Say Hello to My Little Grandmother

abandoned-2562236_1920

“Life can be a strange beast, can it not?”

The strange animal on my shoulder spit out the words, “Only to those required to experience it.”

I exhaled loudly before I disappeared back into my thoughts.

You see, I have walked this earth for centuries and for every place I have stopped at long enough to become involved with someone, I have left family in my wake.  I have descendants from my first marriage over a thousand years ago up to the last woman I buried in the ground who died from the effects of time.

As if it could sense my thoughts, my odd companion groused, “You leave them because you tire of their chattering.”  It looked me in the eyes and I was caught in the deathless void that circled within their depths, “More like you grow tired of their jealousy as they see you never age while they eventually turn to dust.”

“Always so cruel, you are,” I muttered.  “But the truth is a harsh mistress.”

At my discomfort, a blustery laugh gurgled from the throat of the monkey thing until it segued into coughing.  I ignored it as it cleared its throat.  The two of us remained quiet as we continued our way through the northern woods.

While most of my progeny have made their way into the beyond, I still have many living grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and more.  But I have only one living child and he had gone missing.  I had not heard from him in months, which was not all that surprising.  In fact, I only knew that he was missing because of the news.

Someone had broken into his home and murdered his husband.  The neighbors had reported hearing him yelling as something large bore him away into the darkness of the night.  At the first opportunity, I made my way there to find that the air stank of brimstone.  A demon must have taken him.

“How odd is it that a demon would take the only child of a demon hunter?” chattered my strange companion.  “These two facts would almost seem related, wouldn’t they?”

“Shush, you.”

But I do have other family that is not of my blood, not even of my species.  Little grandmother is one and she is who I am hoping to find in these dark woods.  She can be hard to track or easy to find.  Her home moves where she wants it, or so she says.  I think the house itself decides where it wants to go and she is born away with it.

The one eyed man I called grandfather had taken me to her when I had reached a particular age.  “You have work to do,” he had blustered.  “You owe a debt incurred by your mother, a debt to make the world right.  Your life is not your own to lead.”  He had grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed me out the door.  I could still hear his voice raised as the door swung shut in my face, “You are to hunt demons, child!  Find the mother and she will show you the ways… or eat you out of spite!”

I wandered for days through a forest not unlike this one and stumbled upon her house.  Little grandmother decided not to eat me and took me in.  She was a strange old lady and her home rang with a cacophony of voices.  I lived with her for many years, and in truth, I only left because I felt she wanted me to go.  She did have a habit of eating the unwary and it seemed as if she didn’t want to see me that way.

During my stay with her, I learned many an odd skill while helping out.  A guttural voiced quill taught me the forging of documents.  A quivering knife instructed me in the fine art of coin shaving.  A deck of cards with the shrillest of tones taught me card tricks and sleight of hand and an incredibly talkative wig taught me how to disguise myself into whatever or whoever I chose to be.  I was to learn later that each of those voices belonged to a soul that had been ensnared by her.  “Only deserving souls!” she had cried.  But I was never truly sure.  Perhaps her home was like the hanging tree of grandfather.

We came to a small clearing and in its center sat a shabby little shack.  No smoke rose from its single unstable chimney and no voices emanated from inside.  What hung for curtains flapped lazily in the light breeze.  While it had been ages since I had seen it up close, it was definitely her home.

“Grandmother?” I called out as I knocked on the door of rotted wood.

My fingers grasped the knob and twisted and I almost fell inside.  Dust lay thick on the table and the sills and no footprints had disturbed the dust on the floor.  I searched the three rooms of the small hut and it was like it had been before, the inside was far larger than the outside could possibly hold.  But the place was empty.

“Baba?  Are you home?” I called out.   “Baba Yaga?”

My diminutive companion giggled at the silence that replied.  I ignored it as I found pen and paper and jotted down a quick note.  Baba was not always home but she always made her way back and Baba could find me anywhere in the world if she desired to.

I stood there in contemplation, “Who else do you turn to for help when the mother of all monsters no longer heeds your call?”

Dry laughter wheezed from the small demon that sported an animal skin on my shoulder, “When no one hears your call, only you can answer it!”  Its rows of pointy teeth grinned at me, “Now, quit being a muttonhead and whatnot!  There’s hunting to do!”

Advertisements

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 5

fantasy-2760153_1920

NanoWrimo is done.  Did I hit the coveted 50,000 words? I did not.  Did I beat my best ever writing day of 4,358 words?  I was close at 4,180 last night but I ran out of time.

