheds off to one side. At the other end of the hollow was a house that sat on two long poles. It was surrounded by a white picket fence. The wolf waited for her by the gate. At first she hurried, thinking of the warm things waiting for her inside the house, but halfway Mockin’bird slowed to stop. There was something wrong about the fence – and come to think of it, the poles of… the house…
“That’s Baba Yaga’s house! You brought me to a witch who eats babies?!” Mockin’bird turned and tried to stumble off into the woods, but the wolf was too fast for her.
“Listen! She does not eat babies. She could be persuaded to eat a little girl, even an agent of AAPIF, if she got angry enough, but the wolves out there that aren’t bound by the oath of the Border Patrol; they won’t need to be angry enough, just hungry enough. They’re – always – hungry.”
Mockin’bird stood still, thinking. The wolf paused, too. The wind and snow swirled between them. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that as dusk was falling the lights in the window of the house began to seem even more welcome than they had before - if you could just forget the bone fence in between. “And you’re sure she doesn’t eat babies?”
The wolf laughed, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. “Come on, little one,” he said as he trotted toward the house. Reluctantly, Mockin’bird followed. TO BE CONTINUED…

05 February 2010

Figure Study Friday

My art professor tells me that we all tend to unconciously draw our own body type. That means that for beginners at least, or people who haven't been practicing [hangs head], it's easier for big men to draw big men, little women to draw little women and vice versa (hence the slightly feminine look of my first sketch, I suppose). That's why I'm really proud of myself for the figure drawing I've accolpished this week. Of course, it was a lot easier once I rediscovered Posemaniacs, which is a great and *FREE* resource for any artist looking to improve their human form drawing skills. Something I really like is a sidebar app called 30 second drawing. That's pretty much just what it sounds like; they give you a pose, you have 30 seconds to do a gesture drawing. The faster you get the entire body roughly outlined, the more likely it is that your proportions are right. Then you can clean it up and turn it into a finished piece. And yes, I drew clothes on the first one, but not on the second one. a) it's hard and I'm lazy b) I wanted to sketch a little of the muscle structure, something that Posemaniacs allows you to do. I know people can get a little weird about nude models and other disrobed aspects of figure drawing; some of those people live in my family. And I can understand being uncomfortable if you're not used to it. But figure drawing is art; there is nothing sexual about it, and I am going to imagine that my readers can accept this. So there's my little disclaimer thingy. I think I did better than last week.

04 February 2010


Hooray! Hooray for innovations! Also, hooray for code-speaking relatives! And hooray for Blogger Templates! I love free resources! So HOORAY!

Thursday 'View: The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde

Good morning imaginaries: A book of Oscar Wilde's short stories was recomended to me by Craftypeople via a comment on the excerpt I posted as my first Sketches & Notes blog entry. And, although I don't think s/he is a regular reader (what kind of spot would that be on my imaginary record?) I would sincerely like to thank her/him. The stories are wonderful. Useually with an element of sadness, but *wonderful* sadness. Maybe it's because I haven't been reading as many classics as I was, say, before I started college (hey, you need to be sharp to read Dickens or Austen, and my pathetic attention span just gets eaten up by the class readings), but something about these stories really made me stop and think - of course, it might also be that Wilde has some very deep, thought-provoking messages in his stories. A lot of them, like so many others of that time, revolve around the ivory-towered rich and the in-plain-sight-but-still-out-of-mind poor. In others, a stronger element is a half-laughing, half-crying attitude toward the intelligentsia of the day. I still don't think I've caught on to all the nuances yet; this is definitely not a casual read. It requires as much mulling-over time as reading time. In other news, I plan to rectify my de-classified reading diet with [grits teeth] MacBeth (I'm glad you're all imaginaries, because otherwise I'd have to hide under the table to say that, no, all in all, I don't like Shakespeare. Bite me.) and The Great Gatsby. In still *other* news, an issue of world safety has come up, in that I, at nineteen years of age and being of slightly disturbed mind and pudgy body, am about to take my life (and probably the life of every other driver in North Carolina) into my hands and [try to] get my driver's license today. EDITED to say: @#%&!!! No license until the 16th.

03 February 2010

Coolest Plant on this Planet - Or Any Other

Something fun for all the imaginary readers - I can see that this is quickly going to become some kind of disorder where even if I ever get real readers I'll never quite believe they're actually there. I was reading the backlog of info-mails in my in-box (knitting, spinning, bird-watching, gardening, etc) and this plant happened to catch my eye. Isn't it like something you'd find in Baba Yaga's garden and therefore cool even if it HADN'T been cool in its own right? It's called Harry Lauder's Walking Cane, and Ah WAONTS meh wun.

