Saturday, December 22, 2012

Excuse Note 12/22/2012

Please excuse Sheila from all writing projects for the remainder of the year 2012.  Thank you.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Excuse note 11/3/2012

Please excuse Sheila from her 100 Odd Words for the month of November, as she is once again participating in National Novel Writing Month and needs all the words she can spare for that project.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Excuse Note 10/20/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as her parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on this very date and she will be spending the bulk of the day attending events to commemorate this most happy occasion.  This excuse note also extends to her 100 Odd Words entry for today.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

100 Odd Words #28 - Shopping List

Fifteen yards of velvet fabric, crimson.

Five silk scarves of approximately three feet in length and a minimum of six inches in width, black.

Three ostrich feathers.

One spool of thread.

One spool of braided picture wire.  A twenty-five foot roll will be more than sufficient.

Cutting shears.


One bottle of extra-virgin olive oil.

One bottle of rubbing alcohol.

Tape and gauze.

Two bath towels with washcloths.

One jar of Nutella hazelnut spread, or reasonable equivalent.

One bag of ice.

One ice chest.

One ice bucket (optional.)

One pint of fresh strawberries.

Two tubes of red lipstick.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

100 Odd Words #27 - The Peanut

“Put it this way,” she said, “Chocolate and peanuts go well together.  Beer and peanuts go well together.  But would you really want to put beer and chocolate together?”

“No, I guess not,” Amy admitted.

“Then there you go.  You’re the peanut, baby.  It’s not a bad thing to be.  And either I’m beer and he’s chocolate or he’s beer and I’m chocolate but either way we’re really best taken separately, at different times, with palate cleansers in between.”

“I think he’s probably beer.”

“I think you’re probably right.  He drinks enough that if you cut him, he’d bleed it.”

Saturday, September 22, 2012

100 Odd Words #26 - Good Luck Charm (WIP excerpt)

“You were right—the job was a good luck charm.”

When Delany interviewed for the job, she’d asked the usual question about why the position was open in the first place.  Margie’s answer was that the store had a tendency to raise people’s vibrations so that the next thing you knew, their dream job opened up or they started their own business.  Delany didn’t have the heart to suggest to Margie that maybe people would be less inclined to bolt to other jobs or plunge into the risky waters of entrepreneurship if she paid something closer to a living wage.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

100 Odd Words #25 - What I'd Like To Say To Guys Who Try To Hit On Me When I'm Minding My Own Business On The Bus

Nah, I don’t want to get in trouble with your girlfriend.

You don’t have a girlfriend?  Seriously?

Sure, you don’t.  That’s what they all say, you know.

“I swear to you I’m not seeing anybody else.”  Yep, those words exactly and everything.  Not falling for it.  Not this time.

Whether or not I have a boyfriend is not relevant.  I don’t want to get in trouble with your girlfriend.  I know how vengeful women can be when they find out.

So you seriously don’t have a girlfriend?

Sorry to hear that.  Maybe you should reconsider your technique for meeting people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Dead Blog Show

There was a second blog I'd set up because I had this nifty idea about writing music reviews of albums that I'd never gotten around to listening to but that music critics keep namedropping on me.

It was an interesting idea.  Might even have been an interesting blog.  Problem was, I could never seem to get around to writing it and the unfinished business gnawed at the back of my brain for a matter of years.

Today I put up the copy of Exile on Main Street that I'd picked up for the blog in question on and a copy of David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World popped up as a possibility.  Sold.

I did try listening, and I even took notes, but the thing so completely failed to hold my interest that I couldn't even muster an entertainingly snarky review.  The most it did was make me want to smack Mick Jagger upside the head with a bottle of Jack Daniels, tell him to wake the fuck up and remind him that he is neither African-American nor Southern.

So I deleted the Virgin Ear blog today.  I might revive the notion over here, as an occasional feature, though with much shorter reviews than the ones I intended.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

100 Odd Words #24 - Plausible Explanations

“Is that new?” Sebastian asked.  He’d settled into the seat next to Delany.

“Had them installed when we put the shelves in.  Stones before spells and all that.  I also had a video projector installed as my plausible explanation.”

“How did you explain the curtains over the mirror?” 

