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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Once finished the rigors of publicly posting snippets of a short story, while in the process of writing it, what does one do?

 

Why…torment one’s self further, of course.

 

You must know (RIGHT?) that I just finished what impulsively morphed into a saga of troubled teens, pseudo mothers, absent fathers, confused counselors, hapless husbands, perverted Principals and one maniacal monster.

 

All in a brief 8400 words.

 

I started with my usual – a short shot. The kind you don’t swallow until the end, it’s that quick. And, as often happens, a few rowdies began pounding the bar, demanding more upon reaching the bottom of the glass.

 

And I was gonna shut ‘em down.

 

Secretly, I love it when you ask for more, but work with me.

 

“Ah, stop yer whingin’.” I said. (Hey, no need to freak out. Whinge is an actual word and because I was born in the UK, I’ve decided I’m perfectly welcome to use it) “Lemme me alone, kid. Here’s a lollipop. Go on now, scram.” (This is where I tousle your hair in case you weren’t imagining it already)

 

But Helena was melting ice, leaving a ring of reminders no matter where I laid my hat. Helena, who, in the initial mix, was a Shirley Temple but had poured herself into a Kahlua Mudslide by saga’s close. And sometimes the rowdies are right. Helena did deserve to be wiped up and I tried. Tried, but didn’t succeed and in the end, she was left with cloudy glasses and tarnished brass, unsalted peanuts (!) and sticky tiles. The barmaid’s apron, Helena’s world, was still full of holes, stains and hanging threads.

 

This can happen when we blog a story this way. It comes out differently than it would were we keeping it all to ourselves until the very end. There’s a want to serve. And to do it in a reasonably speedy fashion. Before interest is lost. Before, heaven forbid, characters are forgotten. Before someone steps out for a hit of Espresso due to our long shift changes lulling them to sleep.

 

Real-time readers can alter the way we think. Let’s face it, when writing a novel and stowing it on our computer, we’re aware that it may never get read. Clearly far from the dream, but it is the sometimes delectable fantasy that comes with our false sense of seclusion.

 

There’s the issue of being unable to act on hindsight.

 

No glossy red gumboots and matching raincoat if we’ve previously raved about the blinding hot sun. No right if we’ve already written the wrong. Too late – sold and bought, sprouted and planted. Those are just little things, but you get the idea.

 

During my progression, I found it difficult to write hard truths. Never a good quality to be found in a writer. I’d hesitate, feeling it might be too much for the blogosphere. Too heavy. Too dark. Too sad. Too real.

 

I let likes or lack of, influence my psyche.

 

I rushed to the finish line in a race against me, myself and I.

 

BUT…the positives far outweigh the negatives.

 

I wrote! I wrote 8400 words! With great abandon (for the most part). It was NaNoWriMo’esque and it was freeing. A quantity, not quality sort of liberty. The luxury in knowing I was simply laying a foundation. That I’d be able to return with walls and doors and windows was nothing less than exuberating.

 

And then there’s the feedback. Religious readers of every word, never failing to comment (thanks, mum) are inspiring to say the least. Being told you’ve created vivid imagery and mind-haunting characters…hooking people. It’s all so addictive motivating.

 

I hope your head aches for Helena because that my friends, is the sign of a great night out.

 

Aspirin’s on me.

Aspirin-Taken-At-Night-Cuts-Back-the-Risk-Of-Heart-Attack-3

 

 

 

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*This piece is part of an ongoing short story*

You can read parts one through nineteen HERE!

alive

Gladys can see what looks like the school Principal standing outside the doorway of the hospital room. He almost looks like he’s on watch – him against whatever dares try and make its way in.

But when she finally makes her way down the long, glossy corridor, Gladys can see that Mr. Anass is anything but on guard. His eyes are moist and his cheeks, slack. His face is so forlorn it immediately brings tears to Gladys’ eyes.

“Good evening, Ms. Harris.”

Gladys can’t help but think that referring to it as good is pushing it.

“Hello, Mr. Anass. I didn’t expect to see you here.”

He looks at the floor.

“Well, school business and everything.”

It’s clear to Gladys that that end of things could have been dealt with elsewhere, would’ve already been taken care of. He has no need to be here. Anass is here because he’s chosen to be.

“Yeah, I guess that puts you in the middle, doesn’t it. I’m sorry about that.”

