Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Strange Connections: A Review

One of my good writer friends here on Blogger, Subha Majumder (aka Just Me), has recently released a bound collection of short stories entitled Strange Connections. What follows is my personal review of the work:

Highly Recommended

Chance meetings on street corners, inside coffee houses, and deep within mythical forests set stories in motion and propel people and spirits alike to places and experiences which they would otherwise never embark.  The short tales within "Strange Connections" are each self-contained works but all seem to follow the common thread of strangers finding sudden comfort (or conflict) with one another on days that would otherwise remain painfully ordinary.

Twenty-seven stories compose this slim anthology, some very short, some longer, but none lasting for more than a few turns of the page.  Still, in each, the author manages to create full and convincing characters, each usually locked in an everyday struggle (infidelity, temptation, uncertainty, listlessness, poverty, loneliness, loss, depression) that each of us have felt at least once in our lives. The heroines and heroes soon discover that happiness, or at least contentment, can almost always be achieved with a shift in perspective - connections with strangers serving as the catalysts for these brave new outlooks.  In a way, the stories all serve as a reminder that the difficulties we face in everyday life can almost always be improved, if not remedied, by a change in attitude.

The style of the writing is simple and clean, a refreshing break from the pretentious or overwrought diction found in many English-language works these days.  The author wastes no time on lengthy descriptions or back-stories, instead focusing on the immediate and visceral to paint a quick and vivid picture for the reader with each new story, quickly plunging into the conflict at hand.  Plots are handled elegantly, moving through their arcs without the weighty baggage of contrived twists and overdone interpersonal dramas.

While certainly not every story in this collection has an uplifting message attached within, even those that end on darker notes still carry with them a statement to be made.  This is not fiction written purely for the sake of fiction, but stories meant to stir up introspective thought and emotion and that I think is what attracts me most about this book.  Taken as a whole or as separated parts, Strange Connections is well worth the first read, the second, and many more after.

Strange Connections is available from Amazon.com in a print paperback edition.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Killing Thing

For Day 25 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based on the following image.

by kat Folland

Vincent woke to the quiet but distinct sound of floatships, electric whirs and hums, only a few hundred kilometers away at the most.  Sun was in his eyes, shining through the open spaces between the wooden boards; he had overslept.  Outside the rocky sand was hot underneath his feet and he stumbled a bit through the rough brush growing around the shack – his shack, his responsibility, but it’d been driving him mad, every sound now a cause for alarm, a cause to jump to his feet from whatever little piddling amount of sleep he could have – with his head feeling as though bits of boulders were inside jostling, cutting up the fleshy insides.  How long had it been since his last drink of water?  How long had it been since the last rainfall?  Long enough that, he reckoned, the large, bleached and picked-clean skeleton of the grazing roumper, sitting in the dust, down the slope, a few meters from where he was standing, had been inside an animal that was alive and well the last time water fell onto the parched desert land.  Too damn long.

Could be only transports, he thought, maybe a trade caravan cutting through the desert to get to Ceres.  Never, they were heading straight for the shack, fast too, be there within the hour.  Vincent sat down, trying to calm the horrendous throbbing.  Sleep would be beyond wonderful.  No, stay up, keep the eyes open.  He decided that he better put on some manner of dress, best not to meet the visitors wearing rags and dusty nudity. On shaky legs he stood, listening to the wind, the unnatural sounds of machinery growing louder.  

Inside, in the glow-spotted darkness, Vincent pulled on beaten trousers and a long, blood-stained jacket.  For a moment he lost his balance, falling over to bang his leg against heavy metal.  “Ow” he said though it hardly hurt, hardly registered as anything more than a tingling sensation up his muscle, simply a reflex pulled from the memory of an ancient life.  The thing, what was wanted, old technology, a killing thing, what they always wanted, things to make killing easier.  And they would come and kill for it, or try.  Try and fail.  Button up the jacket tight, spots of skin peeking from every slash and ragged hole.   It’s nice in the dark, he thought; it’d be nice to just stay here for the day and sleep.  But the noise was unmistakable, no merchant transport was that fast, he stood silent and did his best to discern how many there were and how heavily armed they would be.