“If they’d asked, I would have told them I have eccentric but wealthy clients who get nervous around mirrors.  It would have had the added bonus of being absolutely true.  As it turned out, if you pay enough, they don’t ask questions in the first place.  Shall we cast the circle, then?”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Excuse Note 08/29/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel for the next several days as she will be attending DragonCon and feels she will be more relaxed and productive if her work is considered a nice bonus instead of an obligation.  She intends to resume work on the fourth of September.  Thank you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

100 Odd Words #23 - Hospitality, Continued (WIP excerpt)

“He’s still there,” she said quietly.

“Is he?”  Claude turned to look.  “You’d think a magician of his level would have a little more sense than that.”

Delany felt that tensing in the air again, like thunderclouds building. Argentine turned and stalked away and the pressure slackened.

There’s a good boy,” he said.  “Let’s get you back up to Mr. James’ suite, shall we?  You are still staying there, I hope.”

“I am.  I was just . . . on my way back.”

“We always appreciate returning guests.  Well-behaved ones, at least.  Though you’ve been remarkably troublesome without even making an effort.”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

100 Odd Words #22 - Death Threats (WIP Excerpt)

“Oh, he definitely wants you dead—with your throat cut inside of a summoning circle.  Depending on who your father really is, your blood will either bind the demon to his will or unleash it without restraint.  He seems convinced that you are his daughter, or else he is mad enough to believe that summoning an unbound demon is an acceptable risk.  Either way, it would be a catastrophe and I will have no rest until he is stopped.”

“Do you ever rest?  When’s the last time you slept?”

Sebastian paused to calculate.  “About two and a half years ago.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

100 Odd Words #21 - Trading Cities

We trade cities.  I speak to him of Venice; he speaks to me of Berlin.  There is a place near where a friend of his lives that used to be an airport.  “Hitler’s little baby,” he calls it.  It’s a public park now, he explains, where the runways are now used by skaters and people fly kites when the wind is good for it.

The pride and joy of a brutal dictator is now a place where people fly kites.  A place where my friend discovered how delightful flying kites could be.  This is why I have hope in humanity.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

100 Odd Words #20 - Hospitality (WIP Excerpt)

“You have abused my hospitality no less than twice, and in ways that count double against you.  There will be no third chances.  You are no longer welcome at the Vaumont, Mister Argentine.  Get out before I seal the wards against you.  Mister Blake is a guest who understands when it is time to leave.  You would do well to follow his example.”  The man turned to Delany and extended his hand.   “Miss Riordan, I presume?  Claude Vaumont, at your service.”

Delany tentatively took his hand.  He smiled and placed a light kiss upon her knuckle before leading her inside.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

100 Odd Words #19 - A Wednesday in Venice

For a full minute, I swear we could not speak.  Recognition lit up on both of our faces and all we could do was laugh.  We embraced as if long parted, rather than meeting for the very first time.  Words had abandoned us both and our actions and laughter spoke for us instead.  You are here.  You are real.  You are flesh and bone and more than all the words and photographs we ever shared on paper and on screens.  And yet I know you. 

Finally she said, with a shy smile, the first word ever uttered between us:


Monday, July 9, 2012

Excuse Note 7/9/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as her morning writing session was consumed by recounting the events of the past weekend, her day was consumed by a full eight hours of work and her evening was consumed by a homeowner's association meeting.  These three events have drained too much of her mental energy to do much more than dither on the Internet until bed.  Thank you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

100 Odd Words #18 - Without Warning

When I am a very old woman,
I shall wear red
with a hat that matches perfectly.
Should anyone object
I’ll gladly switch to a black one,
since black matches everything 
and looks damn fabulous doing it.

My pension will be spent on bourbon 
and silk shirts 
and I will still have money for butter.

I have no sobriety of youth to make up for—
I who talk to the moon,
and dance in the rain.

When I am a very old woman 
I will tend my own garden, 
pick my own flowers, 
and let my neighbors 
keep their own.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Excuse Note 6/15/2012

Please excuse Sheila from all obligations regarding her writing projects for the entire month of June.  Thank you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

100 Odd Words #17 - Crossing the Bank (WIP excerpt)

Laney was quiet for a long time.  “What do you mean by that?  Crossing over into magic?”

“We often liken it to the banks of a river.  On one bank lives the human race in its usual state.  On the other bank are those who have become magical.  Right now, you might be considered between the banks in the middle of the river.  When you have been made a magician, you will arrive at the far bank.”

“Is there a way back to the . . . regular bank?”

