Month: May 2016

Week 21 2016 – Remember

LionInWinterMy mother would not go see any movie that had any graphic sex or violence. Period. It was ok if a film had difficult thematic elements which involved sex and violence, but she had no need to see naked bodies walking across the screen or entrails splattering a sidewalk. To her that broke the magic. She said the films worked best if they did not have to show the so-called “gory details”. There is absolutely no chance of her ever watching Game of Thrones.  I suppose she has a point. So The Lion In Winter, fine. Excalibur, no damn way. That she left me and my dad to see on our own.

My mother’s rather high film standards (and they were high,, not merely G rated), left me seeing a lot of films with my dad growing up. Later in the summer, I might tell you about the time I saw Jaws with my dad and granddad at the age of 9, the day before we left for our summer beach trip. It was hilarious.

ExcaliburPosterI was older when Excalibur came out, still too young for an R rated film without a fake id.  I am obsessed with Arthurian legend. In the long stretch of my youth, I could not, for the life of me, understand why something so fantastical had such a tragic end that never resolved.

I read The Once and Future King by T.H. White at a very young age. My mother always preferred that I read instead of watch films or television. She insisted if a movie was based on a book, I had to read the book before I saw the film. So in order to see  The Sword and the Stone, I had to read the mammoth T.H. White book first. I loved it. It is still one of my favorites. However, this arrangement with my mother soured a bit when I took on reading The Exorcist and The Godfather, but that is a tale for another time.

By the time Excalibur came out, I had read and studied every bit of Arthurian scholarly material, fiction, and poetry including Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (there is a reason my fantasy is called Idylls of Alleysiande), as well as Thomas Mallory’s Morte de Arthur. In short, my dad knew I wanted to see this film.

ExCaliburThere is this one scene that struck a chord that bleeds in my psyche and vibrates there still. Arthur and his knights have won a great battle. They are rejoicing and talking about forming the Round Table.  Merlin, played gorgeously by Nicol Williamson, bursts into the circle and utters these lines:

STAND BACK! Be silent! Be still!… That’s it… and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then… this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, ‘I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!’ For it is the doom of men that they forget.

They had a won a hard-earned peace. My mother also had me read a great deal of history, things like Plato’s Republic, Winston Churchill’s The Gathering Storm which was at the heart of my love for historical fiction. She often quoted Winston Churchill’s quoting of George Santayana “Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.” I suppose that is why that scene in Excalibur hit me so hard. It was the beginning of my understanding of why the Arthurian legends were so damn tragic.

So it’s a few years later, and I am in college, studying abroad in London. Several of the other American students took me on a long weekend in France. I think they all wanted to go to Nice, and who could blame them. I did not have enough money so we decided to visit Normandy. There was a special student rate both for the passage there and the little inn we stayed at. It was spring, sunny, the beach white, the water blue dazzling, one of those picturesque scenes painted by the hand of God until you turned around and put your back to the sea.

Normandy2013 064It is a haunted place. One that I could not comprehend. All those white crosses, stretching out to the edge of your eyesight so that we, not as a country, but as human beings would remember. This generation, now dust in the wind, fought and won our freedom against absolute tyranny. The history of the world is all peasants and tyrants, and we were spared unimaginable oppression and darkness.  At least, for a time we chose the light. We were supposed to remember.

My mother tried so hard to tell me what her generation and the ones before her faced. She did not meet her father until she was four. He was off saving the world, flying paratroopers in World War II. There was no Skype, no internet, and so for months on end, I picture my mother and grandmother wondering if my grandfather, Jack, was still alive. In my grandmother’s tiny home town in Texas, all the boys in her year’s high school graduation class died at war. They were only seventeen and eighteen year old boys who decided to let childhood go and become men for generations to come, people they would never meet, who would never know their names.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! – Patrick Henry

Today, an entire generation has grown up in war. I know so many families waiting and wondering if their loved ones will ever return. The more weakness and lack of resolve shown by the so-called leaders of the free world, the more die.  These young men and women of the American military volunteer to put their lives on the line for the sake of people who will never thank them, who do not care as long as they can use any damn bathroom they wish. We were supposed to remember.

