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More Flash Fiction

July 7, 2012 3 comments

Flashy Fiction Prompt Photo

The Gleaning

Soon the pickers will come; their baskets covered and darkly empty. Who will survive this season’s harvest? How many can we get to safety in the caverns below? And how many will survive the terror of remaining below until the sky homes are again safe?

Our new leader perches, grasping his branch of authority so tightly his talons have sunken into the bark, almost heartwood deep. Families gather to hear his plans for leaving our sky homes for burrowed havens during this time of The Gleaning. Not even sky’s soft breath disturbs the silence holding our attention.

“This night will see us gone from these homes. Each parent pair holds responsibility for their young ones.”

Fledglings tuck up against parents’ sides, beneath sheltering wing power. Feet shuffle and scrape bark with restless talons. The scouts must have reported the pickers on their way to the forest.

Leader spreads wings to call order and flips them again to his back.

“Our fasting will begin at full dawn. The hardship of the season is upon us. Feed well before entering the burrows. It will be the last for a foot of moon rises.”

The sound of his last instruction faded. Leader departed to get his own charges on the ground and fed before dawn. Each small group moves forward to launch.

Fledglings balk, hesitating. They are shoved off for their first flight. For them the dark unknown rushes to meet them, not caring that this is new and frightening for these small feathered bodies. Moss hummocks and short leaf blades cushion their landings and bounces. One parent accompanies each new flyer and examines for injuries at the landing spot.

As soon as able-bodied fledglings are grounded, parents roam the sky homes looking for stragglers. Here and there weak calls come from homes, where those too weak or ill have been left behind. Their sacrifice will ensure that the fit will survive The Gleaning.

As the sun begins to streak the forest with its rays, the people begin to stuff last meals down their gullets. Many will be too weak and malnourished to hunt after The Gleaning. Designated caretakers go through the crowds before each burrow, marking the ones to watch for when the safety call comes from the watch patrol.

Thank the Great Winged One, the watch patrol will be gathering larger meals for that unearthing time. Calls from overhead alert those who need to hide. Young ones are pushed into burrow entrances, followed closely by adults. In moments only the patrol remains; covering entrances with harvested mosses to disguise the havens from the pickers.

Task complete, they leap into the air, flapping for altitude into the high reaches, where pickers never climb. The wait begins; the wait for sky’s freedom for the people. With full light, the pickers arrive, their baskets covered, darkly empty. Soon those sacrificed will have given their glorious feathers to occupy those baskets.

Flash Fiction Day

July 5, 2012 12 comments

Flash Fiction Prompt

Each day a lovely little website referred to as Flashy Fiction offers a writing prompt to a photo. Today’s prompt was a two-fer because it’s been combined with Friday’s prompt.

I had to do one for today. The opportunity was too good and the prompt too right-up-my-alley. So, this is what I wrote for the photo above. I hope you enjoy it. And please, stop by to see all the offerings on Flashy Fiction. You’ll be glad you did.

The Light of Meaning

Within me grows a tension I cannot place. What could cause this sensation of impending destiny, which perches like a vulture just out of visual range? Does my breath come short and quick because of unexpected claustrophobia at the looks of this canyon before me?

My friends don’t seem to notice how silence surrounds this place, how the scent of dust carries with it a hint of the ancient. Their shouts fall short of my space, leaving me in a personal bell jar inside these striped red walls.

Illusions of undulating Dune’s Shai-Hulud flash across my mind. I wonder if this was how Paul felt the first time he waited for that beast to rise from the desert floor. Would there be such a ritual for me to perform for the coming secret to reveal itself? And how do I know there is a secret?

Footsteps echo. Shock sweeps through me. I recognize them as my own, though I don’t recall moving into the inner recesses of a side chamber. Dim illumination draws me forward, faster as hesitation drops away. I must know this thing that would be.

Twists and turns, dried water channels of exquisite sandstone, bring me, at last, to the chamber. I burst forth from the passage, panting in excitement and terror. Finally, I see what has haunted my vague dreams for longer than memory reaches. It waits; one glorious beam of pure light.

Within that circle of illumination is the future I’ve tried to escape from and now run to in a sprint of desperation. Could my heart beat any harder and remain caged within my body? Could my responding body contain so much light?

A jerk, like that of a tether drawn forward suddenly, pulls me into the beam of sunlight that squeezes through a tiny overhead opening. My head arches back. My chest swells and rises, as if I’m a mere marionette and someone has yanked my string upward. My mind is filled with music, sweet and gentle, as it ebbs and surges through the channels of my soul.

Home comes calling. I have been away longer than I can imagine right now. My mind registers the knowledge of a previous, though, different life elsewhere; a knowledge that explains so much that has confused me during this life.