I went to another write in, the last one for this session, and I kept writing (mostly) up to 11:59PM.  A pretty solid night, to be honest, and the second best word count in one day for me.  I know other people are punching out 7,000 to 8,000 words in a day and I can’t imagine those kinds of numbers in one day.  Maybe in the future.

By just separating out the word count on the write in night’s I attended shows that I should go to more of them.  I went to two and joined some friends on another night this week and those three days were my highest producing days of the month.

It was good to get out of the office and write somewhere else.  Words flowed and other thoughts popped up in the story.  And best of all, I am finally at the part where I want to write down my idea.  It’ll just be a blip in the book, but man, am I excited about this bit.  So, thank you Lair of Abraxas for hosting those NanoWrimo write ins!

So, is the book done?  Far from it.  Am I going to keep plugging away at it? Why yes I am!

I finally feel connected to the story and I can see its end before me.

Of course, I’m currently talking first draft.  There are a lot of rough patches in there as it is.  But I must be one of those weird ones who actually enjoys editing.  It’s fun to find the diamond in the coal and shape it to fit the story.  Because, the story must flow and he who controls the flow must know the story!

What I am trying to say is that it will get completed and I have no bones to lose for that.  So, yay!

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 4

spooky-2865850_1920

Well, this was a bit of a crazy week, to say the least.

With the holidays, food comas and friend and family get-togethers, my writing has taken a wee bit of a backseat to life.  Oh and Monday was my birthday so there was that, too.  I took the day off so that I could get some actual writing done.  While I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, I am fully on track (I think).

I was at that point in the writing process where my muse had taken off for the weekend.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I mean, I did plug away at it as even 10 words is more progress than say 0.  Having Monday off really gave me time to look into what was needed and that was (Tada!) me knowing what all the other characters were up to while I had been focusing on the main group.

Research!  I had to go through my pages and pages of backstory and future-story.  To be honest, there are only about 50+ pages in the story bible, and only part of it is listed in a consecutive order.  So hello, haystack!  I have many needles in you and I don’t remember their names…

See the problem there?  How do I look for what character X was last doing if I can’t find them?  So yeah, umm, I reread pretty much the entire story bible to figure out who was who and what was who doing and was who with another who at the time?

I can sense anger as all those characters weep at my loss of memory of them.

But it was time well spent!  I mean not in number of words well spent, but actually having a clue of all the things happening roughly at the same time and jeez… there is a lot happening.  I think next time I will write the adventures of one solitary character with no other points of view to keep from getting lost. Yeah. Let’s see if my brain will allow me to do that, ha-ha!

Yesterday was part of a big slowdown in the word factory too, but for a more malignant reason.  Bowker Industries got hacked and a lot of people’s account stuff was stolen.  You’re asking, who is Bowker Industries?  Well, they are the one company in the USA that provides ISBNs  for books (click the link if you want to know more…).

I had purchased a block of ISBNs so I got to spend the day verifying that none of my account (bank, site, payment info, et al.) stuff was stolen.  Luckily for me, it wasn’t.  But I did get to spend a large part of the day resetting passwords to prevent damage to me and mine for the future.

All of my characters rejoiced at this… well, in my head they did…

So here I was struggling to find the time to get some writing done today when my writer friend Lyndsie Clark (you can check her out at http://www.lyndsieclark.com/) said she was going to a write-in yesterday.  Weirdly, I had just talked with someone that I needed to get out of the ‘chamber of words’ to get any real progress done. So that’s what I went and did!  Sign from the muse accepted.

The write-in was an interesting experience.  When I first got there, I thought I was the only one.  Now I was a little early, so I wasn’t too surprised by this.  Once my friends arrived, we were still the only people there writing. I had expected more.  This is when I found out the place had two sides separated by a wall and doors.  The other side had a lot of people typing away into their manuscripts!

I did get quite a bit of writing done there and it felt good to get out of the house to do it.  I am going back again on Friday, the very last day of Nanowrimo and write until the last minute!

Well, that’s my intention anyway.

Pies!

20181121_194442

So yeah, I was pretty excited about making pies yesterday.  Though, I was corrected that I was only making one pie and one tart in a pie crust.  Semantics!

They turned out pretty well and I wanted to share them with everyone.