“The near bank, it’s usually called.  And no, there isn’t.  Not once you’ve crossed.”

Saturday, May 19, 2012

100 Odd Words #16 - Fixing To Die

“What’s the closest you come to dying, boy?”

There was a trickle of something warm running down Gary’s neck from where the point of the knife was pressing into his skin.  He hoped it was only sweat.

“Right about now, I think,” Gary said with a shaky laugh.

The scary grin widened.  “You look it.  Pretty boy, ain’t ya?  You got a woman?”

“Not for much longer.”

“‘Cause she’s leaving, or ‘cause you’re fixing to die?”

“She’s fixing to die.  It’s why I’m here.”

“What for?  You want me to kill you so you don’t have to see her go?”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

100 Odd Words #15 - The Look in His Eyes

“I ain’t working with him until I can get a good look in his eyes.”

Gary shrugged.  “Put me in a staring contest, if you want to.”

Bobby--Gary wouldn’t call him ‘Moondog’--walked over and leaned down until the smell of alcohol from his breath overwhelmed the cigarette haze around them.  His watery blue eyes fixed Gary with an unblinking glare. 

Gary didn’t see Bobby’s hands move until a moment before the back of his head was gripped with one hand and a knife held against his throat with the other.

“You blinked,” he said with a yellowed grin.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

100 Odd Words #14 - Family History

I interrupted a pillow fight with my niece to point at the picture of my sister on the mantel, the high school portrait in the false velvet top they made us wear.

“There’s your mom,” I said, and then I pointed at the picture of my mother in her nursing uniform. “There’s your mom’s mom,” I continued and then I pointed at the wedding photograph of my grandmother, a black and white photograph that had been tinted by hand. “And there’s your mom’s mom’s mom.”

“That’s too many moms!” my niece shouted, laughing as she hit me with a pillow.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

100 Odd Words #13 - The Offer

He took another swig of bourbon and banged the glass on the table.  The wooden chair creaked as he leaned back and took a drag on his cigarette.  He breathed the smoke out in a long exhale that resembled a sigh.  He scratched the stubble on his gaunt face for a moment and ran a hand through his greying hair.

“Thing of it is,” he said, “sooner or later I wind up doing something stupid just to keep things interesting.  Might as well do it deliberately for once.  Things are getting dull around here and I’m getting twitchy.  I’m in.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

100 Odd Words #12 - A Sister's Authority

From age nine through age thirteen, I went to a Catholic school.  I recall Sister Margaret Thomasine (she was known as such to differentiate her from Sister Margaret Mary, the principal) asking the class for examples of words that used the prefix homo- to mean “the same.”  (Homonym being the obvious one, and the point she was trying to illustrate.)  One boy suggested, half-hesitantly, “Homosexual?”  The class laughed but Sister Margaret Thomasine merely nodded and said “That’s right.  Same sex, homosexual, what else?”  Thus I learned that homosexual was not an aberration, not a punchline but merely a descriptive.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

100 Odd Words #11 - Blindsided

How could I not have seen it coming?  I’d noticed the lengthening silences between conversations and the increasing number of sudden cancellations.  When I went out without him, I’d run into mutual acquaintances who would clutch my sleeve and ask if I knew.  I’d change the subject, because I knew that they’d run off and clutch his sleeve if I told them the truth.
When he finally informed me that it was time for us to start seeing other people, I don’t think he was braced for the answer I gave him: “Start?  I didn’t stop, really.  When did you?”

Saturday, April 7, 2012

100 Odd Words #10 - A Parable Reinterpreted

What if the field was not the world, but the heart?
Then the wheat and tares are not souls predestined to a given path, but the seeds planted there from above and from below.
Then the harvest would not be the end of the world, but the season that comes again and again, when what is planted in the heart comes to full fruition and can be seen by clear eyes.
Then the tares would be the weedy and inedible urges that need to be bundled and burned away and the wheat our means to nourish ourselves and the world.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

100 Odd Words #9 - Quiglion and the Playmaster

Among the Zinzidorians, they tell a tale in a kind of competition.  The gist is thus: Quiglion goes to the Playmaster and asks approval of a play.  The Playmaster asks the synopsis.  The synopses vary wildly, but the fouler the better.  (This is Quiglion we speak of, after all.)  The Playmaster says “I see.”  (Rooms have been reduced to helpless laughter with the right inflection of that line.)  Then he asks “And the title?” and Quiglion replies “The Glorious Victory of the Blood Knights and the Wizard-King!”  (In some variations, the Playmaster nods and scribbles “approved” on the scroll.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

