Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tips and tools for making your 2018 writing goals #Row80

2018 is still a new born year. A stumbling foal just learning to stand. This first week is a great time to really think about the year ahead and what we want to achieve. The problem is staying motivated and reaching those goals. Here are a few tips and resources to help us do just that. 

We'll start with tips. The biggest and best tip I have is to set only one or two major goals. Such as write one entire novel. Once you have your 'big' goal down in ink it's time to think about the steps it will take to get there. Make each of those steps smaller goals. Break it down even further if you need to. Making a series or list of smaller goals makes hitting that big one less daunting. Crossing off each of those steps or smaller goals will allow you to see your progress and keep you motivated.  

Make your goal list visible. Don't just write it in a notebook you keep on your desk. Take one small goal and write or print it out on bright colored paper. Stick it over your work area, stick smaller versions around the house where you are likely to procrastinate. Such as taping one to the edge of your TV screen, or laptop monitor. Stick one to your bathroom mirror or keep a laminated copy in your pocket.  

Seeing that goal will keep it to the forefront of your mind and motivate you to do something about it. Once you reach that goal, take it down and put the next one up. Be sure to move them around a bit. Move the TV one to your coffee pot or eye-level on your bedroom or closet door.  

If something is in the same place for a while we tend to look over it after a while. We don't really pay attention to that item or posting anymore. Changing them to different places now and then keeps it fresh and visible mentally as well as physically.  

Next you need to time your goals. Not a hardcore, etched in stone kind of limit. We all know life has a sense of humor and when we think we have it all on track she comes in with a wrecking ball. Deadlines keeps us motivated but not being able to reaching them can be disheartening to say the least. Especially if it happens more than once. Taking a breath and saying it's okay we can do it next week gives you a little wiggle room and keeps the wheels of progress turning.  

Now that you are ready for some goal setting here are a few fun resources to keep that motivation flowing.  

Round of Words in 80 Days  What better way to stay motivated than to post your goals and share your progress on your blog. With this blogging group fellow writers share their goals and progress then everyone adds their post links to a linky list. You can read and comment supporting each other and encouraging and getting encouraged to stay on track.  

4theWords This is a fun way to motivate you to get writing. You set a word count and pick a quest. As you write you are battling a monster with every word count success you defeat dragons and other creatures saving the kingdom. You want to earn points and travel on in the quest and the only way to do that is to write more! 
This app can keep you on track. You set your goals then get reminders and can track progress of each of them through the app. If you reach an achievement you'll even get a high five and rewards. The app is free or they have a paid option with a link to a human coach for $15. This app is for any kind of goal setting so use it for life goals, writing goals or whatever you want to achieve.  

There we have some goals and some tools. Now it's time for me to take my own advice and set some goals.   Goals for this week January 4th - January 10th: Write at least 500 words every day on work in progress. Go through at least two boxes from the move. 

Now that we have goals let's get to it! Share one of your goal achieving tips in a comment below!  

Be sure to visit other participants of Round 1 2018 of Round of Words in 80 Days. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

It Happened in Mt. Dora....

I am way behind on blogging and am working on blending my librarian life and my writing life a little better. August 12th, 2017 was one of those days where it all worked. (Yeah, I know that was months ago. Told ya I was way behind J)

WT Bland Library of Mt. Dora, FL held their annual Writer’s Expo. This year they talked about some fantastic programs that were coming to Mt. Dora and Leesburg Public Libraries. (Hopefully the rest of the Lake County Library System soon!)

The conference talked about the Self-e, PressBook, and BiblioBoard options for publishing. If you hold a library card for either of these libraries you can use these products to help you self-publish your novel. Libraries aren’t just for checking out books these days they’re for creating them too!

The Friends of the Mt. Dora Library offered refreshments for the event as well, but that wasn’t all. Writers One Flight Up writing group of Mt. Dora sponsored a nanofiction contest with two categories. Romance and It Happened in Mt Dora.

I am proud to say I placed first with my entry in the It Happened in Mt. Dora category. My fellow Lake Writers member and author Sally Max took first place in the Romance category. I was totally taken by surprise and more than thrilled of course.

