Here’s a little color rendition I did a couple of years ago when drawing concept art for Puck the Pathwinder, Book 2 of the trilogy. I called it a “mugwump” originally, and I guess it kind of does look like a mugwump, right?
A Writer's Corner on the Web
24 Oct 2016 1 Comment
Here’s a little color rendition I did a couple of years ago when drawing concept art for Puck the Pathwinder, Book 2 of the trilogy. I called it a “mugwump” originally, and I guess it kind of does look like a mugwump, right?
23 Oct 2016 Leave a comment
The poor, poor Unipony, prisoner of the ogre Gork!
20 Oct 2016 Leave a comment
Illustrated by Kevin Nichols
07 Oct 2016 1 Comment
One legend claimed that ages ago a mad dryskin had created the Glakin by dabbling in things he should not have. Others said that the Glakin derived from the world itself, a source of un-distilled absurdity as raw and pure as fresh rain. Some believed that laughter provided the best medicine, and the Glakin could cure ailments when even a good dose of rootwort failed. Darker tales also persisted, when visitors to the Glakin did not fare well at all.
Leeplu didn’t know what to believe, for over time stories would often blend and blur, and facts falter and guesses grow. All she knew for certain was that the Glakin influenced anything near it.
When the Blackwater Forest appeared, Leeplu felt a lump in her throat, for that had been their destination before the attack. She gritted her teeth and plunged into the water.
She paddled leisurely, surfacing sometimes for a gulp of air before submerging again. She left the water upon reaching the Ghosttrunk Groves, pale trees concealing hidden mires of quicksand. The place smelled of rot and muck, tinged with fishy goodness and deep burbling mud.
At one point, she felt that something watched her, but she could see little through the hazy mist, and since the sun was sinking, she decided to sleep in the upper branches of a ghosttrunk until dawn. She wrapped her arms around herself, touching the bell, and thinking of Slimee, the smartest, liveliest frog ever born, as the night fogs rolled in like a creeping wet blanket and shrouded the world.
Several hours after dawn Leeplu arrived at the Glakin’s lair, the closest she had ever dared to approach.
A strange oasis of bright flowers swayed at a wood’s edge. Green grass grew thick and tall, and the trees practically hummed with joy. Leeplu stepped onto the bank, enjoying the sensation. The smells here differed from elsewhere in the swamp, a sharp cleanliness and honey-sweet whiffs that wrinkled her nose.
She padded forward, pausing to sniff. Colorful lizards and snakes lounged in the trees, bearing ribbons of red, orange, and yellow. A large turtle wallowed in a puddle, much like their battleturtle Skit, only this one’s shell was iridescent shades of turquoise and lavender. It shivered when Leeplu passed and stuck out a pimpled purple tongue.
Soon, however, the tranquility changed. The emerald grass lost its luster, and shades of brown crept up the stalks. The flowers grew wilted, their colors muted, and proud trees bent as if crushed under their own weight. She thought it even odder when the natural sounds faded and then stopped, save for a single distant mutter.
She peered into a sticky mist. The sound grew, a repetitive puttering, broken by gruff grunts. This was not what Leelpu had expected of the Glakin. Pushing aside fuzzy vines and clinging cobwebs, she drew a breath and said—
“Hidya? Hello? Great Glakin? Are you near?”
Something shifted in the gloom. A branch cracked, the ground shuddered, and then a voice boomed—
“AAYYUH! The Great Glakin here! Do fear! Hear! Hear! Hide now from my loathsome leer. Ugh.”
The mists swirled around Leeplu, and a sudden gust pushed the wetness aside. Fifty hops away sat—without doubt—the strangest creature she had ever seen, and she had seen quite a few.
It was tall, almost the height of the blue pines where it nestled. A gangly neck reached for the sky, and atop sat a bulbous head of mismatched proportions. Two droopy brown eyes as large as melons rested above a drooping whiskered snout, and a crown of inward curving horns fanned behind its head like those of a misshapen moose. Velvety ochre fur stretched from the head all the way down the neck, where it merged into a deeper maroon-brown at the thing’s chest, and then covered the squat front legs ending with round feet and three toes. The second set of hind legs led to triple-clawed feet, but the third set finished with stubby cloven hooves. Tiny and useless vestigial wings on the Glakin’s back emitted the puttering sound.
“Away!” it said in a deep voice. “The Glakin wants visitors not, so hurry go and get yourself got.” The thing wore a pained expression, and then tears trickled down. The Glakin wailed.
Leeplu suddenly felt ill, and the terrible grief from Slimee’s loss returned stronger than ever. Pain gathered in her stomach, cramps knotting her muscles, and before she knew it, she cried so hard she had to sit.
“Aw! Look at what lug do! What did the Glakin just tell you?”
Leeplu fell on her back, trying to stifle the tears but failing. Now this was the most awful she had ever felt, even worse than losing Slimee. The barb of anguish twisted in her tummy, and she slapped her palms on the ground.
“What are you doing to me?” she begged between surges of melancholy. “I—I came here for help!”