Now I know why the Arthurian legends are so tragic. It is the same reason that J.R.R. Tolkien refused to write a sequel to Lord of the Rings.  Men always forget and so darkness, oppression, tyranny are never defeated forever. It always comes back and so we always require more blood to keep it at bay.

Yes, today is Memorial Day. Try not to forget.

 

 

Week 20 – An Ending and a New Chapter

IMG_0589
Kate w/ Frankie

I never did fix that time turner so this week and last week will both be reviewed. This week I was mostly sick which is boring and gross.

 

Last week, my daughter graduated with an English degree from UGA.  It was a big milestone in her life and mine. I raised her on my own. My how the days flew so fast. I still remember so clearly those first moments of her life, that tiny little creature with her big dark eyes staring at me, her first smile, her first steps. Then so quickly she was talking and never stopped. It was sort of like waking up to find that your dog now speaks to you in full coherent sentences.

IMG_0601I was trying to do medical school when Kate was born. I ultimately gave up as I wanted more time with my child so I turned to writing software. That allowed me to work from home and so spend more time with my child. Those moments are unique and can never be recaptured. I didn’t want to miss anything.

However, the first two years of Kate’s life, I worked at a local children’s hospital. The doctors let me use their daycare right on site which helped so much in those first years. I was alone, broke, exhausted, and more than a bit scared. When Kate was barely two years old, she asked me from her little car seat, “Mommy, where do babies come from?”

IMG_0598
Kate, age 2

I seriously thought I would have more time before I had to answer that question so I said the first thing that came to mind. “Babies come from mommies tummies.” I did not feel that lying would do much good. She could always spot when I was trying to fool her or withhold information from her. Clever little thing.

“No, before that,” she insisted. I sputtered and took a deep breath, trying desperately to think of a suitable answer for a two year old. But before I could say anything, she announced. “I know where I was before I was in your tummy.”

Startled, I asked “Where was that?”

“I was in heaven,” she said. Ok, I could live with that. But then she added. “God sent me to look after you.”

IMG_0600I have no idea what prompted her to say all this at two, but apparently she was on a mission from God. I wasn’t going to argue with her. I remember stopping at a red light and turning around to see her sitting in her little car seat in the back of my old Mazda, twirling her curly dark hair around her finger. She did that when she was tired. She still does.

HouseHunt 034Now, looking at the twenty years since that day, I believe what she said was true. I needed looking after. My little girl, now a beautiful and amazing young woman, saved me in every way a person could be saved. I know it is supposed to be the other way around, but it was not.

Even her adolescent years were fun, still full of all the teenage angst, but we managed to laugh our way through it, even when we cried.

How blessed I am that whatever power there is in the universe gave me such an amazing child. I seriously do not believe I would still be around if she had not come along. What an unexpected and miraculous turn of events.

IMG_0496Well, a chapter is over and a new one has begun. The road goes ever onward, and I still have miles to go before I rest or so the saying goes.  I am hoping this will not be my last blog post. My daughter might actually kill me for publishing this. So until next week, I hope…

 

 

Week 19 2016 – Delayed due To Broken Time Turner

IMG_0569There will be a delay in this week’s post. The writer is broken along with the time turner. If the writer survives, then we will return to the normal blog post musings. If not, week 19 2016 will simply be the end. The pug is taking all steps necessary to fix the writer, but she is only one dog. All the kings horses and all the kings men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again so one dog against a shattered writer. That is an awful big ask.

Week 18 2016 Darkness My Old Friend

DarknessSo this week I totally lost my mind. It happens now and then. After the A to Z challenge, I picked up my manuscript thinking I would go ahead and indulge in another round of queries. Instead, I decided to rewrite the whole damn thing. Like I said, I have lost my damn mind.