Below is my winning nanofiction entry. It Happened in Mt. Dora…
“Bartender, refill.” This was a hell of a case. The kind that made an investigator chase his tail before he could get a decent lead. How’d he get mixed up in this chaos?
He gave a snort and knocked back the fresh glass of bourbon. A doe-eyed skirt who sauntered into his Donnelly Street office with a sad story and tear in her eye, that’s what. There was probably an onion in that silk hanky.
He motioned to the bartender for another. “Just leave the bottle. Old Jim here and I need a long conversation about a dame.”

I’m looking forward to the next contest. Which happens to be taking entries right now through Jan. 20, 2018. The theme is Please be mine…. and is sponsored by Writers One Flight Up and WT Bland Library. For details on the contest click HERE.

Now back to noveling, after all it is NaNo November.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grave Dancer

It was dark in the chapel, a new moon shed no light in the old abandoned building He sat on a pew moved under a window he watched and waited. Tonight he was prepared with camera, recorder, extra batteries, and a thermos of hot coffee to combat the chill of the night.

His hands wrapped around the tin cup absorbing the heat as he took a long sip. It was almost time, almost. He was afraid they wouldn’t come, he wouldn’t see her again. That it had been all a figment of his drunken mind.

Every night since that first one he had waited to see her again. He glanced back out the window he saw a glow fill the ancient graveyard. 

The glow was a soft bluish green like the ocean. The air felt damp heavy as he tossed aside the half full cup to get up on his knees for a better view out the broken window. His camera was in hand as he searched the worn headstones for her. 

The earth below a few of the stones shifted as a mist formed above them, taking shape. Arms stretched toward the sky as feet touched the ground. The figures yawned and moved as if waking from slumber.

He watched from his perch in the window holding up his camera to get the proof he wasn’t mad. They were real. The women there were like wisps of wind, ethereal. He could see them clearly in their ivory burial gowns, their skin fair as fine porcelain. But there was a touch of dream about them as they moved. Shifts in the misty glow would show them transparent.

His interest focused on one as she turned her skirt swirling the brittle leaves over her grave. She seemed to dance to some silent tune, perhaps only her kind could hear. Suddenly she stopped and walked back to her tombstone.

A cream colored rose lay on the aged marble. A soft smile of wonder slowly spread across  her pinked lips. She touched the petals gently as if it would fade away. When it didn’t she picked it up and brushed her cheek against the silken petals before she inhaled the sweet scent. 
A few of the other spirits began to gather to see the flower. Some searched their own stones. She smiled and held it out for them to sniff and touch lightly it had been so very long since anything but decay grew here.

The wind blew leaves around them, though their delicate forms. One jealous spiteful spirit marched over. Around her, the mist seemed darker, and aura of her cruel days in flesh perhaps.

Her hand closed over the petals and crushed the flower leaving only the stem in the sweet spirits hands.

The others began to walk away to play on their night of freedom.  The dark soul raised her chin and moved as far from them as her existence would allow. 

He watched wanting in that moment to run out and tell her not to be sad. The expression of loss on her sweet face was almost too much for his own heart to bare. How was he to know something as simple as a rose would cause so much.

Out the window, he saw her chest rise and fall in a ghostly sigh. The spirit knelt on the dead grass and picked up every petal, caressing it lightly in her hand. When they were all gathered she sat on a cracked marble bench and marveled.

She could still smell the sweet fragrance; the petals were still soft like her favorite velvet gown. She held them to her face and smiled. A petal escaped, slipped through her fingers to float into her lap.

She stood and watched it float gently to the worn earth. Suddenly she raised her hands and spun around tossing the petals in the air. As they fell around her catching on her hair and dress she danced in them.

When they had all fallen she gathered them to dance again in the glow of the mist. Her gown flowed around her, arms gracefully moved through the air, her dark hair flowed free around her shoulders lifting as she turned.

There was no sound but a soft rustle of leaves but he could imagine her joyous laughter. Something made her pause and look up. She brushed a strand of hair from her face and sighed. She gathered up her petals and carried them lovingly back to her grave.

She held her hands over it then slowly turned her palms letting petals fall like soft rain over her stone. With a gentle smile, she yawned and stretched as the mist appeared to grow thicker. Soon the others were in their places as well the mist began to fade until a glimpse of the sun could be spotted over the trees.