“No, no. I, uh, am happy to be…” He stops. “Happy is the wrong word. I’m thankful to be of some service.”

“Can I go in?”

“Helena’s in there.” He gestures with his head towards the door behind him. “Under normal circumstances, it’s just immediate family, but since that’s not possible…”

They exchange a glance and Gladys swallows past the lump in her throat before reaching out to push open the dense yellow door.

It’s quiet in the room until a sharp beep from the life support machine pierces the air. Bitty lies still in the bed apart from the small, slow rise and fall of her chest under the delicate, light blue sheet. Her face is bruised and swollen. Her eyes sharp slits, her hands at her sides, cut and battered.

‘Shit,” breathes Gladys.

“She’s in a coma.” Helena whispers.

“What the hell happened?”

“Good evening, Ms. Harris.”

Again, with the good crap.

“My name is Stephanie Statton. We’ve met before. I’m sure you remember. And I’ve called a couple of times as well…left messages on your machine.”

The tall willow of a woman rises from her chair in the dark corner and takes a step towards her, extending her right hand, which Gladys shakes distractedly.

“What is going on? What’s happened to this poor girl? Who is she?”

“My friend.” Helena says dryly. “She’s my only friend.”

“I should explain, Ms. Harris.”

“Damn right, you should explain. You had me thinking it might be my daughter in this bed. Your message was so unclear.”

“I really do apologize. I was…well, I was panicked, quite frankly, but you’re right. I should have left more detail.”

Gladys looks at Helena and her heart swells. She’s okay. Still here. Still hers.

“I happened to be with Helena when the call came in. I knew she and Bettina had become friendly and I thought, considering Helena’s circumstances…and I guess, Bettina’s, that she should come along.”

“Helena’s circumstances?”

Mrs. Statton reaches into her bag and slides Helena’s essay out of one of the pockets.

“This is what I’ve been calling you about. I don’t know how much you’re aware of.”

“Okay,” Gladys lets out a frustrated sigh. “I’m not sure this is the time or the place. This poor girl,” she points towards Bitty’s beaten body, “is obviously fighting for her life.”

“She tried to end her life.” Helena says quietly.

“What? She did this to herself?”

“Well, no.” Mrs. Statton begins to explain. “It’s more complicated than that. Please bear with me. I’m only just piecing it all together myself through what I’m hearing from the police. Bettina has been…”

“Bitty,” Helena croaks. “She’s Bitty. Not Bettina.”

Mrs. Statton takes a breath.

“Yes, you’re right. Bitty has been on her own for some time. She used the address of a house where she dog sits occasionally to register for school, but doesn’t actually live there, we’ve since found out. She lives in a hostel. Pays for it through the dog grooming and I guess, the occasional sitting job.”

“She’s all on her own? No family?”

“Another piece we’re learning.” Mrs. Statton advises. “Her mother threw her out when an Uncle, and that title is questionable, got too close to Betti…Bitty. She never went back.”

“I don’t get it. Why this…now?”

“Her mother.” Helena says, still staring at Bitty.

“Her mother?” Gladys is even more baffled.

“Her mother came looking for her.” Mrs. Statton’s voice is working hard at sounding calm. “The Uncle finally ditched her and she decided Bitty was to blame. But Bitty wasn’t having it and when the mom realized she was being challenged she went off the deep end. Beat her daughter senseless, right there in the hostel room. Apparently slammed her face into the porcelain sink.” Stephanie gives up the battle and her voice breaks. “She took some cash from the room before she left, but what she didn’t realize was that a bottle of Vicodin had fallen out of her purse.”

“She swallowed every pill.” Helena is bent at the waist, twisting her hair, a shadow of a mass forming at her feet.

“God, it’s so awful I can’t even imagine.” Gladys looks from Mrs. Statton to Helena. “But I’m sorry. I still don’t understand the connection with Helena, other than, as you say, they’ve become friendly.”

Mrs. Statton looks to Helena and gets what Gladys deems as permission.

“Ms. Harris, do you know why Helena wears those bracelets?”

Confusion passes over Gladys’ features.

“She likes them? I mean…I know I bought one of them for her at the Dollarama. That one with the crosses. Remember Helena?”

“I remember.” Helena does not look up.