How did they know?  There wasn’t much time left.  Vincent looked for a good spot to sit, somewhere comfortable.  Maybe they’d fly over, maybe they got their directions wrong, after all he was only a dirty vagabond enjoying the beautiful day outside his shanty.  He figured there were at least four floatships, heavily-modded civilian models outfitted with armor plating and high-powered mag cannons.  Mercenaries no doubt, paid by whom Vincent couldn’t guess or care.  Only a few minutes away now, they were separating, flanking him, were going to try and approach it from four separate angles.  How could anyone have found out? 

The ships were slowing, nearly five clicks out, fanned out in formation.  Vincent heard the first cannon ready itself a half second before shot fired, shifting his weight just enough so that the small metal slug passed harmlessly past his head and through the wood planks of the shack behind him.  Only an anti-personal round?   They believed him only to be a man obviously, a mere mortal.  The day would not be exciting as he had hoped.  At least, he thought, smiling, he’d have the chance to catch a few more winks of sleep soon.

A volley of artillery rounds rose high into the air, singing as they went, fiery shells converging on his sitting spot, small explosives carefully aimed away from the precious contents of the flimsy wood structure.  The rounds only made contact with empty hard ground, kicking up chunks of dirt and more dust, most likely all the men in the first floatship could see through their scopes before Vincent reached them, shrinking the long distance within a few seconds of his bounding sprint.  

* * *

With bloodied arms, Vincent crouched solemn in the wreckage of the third floatship.  The fourth was already speeding back to civilization, not so fast that it couldn’t be caught, but it would take Vincent too far away from the shack and the deep buried thing hiding its uncovered head beneath the wood.   Dark liquid – blood, his own – poured first and then soon dripped like sludge from a large wound, a block of flesh taken out of his abdomen side; caught by an anti-armor round, only at the end had they learned to be smart, figured out what he was.  There’d be more now for sure now, smarter, stronger, and more numerous. 

Only thing for him to do was to go back to sitting and waiting, healing up as best he could before they returned.  Sleeping would help that, yes indeed.  He’d have a few hours at least until word got out that they – whoever they were – would need a sizeable, well-equipped, and well-trained army if they hoped to pry the killing thing from him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Distant Blue

Okay, so I've slacked off a bit.  I'm nothing if not inconsistent.  Anyway, this is for Day 22 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based off the following image. 

by Brenda Stumpf

From far away it glimmered as a blue sparkling mass.  On a canvas of pure black, that spot was the only source of light and color across her bobbing vision.  Under she went again, mouth and nose full of ice, blackness all around so it seemed that nothing including her existed.  Up again, she gasped for air.

“Will you marry me, Jennifer?”

Never, or maybe, marriage seemed less terrible than floating over oblivion.  Cold water seeped into hers skin, numbing her, if she had arms she only knew it because she saw them hanging white and dead just beneath the invisible surface.  Jennifer’s teeth pounded against themselves, her jaw uncontrollable, it would have been so easy to just slip away into the freezing black.

“Please don’t look at me like that.”

He was so charming, rich too, an older man, as old as her father maybe, but he looked  good, very handsome.  When he touched her, he made Jennifer feel as if she were again a young teenager, girlish, as they kissed and groped behind the shops on the pier, just out of sight of the crowds.  His breath smelled of sweet cigar smoke and whiskey, his suit of woodsy-smelling cologne, like fine sawdust mixed with male sex-must, a bottle more expensive than her dress no doubt.  His rough face tickled and scratch at her chin and she laughed, coming away red-faced, feeling her face and her loins hot and warming like they hadn’t been for so long.

“Let me take you away from everything.”

Martin, he said, no Mr. Ruis, tonight I am just a man and you are just a woman.  He said it with that accent of his, Spanish maybe, Jennifer thought.  It gave a slant to his words.  They curved into her ear as he spoke in that soft low way of his.  Let me take you on my boat, he said, no commanded, how could she refuse?   A boat, he had a boat, of course he did, and it was beautiful, a large and sleek yacht, bigger than her apartment but she didn’t say that.  With a smile, devilish, wide swath of teeth, he led her on board by the hand, the night would no doubt be magical, she thought.

