Friday Flash: Brave, Pretty Girls

I have a friday flash! I wanted a Halloween theme, and I managed it, I think. Well, there is a ghost anyway.

 

White petals perched on her head like a crown. Satin peach-colored ribbons tied in pretty bows over white shoulders held her filmy white dress in place. The wind blew snowflakes right through her.

I froze at the sight.

She looked up, waved, turned and disappeared through the garage wall.

I stumbled out of bed, threw open the window and stuck my head out into the snow and wind. Nothing. Snow swirled through the pool of porch light, but not so much as a footprint disturbed the snow mounded on the ground. No one would be out on a night like this anyway.

I shut the window, drew the blinds and retreated to the soft warmth of my comforter.

I picked up the silver framed photo on the bedside table. Chocolate brown curls, fresh from the hair salon. A white satin mask, decorated with pearls and pink petals, dangled from her fingers. No doubt I’d spent too much time looking at her picture before bed.

I placed the frame on the empty pillow next to me and pulled the comforter over us both.

 

Morning was fair and bright and cold. Blown snow made lovely, ethereal patterns against the window glass. She would have loved it.

I wandered down to the dining room. She lay on the table, pretty, perfectly made up, with all the faint red ting at her throat. Some of her makeup would cover that. Such a sad necessity. But she’d refused the sweet poison. Had flung at him, in fact, and tried to run.

Brave girl. I ran her a finger down the cool, waxy skin of her cheek. I did so admire her. So pretty.

She was perfect for my collection. All the brave, pretty girls. Next week, I would start looking for the next one.

For now . . . for now I lifted her in my arms and positioned her just so. She was so pliable, so eager to please now. No more running.

 

I rubbed my eyes. This couldn’t be. It simply wasn’t possible.

Every single photo had her. From my dream. But how could my dreams make into the photos?

I leaned back in my chair and jumped.

She stood behind the computer, leaning forward. Her beautiful curls brushed through the computer screen. The light from it glinted off the knife in her hand. His sharpest kitchen knife, the one he’d –

Screaming filled my ears. I rose, staggered back and fell, banged my head on the chair’s wheels.

Her eyes sparkled like black diamonds, full of fire and beauty.

No, the fire was real. It was, it was –

 

Pained thumped through me and I moaned. Slowly, I opened my eyes. Dozens of pretty, fierce faces stared me. All of my brave, pretty girls.

Blog’s Fourth Birthday

My blog turns four today.

blog4thbirthday-001 It’s pretty amazing. Four years ago, the world was a different place.

But I’m still here! I’m thrilled about that. I love this blog, I really do. I have gotten better at picking images to go with posts, I think.

I still haven’t found the perfect theme. I’m starting to lose hope I ever will. But it’s not such a big deal.

Hoping the next year will be bigger and better!

 

Sunday Stealing Meme

I’ve discovered a new meme: Sunday Stealing! http://sundaystealing.blogspot.com does this meme.

I don’t know how often I will do this meme, but today’s topic is about books so I did it!!!

You answer these questions. I copied and pasted the list.

1. Favorite childhood book?

Charlotte’s Web by  E.B. White

2. What are you reading right now? 

I want to start The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, but still have to get the book.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

LOL I’ll probably request The Rook by Daniel O’Malley!

4. Bad book habit?

Um . . . reading the ending first.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Nothing!!!

6. Do you have an e-reader? 

Yes, a Nook simple touch. I love it.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? 

Several, that way way I always got something.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Not a lot, not.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)? 

This is a hard one. There have been hardly any bad ones this year. I have no idea.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Hands down, Ancillary Justice by  Ann Leckie is the best thing I’ve read all year.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? 

Not very. Maybe once a quarter.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? 

Reading in the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, mystery.

13. Can you read on the bus? 

No.

14. Favorite place to read? 

Bed!!!

15. What is your policy on book lending? 

I’ve got no issues with it.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? 

