Thursday December 31st, 2009

The exercise:

Man, did it ever feel like Friday at work today. I almost put up a four line prose prompt, haha.

But no, your prompt, for whatever writing you feel like doing today, is: so this is the new year.


Today the first decade of the millennium draws to a close and many people are looking back over the year that was and, in many cases, the years that were.

Not me though. I’m looking ahead.

I’ve never been the sort that makes new year’s resolutions, mostly because hardly anyone ever sticks to them. I remember in university that the school gym was always more crowded at the start of January but would be back to normal by mid-February at the latest. I don’t really understand the psychology behind why people can’t stick to them, but there is evidence all around us that they can’t. So my thinking is quite simple: why even bother?

I resolve to do things when the time is right for me, not just because there’s a shiny new calendar on the wall. It just so happens that one of the things I’ve decided to do will be in January and I wanted to share it here because… well, it worked pretty well in November.

I started A Fighting Chance about a year ago, the first chapter appearing on Protagonize on January 2nd. Aside from a lengthy break in the middle of the year, I’ve been hacking away at it pretty consistently since then. Know how many words it’s at now?

About 35,000.

That would be a lot more impressive if I hadn’t written 55,000 words in November alone for Lessons in the Dust.

I’ve decided that I’ve dawdled long enough. So here’s what I’m going to do: with a goal of 1,000 words per day, I’m going to finish the first draft before the end of January, 2010. I’ll be tracking my progress here, since NaNoWriMo taught me that public humiliation is a wonderful motivator. New chapters will be going up on Protagonize once I’ve edited them a bit, which I’m thinking will be at a rate of two chapters per week. 

I have a pretty clear idea what’s going to happen with the rest of the story and I’m fairly confident things will draw to a close well before the 31st rolls around but we’ll see how it goes. Stories can surprise you, even when you’re writing them yourself. Perhaps especially then.

Once that first draft is done I’m planning on beginning the editing process on Lessons in the Dust. This is tentatively planned for February but I’ll see how the timing works out. After that… I’m leaving myself open to whatever may come my way the rest of the year.

And of course I’ll be making time for getting hitched to the woman I love at the end of July.

Happy New Year’s to you all, and may 2010 bring you all the happiness and good fortune you can handle.

Just don’t go making any new year’s resolutions. Make them new life resolutions instead.

Wednesday December 30th, 2009

The exercise:

After yesterday's musical edition of what I got for Christmas, I think today shall be the literary version. First up is The Roadby Cormac McCarthy - I wanted this after watching the trailer for the movie once. Thankfully my sister Nicky obliged :)

Trauma Farmby Brian Brett was one of the gifts Kat's parents got me. It wasn't something I asked for but I'm very, very much looking forward to digging into it.

Last, but probably the coolest of the three, is Knickles and Dimesby Jillian Hewitt, the other part of Kat's brother and fiancee's gift for me. Yes, Protagonize's own Jillian Hewitt. How awesome is that? It's not every day that you can put up a picture of a book on Facebook and tag the author because you're friends with her.

So, suitably enough, today's prompt is: the publication.

Continuations, as always, are most welcome.


The man ran down the empty, rain-battered street, the book held tightly to his chest beneath his black trench coat. It was a mighty effort to keep his eyes on the asphalt before him; the itch between his shoulder blades screamed for him to look back, that he was being followed, that they had him in their rifle sights. But there were too many gaping, toothless potholes ready to wrench and twist his ankles the instant his concentration faltered, so he pushed the urge harshly aside.

He turned right at 67th Avenue and slowed to a stop beneath a green, frilly overhang. He bent double, still pinning the sacred book to his chest, and sucked in deep, shuddering breaths as his shoulder length black hair dripped blood-tinged rainwater onto the sidewalk. He returned to his full height slowly, fearing that a more sudden movement would lead to a faint that would end his mission in failure. As he took another moment to gather himself he took in his pale reflection in the shop window to his right.

I look frightened and weak and pathetic. Like prey that knows its predator is closing in and time is running out.

Then his eyes rose further, to the sign hanging askew above the shop door, and a tiny spark of hope flared in his breast.

Tuesday December 29th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's what I got for Christmas is the musical edition: Matt Costa's Songs We Singfrom my parents and Alexi Murdoch's Time Without Consequencefrom Kat's brother and his fiancee. They are both fantastic and I highly recommend both - Matt Costa's CD being a particularly pleasant surprise, as I've only listened to a couple of his songs before (somewhat obsessively, I'll admit, but still).

Today's prompt has nothing to do with either of those. Just wanted to get that out of the way before I tell you that your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt is: thoughtless gifts.

My first one, and the prompt, were inspired by the mountain of chocolate I found waiting on my desk at work this morning. The second one is just me having some fun :)


So much chocolate
For one diabetic... I
See you thought this through.

*     *     *

You work way too hard -
Take the rest of the week off,
You poor, tired brain.

Monday December 28th, 2009

The exercise:

I know I mentioned yesterday that I'd share what I got for Christmas but I'm feeling an urge to write some poetry. So I'll just list one thing today and get to more over the course of the week.

Kat got me this tripodand so far I absolutely love it. I've wanted a tripod ever since I started taking pictures and I've already taken lots of shots with it. I'm thrilled with the ability to take low lighting shots without a flash that don't blur. I'll be sure to post a few here.