“You need me Jennifer, and I need you.  We can’t survive without one another, can’t you see?”

Once the pier and the city became only a collection of lights on the distant shoreline, he turned to her and held her tight, electric yellow lights of the yacht reflecting in his gaze.   From out of the darkness he produced a bottle of champagne and two glasses, pouring seamlessly with grace the golden liquid.  Let us drink to a beautiful night, he said softly, only to her.  From somewhere else unseen, he produced a velvet lined box, opened to a diamond ring so brilliantly capturing every drop of moonlight.  She couldn’t possibly accept though, no, how could she?  She barely knew Mr. Ruis, it was just far too fast.

“It’s just me and you against infinite emptiness.”

His grip hurt, fingers digging into her shoulders, nails pinching against bare skin, she gasped in pain and he kissed her.  No, stop.  Martin wouldn’t listen, he pressed his mouth against hers, biting lips, squeezing, it hurt her and she felt as if she couldn’t breathe.  Out there on the dark deck, Jennifer was undressed, rough hands undoing straps.  I’ve wanted this for a very long time, he whispered.  No, please no, I can’t.  Jennifer pushed him, light at first and he kept grabbing, pulling, exposed skin cold against the whipping ocean winds.  Again she pushed, harder, knocking him back against the rail so that he cried out and stumbled. 

“I am so much stronger than you, don’t you see?”

Cursing through gritted teeth – goddamn whore – the man rushed Jennifer, took hold of her and forced her screaming into the cabin below.  There was no one to hear, the lights of the nearest boat on the night only a twinkling speck, she screamed all the same.  Raking nails across his neck and drawing blood, she broke free of her grip, tattered cloth hanging about her, naked feet slapping fast on metal.    She didn’t know where she was running to but suddenly a hand was pushing her, shoving, and her body went airborne against those hard and cold rails.  The world spun to empty darkness, then the vision of a distant yellow moon, and all at once, all around her the instant feel of wet, overwhelming suffocation filled her lungs and eyes.

“Every woman needs a man as strong as I in their lives.”

And now the boat was no more than a choppy path in the colorless waters, waves and foam disappearing among the relative calm of the ocean.  The distant perfect-round mounds of blue-lit glass and steel seemed to grow closer, larger.  Jennifer went under again, using all her strength to pull again above the water, kicking with swiftly disappearing feet.  Though she could no longer use her arms enough to pull against the flow, she leaned forward towards the shining and blurred blue, hoping the waves would soon dash her up against its beauty.

“Don’t you want me to make you feel beautiful?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Search Party

For Day 14 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  While this story can stand on its own, I did tie it in with yesterday's flash. Based on the following image.

by Donna Earnhardt

Come over here kid, that’s what they say when they call me, not boy or girl, just kid because they don’t know which.  That’s fine by me, don’t care really, people can think what they want.  Mom wants me to start wearing dresses.  She says I’m too old to be running around in overalls with the boys, getting dirty and coming home looking like a pig after a long hot day in the mud.  I don’t care, that’s the best part about there being no school to go to, getting outside and getting dirty. But she don’t see it that way at, can’t understand why I’d spend all my time running and getting sweaty, rather I stay at home and learn to sew or cook or maybe even how to grow flowers “if you’re so set on getting dirty Helen” as she says.

But that’s not for me, and I told her that and she got real upset, crying, her tears coming down all black from that gunk she spreads on her eyes.  Made me feel bad, what’s wrong with it?  Mom told me just to go, get out, “run with the boys and see where that gets you” she told me, still crying.  So I left, mad, might’ve called my mother dumb, I don’t know, I was mad, just put on my hat (she hates that hat) and slammed the screen door back behind me. 

No one’s out today though, town’s still sleeping it seems even though the sun is almost as high up as its gonna get.  Rode my bike to Joe’s and waiting on him now to wake up, sitting on that nice rocking swing they got on their front porch.  Rung the doorbell but no one answered, I know his mom works all day out at the truck stop on route two but he should be awake by now.  Knock on the door real loud, to wake him up, hear his stupid little dog start to bark, little white fluff ball, nasty little thing will bite at your legs if you don’t watch out.  I just kick it but Joe’s mom gets mad at me when I do it.  Where are you Joe, damn, it’s gonna be a boring day if no one comes out.