“Oh! That make me feel even worse!” moaned the Glakin. It stamped its feet and keeled over not far from Leeplu. The ground quaked and several smaller trees uprooted and fell. “Useless!” it said. “I’m fruitless! A big thing in the middle of a swamp. I just laugh all day, as much as I want…”
“Well, laugh then!” squealed Leeplu, but she choked and curled into a wretched ball.
“No good,” groaned the Glakin. “No good at all. Not anymore. I’ve had my fall. Company with me is not the nicest. I’m a sad, sad brute in mid-eon crisis.”
Leeplu couldn’t answer. The Glakin cried with her, and their boisterous distress echoed far away. When Leeplu finally caught her breath, she wiped her tears and stared blurry- eyed at the Glakin. It rolled to its back, gazing at the sky, whiskered snout trembling.
Leeplu swallowed. “You—you aren’t the Glakin I’ve heard of. What happened?”
The Glakin turned its head. “What _hasn’t_ happened little lug? The Glakin has laughed for centuries at man, beast and bug. But what’s the use in laughing when no one cares? After a thousand moons, I’ve no more to share.”
The Glakin covered its eyes with enormous forepaws. Waves of nauseating sadness struck Leeplu, visibly rippling in the air.
“Oh! How terrible!” she cried. “I—I—oh! I’m so sad!”
“I know!” moaned the Glakin, and both beast and lug cried, with Leeplu weeping into the thing’s fuzzy underbelly.
Leeplu finally regained some control and staggered away from the Glakin.
“You—you’ve got to stop this,” she said. “Thing—things aren’t so bad. Look at yourself! You—you—you’re—”
“A monstrous freak! I joke and pry, giggle and lie, tell tall tales silly and sly! I’m a living prank wrapped up like a fiend, with nary a hoot of self esteem.”
Leeplu felt the crushing sadness again and despair fountained within her. She forced the next words.
“That—that’s not true! Y—you—aren’t a fiend, Great Glakin. You—you are certainly unique, but that’s why I came. I need to laugh! I don’t think I can anymore. My frog Slimee is gone, swallowed by an ugly gator.”
The Glakin shook all six paws. “Agh! The circle of life! Full of pain, death and strife. The gator ‘round here is mean as they come, big n’ beefy but really quite dumb. Oh, I feel _putrid_.”
The Glakin spun its tremendous bulk, nearly squashing Leeplu, and quivered on its belly. The vestigial wings beat faster, as if to lift the Glakin off his island and shuttle him away.
Leeplu sighed. She could not stay. To do so would crush her will, and she just might join the Glakin and his grief and then starve to death, which would probably make the Glakin feel even worse.
“I—I must go,” she whispered. She edged closer, a hand outstretched to pat the thing’s side. It shuddered and raised a sodden head.
“That’s what I said!” it moaned. “Now you as sad as me! Oh, woe to us and fate’s misery! Sorry little lug, I can help you not. Now do as I said, and get yourself got.”
Leeplu pressed a hand to her face as another wave of grief passed. Her head swam, and she staggered away on weak legs.
“Goodbye,” she croaked over her shoulder, but she didn’t expect the Glakin to answer. It didn’t, and probably hadn’t heard her anyway. She pushed through dying vines and creepers surrounding the Glakin’s home, finally collapsing beside a towering pine. She no longer heard the Glakin, although she feared it would echo in her heart and thoughts for a long, long while.
“How sad,” she murmured. “So very, very sad.” She doubled over and wept, paying no heed to the passing reptiles, which she would normally pick up and kiss. Her thoughts tumbled as if blown by a storm, unable to find substance or footing. She did not raise her head until she heard a familiar sound. Her heart galloped, pulse quickening, and she heard it again, very, _very_ close by—
Ten hops away the grasses parted and Razorraw’s snout poked through. Triple eyes gleamed in the wan light, milky orbs of malice. Leeplu tensed, but shock rooted her. Razor waddled closer, black talons digging into the ground, his belly low, tail raised, and Leeplu knew that in a straight race, with solid land beneath him, Razor could outrun many creatures in the Somber Marsh.
Part 3 0f 3.
29 Sep 2016 1 Comment
I’ve decided to start posting some older short stories into chunks. These will be primarily children’s books, most of them in the 5000 word range altogether. This first one, The Great & Cacklin’ Glakin, is set in a world similar if not identical to that of the Wisp series: The NoWhere & NeverWhen.
Little Leeplu the lug squatted in a puddle, her face buried in her hands, tears splattering between webbed fingers. Beside her lay a small bell, its leather loop grotesquely severed.
“Oh, why?” she howled to the drooping canopy of cypress and vines. “Slimee d—d—didn’t deserve that!” The tears returned, a torrent of fat raindrops. Her shoulders shook, her green feet splattering mud as she ranted, rocked and raved.
“It’s not fair!” screamed Leeplu. “He was my friend!” Her bulbous eyes bulged even more than usual, red-rimmed and dripping. She stood, grabbed the tiny bell and glared into the marsh where hazy blue beetlemoss cloaked the trees in a bristly sheathe. Mist hung in the air, a fog of noxious gas and wafting condensation.