“Ms. Harris, she uses the bracelets to cover a scar. A scar I’m guessing you’re unaware of.”

“A scar? What kind of scar? Helena, what did you do?”

“Nothing. I stopped. I fixed it.” She finally looks away from Bitty and Gladys can see that this is about so much more than bracelets and scars.

“You got stuck with me. You think I don’t know, but I do.”

“Helena, I was never…”

“He left me.” She chokes, her quiet demeanor vanishing. He left me and he left you with me…with no choice.

“There’s always a choice, honey.”

“You drink because of me!” Helena is now pulling hair out by the tufts.

“Helena, I drink because of him. You’re the reason I don’t drink more.”

“Why would you want me? Helena practically screeches. “Why would I stick around for this?” She stands and her arms open at her sides, palms facing the ceiling in defiant question, bracelets swinging with the force of her movement. “You’re not even my mother.”

Mrs. Statton tries to quell the sound of her sharp breath.

The long, vertical scar on the underside of Helena’s wrist becomes visible and no one speaks for a moment. Even in her frenzy, Helena is aware that she and Gladys now share the wound.

Gladys swallows. Her mouth is dry and there is a pounding at her temples, a bellow for alcohol. Her hands shake as she takes the now slightly rumpled documents from her purse.

“I am your mother, Helena. He signed. Today.”

Helena pulls her flannel shirt tight around her chest.

“Signed?”

“I’ve been trying for years. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

What did you want?”

You, honey. When I first met your father, I knew he didn’t really love me. He was using me to raise you after your mother died, but I didn’t care. I loved you and that’s all that mattered to me.”

Helena sniffles, kicks at the hair on the floor and pulls her shirt tighter.

“He ditched you with me. I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“No, he was leaving me and he was going take you. Find someone else. I begged him to let me have you.”

“Then why was it so hard to get him to sign me over?”’

“Oh, sweetheart. I know it’s tough to understand, but the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing. No matter what, it would be difficult to give up your child. To admit that you’re not what’s best for them.”

Helena looks back at Bitty. Her face bruised beyond recognition, the tubes and pumps trailing off the bed, the sucking sounds of machinery replacing her lungs and suddenly she understands.

Like her own scar, Bitty’s tattoo means she’s alive.

~ The End ~

 

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Ooo, I am so torn today.

 

I want to give you more story, partly because I feel pressure to seal that deal, but even more importantly, you’re dying for it. I can tell. Each one of you is waking up every morning with a head full of pressing questions – What color is Helena’s onesie? How many electronic cigarettes does Gladys smoke in a day? What does Anass eat for breakfast to make him, well, such an ass? How can I get my hands on Rick’s number? Do you think Stephanie would mind? And to state the obvious – what color are Bitty’s sheets?

 

I get it. It’s my own fault. There’s no doubt I set you up for this. I mean, I’ve created such a riveting, compelling story line, what do I expect but to be harassed for more? You’re a little intense though. You can lay off just a tad. I appreciate your enthusiasm an’ all, but climbing your way into my dreams and clawing at me like the Walking Dead is slightly off-putting. In fact, I’m not too proud to admit it’s downright scary.

 

Okay, just kidding. Don’t stop. In fact, bring in the White Walkers. I like a good show.

 

Anyway, zombies and icy-eyed cold dudes aside, you’re not getting more story today. There are a couple of other things I feel are more significant for now.

 

It is my 21st wedding anniversary. What can I say? I married when I was 14 – my dowry was irresistible. It has been many years (well, 21 to be exact) of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, the splendid, the dodgy and the dull, all rolled into a wonderfully snug union of seemingly endless time.

Paraplaner 1

And then yesterday, as I sat in the hot sun tempered with a light breeze, watching a paraplaner sail the serenely blue sky above my neighborhood, the phone rang and I realized there is no endless.

Aside from expected soreness, my husband is unharmed as was the other party involved. Our lucky day.

Aside from expected soreness, my husband is unharmed as was the other party involved. Our lucky day.

This, you cannot take for granted.

 

Maybe not yesterday, maybe not tomorrow, but endings there will be. Try to make them happy.

700 Strong

Thank you for this

 

 

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Well, hello!

 

While I enjoy writing my story, it’s a bit of a curtain, isn’t it? I get to hide behind it, keeping it shut tight while I madly hit the keys.

 

I’ve missed you.