Back to sitting, chewing on a piece of hay I found lying on the step, gonna wait a little bit more before going off on my own.  We had a plan, we were gonna go off exploring out past the woods east of town.  Were gonna do it yesterday but I said I couldn’t, had to go to the stupid dentist, found six cavities he said.   Both Mom and Dad weren’t happy about that, took away all the sweets out of the house, outta my room but they missed my secret candy box.  They’ll never find it.  

Mailman comes driving by in his truck, smiling at me, nods and I nod back, like adults do that don’t want to talk.   Puts the mail in the box and shuts it then gets a strange look on his face, calls out to me: “Hey, you ain’t waiting for little Joey Gunter, are you?”  I yell back that I am and what’s it to him.  “Well didn’t you hear?  He went missing last night, never came home, him and another boy, Evan Belstra, police out looking for them right now.”

Well that just figures, two dummies got themselves lost without me.  Figure Evan’s dead, got eaten by coyotes or bunnies most likely, scaredy boy jumping every time a tree branch cracks, thinking it’s some monster coming out to get him.  But Joe’s alright, probably just lost because he don’t pay attention, too busy staring at stuff on the ground before he knows where he’s going.  Police won’t find him, they don’t know our places.  Guess I gotta do it.

Jump off that swing and step down, little dog still yapping like a squeaking rat from inside.  Mad because Joe went off without me, probably went where we’d said we’d go together.  Now it’s just me, one-girl search party.  That’s just fine, I like going alone, more fun with another but no one to slow me down if I go out exploring alone.  

I bike all the way to the edge of town, my Stetson almost flying off my head while I ride so fast down the big hill in the road but I hold onto it good.  Go past the last houses on the last street and ride straight into the trees, see the tire marks we’d worn into the dirt over the last two summers.  Their bikes are still in the hiding spot, Joe’s and Evan’s, far enough from the houses that they couldn’t be seen no more through the woods, stuck behind a dead branch hanging off the big tree, hide my bike there too with theirs.

Put my finger in my mouth to get spit on it, hold it up to the wind to feel where the breeze is going like you see in the movies.  Don’t know why I do it but it makes me feel cool, like some old-time adventurer on a journey.  I got two dumb lost boys to find and a whole forest they could be hiding in.  Footprints in the mud tell where they went and I follow, walking crouched down like a trapper, a hunter, I’ll find those boys and bring them home to their mommies.  I’ll be the town hero, they’ll make a parade and a statue for me in the park that I’ll drag my mom to and she can see, then she can see, that running around in the dirt got me plenty.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Buried Room

For Day 13 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based on the following image.

“What you think it is?” asked Joe.  He kicked at the brick of it, hoping it was so weak that it would crumble.  The wall was solid though and his sneaker toe bounced off it.

“Think its maybe like a tomb or something.” said Evan, standing far back from where his friend stood, as if the structure might rise up at any moment to crush them.

“Nah, a tomb gots angels and things all over it, bigger an’ prettier too.”


“Like a little fancy house for dead people.  Plus, we ain’t anywhere near the cemetery.  This thing’s just sitting a long ways from anything other than cows.”

“It does kinda look like a house though, don’t it?”

“Like the top of one maybe, like the roof and a little bit under sticking up, though it’s all crooked.”

Even took a few more steps back, hands dug deep into the pockets of his shorts.  He walked a few steps to his left, curving around the short brick wall.  Two other walls jutted out from the behind it, forming square corners.  But these slanted and quickly disappeared under the rolling field of grass cut short by grazing cows.  Above the wall there was indeed something that looked like it could have once been a roof, old shingles beaten down by years of rain and ready to fall. 

“Wish there was a way to get inside it,” said Joe, crouching down and placing his face close to the brick, looking for a hole to press his eye against.

“Inside?  Don’t even know if there is one, and wouldn’t be anything in except for dirt, or a dead body maybe.”