02 February 2010

Old Mother West Wind

I just found out that 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Old Mother West Wind" by Thornton Burgess. Now, I realize that some of you imaginary readers out there may never have heard of this crown jewel among books and royal gem among childrens authors, but keep in mind that I lived in the world Burgess created for a good part of my childhood - and I've been trying to get back there ever since I left - so bear with me while I rant on the greatness of the occasion. Burgess was born in 1874 (January, so I missed his birthday) and died in 1965. Because he had to support himself and his mother, he took a lot of different jobs as early as his teens. Some of the jobs were out of doors, one of them being at Discovery Hill Road, a wood-and-wetland nature preserve. This became the setting for some of the best. Children stories. Ever. Burgess was an original conservation NINJA and received several awards for his efforts. He grew up in Sandwich, MA, and there's now a museum and nature center there, kept up by the Thornton Burgess Society. And boy, do I consider myself lucky to have been there several times, even if it was over ten years ago. (Pictured is Blacky the Crow, one of my personal favorites of the Burgess characters.)

01 February 2010

The Last Mile

Fallen are the leaves all brown, Under Winter's frown now lies the city and the town. But Summer and Fall must first drown for Spring then to wear its crown. Spring soon will bear a brilliant smile; Sun will warm flagstone, floor and tile, So keep spirits in good style. Watch snow fall in drift and pile, And know there is but one last mile.

31 January 2010

Notes on Openings

A few notes on yesterday’s serial… I’m leaving it to stand as it is (call it posterity), but if I were to do it again, I think I’d cut out the opening 1st person segment. It seemed funny when I was writing it, but all those acronyms were hard to keep up with and looked a lot more off-putting in blog form than they did in Microsoft Word. There were also a few wording issues I would change in the later portion, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with it. I was thinking about where I chose to start the story, both narrative-wise and sequentially; because actually, that opening was the third one I wrote. Also I’ve been looking at how I’ve chosen to open some of my other WIPs, and I’ve been studying the various blogs that post reviews of people’s opening page. It’s interesting how many people want to start off with a calm, almost ruminative sequence, sometimes one where the MC is waiting for something to happen (as in the first opening I wrote featured Mockin’bird sitting on the front porch waiting for the arrival of Gully, whom she had never met) and then pick up the action from there. One of the other opening habits I have is to start off with an unknown person saying something, usually to the MC. Now, I’ve read a lot of the articles out there saying, “Show, not tell,” and admonishing the beginning writer to start off with strong action – one article complained about books that start off with a summary of the MC’s life, and to a certain extent I agree; but I have to say, I’ve read several stories that follow the basic template I’m interested in that have a charming “Part One,” so to speak; they paint beautiful pictures and really ground the readers and gives them a vested interest. These stories include “The Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale, “Spindle’s End” by Robin McKinley, and to a lesser extent “Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede. If you can pull it off, I don’t see any reason not to do it. So. There’s my two-cents worth.