But for now, here's your prompt for today: tribal rhythms.


Bare feet pounding on cooling sand
As the sun melts into the hills;
Making music since time began,
Which now seems to be standing still.

Hands thrust toward the starry sky,
Sway back and forth in unison,
Before slapping down on thick thighs
Louder than the sound of ten guns.

This dance will not stop until dawn
But I must rest my weary head;
I know that when I rise they'll be gone,
Their bodies leaving naught unsaid.

Sunday December 27th, 2009

The exercise:

Heh, I had forgotten that I didn't have a post scheduled for today until I checked the page to make sure all the scheduled posts went up properly. That was a close one!

Santa has been very good to me so far (my parents are coming for a quick visit tomorrow, so he's not done yet!) but I'll save my what I got for Christmas post for tomorrow.

Today? Your prompt is: blessing in disguise.


Kat and I flew in to Vancouver this afternoon and went to collect our bags from the Carousel of Doom (better known as baggage claim). My bag showed up but Kat's suitcase decided to take the scenic route.

This was very annoying at first. But then I realized two things, in rather quick succession. First: that thanks to Air Canada delivering the suitcase to our apartment, we didn't have to struggle to get that rather heavy and awkward beast home ourselves. Second: that with only my big bag and our two small backpacks, we could take transit all the way home and not have to waste money on a cab.

So it definitely worked out for the best. Especially considering that the nomad suitcase has been delivered already, safe and sound.

Saturday December 26th, 2009

The exercise:

Your four line poem prompt this week: the day after.

I hope Santa was good to you :)

I'll be home tomorrow night, weather permitting.


So many lovely presents were shared,
Everyone showed that they really cared,
I ate a lot but didn't get ill...
Just don't show me the credit card bill!

Friday December 25th, 2009

The exercise:


I've written a lot of words throughout this year. Some here, some on Protagonize, far too many in November.

But today I'm going to keep it simple: I hope you all have a wonderfully happy holiday, be safe, and be good to each other.

And thank you so much for dropping by, whether it's once a day, once a week, or once a year, to share your writing and your thoughts - it means a lot to me.

Thursday December 24th, 2009

The exercise:

Your Christmas Eve writing prompt: it's the most wonderful time of the year.


Rudolph is stretching out his legs,
Elves are adding the final pegs,
Santa is dusting off his sled,
And kids can hardly stay in bed.

For one night every year,
Both young and old are filled with cheer;
All differences are set aside,
And peace and love gently collide.

I give thanks for this joyous night,
And though it is a warming sight -
I simply cannot help but wish
Every night was just like this.

Wednesday December 23rd, 2009

The exercise:

Two days to go!

Your prompt today, courtesy of Greg, is: in the bleak mid-winter.

And, at his urging, mine is a continuation of what I wrote on Sunday.

Kat and I are off to Osoyoos this morning, so I'll see you when we get back on Sunday. Hopefully the scheduled posts will go up properly and keep you company in my stead, should you have a chance to drop by during this very busy time of year.


I wrapped my red scarf around my neck and struggled into my white winter jacket as the end of my shift drew near. The instant the clock’s electronic display changed from 7:59 to 8:00 I locked the front door, slung my purse over my right shoulder, and let the tension drain from my forehead. After checking to make sure the safe had been properly secured (the lock could be a bit tricky and I’d been called out by my boss for leaving it unlocked twice already, even though I thought I had) I switched off the main lights and moved to the back of the shop.

Placing my light pink toque over my short blonde hair and wriggling my fingers into my red wool mittens, I took a moment to ready myself for the cold outside. I could hear the wind howling on the other side of the door and struggled to stop myself from shivering before I even left the heat of the flower shop behind. On a sudden whim I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present and take a cab home instead of waiting around for the bus.

Sucking in a lungful of warm air, I pushed the door open and stepped out into the white night. Once I heard the door click shut behind me I lowered my head and forced my legs through the knee-high snow in the alley. As I reached the sidewalk I saw husbands and wives struggling under the burden of too many gifts in too few bags and couldn’t stop the sneer that sprung to my face.

Ah, the joys of being single and not being on speaking terms with your family – no need for all that nonsense.

Without much hope I looked up and down the street, searching for an unoccupied, on duty cab, and was surprised to find one heading my way on the heavily salted asphalt. I waved my arm and, to my even greater surprise, it actually pulled to a stop.

“Corner of Sage and Timber Avenue, please,” I said as I crawled into the back seat.

“Sure thing, honey,” the cabbie called over his shoulder before bringing us away from the curb.

Oh great, another man who thinks with the wrong head.

But, to my deep pleasure, that was the only comment he made as we wove through the crowded streets. He had his radio set to a jazz station and it was a sweet relief from all the Christmas carols I had been inundated with in recent weeks. When we came to my street I reached for my purse almost reluctantly.

“How much?” I asked as I fumbled for my wallet.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said with a warm smile that actually seemed genuine. “I was heading this way anyway.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Have a merry Christmas.”

I nodded my thanks, too stunned to find the proper words, and stepped from the car hardly believing what had just happened. I stood in the blowing snow and watched him drive away until his tail lights faded into the night. Then I turned to walk down my street and, right in the middle of my bleakest winter, a real, honest to goodness smile came to my lips.