The music and light fill me with the purpose I’ve been seeking. All is clear now. I have come this far to learn that only one act of mine is necessary for my life to have meaning for this world; to learn that with that act, I have completed my purpose here and can go home again.

Is there any better bliss than such sure knowledge?

Vacation’s Purpose

July 2, 2012 2 comments
Cover of "The Vacation"

Cover of The Vacation

 

Each year millions create an almost migratory herd, like so many waves rolling toward a shore called “vacation.” Each traveler has in mind a personal calling toward whatever destination reaches in and takes hold of the heart for that season. How many can resist that pull?

 

My writing partner left this past weekend for vacation with her children. Since that particular blog is on vacation this week, I’m left with additional and unanticipated hours of luxurious time to delve into new studies, new avenues of knowledge exploration. I could spend the extra hours working on some of my long projects, but they’ve already been delegated to regular work hours.

For now, I can download seminars and listen without guilt, soak in new knowledge to add to those bits I’ve stored away, and investigate hitherto unknown streets that branch off the cyber highway. There’s a lot of territory to roam in only a few measly days. What if I get lost?

No fears. Fear is the little mind killer. That has become my motto of life.

Learning new software applications will get an hour here and there. A new book will have a half an hour of my time each day. An hour long seminar each day isn’t too much to do. And a couple of hours devoted to my writing course will pay off handsomely in a few months. (I’m rebuilding—not revising–my YA novel.)

The finishing touches on my first book of poetry are happening today. It will go to beta readers within a few days, as soon as I get them all lined up. Once it’s out to readers, I’ll concentrate on the second book. I have all of the photos, thanks to Sister and that trusty camera of hers. It’s begun, but now I must implement the outline for the epic poem.

Did I mention that I just had two more poems accepted by Four and Twenty Short Form Poetry? That drives more incentive to send out more poems and create a few more just for outside submission. Surprises like this one I can handle without difficulty.

So far my week is starting out pretty well. Speaking of poetry, here’s the one I did yesterday for Poetic Bloomings Prompt of Write a Resting Poem.

 

Restlessness

 

What gentle rustlings

Probe mind’s nooks

While sleep hangs

Suspended, waiting?

 

What probings shake

Awake memories

Long forgotten

While slumber paces?

 

What shakings loosen

Ponderings, dry eyes,

And weave weariness

Into strain’s distress?

 

These rustling, probing

Shakings serve to

Alert, with useless

Restless wonderings,

 

Leaving behind

Confusion’s legacy

Of sleepless nights

And fog-filled days.

 

Oh, to sit beside the

Stream of Forgetfulness,

Dipping toes into sweet

Thoughts of Easement;

 

To feel Zepher’s breeze

Linger on naked skin,

While Pan plays his

Lullaby to needy ears;

 

To rest within a cradle

Rocked by Earth’s pulse,

Removing all care, worry,

The better to nurse from Peace.

 

Some may see my planned week as anything but a vacation. That’s fair. For me, who has the occasional full day up in the mountains or along a lake shore, my definition of vacation tends to differ from that of others. A day to do nothing but read a new book or an old favorite is a mighty vacation indeed.

Enjoy your own coming holidays, everyone, and leave a comment here telling of your own vacation plans. Or, do you have to wait for get a break from routine? Don’t be shy. Everyone wants to go somewhere. Feel free to share.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Previous Post

June 30, 2012 2 comments

I escaped to my poet’s playground this morning and got to compose in the sandbox with my paints.

Here’s hoping you enjoy this playtime effort. I’ll have more poetry tomorrow, and more postings during the week.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and come back for the holiday week refreshed and energized.

A bientot,

Claudsy

The Zoo Within

June 25, 2012 2 comments

This post stems from the Thought Ripples over on Two Voices, One Song. Sometimes when you change a process for one thing, it sticks and bleeds over into other work, as well. That’s what happened here. I hope you enjoy it.

Once in a while, I take a trip through a zoo or sanctuary. While I gaze upon the residents within the confines of the area, taking note of mundane considerations, my mind focuses on the what-might-have-beens. Those are the natural landscapes and living conditions of whatever animal I’m viewing.

Take this guy, for instance. He was brought into man’s arena very early in his life. He worked for a living, hence his missing horn. And when his work was done, he was fortunate enough to find sanctuary on the Olympic Peninsula with other animal actors that had been retired.

He’s a sweetheart, who likes treats and people’s voices. He’s enclosed to keep him safe from those who would taunt and tease and stress him unduly. I think it’s sad that we have lock up the wild things to keep them safe from us, the civilized ones.

Because he’d not been allowed to be wild, he will never know his ancestors’ natural habitat. Then again, at least here he can live a peaceful existence without fear of someone taking his life, as well as his horn. And without his horn, he could have never survived in his natural habitat anyway.