30 January 2010

The Saturday Issue, vol. 1

My name is Isabella Avery. Most people call me Mockin’bird. Don’t ask, trust me. I am an agent of AAPIF, the American Association for the Preservation of Immigrant Faeries. I’ve got a new partner these days: my cousin Gully. His real name’s Gilbert, but don’t hold that against him. He came to live with my family a while back; his parents are with the AAPIf (the Association for the Preservation of Immigrant fairies; believe me there’s a difference) just like my parents and I are with Immigrant Faeries, and Gully preferred faeries to fairies – who could blame him? There are a whole slew of organizations beginning with AAPI; the only thing that really means anything is the last letter – G for giants, O for ogres, D for dragons, FG and fG for faerie and fairy godmothers, respectively… you get the idea. Our family has belonged to one or other of them for generations. That’s ’cause we have the gift. The gift of duality of sight. We can see the immigrants from Faerie as well as Faerie itself. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re actually allowed into Faerie, not without a passport; it is an international border, of sorts. But then, accidents do happen, especially when the equation goes something like this: Faeries + fairies + humans + Faerie + continent of North America. The particular accident I had in mind was… … “Good Morning Young Lady of the House!” Mockin’bird cringed. She hated the Cheerful Demon doorstep-fairy. That was at the best of times. At 7:30 in the morning, she loathed the little creature. Hugging her coat tighter, she tried to lock the front door faster, but her fingers were cold. Then she dropped her key, and went after it muttering bitterly. “How Pleasant It Is To Have Someone Step Over The Threshold On This Glorious Morning!” the fairy trilled, hovering over Mockin’bird’s head as she scrabbled around in the snow. Once her fingers grasped the key, she straightened abruptly, half hoping to bat the demon out of the park with a head on collision. It didn’t happen. So Mockin’bird just hurried away down the street, hugging the hood of her coat around her ears to block out the noise of the professional doorstep keeper, who yelled messages of good cheer after her all the way until she rounded the corner at the end of the block. When she reached the financial district, she looked around to find a registered pigeon (actually a variety of hobgoblin in disguise). She soon found the one she was looking for and paid the toll required for passage, sprinkling a few bread crumbs onto the sidewalk. The bird eyed her morosely. It shook its feathers out and began eating. A moment later her cousin stood next to her, looking a little green. He didn’t handle pigeon passage very well. “Those birds get dirtier every time I fly,” he complained. “Never mind that; did you get the evidence or not?” she asked, tucking her hands under her arms for warmth. She never could keep track of mittens or gloves. “Yeah, yeah, I got it. But let’s get back to the house where it’s warm, OK?” They were about to walk back the way Mockin’bird had come when the pigeon squawked indignantly. When they turned back, they saw that the bird had once again shaken its feathers, and a small, cloth wrapped bundle had fallen out. “You forget something?” Mockin’bird asked. Gully shook his head. “Huh-uh, it isn’t mine,” they stared at the bird who stared back. Finally it seemed to sigh. Disgustedly, it looked over each shoulder to see if anyone was around. It was a Saturday morning after a fresh snow fall, so no one was. The pigeon’s beak slowly and painfully morphed out of shape and into something more like a human mouth. “‘All passengers must dismount carrying every item they came aboard with,’ that’s regulations, that is.” “Look,” Mockin’bird tried, “it’s not hi-” “No exceptions!” screeched the bird-shaped hobgoblin. It glared at them one last time, shook its wings and flew off. Gully looked after the bird with distaste while Mockin’bird watched the parcel as if it might bite. She pulled at the corners of her eyes in a special way to try and see through the wrapping. She was pretty good at that spell, but hadn’t practiced it in a while. Her concentration taken up she didn’t notice Gully reaching for the package until it was too late. “Gully! No!” She grabbed his arm, just as the rift began to open. One moment in a normal, if deserted, city street in the US, the next sucked into Faerie. If Mockin’bird had thought it was cold in America, it was nothing compared to where they were now, and the snow was a lot deeper; it was up to her knees at least. The wind was busy scouring the faces of some large rocks off to the left, but it gladly took time to bestow its attentions on Mockin’bird. Gully was not beside her. As she swung round to see where he’d gotten too, she saw something else that was, oh, so much less welcome: a pack of hungry, yellow-eyed wolves. Well, this was Faerie after all, what had she been expecting? “Oh, fudge,” she murmured. TO BE CONTINUED…

29 January 2010

Figure Study Friday, episode one

OK, so I sat down and did a few quick, rough sketches. I'll do better and more polished studies when I have more time; next week's should be considerably better. Eehheermmm, as ya might could be able ta tell, I'm a wee bit out of practice with figure drawing... like I said, next week's will be better. PS: the lighting in my room stinks, so these really were the best photos I could take under the circumstances...

Coming Soon...

I'm not going to have a theme for every day of the week, but I think I will have a theme for two or three. Obviously, Thursday 'View is one. I'll try to write a serialized short story with on-going elements and recurring characters. I've got an old idea sheet with characters and basic - very basic - plot worked out already, and I'll try to do something with that... but not now; 'cos I've kinda let my school reading get ahead of me. Edited to say that, tentatively, the three themed days will be: Thursday 'View, Figure Study Friday, and The Saturday Issue. Maybe I'll post in between those days, maybe I won't. It'll depend on what I've got to say.

28 January 2010

Thursday 'View: Spindle's End

It's official. I've just decided to make Thursday book review day. Does it matter that I haven't finished the book I've decided to review? Well, not to me. Robin McKinley has a BREATHTAKING style. It's beautiful. Lush. Fantabulous. There just aren't words for it. Well. Now that I've relieved my admiration to a world-wide web that isn't listening, I'll go finish my book and find out what happens.

27 January 2010

An Interest and a Preference

I like writing about girl characters. This is partly because I'm better at it than writing boy characters and partly because I'm dissatisfied with the fantasy literature available with female leads. I'm working on a story with three royal sisters, but since I began I've become fascinated with another element that I'm not sure I could fit into "Grave's End." Recently I read a story that featured the old Russian folk-tale witch Baba Yaga and her three servant protectors Bright Sun, Red Star, and Black Midnight (elsewhere the first two were called Bright Dawn and Red Sun). I am completely captivated by the spookiness of it; the empty winter woods, the bone-fenced yard, and the house on chicken legs whose windows are eyes that watch you... I am definitely going to have to write a story about Baba Yaga - but I don't want to rewrite the traditional story of the person on a quest who has to go see the old witch and after spending a few days with her barely escape with life and limb. Maybe I could give her an apprentice.