Tuesday December 22nd, 2009

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt, coming at you with just three short days until Christmas, is: oh Christmas tree.

Man, I used to love those Claymation specials.


So many presents
Beneath my boughs... but I know
That none are for me.

*     *     *

The wooden angel
Atop the tree would not fly
Away if she could

Monday December 21st, 2009

The exercise:

Your prompt for this final Monday before Christmas: chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Yes, I know the actual title is The Christmas Song. But I think the name pretty much everyone knows it by is a better prompt, so nyah.


He is being swallowed
By his parka,
This man who roasts
And sells
Chestnuts in the park.

He is no king,
But he does
Use coal.
And he does
Want you to have
A merry, merry Christmas.

But he'd also
Really appreciate it
If you have
Exact change.

Sunday December 20th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt is the classic: jingle bells.

I just discovered Sinatra's version of the song today and it's making me feel very mellow.


The silver bells attached to the top of the front door jingled as yet another snow-encrusted customer entered, bringing a blast of cold air with him. I stood a little closer to the portable heater I had placed at the foot of the cash register and tucked my chin into my sweater.

"Hey there good looking," he said as he sauntered over, pulling off his black leather gloves. "Merry Christmas!"

You've got to be kidding me.

"Merry Christmas," I reply with a bright smile that swallows my pride.

"I'll get a dozen roses," he said as he leans an elbow on the table. "The exact shade of your hair, if you've got 'em."

And are these for the missus or the mistress?

"I'm sure I've got something close," I replied with a wink before disappearing into the back. I dug around until I found the bucket of roses nearest to death and bundled them up in white wrapping paper and a red ribbon. As I returned to the register I caught him admiring his reflection in the glass window. "How about these?"

"Just like your smile: perfect."

I think I just threw up in my mouth.

"That'll be thirty-five dollars," I told him, adding on an extra ten dollars that he'll never know about.

"Keep the change," he told me with a lingering stare after dropping forty on the counter. He turned away and slipped out into the snowy outdoors, the door bells jingling in relief at his departure. I placed twenty-five in the register and fifteen in my pocket and told myself it would all be worth it one day.

Saturday December 19th, 2009

The exercise:

Only two days of work left before my Christmas vacation. I'll be spending the holiday this year with Kat's family in Osoyoos and we're flying out on the 23rd, coming back on the 27th. I won't have internet access during that time so I'll have to get a few posts scheduled ahead of time.

But that will come later. Right now? Your four line poem prompt is: it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


Every day feels like it's Friday,
No one listens to what I say.
"No work is getting done!" I shriek.
Next year Christmas will be all week.

Friday December 18th, 2009

The exercise:

Just a week to go until Christmas!

I've decided that for the next seven days all writing prompts will be the title of various Christmas songs. Today, for Four Line Friday Prose, I'm starting with my personal favorite: silent night.

If you have a favorite song you'd like me to use, feel free to drop me a note.


The stars are watching with sparkling eyes but the moon has gone to bed. The man slips down the chimney with a sack over his shoulder but leaves behind his sled. Then something goes terribly wrong and he lands right on his jolly old head.

The night is silent for now but that will end when the kids find Santa in the fireplace, quite definitely dead.

Note: mmm, holiday spirit. So inspiring!

Thursday December 17th, 2009

The exercise:

The countdown to Christmas begins tomorrow!

But today, your prompt is simply: 'tis the season.


It's that special time of year,
When families gather near,
To speak without any fear,
Thanks to the magic of beer.

Outside the snow is falling,
While inside there's name calling,
Voices rising, skin crawling,
And the baby is bawling.

Bridges and dinner are burned,
Half-hearted kind words are spurned,
Vicious battle scars are earned...
And nothing is ever learned.

Wednesday December 16th, 2009

The exercise:

Your prompt today: name calling.


We had our monthly division meeting at work this morning and they brought someone in to talk about changes that are coming in at the start of next fiscal (April 1st). It was a good presentation and there were lots of good questions raised and I think it went pretty well.

But boy, let me tell you: I would have been a lot happier if my name wasn't brought up quite so much.

"You should talk to Marc about that."

"You need to meet with Marc, he's the one that knows the details of that."

"Marc is the one that takes care of that for us."

Okay, I get it. I'm about to have a crap load of work dumped on me. Can we move on now?

The really funny thing, to me at least, is that as of right now my contract runs out mid-January. Yes, I know they'll offer to extend me again beyond that. But... that doesn't mean I have to say yes.


Yeah, alright, of course I'm going to say yes. It's a good position and I'm lucky to have it. I'll thank you very much to stop ruining my delusional power trip with reality.

Tuesday December 15th, 2009

The exercise:

Welcome to day number 555 in a row of Daily Writing Practice. If I had been paying attention earlier in the day when I was deciding on the writing prompt, I might have made reference to it in some way.

But I didn't. So your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week is: the cemetery.


Snow dusted tombstones
Await spring's distant return
While the dead sleep on

* * *

The words on each stone
Vary but mean the same thing:
I was here. I lived.

Monday December 14th, 2009

The exercise:

I just finished reading The Lovers by John Connolly, one of my favorite authors. So I thought we could use that title for the writing prompt today.