I really enjoy cooking.  It’s an amazing skill to have that I get to use every day, multiple times a day.  Baking, on the other hand, is not something I am terribly comfortable with.  This was (technically) my third attempt at baking.  I know, I know, what about cookies?  I don’t include cookies in this because once you’ve got that dough, just don’t burn them.

I had attempted a raspberry crumble and while tasty, it was rather dry.  My next attempt was an apple pie but I didn’t know what I was doing and used a flan pan.  This was definitely NOT dry and tasted fabulous, but it was a mess to cut.

So, for the actual pie (thanks for the clarification, Désha), I went with a peach pie because we had a lot of peaches on hand.  Well, I mean I thought we had a lot of peaches.  Another run to the grocery store and we now had… too many peaches.

Recipes!

I am not crazy enough to figure out baking recipes of my own until I’m comfortable with the whole process.  For the peach pie, I turned to Alton Brown!  You can’t go wrong with Alton Brown.

20181121_194503

The recipe was pretty easy to work with and I thought it turned out really well!  Now I will offer some clarification, those are not what you may automatically assume they are.  They are monkeys!

 

Now, the next one was the one I super excited about.  For some reason, I had bought cranberries on a whim and then didn’t what I wanted to do with them.  I came across this Cranberry Curd tart recipe from Laughing Spatula.  This one was a bit more work and not a true pie (thanks Désha).  And man, is it tasty!

Well anyway, I had a blast making these and they turned out pretty well!

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 3

still-life-851328_1920

Time keeps on ticking, ticking… into the future…

Here we are at the end of week three of Nanowrimo!  To be honest, I’m not as far along as I would’ve desired.  I was hoping to have at least doubled what I had written the last two attempts and I’m not quite there.  I am within spitting distance though… though I don’t recommend spitting because of paper and electronics and water?  Yeah one of those things, most def…

I’m at the point where I want to be done with the bit I’m in and move on to the parts I’m excited about, but I can’t jump ahead this time.  Last time led to this disjointed affair that was a pain to fix and I’m not talking about contortionists getting busy… though that’s an idea I might have to save for later.  What would have been the cause of this meeting of the bends? Hmm…

Ugh, distractions.  As if the world isn’t enough, my brain wants join in the fun, too.  Well back to the topic (topic, topic, toepic, toepick…).  Oh, to be on the cutting edge of things…

One of the more exciting aspects of this latest week is that the story is going in places I hadn’t expected!  Characters are doing things that aren’t on my list and other characters I didn’t know about are running amuck as well.  It’s exciting! It’s different! And it’s new to me!  There is definitely more going on than I had initially expected.

So besides the doldrums of trying to get this thing done, how was the rest of the week?  Well, not too shabby to be honest.  I am prepping recipes for Thursday because I have too many mushrooms and too much fruit.  And the second one can only mean pies!  My baking ability is relatively untested as I am a much better cook.  But I am excited to make pies for some reason.  Pies, pies, pies.

See?  Distractions!  I’ve been to the grocery store this week in as many days there are in it.  Day one of cooking starts tonight!  Am I prepared?  I think so?

I hope everyone has (or has had… those crazy time dilations) an excellent Thanksgiving!

Now I have to get back to finishing this bit where she punches him in the face…

Restarting My Fourth Novel Pt. 2

man-1483479_1920

Has it only been a week?  I swear, sometimes it feels like it’s been a month and other times it only feels a couple days.

This November has been a bit of a time filled… time… No, I don’t like that, no, no, no.  Let me just say it’s been busy.  Most of the 8th and 9th were spent getting to and from places so my writing totals took a hit.  The 10th was an incredibly busy day but I did finally get to go to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe.  It was pretty amazing.  By the way, if anyone happens to go there make sure to check the mailbox at the very beginning.

The 11th was an eventful day as I got to see my wife be awarded for being awesome, but then it was followed by a snow storm and us being stuck in New Mexico.  Oh those crazy winds and those narrow mountain passes.  We did get back home on the 12th and then everything was back to a relative form of normality.

But yeah, my writing times and totals took a bit of a hit.

On the plus, I got more on this one done this one week than I did when I attempted this last year in the whole month.  So yay!  I haven’t quite doubled my overall output for last November and this April, but it’s within spitting distance.

So what have I learned?  As always, writing seems more exciting as an idea than as an activity, but the stories still want out!  Typing in a car with heavy wind and icy roads is about as much fun as it sounds.  It can get cold and lonely in the “chamber of words” as the day turns into night.

And the last lesson for now is, “I love it when my characters talk to me!”