“He was my best friend!” she shrieked again, unable to think of anything else to say.
Swamp water frothed thirty or forty hops to her left. A sodden log shuddered and bark crunched. Something thudded under the murky surface, and then Razorraw’s pimpled, lumpy head rose up.
Leeplu pressed her lips together. She had not expected the gator to return.
Razorraw pulled himself onto the mossy island. Three milky eyes stared at her, and she knew he could explode across like a domjong with its tail on fire. Razorraw opened a tomb-mouth of needle teeth, decorated with shreds of flesh and a gullet leading down to a bad, bad place.
Taunting her, Leeplu knew, by giving her a good look at where Slimee—oh, poor little frog!—had disappeared for the last time. Razorraw’s laugh started deep in his belly, rattled up his throat and belched between pitted yellow teeth.
He stepped closer, and the island bounced. Leeplu tensed. She could outhop the gator, but figured he wanted to scare her, as that would be more fun. If he actually hurt her though, Burple, Hez, Wump, and others would chase his hide into the deepest pools of the Somber Swamp.
“Huh—huh—ruuhhhh,” wheezed the gator, reminding Leeplu of summer wind blowing through green reeds and whippoorwills.
“I see you, Razor, you mean old thing!” Leeplu sprang away with a splash, the bell clinking, and giant crickets blossomed around her. “Stay away, Razor! Stay away!” she warned, and Leeplu dove into the marsh’s muck.
Brown water closed over her head, and she kicked. Bubbles rushed around, and with six strokes she cleared the water and scaled the gnarled roots of a giant crassock, hopping from one jumbled mass to the next. Razorraw wouldn’t pursue. She had a head start, but Leeplu did not slow until she recognized the lily pools and willow trees near the warren.
Webbed feet thudded on solid ground and she raced on all fours through a copse of bog pines, almost jumping out of her green skin when a battleturtle lunged from its shell.
“Oh! Skit! You scared me, Skit! Bawa! Moot! Moot!” The enormous snapping turtle yawned, dipped a hooked beak, and settled back into its nest. Tears blinded Leeplu as she moped to Mooda’s nearest entrance and slithered down a hole.
A broad lug nearly three times Leeplu’s size greeted her, but she answered with a stifled sob. The lug, Burple, blinked his fishy amber eyes in surprise, then grunted and shifted his polearm to the other shoulder and let her pass.
She reached the hole she shared with Hez and Wump, both absent, and plopped on a soft moss mat, head cradled in her arms, and continued sobbing.
Hez and Wump entered soon after, hauling buckets of gray crayfish and plump swamp slugs.
“Leeplu!” said Hez. “What wrong?” She dropped her bucket and the contents spilled everywhere, trying to escape.
“It’s Slimee. R—R—Razor ate him!”
“Agh!” screamed Hez.
“Mooga!” gasped Wump.
“I know!” moaned Leeplu.
“When?” asked Hez. “How?”
“We—we were swimming to the Blacklake Forest to find goldenroot, and then I—I—I hear this splash, and…and…and I look…I look…and…and all I see is this big mouth, and…and—oh — and Slimee’s leg hanging out!”
“Oh, no,” said Hez.
“Nugga,” moaned Wump.
“I know!” cried Leeplu. “It was Razorraw, and he swallowed Slimee right in front of me!”
“Monster,” growled Hez. “How dare him eat such sweet frog! Oh, poor Leeplu. You had Slimee for longest time too.”
“I know!” wailed Leeplu. “Everyone loved Slimee! He followed me _everywhere_. Now, all I have is this,” and she held up the bell that had always adorned Slimee’s leg. Hez and Wump sat beside her, the former offering a shoulder to cry on, the latter combing her hair with a fishbone comb. They sat there for hours, eating the occasional slug, until Leeplu finally fell asleep to troubled dreams where she held Slimee safe in her arms, only to have him torn away by something large and stinking, with rows of razor teeth and three milky eyes like lobes of flawless pearl.
Leeplu still felt so bad the next day that she could not even leave her hole. Hez and Wump tried to comfort her by bringing a batch of tadpoles so she could pick a new frog but Leeplu pushed them away, saying how nothing could replace Slimee, such a unique frog, a special frog, and no bucket of tadpoles would suffice.
Big Burple squeezed into her hole later that afternoon, offering his deepest condolences, and promised to give Razorraw a thump on the nose if he saw him. Leeplu tried to smile and thank him, even though she knew Burple would have a hard time getting close enough to Razor to thump his nose, but it was nice to say so.
By evening, when the setting sun had lit the Somber Marshes aglow in shades of crimson and gold, she still felt no better, and actually thought she felt worse. Leeplu held the bell, staring at the walls and the earthworms squirming within. Hez gripped Leeplu’s shoulders and gently shook her.
“Listen, little lug—Slimee’s gone, and nothing can be done. You sit up now and smile, and me n’ Wump make you something special to eat. Yah? Slimee would’ve wanted it that way.”