The lovers in the book were not very good... beings, so that's where I took my inspiration from.


Separated for far too long,
By heavy men with slender minds.
Oh but our love, just like us, is
Undying and can't be confined.

We will be joined as one again,
But before our bliss can set in
We will find those responsible
And make them suffer for their sins.

Sunday December 13th, 2009

The exercise:

Vancouver is quite officially covered in snow right now. Everything is so much prettier :)

I've also decided how I want to count down to Christmas this year, but that won't be starting until Friday. I think. I might get started early, depending on how excited I get.

Today's prompt comes courtesy of Gwen: listen to any piece of classical music and write whatever it inspires you to write.


Mozart - Eine kleine Nachtmusik

The ballroom is empty,
Except for the two of you.
You dance with eyes squeezed shut,
In a ghostly blur of blue.

The music plays softly,
But your steps are much softer;
Yet somehow they still seem
To echo in the rafters.

Then you dissipate as
The serenade falls silent;
You seemed happy for two
Who met an end so violent.

Saturday December 12th, 2009

The exercise:

Kat and I went to a Holiday Market this morning and did a whole bundle of gift buying so I'm feeling much, much more ready for the big day now. Only a couple of things left and I should be all set.

Your four line poem topic this week is: Christmas shopping.

If you've had a particularly unpleasant experience, I'll understand if you need more than four lines to vent.


I think I'll get two of those...
Don't you just love how that glows?
Oh, that will look great on Shawn!
And... where's all my money gone?

Friday December 11th, 2009

The exercise:

Only two weeks until Christmas! Yowza.

Last year I did a twelve days of Christmas lead up to the big day but I haven't decided what I'll do this year yet. That's my way of saying that I'm open to suggestions.

Today's prompt for Four Line Friday Prose: let it snow.

We got a little taste of it here today, with more to come this weekend.


The snowflake performs a slow, lazy dance as it meanders down to earth. It has no thoughts on when and where it shall arrive, no concerns about what others might think of it, no desire to attain the newest gadget. It is simply a snowflake, gliding down to the ground so that it may be transformed into a snowman or snowball, or just to become one small stitch in a massive white blanket.

And that is enough.

Thursday December 10th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt: the butterfly effect.

I... don't seem to have anything else to say at the moment. Huh.


I was resting in the small field behind my house, flat on my back and staring up at puffy white clouds, the day it happened.

The sky was full of turtles and bunnies and airplanes, if you took the time to find them in the drifting patches of condensation. As a ten year old with no responsibilities, I was only too happy to spend my afternoon seeking them out. The grass was cool and the air was warm and I moved in and out of sleep for hours. I was roused from my final nap by the arrival of a butterfly on my nose.

I was startled and a little scared at first, but was soon filled with a sense of awe and wonder at its magnificent beauty. Holding my breath, I turned my head gently from side to side, trying to get a better look at its markings, before finally deciding that looking at it with both eyes at once was the best option. We contemplated each other for what felt like days before it finally flicked its wings in farewell and took flight on a soft breeze.

And I have been cross-eyed ever since.

Wednesday December 9th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's writing prompt: alarm clocks.


Oh I scream and I shout,
Flail my hands all about;
Sing with my arms wide flung
At the top of my lungs...

And still you
Ignore me,
When you should
Adore me.

You would sleep until noon
Without me, you buffoon!
But why should you heed my tock?
I'm just an alarm clock.

So go on,
Ignore me.
But know that
You bore me.

Tuesday December 8th, 2009

The exercise:

I am amused that my tale of feeling ill after taking a T3 has prompted a Tylenol ad on my page.

This week's topic for Two Haiku Tuesday: falling star.

Speaking of things that amuse me.

Oh dear, I forgot my manners. Thanks very much Beth!


There's a shining star
Tumbling from the night sky...
I guess I should move.

* * *

I cheated. A lot.
Paid them off but still got caught.
Man, who would have thought?

Monday December 7th, 2009

The exercise:

Decided I needed another day off - I really haven't been getting enough sleep the last few days. Had a better sleep last night, so I'm feeling better today. Lots of resting on the schedule, so I should be back at work tomorrow.

Let's get Monday started with this prompt: too much enthusiasm, not enough talent.


The man logged off his computer and pushed himself away from his desk. In one smooth motion he spun in his chair, picked up his duffel bag from the floor, and rose to leave his cubicle at a brisk walk. He nodded to his coworkers as they headed for the lunch room, brown paper bags clutched in their hands as if they were nervous school children.

The man did not join them, however. Instead he took the elevator down to the lobby and exited the building. He paused to soak in the natural light before joining the flow of sidewalk traffic heading east down Tenth Avenue.

He arrived at the small park and was surprised to find that he was the first to make it there - yesterday he had been the last. He checked his gleaming silver watch to confirm the time and shrugged before taking a seat on the raised concrete that edged the flower garden. With another look around he bent to unzip his black bag.

Pulling the djembe drum from its black confines, he reverently placed the African mahogany beauty between his knees. He had paid top dollar for the drum at a specialty shop on the south side but he knew it was worth every penny. He had done his research.

Still finding no sign of the others he had played with the day before, he decided there was no need to wait. He closed his eyes and began to play.

