Writers’ Retreat

 

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Last Saturday, January 26, 2019, a writing friend opened her home, like she does a couple times a year, for a group of writing friends to spend the day writing in a place where we can write in quiet and without interruption.

We began the day with a devotion and a writing exercise to get our creative juices flowing. Then we separated into different rooms–different spaces to spend a couple hours writing. Lunch time we came together to eat and fellowship with one another, then we did another writing exercise to stir up our creativity again, followed by a few more hours of writing before saying our goodbyes.

I really appreciate the ladies who came up with the writing exercises and the instructions they gave us because those exercises really did get kick-start my creativity,  and gave me material for one of my upcoming novels as the second writing exercise was supposed to be written from one of our character’s perspectives. Since I am just about finished with my current WIP, I chose to write from the perspective of a character from an upcoming novel, and I thought the exercise lent itself very well to that particular character and story line.

The first writing exercise required us to pull a paper bag from a box, but NOT look inside. Instead, we were to put our hand in and feel what was in the bag. Then we were to write about either the experience of placing our hand into a bag without the knowledge of what it held. Or we could use just our sense of touch or other senses to try to determine what the bag held and write about what we thought was in the bag. After fifteen minutes, we could take turns reading what we wrote and sharing what was in our bags, to see how what we wrote applied (or didn’t apply) to what the bag held. (The picture at the top of this post is of the hostess’s kitten playing with one of the bags from this exercise. She made us all smile.)

It turned out that each bag held three items. I had determined one of my items quite accurately, one I guessed fairly closely, and one I had no idea. However, the rest of the group enjoyed what I had written.

The second writing exercise required us to draw an index card from two arrays of index cards–one labeled “Truth” and the other labeled “Dare”. Then we were to read what was on the other side of each card and write about the situation on the “Truth” card from our character’s perspective. Then we were to write whether or not our character would take the “Dare” on the “Dare” card and explain or show why the character would or would not take the dare based on that character’s perspective.

I enjoyed both exercises, but I think I actually enjoyed the second one a little more than the first one because I was able to really get into one of my character’s heads and now I have two very possible scenes for one of my upcoming novels.

During our free writing time, I would have loved to have had some time to work on my WIP. However, I first needed to write a Flash Fiction story for a contest I wanted to enter, so that ended up being the only writing project I was able to do because it was difficult to write what I wanted to write and fit it into the limited 500 word count. However, another writer friend encouraged me through it, and before the day was done, I had completed the story within the word count and am happy with it. (There will be a future post here on my blog, after I hear the contest results).

Tea and Poetry Tuesday

“Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally course in their nervous sensibilities will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual.”

Thomas de Quincy

 

Drum Dream Girl

On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
dreamed
of pounding tall conga drums
tapping small bongó drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on bit, round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.
But everyone
on the island of music
in the city of drumbeats
believed that only boys
should play drums
so the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
quiet
secret
drumbeat
dreams.
At outdoor cafés that looked like gardens
she heard drums played by men
but when she closed her eyes
she could also hear
her own imaginary
music.
When she walked under
wind-wavy palm trees
in a flower-bright park
she heard the whir of parrot wings
the clack of woodpecker beaks
the dancing tap
of her own footsteps
and the comforting pat
of her own
heartbeat.
At carnivals, she listened
to the rattling beat
of towering
dancers
on stilts
and the dragon clang
of costumed drummers
wearing huge masks.
At home, her fingertips
rolled out their own
dreamy drum rhythm
on tables and chairs…
and even though everyone
kept reminding her that girls
on the island of music
have never played drums
the brave drum dream girl
dared to play
tall conga drums
small bongó drums
and big, round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.
Her hands seemed to fly
as they rippled
rapped
and pounded
all the rhythms
of her drum dreams.
Her big sisters were so excited
that they invited her to join
their new all-girl dance band
but their father said only boys
should play drums.
So the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
and drumming
alone
until finally
her father offered
to find a music teacher
who could decide if her drums
deserved
to be heard.
The drum dream girl’s
teacher was amazed.
The girl knew so much
but he taught her more
and more
and more
and she practiced
and she practiced
and she practiced
until the teacher agreed
that she was ready
to play her small bongó drums
outdoors at a starlit café
that looked like a garden
where everyone who heard
her dream-bright music
sang
and danced
and decided
that girls should always
be allowed to play
drums
and both girls and boys
should feel free
to dream.
Notes:
This poem was inspired by the childhood of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers. In 1932, at the age of ten, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga performed with her older sisters as Anacaona, Cuba’s first “all-girl dance band.” Millo became a world-famous musician, playing alongside all the American jazz greats of the era. At age fifteen, she played her bongó drums at a New York birthday celebration for U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where she was enthusiastically cheered by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. There are now many female drummers in Cuba. Thanks to Millo’s courage, becoming a drummer is no longer an unattainable dream for girls on the island. [note from the author]

 

Margarita Engle, “Drum Dream Girl” from Drum Dream Girl.  Copyright © 2015 by Margarita Engle.

The Light Unbound by C.S. Wachter

The Light Unbound (The Seven Words Book 4) by [Wachter, C. S.]

The Light Unbound is the 4th and final book of C.S.Wachter’s The Seven Words series. It is YA/Adult Fantasy.