Herds of elk and fallow deer have free run of many more acres of this wild animal park. The bison keep them company as they watch cars go by, occupants snapping and whirring with their cameras. Thankfully, no one can get out of their cars to aggravate the ones trying to eat or rest.

Peacocks keep order. Rabbits watch from the sidelines. Those in the petting zoo take little hands in stride. And everywhere are the sounds of human voices, rather than those of the residents.

Within the shadows cast by trees lurk yaks and zebras, not usual neighbors, though they seem to get along quite well.

The occasional small scene gives an idyllic glimpse of how life in the wild could be if allowed.

Throughout this day of animal watching and speculation of natural wild habitats ruined in the name of progress, I rediscovered something about myself that I hadn’t visited in a long while. My acceptance of zoos hasn’t increased any as I got older. I loved them when I was in my early twenties. That’s no longer the case.

Yet, while I can’t appreciate them as I once did, I no longer condemn them as I would have ten years ago. I’ve reached a compromise of sorts within myself. In an ideal world man and animal would live in harmony, each to his natural habitat, without concern that one would threaten or become a nuisance to the other.

Sanctuaries and zoos have their place now in our world, whether we want it that way or not. These providers of safety and species continuation may be the only hope wildlife has against the destruction of their homelands. I can’t guess at the future of Earth’s wildlife. I can only work to appreciate it at each opportunity, without stressing it any further or helping to wipe it out by my own life process.

I appreciate those who dedicate their lives to safeguarding species other than humans. I applaud their efforts, knowing that life could have been mine. Many years ago at the San Diego Zoo, I was given that opportunity. My reason for rejecting the offer was spurious to say the least; giving up a lucrative job was out of the question right then.

The truth was that such a change at that time in my life scared me silly. My life was still being ruled by other people. That didn’t change until recently. Would I reconsider if given that same offer again? Probably not, but not for the same reason.

Living the life meant for me now, there is no reason to go back. The last major thought to zip through my mind while thinking of zoos and sanctuaries is this. Do humans not do for and to themselves what they’ve done to those creatures of the wild?

In building our civilizations, our cities, our doctrines, have we not built ourselves into a planet-wide zoo in an attempt to preserve our species for something greater; and in doing so, trapped ourselves within, locking the doors against all but the best of locksmiths?

A bientot,

Claudsy

Note:** All photos Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Flash Fiction is Everywhere

June 25, 2012 2 comments

If you’re looking for a lunchtime break with a little fiction of a different type, head over to Two Voices, One Song. I’ve posted a new bit of Flash Fiction there this morning titled “Choices.”

Later today, I’ll have a new, regular post here with pics, but I thought I’d give you all a heads-up about a quick read. Hope you enjoy it. While you’re there, and if you have time, take a look around. There’s plenty to see.

Here’s the link.

http://2voices1song.com/2012/06/25/886/

See you all in a bit. Have a great afternoon, peeps.

Claudsy

Epiphanies and Springboards

June 21, 2012 4 comments

Have you ever been working to solve a problem within your personal life or your work life and, when you least expect it, an epiphany erupts from your mind and nearly blinds you?

That’s what happened to me an hour ago or so. I’ve been laboring to get a work schedule created for a couple of years now, that allowed me to produce usable work without leaving me feeling as if I’m running a race from the last position each day. You think I’m slow? Possibly.

This morning I was sitting, allowing my mind to flush itself of what had gone before, and it hit me. It was a profound revelation within my mind. I saw the whole problem, and the whys of it nearly floored me. It was so simple and yet, it will be something so difficult to remedy.

This is how works. I am an extremely detail-oriented person. That’s part of my nature. Couple that with the knowledge that I also, as part of my nature, am always looking at the Big Picture. This trait of mine was trained very well to always look at the overview of everything before determining the direction of exploration or explanation.

Add to all of that the understanding that much in my life has been experienced within chaos mode for a couple of years. Throw into the mix a personal need for perfection.

So—that leaves me with miniscule details overshadowed by overview; omniscient’s guide to insanity, if you’re a writer. I cannot look at the details of one project or portion of project without also seeing all of the other projects waiting in the wings. And it isn’t just all of the projects, it’s all of the angles, slants, characters, plots, etc. that scream my name, jump up and down, waving their arms, trying to keep my attention.

And, it’s not a matter of focus. It’s a matter of how my brain works.

I hadn’t really put all of this together yet. Some of my distraction on the situation could be due to lack of solid sleep, or trying to get fifteen things done to perfection finished ahead of a deadline. That couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it. Could it?

As I sat there looking at this situation, I realized just how much humor God has. Consider the scientist sitting in the lab in front of her microscope. A critical slide sits beneath the lens waiting for examination and interpretation. Yet, when she looks through the lens, she also sees the origin of the sample on the slide, overlaying the image. That’s been my view of my work every day for countless months.