Maybe, maybe not, either way, Joe wanted to know what the thing was, who put it there and why it seemed so neglected.  He looked over to Evan, staring up at the sky and the gathering storm clouds.  He knew that the other boy was becoming bored, that he’d soon come up with some excuse to head on home.  Evan kicked at a lump of loose dirt, sending it flying straight at him, a smug smirk on his face when it fell just short of smacking Joe on the forehead.

“Gonna rain soon, Joe.”

So what, thought Joe, there were more important things than not getting wet.   He started to walk around the structure again, seeing if there was a way in that he had missed.  Joe thought he might be able to see more if he climbed up onto the wall where it was the shortest, up onto the tilted tile roof of the thing to see if any holes existed big enough to climb through.

At its shortest, Joe could simply walk onto the roof of the building from the ground though he felt uneasy about standing on it.  From the other side, Joe could hear Evan calling on him to stop climbing, but the boy’s voice sounded far off, blown distant by the oncoming winds.  With a few cautious and timid steps, Joe had planted both his feet firmly on the roof of the strange building.

Indeed there was something like an opening in the middle of the slant and it was at least ten feet up the slope from where Joe stood.  Evans calls were becoming more incessant, louder over the rushing air, but Joe was determined to get a peak, just a peak, before he had to call it quits and make that long walk back to town.  Carefully, he began his crawl towards the spot of cracked ceramic.

Distant thunder stomped off as Joe’s fingers found the edges of the hole, his entire body lying flat against the roof now.  Just a few more inches were all he needed.  Joe pulled himself slowly and carefully, eyes peering just over the darkness of the small gap.  Nothing at first, too dark to make out shape, but his eyes adjusted and the forms of broken wooden furniture and shattered glass appeared.   Something moved, quick and invisible save for the shifting of shapes, the sound of rustling.   What was it?

“Joe! Joe! Joe!” 

Evan was screaming, loud as he could.  Joe lost his grip and slid down the incline, rubbing rough against the hard tile.  Crashing hard back to the grassy ground, Joe lay dazed for a few moments, the air punched out of his lungs to leave him gasping.  Somewhere above his head, Joe could hear the feet running across the ground, the sound getting louder, until it was above him, the sound of shoes swishing through the field right next to his ear.

“Get up” he whispered it, raspy,” Get up, Joe!”

Hands under his arms were pulling Joe now, dragging his body back around to the side of the wall.  Evan crouched over him, breathing heavy, his eyes wide.  “Don’t talk.” Evan’s voice was hardly audible, hardly recognizable.  Then Joe heard the thing that had so terrified his friend, from somewhere on the opposite side of the sunken building came the sound of deep, throaty gurgling.

“What is it?” asked Joe, his voice strained from wheezing.  He was answered only with shushing, a small, sweaty hand placed over his mouth.

For several minutes after, the two boys listened to the strange gurgling sounds, the occasional hollow noise of something thumping swiftly back and forth across the ground.  Suddenly it seemed to move very quickly away from the wall, the sound of its feet disappearing into the breeze, towards that far-off hill.  The two boys continued waiting without a muscle twitch or a too-loud exhaled breath.   After many more minutes and the first drops of rain, the gurgling thing seemed to be gone.

“It was something…a beast.  Strange and black, tall-like, taller than a man and wearing raggy clothes, had a face like something I’d never seen.”

Evan helped Joe up and they both quietly made their way against the wall, pressing close.  Joe knew they should have run home, but he needed to see the spot the thing, this beast, had stood on.  Evan couldn’t move any closer to where the beast had been, he lost his nerve and began to sprint in the direction of the highway, different from the way they had come but also different from the way the creature seemed to have gone.  Still, Joe had to look, at least once.

What he saw was a hole in the ground, small but not so small that he couldn’t have slipped in himself.  Walking up to it, he looked inside to see a cramped tunnel that led straight back into the buried building.   From far off, Joe heard a high-pitched scream.  Turning his head to where he had last seen the shrinking form of Evan running, Joe instead saw the beast bending over in the distance, body bend straight down at the middle in a sharp angle, long dangling arms held tight against its torso as its head nearly touched the ground.  Joe thought he saw something fleshy and small lying on the ground beneath it but turned away, not wanting to see.

