#OctPoWriMo & Writober Day 5: Tricks Played Along the Path

Homemade Healthy Halloween Chocolates by Maria L. Berg 2021

How’s that for a trick? I found a simple healthy dark chocolate recipe, and a Halloween chocolate mold (glad I had one skull left, I already ate all the pumpkins). I think those little people are supposed to be cherubs (other chocolate mold), but I choose to see them as people running in terror.

Jack-o-Lanterns by Maria L. Berg 2021

My best trick, in my opinion, is my bokeh photography. For today’s prompt at Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “trick,” I made a new filter, so I can now put jack-o-lantern faces on every point of light.

OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt, Follow you path wherever it may lead was the focus of my August “Pathways” project. I think most of you have already watched it, but if you haven’t, I read two poems about pathways over my original music and a video of bokeh footprints. So I’ll choose a different path and look at the 2018 prompt for Day 5: Denied. “Denied” has a great sonic quality. I used it in a song I wrote a long time ago called “Dry Your Eyes.” Here’s the first verse and chorus.

I feel it building,
coming up from deep inside.
Imploding bits of yearning, parts of everything denied.

But no don’t do that, girl don’t do that, please, just dry your eyes.

Maria L. Berg from Live Bait Machine 2002
Dry Your Eyes by Maria and the Aftermath from Live Bait Machine 2002

I hadn’t planned on sharing the song, but I’m enjoying listening to it, so I thought you might too. Does it sound like “denied?” I sure think so, but I’m a bit biased.

In 2018 I wrote a short poem called “Denied” exploring all the senses of “denied.” I like the smell I came up with. So I’ve got a sound and a smell (laundry left in the wash overnight). But what is the texture of denied? Slippery, I think. I remember trying to get out of a pool of water that had been a treacherous jump to get into. The rocks were too slick and I couldn’t get out. It took one person pulling me from above and another pushing from below (embarrassing) before I finally found a foothold.

The taste? For me, cilantro. And these days, “denied” looks like rejection letter after rejection letter. The joy of the life of a fiction writer.

So I have my senses wrapped around “denied.” How do I sonically surrender to it? What’s the trick? Bring it back to this love of words and poetry. Accept that being denied is part of the process of the path I’m on. Let’s see what happens.

All the Judgy Jack-o-Lanterns by Maria L. Berg 2021

I opened the washing machine and I faced

forgotten laundry, wet, rotten, and tawdry
sodden limp bodies, whirled cotton underthings
left too long, waft wrong

a sharp reminder of efforts denied
intentions resigned, redefined
dallies-dillied, willies-nillied, paths-a-wandered
time squandered, thoughts pondered
monkeyshined attention bamboozled to other directions

but funkified clothes are but a sigh and an eye-roll
a stale-fail waste of soap and water
but taken in stride those whites get another ride
the flunk undone and a battle soon won

Writober

I did my character sheets: Time-consuming, but fun. I love when the random selections fit the character I have in mind, almost as much as when they create conflict in the character.

All my characters have names now. Harvey is gone. My dead body is now name Reese Tribble. She was the school nurse of the small village, but got murderously greedy. The wheelbarrow man is named Rafael Minghella. He was an introverted ap designer who thought Reese was his best friend. Anouk, the mystical wild boar, protector of the forest, is an egocentric idealist whose destructive flaw is impatience, has a bad habit of snacking, and is afraid of the number four. Anouk is accompanied by Boonam Funk who is also impatient and egocentric and is moved by evil forces.

The story so far:

Every year on Halloween night, the people of a small village by an ancient forest bury the body of someone recently deceased deep in the forest as an offering for Anouk, the mythical wild boar that protects the forest. This year, however, no one has died and people are beginning to worry about Anouk’s wrath. Raphael Minghella, this year’s designated body burier, doesn’t believe in Anouk, and gets in an argument with his friend Reese, the school nurse who has been offered a lot of money to “come up with” a body. Reese doesn’t like the way Raphael is looking at her, and assumes his lustful pass at her is an attempt to strike first. She evades him in such a way that she slips and impales herself on his high hat stand. He decides to bury her in the forest and try to collect the money she was offered. On his way out of the forest, he sees Boonam Funk, the man with Anouk, approaching.

As you can see, the micro-story has expanded, but I still haven’t gotten to the real story. What happens to Raphael? To the village? Where is the fear and horror of the story?

At the moment, I still think the story is from Raphael’s point of view and starts as he is leaving the forest. Maybe it starts with his thoughts as he is burying his friend, and the turn of the story is when he sees Anouk and Boonam approaching. Since everything with Reese happened because he didn’t believe in Anouk and she did, his world view would completely change.