There was no more dancing the only evidence of the night being the cream-colored rose petals strewn over the darkened marble stone.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Rosary

Father McKenna looked out at the congregation as they stood from their pews to sing with the choir. His eyes slipped shut as the organ notes began to echo though the sanctuary.

The high ceiling echoed with the faith filled voices of those present for mass this night. Did they know? Could they see the difference in him?

His eyes turned to the crowd. Some stood with their hands out palms upward to catch Heaven’s blessings. While others lifted their faces as if God would press his lips to their brow to take the sorrow from their souls.

What of his soul, did it exist or did she drink it with her seductions. He gingerly touched the edge of his collar, grateful it hid his secret beneath. The church faded before his eyes as his mind replayed the memory of last night.

He couldn’t sleep, the night was too warm in the rectory. After restless minutes of failed attempts to find comfort, the Father walked out into the garden. He knelt before the stone cross in the center with his rosary.

McKenna bowed his head and crossed himself as he began the prayers. He turned the beads in his fingers as he spoke. “Our Father, Who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name… “

As the words fell into the night, his soul began to calm, his eyes closed as he opened to deity’s touch. The air around him stilled, a dark silence descended. He took a deep breath to clear the distraction his focus on God as he continued to pray.

A soft giggle broke the silence, Father McKenna opened his eyes and fell backward with a startled breath. A young woman stood behind the stone cross her arms wrapped around it. Her petite fingers covering her mouth to stifle her laughter. 

Her eyes were dark sunken into her face as though it had been a hundred years since she last slept. McKenna could feel darkness in her. “The church is open for prayer. The rectory is private, my child.”

The girl, no thing… pushed from the stone, her tongue slowly moved across her bottom lip. “Child? Priest… you’re not even old enough to be my father.”

McKenna stilled as she stood over him. His eyes couldn’t focus on her face, dizziness fell on him.

She… it, bent to bring her face to his and sniffed at the air before him, then again at his neck. McKenna’s pulse jumped as she moved closer, her lip curled wickedly. “I smell fear on your skin. Is your faith not strong enough?”

Her breath a bouquet of decay, soured milk, and roses filled face. The father coughed and swallowed back the sickness. “He will protect me, my faith is strong.”

Her fingers slid through his hair slowly as she gave a sound something between a scoff and curt laugh. “No, priest, faith can’t protect you. Your hair is so soft, you do smell nice, fresh.”

The creature nuzzled his neck, for a brief moment the gentle touch of her fingertips along the line of his neck distracted him from what he was. His hand clenched and he felt the rosary wrapped in his palm.

He drew back from her. “I am a man of God, I will not be corrupt.”

The creature was undeterred rested her brow to his. “You were corrupt the moment you spoke to me, priest.”

That last word she spat into his face with contempt for all he was and believed.

This close he could see her eyes were dead, soulless things. He felt his heartbeat slow, her tiny hands grip his shoulders. Those hands had strength that defied their size. She moved closer, her head tilted toward the side of his neck as if to kiss.

McKenna pushed her off as he scurried backward until he could stand and put distance between them. “Be gone unclean spirit.” He swung the crucifix; the silver cross struck the monster across her cheek.

She hissed and pressed a hand to her wound but not before, he saw blood thick and black ooze forth. The blood of a corpse. Her eyes shifted until there was no white left in them. He gazed into orbs of pure onyx.

McKenna tried to look away but those orbs held him captive. In an attempt to break the spell, he rose the crucifix between them. Bluish smoke rose from the bits of flesh and ooze that clung to the holy item.

“Unclean, perhaps you should look in the mirror, priest.” She brushed the ooze from her cheek; the wound closed and began to fade from her skin.

When it vanished, McKenna looked at the rosary to see the gore still present. He hadn’t dreamed the gash. Though his faith was strong, the hand which clutched the beaded strand trembled. “I am a child of God.”

She laughed, not the girlish giggle that brought his attention from prayer. This was as though gravel were being poured into his ears. Only something made of darkness could laugh like that. “Does he love you, priest?”

He gasped as her voice whispered behind him against his ear, she had moved faster than a blink. “Despite the blood I smell on your hands?”

He could not stop the shiver which coursed down his spine when her breath fell down the line of his throat. “Old blood, long forgiven. He loves me.”

McKenna turned his head to look at her, but his eyes focused on her lips not her eyes. “He has love for you.”