Leeplu’s bottom lip quivered. Moisture welled in her eyes. Hez groaned and sat beside her, a gangly arm wrapped about Leeplu’s shoulders, her lips puckered in mild frustration.
The third day after the incident, Leeplu woke with an idea.
“The Glakin,” she told Hez while fishing with Wump at the edge of Mooda. Hez frowned, but didn’t respond until Leeplu repeated herself. “The Glakin can help me!”
“Leeplu! Why? The Glakin is silly old thing. Leave it alone, it leave you alone.”
“Yah. Yooga,” said Wump.
“I don’t want it to leave me alone,” said Leeplu. “Maybe it will help. I am sick of crying. The Glakin can make me laugh.”
“You soon be sick of laughing,” grunted Hez. A fish snagged her lure and she hoisted a gluckerclaw from the brown water.
“I don’t care,” said Leeplu. “I feel terrible, day in and out. The Glakin will help, one way or another.”
“Hah!” barked Hez. “Me not call the Glakin _help_. Me call it silly, me call it annoying, me call it big hoozroo, but me not call it help. What you think, Wump?”
“See? Wump agree.”
“Well, I’m doing it. I just wanted to tell you.”
Hez dropped her fishing pole and jumped up. “Me know you feel bad, little lug, but me knowa lugs that die they laugh so much! You know this too!”
“I won’t die,” said Leeplu, stepping away. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine, and I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Wait!” said Hez. “Think about this, little lug!”
“Woot!” bellowed Wump. “Woot! Woot!” Wump struggled with his fishing line, and Hez danced between helping him and chasing Leeplu, who scampered to the nearest crassock and climbed its roots.
“Wait!” yelled Hez. “Take this!” She threw a hooked line of gluckerclaws to Leeplu. “Careful, little lug!” said Hez, waving. “Eat well, and come home!”
Leeplu watched the other lugs scampering about Mooda, patching mud walls, warming breakfast over campfires, and weaving baskets of reed and vines. She wanted to smile, but couldn’t. She tied Slimee’s bell around her neck, took a few breaths, and leapt across the bog to the nearest water-rooted tree, bouncing from one to the next, deeper and deeper into the Somber Marsh.
27 Sep 2016 Leave a comment
We will be heading to Grayson Highlands this weekend. Can’t wait to see the ponies!
Four years ago in mid-October, I spent a memorable weekend camping on Assateague Island with a group of friends whom had all met at Wyman Dell, the best dog park in Baltimore. The Assateague trip was my sendoff: I had finished my master’s degree at Johns Hopkins and a summer internship at EARTH magazine and was heading out West to spend the winter housesitting an off grid Earthship in New Mexico.
I’ve always said that the best way to cement lasting, meaningful friendships is to go camping together. A lot of people have come and gone from my life in my nomadic last four years, but I’m still in touch with the group from Assateague. Something about walking the beach, sleeping on the sand, watching sunrise over the Atlantic and fending…
View original post 387 more words
27 Sep 2016 1 Comment
Jessica has some really good thoughts about the nature of self publishing children’s books.
“Why waste your time and energy on querying when you can self-publish?”
It’s a question I’ve grown used to over the years as I’ve posted on Facebook about my querying adventures… which always end in seemingly-obligatory rejection. Because they love me, fellow writers, family, and friends all want to know the same thing:
“Why do this to yourself?” they ask. “It’s the digital age! You don’t have to deal with agents and publishers anymore!”
Actually, yes: I do. But it’s not always easy to explain why. After all, many writers have found great success in self-publishing, and it’s no longer a huge no-no even among the well-read.
Heck, I actually have self-published, even writing quite a few blog posts about my adventures. In fact, my self-publishing career has spanned longer than most know, as my very first self-publication came out way back in 1998: a story called The…
View original post 930 more words
22 Sep 2016 Leave a comment
Original Poem “Ocean”
written by Charlie Morris
Adapted and rewritten
by JM Hauser
“Goddess cupped Her breath in aery hand
and I, lone Ocean, swelled and swam
below that breath of God on- high,
and I, the Ocean, met Her mid-sky,
reaching up to sweetly meet it,
our palms touching, to briskly greet it…
….and through this effort…
I was Wave.
I was Wave and felt the call of Moon!
Of white-capped rollers on shore soon,
and how I loved that lush liquidity,
this ancient rite of pure lucidity,
pausing at the shore’s crashing edge,
and then I burst upon that sandbar hedge,
a roaring force of my own momentum,
pouring forth to a new dimension…
….and through this effort…
I was Surf.
I became many, many frothing bubbles
and we were urgent, tossing troubles
of sand and shells and salt and tide.
We all danced together on this ride
under Moon, giving birth
on this living, loving Earth.
We bubbles eventually lay there dreaming
knowing nothing, we had no meaning.
What was left of me dissolved like foam,
sank into sand, sank down alone
but then water crashed harsh o’er me
pulled me back, back to the sea,
back to the ocean, exposing beach,
distanced from my watery reach.
Then Moon smiled again and I rolled into Wave.
Goddess cupped Her breath, I swelled, I swayed,
amid aery mist, cloud and wind,
and then I fell, I begin again.”