Okay, I think I’m getting somewhere. Rafael’s main fears are separation and dying which are pretty universal fears, so I’ll dig into those fears as my themes. Now that I have my themes and my turning point, I can get started on a chiastic outline. This article “The Strength of a Symmetrical Plot” does a good job of explaining chiastic structure and has a great example created by Susan Raab using the story of Beauty and the Beast. I created a similar worksheet for myself to print out and use to brainstorm my story outlines. Hopefully I’ll have a completed one to show you tomorrow

Ghosts of judgy jack-o-lanterns by Maria L. Berg 2021

My Skeleton and Other Wild Animals: #OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 4

From the Lake by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s theme for #tshalloweenchallenge is Skeleton. I’m so glad I found this challenge yesterday. I’m finding it very inspiring. Yesterday, I started looking through my Halloween fabrics and today, I started playing with my Halloween decorations. For once in a long while, my Halloween might not feel rushed and last minute.

OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt is about the turning of the season. In the word prompts “change of direction” speaks to my interest in forces (In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object – Wikipedia) and peripeteia (noun – a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work). I also like “fresh starts” and “cool nights.”

The suggested form is Pantoum. I enjoyed how Michele Vecchitto used the form to talk about the comfort of traditions in her poem Change of Season, Change of Heart this morning.

In 2018 the prompt was “_________________ and other strange animals.” In my journaling this morning, I remembered it as wild animals and for some reason I’ve decided my skeleton is a wild animal. The poem I wrote back in 2018 “The Guilty Man and Other Animals” also removed the word strange, and the imagery is definitely more in the wild, or feral category.

I don’t think I explored the prompt much back then because I’ve never read My family and other Animals by Gerald Durrell or seen the film. I watched the first ten minutes this morning and I think I will enjoy it.

The suggested form was Kennings which will be a great compliment to sonic surrender. A Kenning is a two-word phrase describing and object through metaphor. The example given often is “whale-road” meaning “sea” from Ezra Pound’s The Seafarer.

What’s a Kenning for skeleton? bone-train, internal-frame, calcium-hoarder, marrow-storage, organ-armor, giblets-cage, meatless-me, meatless-motion, sated-dermestids (flesh-eating beetles), people-stands, people-poles, maggot-leftovers, X-ray-art, radiation-picture, X-ray-white.

What a great way to get the mind thinking metaphorically and to generate imagery. I’m so glad I came back to this prompt and really played with it.

So much to play with: surrender to sound, repetition of the Pantoum and metaphor-fun of Kennings. Here we go!

The Bone-train Symphony

I listen for the tones of my X-ray-whites
the meatless-me meanders along the tracks
the bone-train, pops and grinds when gravity fights
groans and moans, creaks and cracks

the meatless me meanders along the tracks
a shell of elemental elegance sketched
groans and moans, creaks and cracks
a schism, a radiation-picture etched

a shell of elemental elegance sketched
rattling, prattling, tattling organ-armor
a schism, a radiation-picture etched
why does action bring on such a clamor?

rattling, prattling, tattling organ-armor
the bone-train pops and grinds in gravity’s fight
why does action bring on such a clamor,
a cacophony of tones from my X-ray-whites?

Writober

So far I came up with an idea: A man coming out of the forest with a wheelbarrow and a shovel passes a man in dark goggles and a leather trench-coat, carrying a large suitcase and leading a tusked boar by a sheer scarf. Okay, that’s not really an idea, more of an intriguing image.

Then I did some research and found that there is mythology around boars as protectors of forests and that they are tenacious and hard to kill (especially if supernatural ūüėČ). They may symbolize luck and fulfilling desire for some, but betrayal for others which fits well into a story.

The collective noun for boars is a Herd, a Singular, or a Sounder; as in how did this boar get separated from his singular? Or why did this boar choose the company of a man over his sounder? Yeah, anything other than “herd” would probably just confuse the reader.

Then I started to develop my characters. I need another day to develop these characters, so I’m going to put off theme and outline until tomorrow.

Any of you working on fun spooky story ideas for #Writober?

#NaNoWriMo Day 2: The Antagonist’s Ordinary World

Day 2
Word count: 2,259 words
Word count goal: 4,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World – Antagonist
Save The Cat: Theme stated / Set-up

I love this painting by Alex Rubio (first image on left). If you would like to learn more about his work, here’s a video on YouTube where he talks about it.

Today, I’m focusing on my antagonists. There are many in my novel. One is a fireworks distributor, thus the fireworks labels. Plus, Frankenstein lighting an M-80 is just fun.

#vss very short story

Peter found some old fireworks tucked in the back corner of the garage. After lighting them off, he drove to the courthouse and had his name legally changed to Frankenpyro.