She cackled again, the sound dug painfully inside his ears. “Love for me, an unclean beast? You think I still have a soul to save? Perhaps I don’t want your salvation.”

The edge of her fingernail trailed down his neck. “You have to wait for your rewards in Heaven. I get my rewards when I take them.” The nail turned and sliced into his flesh.

He froze caught by fear and her gaze. Her lip curled into a grin that would haunt his dreams for the rest of his days on earth. She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My reward tonight shall be you.”

McKenna tried to push her away again but he was powerless held in her gaze, one hand at his throat a razor like nail dug at his skin as the other hand fisted in his hair. His mouth opened to scream, protest, cry for help, but nothing uttered forth. Only a groan of pain as she drew back his head and struck the line of soft flesh she exposed.

The next moment he knew dawn had begun to break. The beams of soft light danced over his face to open his eyes. The creature had gone but her kiss remained on his neck, he felt the punctures gingerly and hissed in pain. He lived… at least part of him had survived.

As McKenna stumbled to his room he felt changed, the world seemed too bright, the light ached his eyes.

Silence called him back from memory to Morning Mass. The songs were finished, the voices of the blessed quiet to receive the message. McKenna stood and approached the pulpit. Was he cursed, could he speak the words?

His rosary clean and polished lay gazing at him. It had burned the thing; if he was cursed, it would him also. It was time to see if his soul was her reward. McKenna closed his eyes and uttered a prayer as his hand descended on the rosary, and the truth of his soul.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Don't Breathe

Victor and Nicholas stumbled down the walk. They leaned on each other; one thought he was holding the other
upright. Victor took a deep swallow from the bottle then passed it to his friend.

Nicholas took the offered libation. “Ah, there’s still half of the amber left in there. We must be getting light my friend.”

Victor chuckled. “Light? Nay, well, you maybe. You know what we need Nicky boy?”

He passed the bottle back to Victor. “Oh bloody hell. No, not that.”

Victor grinned a bit lopsided. “Oh yes.” He took a deep breath and began. “Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”

Nicholas took the cute as Victor paused for a drink. “From glen to glen and down the mountain side. The summer’s gone and all the flowers dying…”

Victor shoved the bottle back into his friend’s hand. “Och! Take another swig to tune those pipes.”

Nicholas pushed the bottle back and hooked his thumbs into the pockets of his waistcoat as his chest puffed up with pride. “I will have you know, Reverend Blake said my voice could wake angels.”

“No, he said, you could wake the demons in all nine hells.” Victor started to laugh when he saw the policeman pop around the corner. He leaned against the brick wall and smiled. He knew he was to far gone to pass for sober any other way.

Nicholas straightened and tossed the bottle over the high wall. “Evening, officer. Lovely night for a stroll don’t you think?”

“Aye, evening gents. You should be heading on home at this hour though.” The bobby eyed the men, he could see they were a few sheets to the wind. They weren’t causing trouble so why bother with the paperwork of taking them in.

Nicholas tipped his cap to him. “Yes, sir. That’s right where we’re headed.”

The cop scoffed then continued to walk. Once he was gone around the next corner, Victor breathed a sigh of relief. “That was close. Let’s totter on before he patrols back. Where’s our fine nectar, boyo?”

“I tossed it over the wall. I wasn’t going to spend the night in the tank.” He thumbed over the top of the bricks to point where.

Victor pulled himself up enough to peek over. “I see it, still intact even. Good thing you throw like a lass. It landed on a new grave, the fresh turned soil cushioned her fall.”

“Grave? This is Westfall Cemetery? Oh no, I don’t want another drink that bad. The bobby was right it’s time to call it a night, Vic.”

“You can’t be afraid of a few old bones. No one in there is going to bite.” Victor laughed as he started to walk toward the gate of the cemetery.

Nicholas grabbed his arm. “You cannot go in there, it’s past midnight and the moon is high. There’s a fresh grave. We can just walk around the other way and go home.”

The other man shook his head.  “For the love of Pete, the bobby went that way. I’m not getting pinched again because you’re superstitious. “

With a deep sigh, Nicholas conceded. Neither of them could afford to get busted again by the cops for public drinking. “Alright, but when we pass the gate you have to hold your breath. They can pass through a gate, the spirits that is, and steal your body.”