22 Sep 2016 Leave a comment
“I feel that what you should illustrate is the space between the words, the betweenness, the otherness that gives depth and dimension.”
~BRIAN FROUD, artist
The NoWhere was and IS everywhere and nowhere at once; it was and is and always WILL be everything and nothing, crossing all planes and possibilities, a robust reality for some, a crazy confusion for most. An enigma, a puzzle, a conundrum, a challenge. The NeverWhen refuses to be defined. And it does so marvelously.
~Book of the Eternal Now
“You are a wayfinder, a pathwinder, a nightbinder. You exist to the light the dark and show the lost the way. To unveil the hidden, hail the forbidden, so that the light of truth may stay.”
Wherein a new life seeks her purpose and gets really, really lost!
Once upon a time, in a place with no name, in a land not quite like any other, where time had another meaning, if it existed at all, something happened at a flower in a field.
At dawn, three suns rose from the horizon, and accompanied by the sound of tinkling wind chimes, the morning dew and pollen swirled into a bright ball, gasped in a breath of living sunlight, and it became something else.
The newborn ball of light hung above the flower, momentarily confused. The sky arced above her in a cathedral of azure blue and gentle green swaths. The air smelled of sweet grass, loamy dirt and fragrant blossoms. A breeze passed through her light body as if she did not exist. She doubted if she existed too! She wasn’t quite real yet, ethereal and limber, her mind and identity still forming.
What am I? she thought.
She didn’t know how to answer that. Her mild confusion was tempered by an even stronger sense of curiosity. There was something she was supposed to do, but she didn’t know what.
She saw something pretty nearby called a “flower” – a name she somehow knew – and, beyond that flower she saw another flower, and another beyond that one, and more and more and more flowers stretching endlessly into a meadow of bright petals bending gently in the wind.
Bees – yes, she was sure they were called bees – hovered from bright flower to flower; big, fat, black bumblers, their deep hum filling the meadow with a quiet drone.
Three fiery suns huddled in the sky, two smaller yellow ones flanking the larger golden one like armed guards protecting their Queen. The ball of light felt their warmth and it…pleased her.
“Hmm. Well, perhaps I am a flower, since I’m here among the flowers. Am I some sort of flower?” she asked the flower beside her.
The flower shook its petal head. “You are not a flower,” it said. “Silly question, little one.”
“Pfft. Well, I wasn’t sure. I’m new here! But why can’t I be a flower? Doesn’t seem so silly to me.”
“Well, look at you, said the flower, almost as if bored. “You have no petals, you have no roots, you have no enticing aroma. I’m sure you don’t even know what to do today.”
The ball of light thought about that. It was true. She didn’t really have anything to do, just a vague sense that there should be something.
So what do you do?” the ball of light asked.
“Oh, I have a wonderful life! I open in the morning and drink the sun and dew. I dance in the breeze, and I sing with my friends all day long. That is what I do.
“Well then,” said the ball of light, “I must discover what I do too. Goodbye, flower.”
She floated away, bouncing on the wind like a wayward leaf, and actually enjoying herself quite a bit. She drifted to even more flowers, all of them a menagerie of colors, asking each one, “Who am I?” But none of the flowers knew.
When she found the flowers unhelpful she started asking the bees that flew busily from the upturned petals, gobs of sticky yellow pollen clinging to their legs.
“Hello? Hello? Kind bee, can you tell me what you do? Or even better, what I do? Maybe I am a bee. You see I–”
“Can’t talk; working,” grunted the bee and it launched off, bobbing uncertainly.
The ball of light followed right behind it. “But are you sure? You…you fly. I can fly! Maybe…maybe we are cousins? Maybe? Could I be a cousin bee? A sunny bumbler?”
She giggled inside. She liked the sound of that, a sunny bumbler.
“No talk. Busy. Honey time,” grunted the bee with single-minded determination to reach its hive and ignore her pesky questions.
She groaned and peeled away from her pursuit, intersecting a different bee instead, but her inquiries received a nearly identical dismissal. She followed it all the way back to its hive and gleefully observed hundreds of bees swarming over a honeycomb that oozed with golden, sugary liquid. She tried to engage them again, demanding answers, but the bees uniformly ignored her queries.
“You bees are terrible at conversation!” she yelled at them.
The bees didn’t seem to care and continued on their bumbling circuits to collect and deposit pollen. But as she watched them move about she realized that they had a job – a purpose – motivating their every waking moment!
“I must have a purpose too,” she whispered. “It would be so boring NOT to have one!”
She eventually reached the end of the meadow where a large, dark forest rose before her. She didn’t know the meadow even HAD an end, and the new terrain delighted her, something different from the fragrant field of her birth. She saw the forest growing from a distance, just a wide smudge of blackness at first that turned into a smear of teeth, and then a low row of jagged spines, and finally became full grown trees, stretching to the puffy clouds above, the upper branches swaying in the breeze.
A path wound through the thickets and the ball of light followed it, bouncing childlike and free through the shadows. She was not sure what to expect in these dark woods, but the prospects thrilled her. Anything could lurk around the next bend. Maybe things with gnashing teeth! Or kindly eyes. Or sharp claws! Or soothing words. How exciting to find out!