His fingers beat against the goat skin drumhead for the rest of his lunch hour, his eyes remaining blissfully shut. When he stopped at last and glanced around, he was surprised to find that not only had his fellow players not shown up, but the sidewalk around him was quite devoid of onlookers.

He shrugged and returned his instrument to its bag and returned to his office, already making plans to seek out his fellow musicians at other locations in the neighborhood the following day.

Sunday December 6th, 2009

The exercise:

So around four o'clock yesterday afternoon I got up to take a break from writing and realized that I wasn't in any pain. Seeing as I haven't taken any painkillers since Thursday night, this was a rather exciting development.

There's still some swelling, and I can't really open my jaw all the way, but just sitting around there's no aching anymore. Today is also exciting because I get to start putting heat on my cheeks.

Anyway. Recovery is going better than expected. And your prompt today is: a night at the movies.


As I watched the previews play
So many spoilers were on display
I glanced at my ticket and thought,
How many movies had I bought?

Because now that I knew
The villain is the man in blue,
And the city survived the attack,
Why should I ever come back?

Saturday December 5th, 2009

The exercise:

Your four line poem prompt today: slow motion.

I think I'll stick to the rules today.


My brain has turned to molasses,
And the air has turned to honey;
Everyone's moving so slowly,
And I'm feeling kinda funny.

Friday December 4th, 2009

The exercise:

Your Four Line Friday Prose prompt this week: totally out of it.

I'm breaking my own rule today. Feel free to do the same or to play along.


Talking with Kat over dinner last night, I learned that I missed out on quite a bit after they brought me out of sedation yesterday morning.

Apparently I kept trying to talk and she kept telling me to rest and that I should only talk if it was really important. She helped me to do some deep breathing for a bit and then I'd start talking again. Finally she handed me a piece of paper and a pencil and I wrote down what I was trying to say.

"You mean when we got home?" I interjected at this point.

"No, after the surgery... don't you remember?"

I shook my head no and she produced the paper. On it I had written, in a messy but legible hand, two words: 'backpack?' because I apparently needed to know where the bag I brought with me was, and one of my nicknames for Kat (which I'm not sharing, so don't bother asking).

Reading that provoked a very emotional response. I don't really understand why, but I ended up laughing and crying at the same time. I don't know if I've ever done that before.

Can I blame the drugs?

Okay, good. Thanks.

Thursday December 3rd, 2009

The exercise:

This year for my sister Sue's birthday, I got my wisdom teeth out. I hope she likes it, I went through a lot to get it done.

Happy birthday Sue!

Today's writing prompt: pain tolerance.


It's probably too early to tell one way or another, but the pain seems manageable. Tylenol 3, oddly enough, appear to be out of the equation already - I got really nauseous after taking just one with lunch. I say 'oddly enough' because back when I got migraines all the time, T3s were my salvation. I guess I've outgrown them?

Anyway, the nurse said to try ibuprofen instead so I just downed some of those. We'll see how they do.

I've always had a pretty high tolerance for pain. When I was in grade 8 I broke my left wrist and didn't go get it x-rayed until a day or two later. I just got someone in the principal's office to bandage it up because I thought it was just sprained. They x-ray said otherwise, obviously.

Needless to say, being a guy, I'm quite proud of that.

So, right now? I'm rather uncomfortable but it's nothing too bad. I think the ibuprofen is starting to kick in as well. And I should probably get the ice back on my cheeks. So... catch you later.

Wednesday December 2nd, 2009

The exercise:

Just as life starts to return to normal... your prompt today is: losing wisdom.


So tomorrow's the big day - all four of my wisdom teeth are coming out sometime around 10:30 in the morning. Wish me luck and a speedy recovery. Mostly the latter, please.

I'm taking Thursday and Friday off work and hoping to be recovered enough to go back in on Monday. If I look more like a chipmunk than a human being as the end of the weekend approaches, it's a safe be that I'll be staying home an extra day.

I had considered doing a couple of posts ahead of time but then I decided that it would be more interesting to see what I produced while doped up on painkillers. I apologize in advance for any excessive weirdness that might appear in this space in the coming days.

Bring on the soups and the smoothies!

Tuesday December 1st, 2009

The exercise:

Let us welcome the last month of the year with some haiku. Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: a complete 180.


I thought you'd chosen,
I thought it was set in stone.
But stone turned to sand.

* * *

You said goodbye and
Headed for the door but a
Gun shot brought you back.

Monday November 30th, 2009

The exercise:

So long, November. It's been interesting.

Your prompt today: you just don't get it.

More fun at work this morning.


I am losing my mind.
But I'm an optimist,
So I'll tell you one more time.

The first ten times you missed
Were my fault, to be sure.
So, next time: do it like this.

I will keep my thoughts pure.
I will not swear at you, Bill.
But... you're dumb and there's no cure.

Now I'm feeling quite ill,
Cause you just don't get it,
And I know you never will.

Leave me for a minute,
If you would be so kind;
I need to nap for a bit.

Sunday November 29th, 2009

The exercise:

In case you missed yesterday's update...

NaNoWriMo 2009: Complete

So, with that in mind, today's prompt is: retrospection.

Yeah, it got long - but at least I kept it under 1,667 words!