Sometimes, but only if I know I will never, ever sell it.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Rarely and only if I know I will never, ever sell it.

18. Not even with text books? 

I usually sell text books, so no.

19. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? 

The last book like that was Drown by Junot Diaz.

20. What makes you love a book?

Good world building and characters and plot. Decent writing.

Friday Flash: Moon Ritual

This is my first Friday flash in a long, long time. I don’t really like how some   of it came out so if you see a way to improve it, let me know! It’s just a little over 600 words.

Once upon a time, there was a princess happily married.

Then came the fourth day after the full moon in the eighth month of the year.

Hunger gnawed at her. The smell of cooking onions pricked her stomach. Her throat was parched. She prayed for the moon to come up, so she might drink.

She looked at the living room window. Stars sparkled in the sky, nearly as bright as her finery, but the moon was no where in sight.

This was for her husband, she reminded herself. If she was dizzy, if her head felt lighter than a leaf, it was for the greater good.

Gold bangles jangled as she walked back to the sofa. Sitting felt good; she felt as if hunger had taken her legs from her.

Her younger brother watched her with worried eyes. “You should eat, sister.”

”The ritual isn’t complete yet,” she said.

He shook his head, frowning. Her mother-in-law and sisters-in-law strolled in, followed by the maid. She carried a tray of savory fritters and sweets for the men and single girls.

Her brother pushed the maid away and rose to his feet. “Excuse me.”

“Come.” Her mother-in-law clapped her hands. “The moon will he up soon. Lets prepare our prayer trays.”

Obediently, she polished hers until it was as bright as a mirror. Her red veil looked good on her, she thought. Her husband would like it.

Her brothers, all seven of them, came back in. “The moon is up, sister,” the youngest sang out.

She rushed to the window to look. A bright, yellow light glowed in the distance.

She snatched up her prayer tray, but paused when none of her sister-in-laws prepared to come outside with her. “Aren’t you coming?”

”Oh,” said the oldest, a vision in green silk and delicate gold embroidery. “This moon is for you only.”

She frowned, puzzled. But the maid walked in and set a tray on a table. Her stomach rumbled at the smell of sugar and butter.

She ran out, prayer tray in hand. She flicked and poured water, murmured words over her offering.

Dinner was wonderful, fried bread and cheese, and her favorite, stuffed okra.

Than the maid walked in and announced: ”Your husband, the king, is ill.”

She rushed to his side, fell to her knees and cried out.

Her younger brother, shame-faced, told her what her sisters-in-law already knew: they had built a large bonfire on top of the next hill so she would think the moon was up and eat.

The princess begged the goddess forgiveness for her mistake.

Hundreds of needles pierced his skin. Slowly, laboriously, she pulled them out. Night and day, she knelt at his side and pulled needles. The pile grew to the thickness of her thumb, than her wrist and after months of labor, twice as big as her husband’s chest. Finally, only a few needles were left in her husband’s body.

The fourth day after the full moon in the eighth month of the year came again.

She left the maid pulling needles while she prepared her prayer tray.

She poured and flicked water to complete the ritual.

When she came back to her husband’s side, he was smiling and holding the maid’s hands.

She thought her heart would stop. She prayed to the goddess. Years passed.

She murmured words over next year’s prayer tray. “The queen becomes the maid and the maid becomes queen. The queen becomes the maid and the maid becomes queen. The queen becomes the maid and the maid becomes queen.”

One day, the king, curious, asked why kept the repeating the same words. She told him the story. He made her queen once more.

And that is why you don’t end the ritual before the moon rises.

Gotham Pilot

Gotham Pilot: Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I watched Gotham’s pilot. It’s about Gotham before Batman was a part of the city, when Gordan was a young detective.

So . . . I thought Bruce would be a little older. Unless this show goes on for years and years, he’s not ever going to active in the main mystery. At most, he’ll be part of the subplot. Little disappointed.