Victor rolled his eyes and walked toward the gate. Just before they got to the rusted iron barrier Nicholas took a deep breath and readied to rush past it.

His friend had other plans, Victor tried the gate and when it gave he pushed it open. The iron creaked and squealed a bit as it swung on hinges that begged for a drop or two of oil. The horrible sound echoed into the night.

Nicholas was so startled he let go of the breath with a bit of a whelp. “What are you doing? You’re going to bring that bob back around.”

He realized he’d let go of his breath and the gateway was open, the ghosts had permission now to roam. As quickly as he could Nicholas drew another deep breath careful to do it away from the gate.
Victor shook his head. “You are mad boyo. I’m not going to leave some spook half a bottle of third shelf whiskey.”

With that, Victor left his pal on the walk and ventured into the cemetery. It was much darker on this side of the wall. There was only one lantern hung along the walk. He made his way through the row of headstones to the fresh turned soil. He could see the glint of moonlight reflecting off the bottle glass. “There you are my beauty.” He turned and called out over the wall. “I found it.”

Nicholas huffed exasperated and worried. “Don’t breathe you, damn fool. Just hurry up and don’t breathe.”

Victor grinned, plucked the bottle from the earth. He took a swig and turned to head back.

There in a moonbeam stood a man a bit older than Victor but finely dressed. His expression was dower as his eyes took in the sight of the man before him. It was a judgmental glare.

Victor coughed having choked on his whiskey. Once his lungs were clear of the burning liquid Victor placed his hand over his pounding heart. “Mister you gave me a fright.  They almost needed to dig another plot.”

Victor chuckled while the man considered him. When the stranger didn’t respond Victor brushed his hand off on the thigh of his pants then offered it. “Name’s Victor Mason, my mate and I just lost our libation.” The silent man made Victor nervous. “May I ask your name, sir?”

The stranger’s lip twitched then he shook Victor’s hand. The stranger’s hand was ice cold and his voice sent a shiver down Victor’s spine. “Jacob Crest. You live here in the village?”

Victor rubbed his palm against his thigh again this time to rid it of that awful sensation. “Yes, all my life.” Something started to feel very off, very wrong. He tipped his hat. “Nice to have meet you, Mr. Crest. I should be going. Early day at the mill and all.”

Jacob nodded and pointed to the headstone of the fresh grave. “Nice, to meet you Mr. Mason. Before you go would you kindly hand me my cane.”

Victor glanced back and saw the cane with a shiny silver bird on top. “Uh… sure.” He stepped back to the freshly covered grave and picked up the walking stick. Just as his hand closed around the shaft a moonbeam illuminated just enough of the tombstone for him to read…

Here lies
Jacob Crest

His eyes grew large and he took a deep breath to shout out for Nicholas….

After a couple more minutes, Nicholas shook his head and called into the cemetery. “I’m not waiting any longer, Victor.”

Victor stepped out with the bottle still half full in one hand and a walking stick topped with a silver bird in the other. “No, need to wait. I’m ready to go home.”

Nicholas looked at his friend, something was off, something was wrong. His voice was an octave deeper than it was before. “Are you alright? Where did you get that fancy cane?”

Victor smiled, it wasn’t a lopsided grin. “I’m fine, it was a gift.”

Nicholas took the bottle and drank as they walked back to their flat. His companion didn’t talk or sing. He didn’t even seem tipsy any longer and refused any of the bottle he’d risked his soul to retrieve. When they reached their door Nicholas fumbled with the key.

With an impatient sigh Victor stepped up and took the key. He unlocked the door and looked at Nicholas who stared back. “Victor… your eyes.”

His lip twitched. “Yes, there are two just like yours.” Victor ushered him in and put him to bed quickly to silence any more questions.

In the morning Nicholas woke and sat, bolt upright with the memory of those eyes. He jumped up and hurried into the next bedroom. “Victor….”

The closet was open and Victor’s best clothes had been removed. His suitcase was gone as were any valuable effects. The photo of his ma and siblings still stood on the dresser, as did his journal. Two things Victor would never have left without.

Nicholas sat on the bed and wanted very much to disbelieve. He knew it the moment he had looked into those eyes. Blue eyes, Victor’s had been brown. “You damn fool. I told ya don’t breathe.”