100 Odd Words #8 - Song of Zinzidor

I was the first kiss that True Love ever kissed. I danced before dance, sang before song and opened my eyes through the very first mask.  I laughed at the first joke, just after telling it.  I am called Quiglion when I am foul, Zinzidor when I am fair and You Rascal when people chase me down the street.  I speak lies as soft as feathers and truths as hard as stone.  Dance and I may dance with you.  Sing and my voice will be heard.  Wear a mask and I may possess you, so be careful when you do!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Excuse Note 03/17/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she picked up her copy of The Lord of the Rings in a fit of insomnia last night and cannot be sure if she will be able to set it aside long enough to get any significant work done.

100 Odd Words #7 - A Christian Burial

I threw a wake at somebody’s birthday party.  I didn’t tell anybody, though.  I had decided it was time to give Soft Places, my first proper manuscript, a Christian burial.
I sipped my drink, watched the sunset light up the sky and described the first scene to a rapt audience around a blazing fire.  Some people said they would love to read it.  I told them that perhaps one day they would, but for now, it rests underground.
A Christian burial is, after all, not an absolute end.  The rites of Christian burial inevitably speak of the hope of resurrection.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

100 Odd Words #6 - A Total Eclipse of the Sun

“Tell them that I have spoken with my gods and they are angry.  So angry that they have decided to blot out the sun today as a warning.  Nothing you can do will stop it.  Let me go, and the gods will relent, but only after they have shown you their power.”
“He says his gods will cause the sun to go dark today.”
“Tell him his gods are weak if the most they can do is things we already know will happen.  Were they to stop the sun from going dark on this day, I’d be far more impressed.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Excuse Note 3/9/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she was informed this morning that the temporary work assignment that had hopes of permanence went back to being temporary.  She will be spending this evening throwing a pity party and restrategizing session.  She intends to resume work tomorrow.  Thank you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

100 Odd Words # 5 - The Mayfly

“Oh, very much like a mayfly,” she says as she shifts the child in her arms.  “If you make the comparison with the understanding of the full lifespan of the mayfly.  Mayflies live much longer than one day.  That tiny lifespan we think about, when it mates and dies, is only the adult phase.  Before that, the mayfly swims about in larval form for months, sometimes up to a year.  The process of metamorphosis gives the mayfly the ability to procreate but leaves the digestive system vestigial and nonfunctional and thus it dies because it can no longer nourish itself.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Excuse Note 2/25/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she is attempting a Jungian analysis of herself using the entirety of Soft Places instead of that weird dream she had last night.  This excuse note will also serve as an excuse for this week's 100 Odd Words entry in the event that it is not completed by the end of the day.  Thank you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Goodbye, Raymond

Well, I won't be needing an excuse note today, because I did some minor but oddly significant work on my novel this morning.

I changed the gender of one of the characters.

Not a significant character, mind you.  But it occurred to me that the exposition this character provides could be just as easily be delivered by a woman as by a man and that having another woman in the room when the heroine discovers her destiny might not be a bad thing to have.

So Raymond Capello is now Diana Capello.  Interestingly, I see her a bit more clearly than I saw her as Raymond--when I dug through what I'd written so far I noticed that I skipped the physical description because I couldn't come up with anything compelling and decided to fix that problem in the rewrite.  The only things I had to change in what I've done so far were names, pronouns and a "sir" to a "ma'am".

I'm trying an experiment for working on my current novel, now that I have a full-time job to contend with.  Weather and time permitting, I normally commute to my job on MARTA.  I have a red composition book specifically for hashing out ideas for this particular novel.  (Classic composition books, I've found, work wonderfully in this situation because the covers are thick enough to bear down on easily.  It's like a notebook that comes with its own desk.)  So, in the course of my commute to work and back, I will bring my little red composition book to scribble in and use the transit time to ask myself questions about what happens next and ponder the possible answers.  When I get home, I will type as much as I've worked out in the course of the commute.  Then I will declare the day complete and relax and unwind from my labors.

Notebook scribble hereby counts as 'working on the novel' so any days I don't do that will require either typing on the manuscript or typing an excuse note here.  Since I've done something for today, I don't even have to work on my commute this morning.  But I am curious to figure out more about Diana now . . .