I'll be honest: from the moment I decided to do NaNoWriMo there was no doubt in my mind that I would hit 50,000 words. When I have a definite goal, especially with a public one like this one was, I find a way to get there.

Which makes me wonder what else I could accomplish if I simply announced that I would have it done thirty days (or however long) from now.

But that's a thought for a later time. Right now I just want to enjoy this feeling. Because, no matter how certain I felt at the beginning, this still feels real, real good. Accomplishment is a big part of that feeling, as well as a touch of relief to have the pressure off.

I'm also all kinds of excited to get back to writing other things. A Fighting Chance, the first novel I started and now the second to be completed, is approaching its finale. But not today.

Will I do this again next year? Without a doubt, barring something massive getting in the way. I can't imagine what that something would be though.

But for now, I'm going to let Lessons In The Dust sit on the back burner. I'll open it up in either January or February and begin the editing process but until then I'm going to do my best to forget about Ethan and Barrett and the earthquake that forced them together.

Oh, I mentioned on my birthday that I might have some good news. Well it's looking pretty certain that it's not going to happen, so I think it's safe to explain now. I received an email from NaNoWriMo asking for my permission to have my book info sent over to the artist in charge of the 30 Covers, 30 Days project.

Of course I said yes. I was told that 15 books were being sent for his consideration for the first 7 covers, so I had an almost 50/50 chance which was very exciting. I didn't get picked but just being in that first group, when there were some 100,000 people signed up, was an honor.

It would have been pretty cool, and it would have put a lot of eyes on my story, but I'm not too disappointed it didn't work out. It was just a thrill to even be considered. Completely unexpected to say the least.

It's been a good month. Now it's time to ease into December. And to cheer on my fellow Protagonizers as they approach the finish line.

Thanks for letting me share this trip with you.

Saturday November 28th, 2009

The exercise:

Going to see how close I can get to finishing the story today. Wish me luck!

Edit: Um, I'd say that went well. Considering I'm all done now. Woo hoo!

NaNo Word Count: 55,557

But first, let me get things started with the following topic for your four line poem this week: class is in session.


Close your damn mouth and open your mind
To receive lessons that are one of a kind.
I will teach you the things that no one else knows,
Like how to rob banks whenever it snows.

Friday November 27th, 2009

The exercise:

I might do some more writing tonight, but I doubt it. So I'll just put up the number now. Story should be finished some time on Sunday.

NaNo Word Count: 52,774
NaNo Tar - It doesn't matter what the NaNo Target is!

Your prompt for this week's Four Line Friday Prose: security breach.

I was feeling silly this morning.


"I don't reckon she's much of a threat, d'you?"

"I dunno, Robbie - Pa said not to let anyone or anything come in."

"Oh, don't be a danged fool, Ricky; you just go right on through, missy."

And so Roberta, their trusted milk cow of nearly ten years, was allowed passage, and the explosive device strapped securely to her belly ticked happily away.

Thursday November 26th, 2009

The exercise:

Bit more writing to do tonight, I think. We'll see. It's getting late.

NaNo Word Count: 51,259
NaNo Target: Obliterated

Your exercise today: imitations. Pick an artist, poet, author, whoever you like, and try to write in their style.

Yeah, I'm still stuck on my Tom Waits binge. Good thing tomorrow is four line prose day or I'd do it again.


Imitations - Tom Waits

When I was born that rainy Monday
Momma's skin turned as grey as the sky
Oh brother I just started to live
And Momma, she was all set to die
Yeah Momma was all set to die

Oh Daddy stuck the blame right on me
No sir, I never did stand a chance
I was raised in a house full of ghosts
And they never showed me how to dance
Yeah I never learned how to dance

While Daddy drowned his heart with whiskey
I took notes so I could fill his shoes
The day he passed on I said goodbye
And carried on with nothing to lose
Yeah man I had nothing to lose

Well I robbed a man the other day
It felt good to put him in his place
But man that feeling soon was gone
Cause he went and shot me in the face
Yeah he shot me right in the face

Now these beeping machines tie me down
No they won't let me break free and fly
If this is what living's gonna be
Oh my brother I'd much rather die
Yeah brother please just let me die

Wednesday November 25th, 2009

The exercise:

Hitting 50k tonight. Will update the numbers later.

Edit: Booyah. Now I just have to finish the story in the next five days. I think I should manage it.

NaNo Word Count: 50,059
NaNo Target: 41,669

Your prompt today: it's been too long.


On my commute to work this morning I got off my bus at the Skytrain station and went up the stairs to the platform level. Once up there I looked to my left and my first reaction was, "What the hell is that?"

I thought someone had setup a spotlight a little ways down the track. It took a few moments to realize that it was just the sun peeking between the horizon and the clouds.

I think we've had a bit too much rain here lately.

Tuesday November 24th, 2009

The exercise:

Work today was very meeting-ful, so I've got some writing left to do tonight.

NaNo Word Count: 48,736
NaNo Target: 40,002

Your prompt for this week's Two Haiku Tuesday: locked in.

Stuff like this is both fascinating and terrifying to me. There aren't too many things I can say that about.


Can't you hear me scream?
Why does nobody listen?
I think I've gone mad.