Hearing the beast now running full speed across the field, Joe quickly slid head first down the hole, clawing at the dirt with his fingers.  At least, he thought to himself as his belly scraped across hard-packed earth, he would finally be able to see the brick-walled building from the inside.

Nano Fail

Some might call it fate (at least I will) but I have pulled out of the National Novel Writing Month contest as of a week ago.  As it happened in the past, as I ramped-up the quantity of my writing, I noticed a sharp decline in its quality.  Now it's true that the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to write as much as you can without looking back until you reach that 50,000 word finish line and worry about making the words great later, however, I have always, always, found it difficult to operate like that.  

One of the main reasons my writer's block is so persistent is because I am an annoyingly huge perfectionist.  At least when it comes to my writing.  It's bad, I know it is. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Block Demolished?

Not quite.


It has been exactly a year now since I first started my blogging adventure here at Blogger.  I can honestly say that I came away with much more than I expected.  A new world of blogging friends and creative contacts opened up to me and I couldn't be more grateful to those who gave me encouragement and inspiration along the way.  You all should know who you are. :)

Unfortunately, as some may have noticed, I have not been blogging much in the last month or so.  This has been a symptom of school and outside life taking a larger chunk of my time as of late.  A lame excuse, I know, but I do want to get back to this.  I also know I have not been reading up on the blogs I follow as much as I should be so I hope to rectify that as well.

My goal with this next year of blogging, in addition to finishing off my broken-up writer's block, is to actually and really complete a novel from start to finish.  Seriously.

Perhaps NaNoWriMo will help to get me there...more on that next post.  Stay tuned, please?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Semper Audacia: A Review

Recently, I picked up the newly released e-novelette "Semper Audacia" by sci-fi writer and fellow blogger MPax.  The following is my personal review of the work:


A Space Opera
The story begins on familiar ground: a lone space marine placed to protect her people, battle-scarred and weary, she is the sole survivor of countless, bloody conflicts who must now face down one final threat.  Yet from the start there is a very sad, human angle to the story.  Leda, the last champion of her people, is indeed an ultimate soldier, her body and emotions controlled by a cybernetic armor suit and still she can't help but fill the empty defense station she inhabits with memories of her fallen comrades, some whom she misses far more than others.

This is a short work (about 13k words) so I will not give anything more specific away other than to say that the plot is fairly condensed and quickly sucked me in.  Somewhere, the expected showdown between good and evil, small and large, takes a detour and our hero is confronted with a demon most foul: self-doubt - the idea that all you once stood for is no longer valid.  If you are looking for a story about a super soldier running and gunning her way through enemy lines to save the day then this is not the tale for you.  The battles before Leda lie within her own heart, against her own sense of duty, violently bashing up against her ideals regarding loyalty.

The prose closely follows behind Leda, giving us insight into her mind which at times slips in and out of lucidity .  Rather than pull away from our hero during these times of lapsing clarity, the author puts us into Leda's state of mind as fights through her degrading perspective, a mind and body that seem to have been alive for far longer than they should have.  I particularly enjoyed these segments where reality and unreal projections of Leda's thoughts meld to paint a singular scene of confusion and, at times, controlled chaos.  And as I pointed out earlier, the plot does move fast and so does the language, propelling forward through the highly-charged proceedings without dwelling too much on long-winded histories.

If I have one complaint its that the ending felt a bit rushed, I had reached the stunning conclusion (a situation most dire with horrifying implications) and suddenly the story concludes almost instantly in a flurry of lasers and space debris.  I suppose maybe I was indeed awaiting that final, contrived showdown.  I admit I am sucker for such romantic sci-fi tropes.  But as I reached the final lines, I realized that this tale was never about gun battles and interplanetary warfare but about the depths of one soldier's commitment to her duty, to her people, and above all, to her comrades in arms.

"Semper Audacia" available from Amazon.com in ebook format.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Populating the Fictional Realm

Who are these people, these imaginary souls, filling up our manuscripts and occupying word counts?  Are they real, do they exist, or are they merely a collection of descriptions and dialogues? 