The trees here were ancient, their woody boles spiraling high into deep clusters of green leaves and endless limbs. Roots as thick as snakes intertwined and wrapped around each other, and the whole of the place was filled with strange howls and hoots from unseen creatures creeping through the brush.
She soon heard running water. Passing over some mossy, wet boulders, she saw two beavers playfully splashing in a stream. A half-constructed dam squatted beside them, and water cascaded from a small waterfall. It looked like fun so she gently glided down.
“Hello,” she said. “You’re certainly having a good time. May I join you? I never swam in a stream before!”
The beavers stopped playing and gawked at her. “You never swam in a stream?” one of them said. It looked incredulously at his friend.
“Never basked on a log?” said the other. “Never pad-pad-paddled your tail in a bubbling brook?” the she-beaver asked.
“Or gnawed on a feisty fish?” added her husband. “Oh, you are missing the grandest things in the world!” they cried together.
“I…I don’t want to miss out,” said the little ball of light, and she dipped into the stream. She saw water flowing over smooth flat rocks. She saw tiny blue and orange fish darting hither and thither. She saw a fat red creature with pincher claws that hid from her radiance under a rock. Giggling, the ball of light burst up from the water and circled the beavers.
“Delightful!” she said. “I like your home. You seem to be very good at what you do. By chance, may I ask you a question? Would you happen to know what MY purpose is, and why I might be here? I asked the flowers and the bees, but they could not answer.”
“Well… you float,” the he-beaver said, nodding to his wife as if this was the best answer possible.
“Yup, yup, yup, you float,” the she-beaver agreed. “Oh, and you glow! You glow very well, in fact. That must be your purpose, you young wisp of a thing. You are a floater and a glower! Ta! Ta! Ta!”
The beavers smacked their tails in the water several times, overjoyed that they could so easily find an answer.
“Oh, well, those are two very good points!” said the ball of light. “Yes, I do float, and I float well. And I DO glow, don’t I? I just realized that!” She looked down and saw her reflection in the swirling current below.
I float and I glow. I’m a floater and a glower! Float and glow and glow and float!
She was so happy that she had found an answer that she pulsed brightly several times, enjoying her new ability.
“Oh! Look what I did!” She buzzed around the half-built dam, sputtering and sparking and greatly entertaining herself. The beavers laughed too, sitting on the shore now, slapping their tails in the shallow water and chuckling at her antics.
When she finally grew tired of this new game, she spun down to the beavers.
“Well, what do you do all day; I’m sure it must be amazing.”
“Oh, we have a wonderful life!” said the he-beaver. “We are builders.”
“That’s right, teamwork,” said the she-beaver. “All day, every day, we build, build, build!”
That impressed her. They were a team. One there to always help the other; never lonely, never lost. Did she need a friend on her team too? Team float and glow?
“And a fine job,” she said. “Fantastic dam you have. Much better than I could have built! Well, I should be on my way, beavers. Thank you, and good luck!”
The beavers waved goodbye and the little ball of light careened into the forest, enjoying her newfound flickering. She illuminated all sorts of new holes and hollows, playfully chasing after reddish squirrels or zipping through the webs of startled spiders. For a short while she was a terrible tyrant, but eventually she grew bored.
“’You young wisp of a thing,’ the beaver had said. How nice. But is that my only purpose? To fly and play and be ever so bright like the suns three? There must be something else.” So she kept looking.
17 Mar 2015 2 Comments
I found this on Imgur today, just a random posting from someone. I don’t know what it is, or who did it, or what it is even about, but it tells a story, the kind of story I would personally like to RETELL and find out how it got to this point.
10 Mar 2015 Leave a comment
11 Feb 2015 1 Comment
I’ll try to tag to the previous WtWAWYNW entries for consistency and easier reference. My “Whatawowinew”. Or however you want to pronounce that weird acronym. So I put it on my other blog but I want to mentioned it here too – I’ve been looking over the 7th edition Call of Cthulhu rules and I’m really liking them. Now gaming can be escapism or a creative outlet or a waste of time or a fun social gathering, sometimes all at once. It really depends on how much time you invest in it. And what it ultimately means to your emotional well being. That said, the nature of Call of Cthulhu is by default one of ghastly horror, grisly doom, and confronting indescribable entities from other dimensions that want to feast on your soul. So fun stuff. Regardless, it is an immensely cool world to play in, one that I have delved into many times over the years, swam around in its yuckiness and eventually climbed back out and showered (metaphorically). The new 7th edition of the game promises more of the same, and it looks really fun to play, and now in full horrific color to boot.