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Excuse Note 2/18/2012

Please be advised that Sheila O'Shea was without a working computer for several days and has thus had all writing projects, including 100 Odd Words, disrupted accordingly. Additionally, Miss O'Shea has recently rejoined the ranks of full-time employment and is still readjusting to her new schedule. Therefore, please accept this blanket excuse note for all writing projects through today. Thank you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

100 Odd Words #4 - The Question and the Answer

I dreamed that I stood before the throne of God, pointed at Him, and said “So if you’re such a big deal, why aren’t you doing something about poverty and war and oppression?  Why are you just sitting there while the rich put their boots on the necks of the poor and your precious creation is being laid waste to by the greedy and shortsighted?  Why aren’t you doing anything about the suffering down on Earth?”

God shifted in His seat, tilted His head, smiled slightly, and replied: “Funny, I was just about to ask you precisely the same questions.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Excuse Note 1/24/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as far too much of her evening was taken up wrangling with tech support over the state of her WiFi router.  Thank you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Excuse Note 1/23/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she had a full day working at a new temporary assignment and is still not fully decompressed from Chattacon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

100 Odd Words #3 - The Lavender Man

There’s a man in a lavender suit with a featureless face standing on the corner.  He’s flipping a silver coin that glints with a white flash every time it peaks just before the fall back to his gloved hand.  He asks nothing, says nothing, just keeps the coin spinning, spinning, spinning again.  I can tell that he’s waiting for me to come up and ask what he’s doing, ask how to play, ask what bets to place and what I’ll get if I win.  I’ve seen him before.  I know his kind all too well.  I’m not playing his game.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Excuse Note 1/19/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she has to make preparations for a trip to Chattanooga.  She is bringing her laptop in the hope of getting work done over the weekend, but don't expect much.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting Nooky

I did a shameless plug of Catbooks and Other Methods on a prominent writer's blog and somebody tweeted me to ask if it was available for the Nook.  Then two of my relatives received Nooks for Christmas and I decided it was probably time to look into that particular publishing avenue.

Thankfully, Nook uses the EPUB format, as Apple does, which means I didn't have to burn up yet another ISBN for another ebook format.  So last night we set up an account with PubIt! for Lullwater Press and this morning I did all the uploading and filling out of details.

It should be up in the next couple of days and when it is, I'll be yawping about it all over the Internet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

100 Odd Words #2 - True Story

I have no clear memory of this incident (I was three years old at the time) but my mother does and I have no reason to doubt her. 

I was squabbling with one of my siblings over a particular toy.  (Which sibling?  Which toy?  The details are lost to me and of no relevance to my mother’s retelling.)  My mother was called on to intervene and decided the case in my favor.  

Instead of celebrating, my response was to fling the object of contention at the feet of my rival.

Have it,” I said.  And with that, I walked away.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

100 Odd Words #1 - Stage Fright

Boards creak as she steps up on the stage.  There is a carpet in the center, a cheap mimic of a Persian rug, worn in spots and coated with a layer of beige grime.  A dented microphone stand waits just at the edge. 

The spotlight--pale as the moon, blinding as the sun--reduces all that she faces to an indefinite void.  The seats are shadows--full or empty, she cannot tell.

An electric fence tingle dances across her lips as they brush the wire mesh of the microphone. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I can’t think of anything to say.”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Excuse Note 1/1/2012

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she was setting her New Year's Resolutions in place and seeing Karen Wurl perform at Java Monkey.  Thank you.

100 Odd Words

Every once in a while I get clobbered over the head with a crazy idea and the next thing you know I've decided to draw and give away ten thousand flowers to people or something.  Last night, as I was celebrating New Year's Eve at my friend Lake's backyard bonfire, I came up with something that had me grabbing my catbook and scribbling it down before it got away.  In the clear light of day, after weighing the possibilities, this is what I've come up with:

Once a week, I will post 100 Odd Words on this blog.  It might be a one hundred word poem, one hundred words of flash fiction or even one hundred words of description or dialogue.  It must be exactly 100 words and I will post one every Saturday.  If I remember to, I'll probably tweet and hashtag it with #100oddwords.

Fortunately, today is Sunday, so that gives me a week to come up with something.  Or several somethings, to account for the weeks that stuff happens.  Hey, if I can draft 50,000 words in thirty days, surely I can come up with 4,800 words in the space of a year.