 

It’s been a very big month here at the Hazy homestead. My oldest son has graduated. Wow. I still can’t take that one in. We attended his commencement and it was slightly surreal. We are now the picture that comes with the frame, proud parents standing beside a kid in a cap and gown.

 

Next was Dry Grad. These kids are so spoiled. I don’t know about you, but I never had anything like this. And, I wish I did. Off they went to a dinner dance at a very shhwanky venue. Dressed to the nines in tailored suits and dapper duds, the girls in the glitteriest gowns I’ve ever ogled. Bejeweled to the bejeezus. It was a spectacular thing to witness. Besides the fact that he came through the door at 7:30am. I digress.

 

Then he turned eighteen. Another inconceivable moment in a parent’s life. The kids seem to take it just fine. So yes, he’s eighteen and he will head off into a wild blue yonder called University, where, instead of being a few footsteps or a dinner call away, I will have to take a ferry to see my boy.

 

Father’s Day came and went in a flurry of food and festivities. Barely commentable seeing as life is all about the kids these days. So it took a Father to get them here. Minor detail.

 

My youngest, my girl, is also graduating to the big house. She’s trading in the scissors and glue, silent reading and recess for cramming, crushes and relentless temptation.

 

Yeah, parenting is so easy.

 

 

I’d write about my middle boy but he’s the only one not giving me anxiety right now. Knock on wood, he’s on an even keel and I’m enjoying it while the waters are calm. There have been days in the past where I could be heard begging them to go outside, find a friend, hang out. Now, I find solace in knowing he’s locked himself in his little room, stuffy and hot because he refuses to open the window. He’s here. He’s healthy. He’s home. He’s mine.

 

We did have a kid’s camp thrown in there too. Surrounded by fifty rambunctious thirteen year olds for three of the coldest days I’ve felt since winter, but hey…the kids were awesome. They didn’t try to shave my eyebrows or sharpie my face while I slept, I got to be a good mum and…drum roll please…the camp had a “Stillbucks” where I wrote to my heart’s content. Not too shabby if you ask me.

 

Hey! Is that a happy face in my beer residue? Why yes, I choose to believe it is…

Beer Face 2

Photo untouched, unedited. :)

 

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I want to start by saying that my life is crazy right now. And I’m leaning towards using that as an excuse for my lack of presence. Presence on my page, existence in the blogosphere and a whereabouts with the words I throw around this place. This place that locks my sanity down.

 

But, I can’t.

 

I can’t do that, because, just like everyone else, my life is always crazy. Isn’t that what life is? Unless you’re a character on a page, sketched with an unbreakable status quo, life is eventful. It’s supposed to be. We are kept moving through its cogs, spinning and turning, suspended upside down at times, because we are living. Living and learning. Growing.

 

We practice and perfect. Train and triumph. Realize and rectify.

 

Producing. Developing. Cultivating.

 

It’s why we read books and run marathons, join teams and take tests. Eat Flax and wear lipstick, crave new music and paint our walls. It’s why we hang on.

 

Emerging. Budding. Rising.

 

We don’t climb through mundane. We don’t stretch with a lack of reach. We sit stiffened without attempts to transition.

 

Forever. Farther. Forward.

 

We move.

 

With that, I leave you with my latest Women on Writing Contest Interview and a few photos of my children leading the way to where the wild things bloom as big as their minds allow them room.

 

And, just because Miley has been never been far away throughout raising my kids, I can’t help but also leave you with this…Yes, I’m sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. Glass-bottomed slippers are as slippery as they look

 

2. After several “free” drinks, you will still feel pain

 

3. Walking over fire will not save your soul…s – it will burn them

 

4. “Extra waterproof”my sunburned everything

 

5. Gravol is as much a liar as sunscreen

 

6. When you’re over 21, Pina Coladas make your feet swell up like chubby babies

 

7. All-inclusives only pretend to have the real thing. What they actually have is TP Zero

 

8. You may get shanked for your $20 towel card

 

9. Never bring a friend’s pristine novel on a humid, oil-filled, alcohol infused beach vacation

 

10. It is entirely possible to feel like there’s “nothing to eat” after a few days of 24/7, all you can eat buffet

 

 

I don’t mean to put you off, but you will slip on wet marble floors while wearing gripless flip-flops and alcohol will not make you feel better about this.