There’s a new adventure out for it as well, Horror on the Orient Express, no less than a 9 lb. boxed set that could club someone to death it’s so heavy. If I WERE to run Cthulhu again, this is the adventure I would pick up. It looks to be chock full of handouts, clues, a timeline, and more convoluted red herrings than you could possibly imagine. And red herrings in Call of Cthulhu are fun. Instead of THIS thing driving your character insane, it might THIS completely unrelated thing instead. Which brings me back to the point I brought up earlier – what does gaming mean to me? Is it pure escapism, a way to waste time instead of doing something more productive, or is it a built-in creative outlet or is it a dedicated social mechanism for getting together with friends? I guess for me it’s all of the above. It’s definitely a form of storytelling, cooperate storytelling, but from experience, it can ultimately be a waste of time pumping that much creative juice into a project that only about 5 other people on the world will care about.
That kind of creative devotion can write entire novels and crap like that, which ya know, can be a career and make you money, both of which are really neato things. So ultimately, like anything else, moderation is the key. Finding a balance between how much time you invest in a hobby like this is important. Too little and the game suffers from lack of preparation; too much and you’re investing all your time into something that not many people will care about; just right is just right, the Sweet Spot. That horrible, horrible, terrifying and madness-inducing sweet spot of Sanity-draining terror that the game is famous for. I love it.
10 Feb 2015 1 Comment
in Daily Musing
This could become a series of blog posts. This topic. What to write about when you’re not writing, just so I can BE writing and have something to write about. Self fulfilling prophecy or something like that. Anyway, I’m still poking along with a number of different stories and projects. Poking is an apt word because it denotes “slowness” and “lack of forward progression.” I wish my word choice there included “light speed” or “raging” or “spectacularly” but I’m going to stick with poking for right now. Next week maybe I’ll have another update and I can insert a more interesting word.
I’m always curious about where writing inspiration comes from. You see many successful authors churn out ludicrous amounts of material every year, year after year after year. Don’t they ever get writer’s block for months at time like all of us others? Maybe not.
I’m reminded of an article called “BLOCKED” from The New Yorker that I read one time about the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge when he was going through a period of horrible writer’s block:
Yesterday was my Birth Day,” Coleridge wrote in his notebook in 1804, when he was thirty-two. “So completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month.—O Sorrow and Shame. . . . I have done nothing!” It was true. Most of the poems for which he is remembered were written when he was in his mid-twenties. After that, any ambitious writing project inspired in him what he called “an indefinite indescribable Terror,” and he wasted much of the rest of his life on opium addiction. How could he have done this? Why didn’t he pull himself together? A friend asked him the same question. “You bid me rouse myself,” he replied. “Go, bid a man paralytic in both arms rub them briskly together, and that will cure him. Alas! (he would reply) that I cannot move my arms is my complaint.”
Now, that’s some depressing crap right there.
In fact, the first time I read that article I think I was about the exact same age as Coleridge – 32. Anyway, the whole Article, “Blocked”, is an excellent essay on the phenomenon of writer’s block. But my point here is not necessarily “block” as “writer’s slump” where you have to push through invisible walls that slow or impede your output rather than being solid, impenetrable obstacles. Would Coleridge have fared better if he had internet access and a blog? I don’t know. Maybe.
And seriously, I’ve wondered at times if I’m a reincarnation of Coleridge, if one believes in such things. Obviously I do, but I’m not trying to convince or change anyone’s mind about anything. Choose to believe whatever you want, but to quote a super wise man, the Buddah:
But a quick internet search turns this up as well (click on the picture):
YEAH, on second thought, Samuel Taylor Coleridge would have had a f****** blast with the Internet.
30 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
I’m currently in the No-kids camp, but this was shared with me by people in the Kid-camp. Click on the image to expand to full size.
“Without Kids – 8:30am: An angel comes down and gently kisses your forehead. Sleep well, sweet prince.”
30 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
This is a website we found a long, long time ago that has given us many hours of enduring chuckles. I’ll let you pick which ones resonate most for you. It’s a site for grownups, or at the very least PG-13. The author has no qualms about using harsh language to insult the artistic skills of children, but therein lies the humor- it’s so unfairly biased that it’s just ridiculous.
27 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
I’m trying to get some work done on Sharkzilla 3 this morning. It’s tricky. Writing a storypoem is something — I’m not sure how to explain this well — it’s either happening or it’s not. I think there’s a part of my brain that has to “get into the groove” in conceptual ways I don’t understand in order to churn out a story that rhymes and makes sense. And to do it WELL and not seem forced. Which is sort of how I feel now, like I’m forcing the rhymes and meter instead of letting it happen naturally. And when it happens naturally it just flows. It will still need tons and tons of edits, but less of them, and I’ll have more of a workable first draft to fiddle with.
Well, at least I do have a draft, and lots of embedded artwork, so that’s good. I think it’s a solid story, and ideally in a perfect world I’d like to release all three of these in one year: Me & Sharkzilla 1, 2 and 3 several months apart. Because it is really one long story and it would make more sense to keep it somewhat fresh in people’s minds. Or kids minds, I mean, it’s just an illustrated children’s book, it’s not a mega-novel or anything or the next Harry Potter. But it’s fun and weird and I like to think that some of the rhymes are clever and fun to read. But what do I know, I’m the author, I like to think everything I make is gold.
For a fairly young kid I’ve seen a lot of strange things,
Oh, heck – you already know what this speech brings!