* * *

I count the passing
Seconds and wait for my death...
But dawn comes again

Monday November 23rd, 2009

The exercise:

Steady as she goes with the NaNo.

NaNo Word Count: 46,905
NaNo Target: 38,335

The prompt for today: one step ahead.

On the bus ride in to work this morning, for the first time that I've ever noticed it, the bus was one stop ahead of the automated voice that announces the stops. It was rather disconcerting.


He was always one step ahead,
Ever since the day we were born;
He slipped from our mother's womb first,
While I was sound asleep that morn.

And that's how it's been ever since -
No matter what time I get up
He's already waiting for me,
Smirking over his coffee cup.

But I know I'll get the last laugh,
Because at the end of our days
His face will freeze with that damn smile,
And I'll pour coffee on his grave.

Note: thanks to Irish, I just listened to this awesome Tom Waits song and now I can't read this poem without putting it to that rhythm. I think it works pretty well, actually, if you repeat the last line of each stanza. After smoking a few million cigarettes.

Sunday November 22nd, 2009

The exercise:

Just sitting down to write now, so today might be a low word count day. We'll see how the afternoon goes.

NaNo Word Count: 45,005
NaNo Target: 36,669

The writing prompt for today is: silhouette.


She stood in the doorway,
Back lit by a street light.
The floor was her ashtray,
Her dress was skin tight.

Smoke from her cigarette
Curled around my head;
They say her silhouette
Stayed until I was dead.

Saturday November 21st, 2009

The exercise:

A whole day of resting and writing stretches out before me. Let's see where it takes me.

NaNo Word Count: 43,275
NaNo Target: 35,002

Your prompt for your four line poem this week: feeling guilty.


I read your sad poetry
and wonder why
Such great sadness fell on you
instead of I

Friday November 20th, 2009

The exercise:

Twenty days down, ten days to go!

NaNo Word Count: 41,403
NaNo Target: 33,335

Incidentally, your prompt for Four Line Friday Prose this week: the final stretch.


I stood tall atop the mountain created by the bodies of the words I had slain and surveyed the terrain before me.

"The end is in sight," a disembodied voice boomed, sending a chill dancing down my spine.

"Oh, I don't know about that," I said with a slight smile. Then I pointed a steady finger at the horizon and added, "I think that end is merely the beginning."

Thursday November 19th, 2009

The exercise:

Today I had a less 'work productive' day and a more 'writing productive' day at work. So I'm all done for the night.

NaNo Word Count: 39,350
NaNo Target: 31,669

Your prompt for this dreary and rainy Thursday in Vancouver: spider webs.


Sitting in his spider web,
Waiting to get spider fed,
He lets his prey come to him.

But he is a little dim,
For instead of hidden silk,
He's made his web out of milk.

Wednesday November 18th, 2009

The exercise:

Both work and technology conspired against me today, so I have some writing left to do tonight.

NaNo Word Count: 37,057
NaNo Target: 30,002

Your prompt du jour: apocalypse came walking down the street.

Just an odd phrase that popped into my head this morning.


The earth shook beneath his feet as Apocalypse walked down the middle of Main Street. Cars honked their horns like bleating sheep before their drivers beat hasty retreats. On the seventh floor I took a seat and watched with glee as he destroyed the toys of the terrified elite.

I sipped a martini and cheered him on, a mighty king controlled by a mere pawn. Oh, they had laughed and yawned when I proposed the project I codenamed Brawn. Now they all had blood stained lawns and they would still be running until the dawn!

I reached for the phone and made the call, satisfied now that he had crushed the stupid mall. I told the president to be a doll - just pay up or Apocalypse will destroy it all.

Now I own this island, its people are my slaves, and Apocalypse makes sure they all behave.

Tuesday November 17th, 2009

The exercise:

I seem to get way more writing done at work than I do at home. What can I say? I work best under pressure.

NaNo Word Count: 35,296
NaNo Target: 28,335

Your Two Haiku Tuesday topic this week: baby toys.

Inspired by something Kat told me yesterday, after she got back from babysitting for a friend. The first one, at least.


Cars and bears and drums
Hold no interest - he'd rather
Play with fresh laundry

* * *

No more baby talk.
Next time I get your keys I'm
Driving to Vegas.

Monday November 16th, 2009

The exercise:

All done writing for today, taking the night off.

NaNo Word Count: 33,259
NaNo Target: 26,669

Your prompt today: the big reveal.

And yes, the prompt is a reference to what's going on in the novel. And no, I'm not saying anything more than that.


The man donned his top hat
And picked up his black cane;
With a nod to his cat,
He strode onto the stage.

The large crowd cheered wildly,
For he was the big star,
And I stood by idly,
Set to reveal his flaw.

He was blind for certain
To the coming trouble.
I pulled back the curtain
To show his twin brother.

I yelled from the rafters,
"Let's see you vanish now!"
And to roars of laughter,
To earth his star fell down.

Sunday November 15th, 2009

The exercise:

So yesterday marked the first day I didn't hit the minimum daily word target of 1,667 for NaNoWriMo - I only managed 1,353. But on the plus side I'm still three days ahead of schedule and it looks like today will be a much better day - I wanted to get going on it before I took a break to do this post and I've already done over a thousand words this morning.

So, let's get on with today's prompt: weathermen.