I told folks at The Reef (writers, you do read Janet Reid’s blog, yes?) my plans, and Janet advised me to notify the agents I have outstanding requests with of my insanity, er, rewrite just to keep them in the loop. I know these agents are not anxiously awaiting my every written word. They have active clients and a full inbox of hopeful little queries. Still, it is the thing to do if Janet says so and I don’t want another shark bite or exile to Carkoon.  I spent the afternoon writing those agents. So that will probably slow down my upcoming “How I got an Agent” post by some time. How dreary.

I suppose those of you eager beavers who just jump right in with draft 1-3 will think me dangerously insane to be working on draft big number just shy of infinity. Quite possibly. Remember, each writer’s journey is different. Some are fast. Some are slow. Most are nuts. We all end up in the same place in the end.  Padded room. Strait jacket.

kingofdeadSo I am going to put on another pot of coffee, fuss over every other word in my manuscript, and then switch to whiskey before finding out who will be the next to die on Game of Thrones. I wonder who wins this game in the end. Is it the one who kills the most? Or the one that kills the exact right people? If I was a gambler , I would be betting on the dragons. But my instincts tell me the good money is on King of the Dead. He’s awesome as far as zombie making ice lord thingies go. I wonder if he’d be interested in being President of the United States? Loads of people would vote for him. I guarantee it. Even if he shoots someone on 5th Avenue.

 

 

Week 17 2016 – A to Z Concludes

I finished the A to Z challenge. I feel like I stumbled across the finish line in much the same way I stumbled into the challenge. I did not start off with a clear cut theme.  It was not until H that I caught my stride. I am glad I did this even if it did pull me out of my much needed edits. Tomorrow, I will enter the world of Aerda and I do not intend to come out again until I have wrangled an agent.

Here is the break down of my last week in the A to Z challenge.

unibrauetroisMonday – Ugly Shack Pub – #AtoZChallenge  The story explored a pub that allowed those in despair, near suicides to recover and find themselves again.

Brewery: Unibroue  (Quebec, Canada) Beer: Trois Pistoles  Type: Belgian Strong Ale

 

VictoryGoldenMonkeyTuesday – The Volcano Tap #AtoZChallenge  A tavern where monkeys are the wait staff is at the base of a newly active volcano that houses a dragon.

Brewery: Victory Brewing (Downingtown, PA) Beer: Golden Monkey Type: Tripel (3 x malt than average brew)

 

WestbrookWednesday – The Wayward Tavern #AtoZChallenge This was a bit of a cheat. Taverns play a huge part in my fantasy series, Idylls of Alleysiande, and I introduced one of those taverns in a bit of a preview.

Brewery: Westbrook Brewery (Mount Pleasant, SC) Beer: Dark Helmet Type: Schwarzbier(i.e. Black Beer)

 

xinguThursday – Xanthe’s Refuge #AtoZChallenge  Xanthe means stranger in Greek. This story finds a group of people having beer with a kind stranger after the apocalypse. For myself, I have always wanted to have a beer with Jesus. I figured post-apocalypse will be my best shot, provided I am not proven to be a goat.

Brewery: Cervejaria Kaiser (Brazil (no X breweries found) Beer: Xingu Black Beer Type Schwarzbier

YellowRoseBuffaloFriday – Yellow Rose #AtoZChallenge  In this tale, a young woman is finally going to meet a mysterious person who has been sending her yellow roses once a year since she was thirteen.

Brewery: Yellow Rose (San Antonio, TX)  Beer: Buffalo Butt Type: American Dark Wheat Ale

 

ZephyrSaturday – Zero Hour #AtoZChallenge  – In this story, a woman makes a decision about the path her life is on, and decides to do something other than the safe and easy path. So many I know struggle with this every day, and it is a theme I always seem to find in my writing. A feeling that society is not quite right, that it has become a steel trap instead of something that nurtures all of our potentials. Ah well, it is a fitting conclusion to my A to Z journey.

Brewery: Zephyr (Denver, Co) Beer: Naked Blonde  Type: American Blonde Ale