 

That bridge is as long as it looks and its brown, glossy paint is scorching. Wear your gripless flip-flops.

 

Rough waters will ruthlessly strip your allegedly waterproof SPF and eradicate any Gravol from your needy system. You will be feeding the fishes digested buffet food faster than you can say mercy.

 

Drinking all day will make your feet swell up like puffer fish and TP Zero is exactly what you think it is. Somehow the simple concept of card equals towel and towel equals card becomes complicated. It might be the fact that each missing card means a $20 charge. Of course at least one must go astray during your stay. This also demonstrates how desperate people are for soft, cushy toilet paper.

 

When a friend lends you a book that’s in mint condition, so much so that you’re questioning whether she’s even read it or not, you should leave it at home or it will definitely look like it’s been read when you hand it back…and dragged along the bottom of the ocean.

 

Why will you stand in front of hundreds of delicacies and feel there is nothing? Because you’ve had all you can eat. You will come home full.

 

While the above may not be the most upbeat of points, I feel they are things you should know. But there’s something else. Something more important. There’s no proof of the unfavorable. No photos. No videos and in a few years time, no memory of those of minor details.

11. All you will be left with is a fantastic family vacation. There’s a vast difference between what you should know and what you need to remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am thrilled to host a fellow writer today who has been, not only a steady flowing fountain of furtherment, but a creative character with a reliable routine. Her name is Francis Guenette and she is, by George, a Canadian Author Extraordinaire.

Francis Guenette

Please meet Francis Guenette

Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. Francis’ second novel, The Light Never Lies, can be found HERE and her blog, Disappearing In Plain Sight, can be enjoyed through this LINK. She also hosts a facebook page, so please do drop by and say hello!

unnamed

The Light Never Lies by Francis Guenette

A Little Teaser for The Light Never Lies:

As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

Francis Guenette works tirelessly to get her work into public view, a sometimes daunting task for us introverted writers. But, as you can see, she has been more than successful in stepping beyond that stigma and letting it go.

Guenette's book in her local supermarket

Guenette’s book in her local supermarket

An tiny Guenette enthusiast

A tiny Guenette enthusiast

Francis is currently running in a blog tour and I am one of the lucky stops. She is offering two trade paperback copies of The Light Never Lies, mailed right to the lucky winners door. One copy goes to the blog host who garners the most engagement with his or her post on Francis, and one to a commenter whose name will be drawn from a communal commenter hat compiled from all across the tour.

 

She has written a post especially for my blog, so I’m excited for you to read it below and share your thoughts…

 

Let the Story Go

I am thankful for this opportunity to appear on Hazy’s blog. As my second novel, The Light Never Lies, makes its inaugural way out into the world, I decided to focus my guest post on the fear we writers have when we must put our work into the realm of the reader. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t seem to get any easier.

I often write with the radio playing in the background. Now and then something grabs my attention. The other day a few words jumped out and I jotted them down on a scrap of paper. No matter what you’re trying to create – if you’re not scared you’re not really doing it.

This message is a bitter pill for a writer. We must face our fears about letting the story go. We must send our work out into the world where people will judge and horrors of all horrors, maybe not even understand what we’re trying to say – a scary prospect, indeed.

There is no way around this dilemma. If we want to write a story that means anything, other people will have to read it. French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur wrote extensively about the art of interpreting written text. He tells us that the act of fixing anything in writing is the beginning of that story’s journey away from the meanings the author may have intended. The story is freed from the one who created it and enters the field of interpretation – the land of readers.

There is a vital reason why writers must let their stories go. You see, my fellow quaking with fear writers, stories matter. As human beings, we have a driving urge to tell and understand stories. It is our way of making sense of the world. Telling a story lets us drag the threads of our life backward in reflection and forward as we construct new ways of interacting with one another and our world. Each story becomes a bell echoing out past the storyteller.

Here is a call to action, my friends – as the Bard would say, screw your courage to the sticking post and put those stories out there. Cut the apron strings, I say. Let the readers do their job of interpretation through the lens of their own unique experience. In this way, our words will bounce away, leading others to thoughts, places and insights we could never have imagined.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Francis’ post today and that you’ll show her the support she needs to continue weaving stories that entertain our hearts and souls. After all…

If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.

~ Peter Handke

 

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