Now you know why I may have seemed harried and haggard. It also helps explain why only an editorial calendar has had any effect on my work day. Sad state of affairs.

You may ask how I’m going to remedy this situation. I don’t know that I can completely. I don’t need a greater war waged inside of my own nature.

All I can really do, is be aware of the conflict—brother, wouldn’t this make a great plot—and do what I can on a daily basis to mitigate the disruption and distress. I can dig deeper into the Tao for answers to changing my nature, but until I can set those tenets into place, I must wing it on an hourly basis.

I’m fortunate. I figured out what the problem was and can figure out a more workable solution, given some time. Think about those poor, sad people who’re struggling with something like this who haven’t had an epiphany yet. I would take up a collection for them, but I don’t know yet who they are. Then again, they don’t know either.

And there you have the crux of the problem. Are you waiting for an epiphany, too? Do you know if you need one? Feel free to question here. Remember–questions aren’t the problem. It’s the answers that get you in trouble.

A bientot,

Claudsy

June 19, 2012 7 comments
A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope)

A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my other blogs got lonely today. In order to keep it from gathering dust, I wrote a piece that talks of obligation, creation, writing, and put it all in a package that takes its inspiration from the manual on poetry.

Calliope is one of my several personalities. I figure if you’re going to go to all the trouble of having more than one persona, you might as well give each one room to spread out.

So, if you’re bored, have time on your hands and just want to see something different that you get over here, pop over to Calliope. The fare over there has a different flavor than Claudsy’s Blog; at least, most of the time.

Enjoy yourselves. Comment if you desire.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Play Time

June 18, 2012 2 comments

Today, I thought to show you all something I do from time to time. Enjoy.

Some of the Easiest Characters Around

June 15, 2012 9 comments
Jack Russell Terrier with ball.

Jack Russell Terrier with ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever struggled to come up that character to add comic relief to a story? What about the little kid who holds the hearts of everyone in a five mile radius with the look on his face and the expression in his eyes? Or, the old lady down the street who is always there with a kind word and an understanding presence?

These are all common characters, so common they’ve become near stereotypes. But how do you create freshness to a stereotype without removing what makes them appealing and affective?

Use a different model for your character. Let’s say you’ve chosen to have an old lady for your story. She’s going to live next door to the family you’re writing about. Let’s also assume that that’s all you know about this character.

One way to get a fresh perspective on this character is to change your own perspective. The only thing you know for certain is that this character is old and lives nearby. With this in mind think of others that could be old and live nearby.

  1. An aged golden retriever that’s been faithful and gentle all her life. Her slightly coppery locks have grayed. Her step is more measured now. Her ability to rush is curtailed with age. She is always available for a hug, and she thinks nothing of spending an afternoon with anyone who needs a companion, to sooth and ease a hurt.
  2. An older Scot Terrier that doesn’t take guff from anyone for any reason. Female she might be, but tough, and knows her own mind. Short legs don’t keep her from taking long walks each day; even if they tire easily, she’ll push through to the end.
  3. An older mare that’s birthed her last foal and been put to graze and grow complacent in her last years. She stands at the fence looking to the west, her eyes seeing the wild herds that used to roam the plains and mountains, whose king stallion stands guard at the edge of his circled harem.

You choice of character models are endless, when you realize that all creatures as they age share common traits. By removing the “animal” from the model and concentrating on the behavior, the visible traits, your own story character takes on a new dimension. You could find these characters in your own home.

Remember that comic relief character? Can you think of models to give you a handle on such a role in your story? Here are three that might work.

  1. A Jack Russell Terrier. That’s the hyper pup on springs. If you don’t laugh at the antics of one of these little clowns, there’s no hope for your character.
  2. Chickens are comic creatures, often overlooked for their relief value. Watch a small flock during evening feeding of veggie scraps. Or, watch them tussle over the use of the swing or perch. They also have personalities.
  3. Wild birds during nesting season. They are a hoot; stealing each other’s nesting materials, poking each other, squabbling, all while trying to attract a mate.

Writers must look outside their usual views in order to keep their perspectives out of stereotype territory. One of the surest ways of doing that is to create different criteria for developing characters. Substituting aspects and traits of animals is one of the easiest methods for ensuing uniqueness.

Give yourself time in the park to watch those creatures that frequent it; ducks and geese on the pond, squirrels racing from tree to tree, or birds arguing back and forth. Go to a quiet wooded area and sit down next to a small stream. Wait in silence. You’ll find more inspiration that you know what to do with if you’re patient.

Come back and tell me of your adventures. Let me know how this process works for you. We can always discuss what you learn along the way.

Until then, a bientot,

Claudsy