But! Lots of villains show up in the pilot – Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, maybe the Joker and maybe Poison Ivy (she’s supposed to have rich parents, yeah? She doesn’t in this one. So maybe it’s an evil trick and I’ve fallen for it.) Also, they might keep people guessing who the Joker is, too. Just have a different a comedian on each week.

There might be too many villains for a single episode. But it is the pilot . . .

The second half of the episode felt a little rushed anyway. It turned from a simple, too-easy to solve murder mystery into a conspiracy to provide a fake murderer so the citizens feel safe in their homes. Gordan, the one good cop in a sea of bad cops, is upset.

He goes to confront and promptly gets into trouble. The mob boss has to come in and rescues the cops. Which is a little funny. Also, it contributed to the too-busy, rushed feeling. Made me go: WTH?

Surprising items:

  • Gordan’s fiancée, Barbara, is either lesbian or bisexual, and has previously carried on an affair with someone who thinks Gordan is dirty.
  • Fish: I enjoyed this character.

Favorite moment: Gordan’s interview with Bruce Wayne. This was a very touching scene.

Setting: Gotham is beautiful. I can’t decide if it’s supposed to be the city from the 80’s, or something from the cartoon, but it mixes the two and adds something from the present (cell phones!). It’s dark and edgy and very nice.

I am not sure how all the supervillains will mesh with a police procedural. Maybe a pre-Batman hero will show up? I don’t know. But I’ll be watching.

Middle Book Blues

I haven’t written a word in nearly two weeks. The book is half done. 

I have heard that the middle of the book is the hardest bit to write, the most common place to get stuck. How do I get out of it?

I have some idea what the next biggest scene will be. I even have some idea what my character needs to do – he has a to do list! And he’s sorely behind in the list of the things he needs to do. (He was derailed by the plot bunny!) Poor guy.

But I don’t know the next immediate step. I don’t know how he gets from here to the next biggest scene and he can’t just skip from here to there. I don’t even know how he gets from here to the next thing on his to do list.

I’m stuck and it’s unpleasant. Very, very unpleasant.

 

Banned Books Week 2014

Banned books week starts September 21−27, 2014, about a month from now.

I’ll read something from the top ten list of last year’s challenged books to celebrate. I should something about the sorts of books that are getting people all riled up anyway.

The list, from the American Library Association:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Before now, I’d heard of only seven of these books: Captain Underpants, The Bluest Eye, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Bone. Looking for Alaska, too, if only because it also appeared on last year’s list.

The only one I’ve read is The Hunger Games, but I’m not really sure how anyone could challenge it over Religious Viewpoints. It has hardly any religious viewpoints.  I almost get how people can challenge it over Unsuited to Age Group – it is very violent. If the movie had been nearly as violent, it would not have gotten the PG13 rating. But I think teenagers can handle it. Older teenagers especially. Younger kids? Maybe not. Or maybe they could. Probably depends on the child.

Books In the Top Ten Challenged List of Both 2013 and 2012: Captain Underpants, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Fifty Shades of Grey, Looking for Alaska.

Fifty Shades of Grey was challenged for new reasons this past year: nudity, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group. If nudity was a reason to challenge a book, you could challenge the whole romance genre. Most of urban fantasy, too. And a good chunk of science fiction/fantasy as well.

As for unsuited to age group – really? Really? The book is meant for adults. How can anything be unsuited to age group for adults? I don’t get it. It’s baffling.

I am going to read one of these books to celebrate. I don’t know which one yet. Maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, if only to discover how anyone could think adults are not old enough to read it.

Who else is reading a challenged book? Tell me!

How did you know you want to be a writer?

I saw this article on BuzzFeed: 24 Signs You’re A Writer.  It’s  fun.

And than I saw this Opera article entitled: How to Know If You’re Really a Writer.

It basically lists how several people knew they were writers. They are:

1) Look inward to discover your issues.