Plotting with Tarot

For today’s reading, I’m going to focus on my main antagonist. Though all of my antagonists committed crimes and are very bad guys, only one is the guy “whodunnit”. Let’s see what the cards say for his Ordinary World reading.

Antagonists Ordinary World

Ordinary World: Page of Swords- someone who spurs you on with discomfort and irritation rather than command

What he likes: Knight of Swords – passionate thinking and mental determination

What bothers him: The Fool – a new beginning, an impassioned start

My interpretation:

This reading makes sense for my character. He is the type of guy who is constantly coming up with a new “business venture”. He likes finding the business idea and starting it, but then, when it doesn’t work out, he hates the disappointment. He would like some security for his family and a constant pay-check, maybe some benefits, but then he discovers the “next great idea”.

Ask Your Character

  • How has your life been different than what you imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?

Word Of The Day

imbroglio: n. a confused, embarrassing situation

8 Action Verbs:

accomplished          briefed          constructed          distributed

generated                led                   presided                 searched

Poem prompt

What symbols represent your antagonist? Pick one and use it as a metaphor for your antagonist’s ordinary world.

King Of The Forest

pride
fiercely protective
awareness to competition
long and steady, not quick and easy
he knows he is king of the forest lands

strength
the elk calls his herd
to cross the river
he smells other elk
drawn to the salt, he licks

stamina
the still air cracks
he runs until he falls
chest heaving with final breaths

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Simile: Imagine a person or object. This is the A of a comparison A is like B. Make a list of everything A is like. Try to get as abstract and creative as possible. List 30 to 40 things A is like. Look back through your list and choose your favorites. Compare A to B using like or as.

Similes are important for describing sensual information, so you may want to choose a sight, smell, taste, or texture for A.

Today’s Simple Task

Focus on your genre. Write a genre specific scene. If your novel is humor, write a comedic scene. Writing a thriller? Write a scary scene. Writing a mystery? Write about a red herring.

Warm-up Exercise

Set a timer for 15 minutes.¬† What does your antagonist want and why? What’s the first thing they will do to get it? -prompt inspired by Diana Gabaldon (Nano poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Since today is about antagonists, I recommend the Mean Girls word crawl. Then, once you’ve reached your word goal, you can relax and watch it Mean Girls.

Have a great day of writing and reading!

 

Reaping A Bountiful Harvest

summer squash, pole beans, kale, Swiss chard and a lemon cucumber nicely displayed on a wood countertop

The harvest: Summer squash, lemon cucumber, pole beans, Swiss chard & 4 kinds of kale

I find no meal more satisfying than the one picked fresh from my garden. This year’s harvest is turning out to be very exciting. This year is the year of vine vegetables and many kinds of kale. Yum. The beauties pictured above were used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For breakfast this morning I had a piece of grain and seed toast with a little yogurt ranch Three slices of lemon cucumber showing the pretty star-shaped centers and seedsdressing, white cheddar cheese and slices of lemon cucumber. The first bite was surprising. The sweetness of the cucumber drew out the salt in the bread to an acute surprise.

For lunch, the summer squash served as noodles after going through the spiral slicer . The raw squash had less taste than I expected, but was full of flavor once topped with an olive oil sauce of onions, garlic, Roma tomatoes (from my friend’s garden), and fresh rosemary and thyme (growing in pots on the porch).

Harvest DinnerDinner was wonderful. We put brown and wild rice in the rice cooker and food steamer and steamed the beans and some cauliflower. Then when those veggies were done, we steamed the greens and some mushrooms. I topped the whole thing with my favorite spicy peanut sauce. I used the Gado Gado recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook .

This wonderful harvest after years of being mostly thwarted is a great metaphor for the writing life. It takes persistence and constantly trying new and creative things.

I keep planting every year, no matter how the last harvest turns out. Every year I try something new. I try new vegetables. I change where and when I plant. I’ve planted horizontally, vertically and in arcs. This year I added planting up with poles and twine. This year, I’m also going to try a fall/winter garden, replanting as soon as I finish the harvest.

In my writing life, I make another Gator McBumpypants picture book, another NaNoWriMo novel, another short story, another poem, no matter how the last one was received. I read, I enjoy online courses and I learn and practice the craft every day. I don’t approach the page the same way, but try new skills and ideas all the time.

At the beginning of the week, I organized all of my writing projects for this fall and found an amazing word harvest. I found a lot more words on the page than I expected. I have so many wonderful projects to work on, it’s hard to choose; in a good way.

Today is about celebrating the harvest. It’s about time and patience. If we keep at it, one day we may be happily surprised with enough to eat.

Happy Reading and Writing!