Yeah, I dunno. But hey, we're all creative people here, right? I'm sure we'll come up with something from that.

NaNo Word Count: 31,258
NaNo Target: 25,002

Would you look at that? It's the halfway point sailing right on by...


One called for two months of rain,
Then moved his family to Spain.
One said wind storms were coming,
Then he hit the road running.
One warned a heat wave was next
(Sent from parts unknown, by text).

Why is it so hard to find
Weathermen to hide behind?

Satuday November 14th, 2009

The exercise:

I thought I should mention that today is World Diabetes Day, mostly because I don't think it gets nearly the attention it should. Especially with this dreaded H1N1 going around. I wonder what the reaction would be if every diabetic death received the same amount of press as each swine flu one has been getting...

Anyway, before I get off on a rant, your four line poem prompt is: moving target.

NaNo Word Count: 29,032
NaNo Target: 23,335


You'll never hit the bulls-eye,
The target just keeps moving;
But you'll never admit it,
So you just keep on shooting.

Friday November 13, 2009

The exercise:

It appears to be Friday the 13th today. November really is a special month, isn't it? (Scroll down to the second to last comic... but Little Dee is great in general, so feel free to read 'em all)

Anyway, your Four Line Friday Prose prompt this week: inappropriate comparisons.

For the record, line one was something Kat said last night and line two was my mental response, which was kept safely inside my head. Until now. Lines three and four were made up for the sake of this prompt.

Also: I'm taking yet another day off. This damn cold won't go away.

NaNo Word Count: 27,679
NaNo Target: 21,668

I passed the halfway point yesterday, woo hoo!


"Can you help with dinner?"

"Sorry, I'm kinda busy being sicker than Ted Bundy right now."

* * *

"Did you have a nice flight?"

"It was kind of like riding in the innards of a diseased, rampaging bull - but thanks for asking, Captain."

Thursday November 12th, 2009

The exercise:

Well I managed to go in to work for the morning today and got caught up on everything I'd missed. Then I went home.

So, oddly enough, your prompt today is: heading home.

NaNo Word Count: 25,945
NaNo Target: 20,002

Oh, I've put an excerpt from my NaNo story here, if anyone is interested in checking it out.

Incidentally, I'd be really pleased if someone took it upon themselves to tell mine from the perspective of the driver. Just so you know. That's all.


It was almost closing time when the car pulled up to the pumps and silenced her engine. I looked through the window from where I sat behind the register and admired her sleek lines and leather seats; she had been polished so well that the overhead lights were damn near blinding me, the way they reflected off her sides. My curiosity was most definitely piqued, with regards to who might be driving that fine lady down my lonely road at that hour, so I'll admit that I stared pretty openly.

But the driver didn't get out.

I gave him or her a few minutes to read the Self Service Only sign but was rewarded with a grand sum of nothing at all. So I eased myself off my wooden stool and ambled out the door, forcing a pleasant smile onto my grease streaked face. It was late November, so the cold was bothering my hip a little, but I tried not to blame that on this fine person with their very fine car. I came around to the driver's side window to find a young man, dressed to the nines or hell, maybe even tens, and he was just staring straight ahead, his hands locked on the steering wheel like he wasn't ever letting go.

"You doing alright, son?" I asked, wiping my fingers with the cleanest rag I had at hand. He just nodded and said not a word. "Where you trying to get to tonight?"

"I'm heading home," was his reply.

"Ah," I said with an understanding nod. "Well then, you just take all the time you need - I'm in no hurry to close up."

So I made my way back to my welcoming stool, in my nicely heated office, and waited to see what was what. Five, maybe ten minutes later, the engine came back to life and he pulled up to the road. After a little more hesitation, without bothering to signal, he turned left and roared off into the night. I began locking things up, a little bit sadder than I had been before his arrival, wondering what it was that had sent him back the way he had come from.

Wednesday November 11th, 2009

The exercise:

As it is Remembrance Day, your starter will be: rows of white crosses.

NaNo Word Count: 24,045
NaNo Target: 18,335


So many lives cut short
By the report
Of heartless guns,
Fired by wide-eyed sons,
Who just followed orders
To protect their borders -
Mere lines on a map;
A geographic trap.

Now all that is left
Are wives bereft;
And mothers tears,
Fathers drowning in beers;
And rows of white crosses,
To mark their losses;
And every November,
A pause to remember.

Tuesday November 10th, 2009

The exercise:

By the end of today I will be 1/3 of the way through November, at least 2/5 of the way to 50,000 words, and still sick.

Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: outlines.

NaNo Word Count: 22,222
NaNo Target: 16,668


Ten days have sped past
And my wonderful outline
Has been looked at once

* * *

Your sidewalk profile
Is all that remains of you;
Goodbye, my mistress

Monday November 9th, 2009

The exercise:

Yup, officially sick.

Today's prompt: calling in sick.

NaNo Word Count: 19,544
NaNo Target: 15,002


My Dear Boss,
I won't be able to come in today,
This stupid cold just will not go away!
I got plenty of rest and drank my tea,
I tried every herb from across the sea;
But here I am at the start of the week -
My nose has run off, I can hardly speak!
So if you need my help with your report,
I can be reached at Shangri-La Resort.
Signed, Aunt Ross