I’ve seen weird stuff from the merry to the morose,
from neat-o and freak-o to grimy and gross.
And the latter was where we now found ourselves,
me and Sharkzilla stuck in an ocean of swells,
waves smashing an island as a huge storm rumbled
over terrain where I’d been so tragically tumbled
after defeating Octopox, the Baron of the Deep,
who turned out to be tentacled, despicable creep.
24 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
I wonder what a muse looks like? Mine are probably little naked faeries. Why not. I actually got a lot of creative stuff done this morning, I was able to work on our next game session and got that all complete for next week. That’s four handwritten pages of notes and a clump of miniatures handpicked from the box. Should be fun. We finished the module Lost Mine of Phandelver and now I’m doing some homebrew sandbox style as the party progresses, rather than jump right into another pre-written adventure. Although I want to do that as well. I might consider incorporating some of the 40 years worth of modules out there and adapting them to 5th edition, it would be easy.
Oh, and speaking of 5e, I picked up the Fifth Edition Foes supplement by Necromancer Games, so now I have over 200 new beasts and baddies to add to the game. Yay.
22 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
So over the summer of 2014 I wrote a couple of stories about a kid named Brody Quint who lives at the beach in Anywhere, USA, but mostly likely the East Coast because that’s where I live. Anyway, it was the sort of short storypoem I enjoy writing, and fans of Steven Spielberg’s JAWS will recognize that the name Brody Quint is an amalagram of the two main characters from the film, the stalwart Chief of Police in Amity and the salty old sharkhunter, Quint. I don’t expect children to have any CLUE as to that, but I think it would be fun to know that one day they’ll grow a little older and see JAWS and make the connection to this little book they read as kids. I like dropping little easter eggs like that into stories actually, I think it makes them more fun for adults to read and comprehend with a wink and a nod.
But Sharkzilla turned into a STRANGE story. Not so much the first entry, but it became a 3-parter, and now it’s a 10,000 word storypoem, the longest and most involved I’ve ever written. Part 2 probably has around eight or nine characters, and it’s hard trying to give people (or things) personalities and a voice and a story arc in that short amount of space while still trying to make the whole thing rhyme and stay in some resemblance of a meter.
Challenging, but rewarding, if I can pull it off. But like I was saying, Me & Sharkzilla transformed from a whimsical romp with a boy and his sharkman friend to a D&D/Cthulhu-esque romp through dangerous waters filled with combat and monsters and zombie trees. I can’t help it, it’s just the direction the story wanted to take, and it was something I’d always wanted to run in D&D, an underwater scenario. So instead of D&D, I end up writing a weird little poem about it.
And I have no idea how it will turn out. The third and final part is in the editing phase still, and it’s going slow. In fact, Part 2 needs tons more editing, and from experience, editing these storypoems can be a very, very long process. Sometimes it flows easier than others, and sometimes I can peck at the same sentences for months and months and not really get anywhere.
What does this mean for Me & Sharkzilla? I think it means that somewhere down the line the public will get a look at my fully illustrated trilogy, enjoy it for all of its weirdness, and never have a clue as to how tricky it was to write.
And that’s good enough for me.
21 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
in Daily Musing
I hate writing slumps. I absolutely 100% hate them. I don’t understand them for one thing, and I can’t see them coming until they’re already here, and I can’t see them going until they’re already gone. Does that make sense? Maybe not, it’s still early in the morning and this is stream of consciousness typing away with a caffeine buzz. Anyway, I’ve not been writing much recently in my preferred manner of “stories or novels” although I have plenty to do. Lots of stories, and maybe that’s part of the problem, the enormity of a project freezes me to inactivity rather than invigorating me to action. And maybe it has to do with my frame of mind and attitude and emotional well-being. Sometimes negative thoughts like to torture me on a regular basis.
So that has left me with the enormous problem of how to fill my time with creative outlets so I don’t go kinda batty. Roleplaying games and creating stories and rules for those are one outlet, but I’ve spent so many years doing that, and while I know from experience that it is a massive time filler, and fun, ultimately very few people actually care. I feel like my time and energy would be better suited to entertaining thousands or millions of people instead of just five or ten.
But back to my original premise – What To Write About When You’re Not Writing? Well, there’s blogging like this, which is a borderline form of journaling + venting + bitching. I guess if I actually had a fan base interested in this page it would be fun to read their feedback and answer comments, hell, I could make a career of doing just that and love it. I could try and peck away at a story, but I know it just wouldn’t go anywhere. My brain is filled with something like dirty cotton candy and the creative ideas just don’t flow. I mean that special kind of FLOW, you writers out there know the Flow, when you’re so in the zone and time falls away and you’re working on something massively difficult but FUN and you know you’re doing it well. Very little in the world is more satisfying than that except for great sex. Or great drugs. I guess the endorphin rush is the end result and what people crave, but there’s healthy vs. unhealthy ways of achieving it.
So What To Write About When You’re Not Writing? That sounds like the title of a Self Help book,I have to admit. Maybe I’ll write it one day! You, know, instead of just blogging about writing it.