2) Dictate stories.

3) Discovered “Just the Kind of Book” you want to write.

4) Someone tells you you’re a writer.

5) Job trains you in how to tell a story.

Um . . .  I’ve never been through any of these.

I knew I want to be writer because I want to tell stories. In Writing. That doesn’t feel as lofty as those reasons listed above. ;) It sounds almost pedantic.

How did you know you want to be a writer?

 

Forgotten Baby: Things that Bother me in Books

So, a couple weeks ago, I was reading a book. A fantasy. Not an epic fantasy, not urban fantasy, more sword and sorcery.

There was a guy; he used magic to sort of nudge a girl to like him. She does, they got together, and in due time, she gets pregnant.

The guy, the hero? He panics and wants out. A normal enough reaction in a boy, I suppose. He is all: I never promised her I would marry her.

So, okay, he didn’t. She thought otherwise, but he never said the words. In this community, the action is sort of a promise, but he never got that.

So than he gets into the trouble for questionable use of magic and gets thrown out of his community and into some other community.

The girl’s pregnancy is the catalyst for a bunch of actions, for the story taking off. She and her baby are never mentioned again. He falls in love with someone else, spends a lot to send letters to her, and never thinks about the unborn child he left behind. He never gives the child another thought.

Okay, yes, so it’s probably a little awkward to ask the girl you’re presently in love about the ex-girlfriend who you left pregnant. Still.

I am still a little bothered by how easily he can forget he left a child behind. I mean, he’s the hero of the book and all. He does a lot of good things, goes through a lot, he grows up. But this one thing? I can’t get over it. I finished the whole book weeks ago and it still bothers me.

I kept waiting for him to think about it. He never does. Not even when the girl he loves gets pregnant, too. It’s like the whole thing never happened.

What about the unborn child he left behind? What about the girl he got pregnant? It was a plot point and nothing more. It doesn’t have to be more – he’s that kind of guy, clearly.

But it bothers me. It really does. Do things like that bother you?

 

Dragons in Old Art

So I got a hankering to see how dragons have been painted/drawn/sculpted in the past. I thought I might get some ideas for a new way to portray dragons, an idea for a new story.

I didn’t get one, but I found a lot more dragon art than I imagined existed.

I went to the MET website, did a search, and pages and pages showed up. It’s kind of amazing.

This one is from France, 1633, by Nicolas Poussin, and I think the dragon looks small, but fierce. Those Romans look real, don’t they?

Romans and a dragon! Title: The Companions of Rinaldo

 

This one is from Italy, 1390, from the Workshop of Agnolo Gaddi. I have to say, the lady looks very calm for being swallowed alive by a dragon. This is the type of dragon head I usually picture when I picture dragons.

Title: Saint Margaret and the Dragon

 

This one! This one is really, really good. Maybe I should have started with this one first. It’s from Japan, 19th century, by Kawanabe Kyōsai. I love the yoga-ish pose, how the dragon is breathing fire, and the guy looks almost like he’s praying. The dragon? It looks almost like a pet. It’s hard to say.

Title: Shaka and the Dragon

 

This one is from Iran, third quarter 16th century, and no artist is listed. For an ink and water-color drawing from so long ago, this is really well-preserved. I like the details, how the dragon is wrapped around the mountain and most of the animals are running away. Except for a rabbit and two – deer? Are those deer? I can’t quite tell.

Title: Hero and Dragon

 

It’s from China, 12th–14th century, Southern Song, and it is made of jade. This is a brush washer. Um, are you supposed to wash writing brushes in this? I think it is far too pretty to use to wash anything.

Brush washer in the shape of lotus leaf with feline dragons

 

This is from China, 14th–15th century, Yuan or early Ming dynasty and the artist is not listed.  It’s my favorite. I can’t say why, I just love the trees and the dragons and how it’s eyes rolled off to the side.

Title: Dragons and Landscape