Prince Rayne again falls prey to the evil Sigmund and in his frustration turns his back on the One and what he was called to do. Then he meets a child-like ancient, named Mite, who helps Rayne find anonymity in the Camp of the Forgotten.

In the meantime, his friends try to figure out why Prince Rayne is behaving in ways that are totally contradictory to his true character. Lexi struggles most as she wants to believe in Rayne, but something just doesn’t seem right.

There is also a black cloud approaching across the Cameron Sea, and mind-altering shadows threatening all Ochen. And when members of the Interplanetary Council die from a mysterious illness, the young prince declares himself Imperial Emperor of all Ochen, leaving all of his friends confused and questioning—is this really Rayne, or could it be someone, some-thing else?

This installment of The Seven Words series does not disappoint. It is just as good as the first three and kept me turning pages in anticipation of Rayne’s friends finding out the truth, and also cheering Rayne on to turn back to his faith.

The characters, both old and new, help to move the story along. Some create conflict and tension while others add a bit of humor to the intense story line.

By the end of this book, C.S.Wachter does a great job of making clear connections between all four books and resolving all of the conflicts from all of the story lines. The ending is very satisfying, and many of the characters will live on in my mind for a long time to come. This has become and will remain one of my favorite fantasy series, and if you enjoy good fantasy reads, I highly recommend them.

 

Flash Fiction Friday: The Mystery of the Road Apples

Image result for road apples

Sam and his buddy, Randy, jogging on the rail trail, came to a road crossing. They stopped, looked left, then right.

“Woah, what is that?” Randy pointed down the sidewalk to their right.

“Is that what I think it is?” Sam wrinkled his nose.

They took a few steps to their right.

Sam’s eyes widened. “It is! Those are road apples!”

“Yeah, but what are they doing there?”

“Hey, what’s all the commotion?” Four guys they’d never seen before joined them.

“Ew, what. is. that?” One of the guys stared.

“Who are you?” Randy raised an eyebrow.

“I’m Justin and this is my brother, Brandon.” The tallest boy spoke and motioned one at a time to the others. “The two behind us are John and Brian, our cousins.”

“I’m Randy and this is Sam.” Randy made their introductions.

Sam noted the group’s Polo shirts, black skinny jeans, and the Vans on their feet. “You guys aren’t from around here, are you?”

They all shook their heads as they stared at the mess on the sidewalk.

“Well, here in Lancaster County, we call them road apples.” Sam glanced at Randy, who grinned.

“You mean you eat that?” Justin’s face paled.

Sam chuckled. “No way. Road apples is our name for horse poop.”

The new guys made disgusted noises, and Sam thought Justin was going to toss his cookies.

When they had regained their composure, Brandon piped up. “Do they ride horses on the sidewalks around here?”

Sam and Randy shook their heads.

“Then what are those doing on the sidewalk?”

Randy stepped forward. “That’s what we were trying to figure out. Are you up for helping us solve this mystery?”

John and Brian each put an arm out, took a step backward, and shook their heads.

Justin asked, “What do you have in mind?”

Randy shared his plan. “Well I figure this wasn’t a prank or it’d be in front of someone’s house.”

Sam, Justin, and Brandon looked at Randy with raised eyebrows.

“I figure this happened while some Amish boys were out one Friday night on their rumspringa. So we come back here Friday night and watch for them. See what they’ve been up to.”

Brandon and Justin looked at each other and shrugged. Brandon said, “So Amish boys are the ones that dress funny, wearing suspenders and straw hats. Is that right?”

Sam and Randy nodded.

“So, what’s rum schpringer?”

Sam laughed out loud.

“That’s rumspringa.” Randy explained. “When Amish kids become teenagers, they are allowed to go out and pretty much do what they want on weekends. They do some crazy stuff.”

Brandon and Justin looked at each other and nodded. “We’re in.”

Randy grinned. “So, we’ll see you two back here Friday night as soon as it gets dark.”

They all shook hands.

Friday night Justin and Brandon were already at the designated spot when Sam and Randy arrived. The boys squatted in shadow, back from the sidewalk a few feet.

They hadn’t been there long when they heard girls giggling—a group of Amish girls. They were talking and laughing.

The traffic along this road had slowed down. The five o’clock rush had ended three hours ago. The boys watched the Amish girls cross the street and stand in a huddle at the end of the rail trail. They stood gazing up the hill, so the boys did the same.

“Here they come!” One of the girls shouted and pointed up the hill. The other girls squealed and stared in that direction.

Randy, Sam, Justin, and Brandon stood up and took a step forward. They looked up the hill and saw two horse-and-buggies careening down the hill side by side, neck-and-neck.

“They’re racing!” Sam bounced from one foot to the other.

When the buggies were about fifty feet from where Sam and the others stood, a car turned up the road and headed right for the buggy that was on the wrong side of the road!

The buggies shifted, forcing one to clamber onto the sidewalk. It looked like it might tip over, but it righted itself once all the wheels were on the concrete.

As the buggies passed Sam and his friends, the horse on the road dropped some road apples, and the horse-and-buggy on the sidewalk inched ahead and rattled off the corner of concrete, back into the street and pulled to a stop. The buggy that had been forced onto the sidewalk had won the race!

Justin and Brandon looked at the road apples in the road. “Glad it wasn’t the horse on the sidewalk this time. They’d have dropped right in front of us.” They wrinkled their noses, and Sam and Randy laughed. “I guess that solves the mystery of the road apples.”