Well, of course, the characters of a fictional story are just that, fiction.  They are borne from the author’s head, given life by creative thought.  There is no action, no form of speech that can come from these players that has not first passed through the mind of the writer.  But are these characters merely puppets?  Do we craft them out of air and then proceed to use them as tools to animate a tale?  Certainly many writers do and many will continue to do as well, but should you?

If I can take away one useful piece of advice from my time spent in creative writing classes, it’s this: A writer is not responsible for creating a story so much as they are putting together the pieces of a mechanism that will drive the story forward on its own.  Or, more simply, you supply the setting, the circumstances, and the people involved, and if you do it right, the story will play itself out in the only way that it can.  It is the writer’s job to simply capture it in physical form. 

The setting and the circumstances surrounding the plot(s), those are static things, immovable parts.  On their own, they are lifeless, bits of cold metal and rubber.  This is particularly why I don’t care for stories that depend far too heavily on plot devices (one after another) to push itself toward a conclusion.  Plots are fine and dandy, they are completely necessary, without them you just have a bunch of people standing around, talking to each other, going to work, eating, and heading for bed once the day is over.  No matter how interesting those people are (and they should be), that’s a pretty dull story.  In fact, it’s not even a story at all.  Plot is necessary, but it’s not everything.  Because characters to operate the plot (machinery), what you have are a lot of interesting looking set-pieces that don’t much other than look interesting – a hollowed out chocolate Easter bunny comes to mind…

There is a point somewhere buried under all this, hold on, here it is: People care about other (interesting) people which in literature terms translates to readers care about (interesting) characters.   

How a fictional character is created isn’t so important.  Usually these figures will be finagled out of personality traits from families, friends, casual acquaintances, random encounters, and most usually from within the mind of the author herself (or himself…we really need some more gender neutral pronouns).   Even if the character is a being of pure fantasy, pulled complete and pure from the imagination of the creator, what matters is that this person (animal, Cyclops, alien, Canadian, etc.) emerges from its (there’s that dumb pronoun problem again) womb as a complete and wholly unique organism.

Why is this important?  Because characters created solely for the purpose of filling a role (hero, lover, bad guy, damsel, best friend, quest-giver, etc.) aren’t able to make their own decisions as characters, won’t have desires and fears to move them in one direction or another.  A flat character created out of stock parts from other media is one that the writer will have to physically move through the story, manually handling the decision-making process for that character and ultimately guiding their soulless forms to a predetermined fate.  How boring.  

Generally, you don't want your characters to resemble a gang of sheep
unless you're specifically writing about a gang of sheep.

Ever watch a movie and know exactly how everything is going to play out before the introduction sequence is over?  That’s the work of bad and lazy writers who just pulled together spare parts underneath a new coat of paint to form their characters and scenes.  Flat characters are boring because we can see exactly what they’re thinking, where they’re going, and know how they’ll react to any given situation.  And we know all these things because we’ve seen these same characters (or versions of them) in a hundred different places before. 

So now comes the difficult part, how does one give birth to a healthy, fully-developed character?  Quite honestly, I don’t have an easy answer to that question.  There is no magic formula, no diagram to follow, no numbered steps to take that will help you achieve a full-bodied protagonist.  Every writer will have a different approach, a different philosophy.   Some might tell you that such easy-to-follow methods exist, but they are bold-faced liars, poor writers, or both.  Because crafting a character is so much more than listing their likes and dislikes and figuring out what they would eat for breakfast.   You have to spend time getting to know your characters, not just from a writer’s perspective, but from the inside. 

To be a good writer, you must effectively become your characters and spend some time looking at life through their eyes.   Only then will you be able to place a character on the page with the ability to walk, talk, react and make his or her way through any given situation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Poetry?

If it feels like there's been a lot of poetry flying around this blog lately, you're right to feel that way.  I don't apologize for it though.  While it's not my preferred mode of expression, writing poetry is something I really enjoy when I get into the mood for it.  Truly, some feelings, expressions, moments can only translate properly through poetry, through words uninhibited by the logical processes of story and conversation.

Poetic image by Smile

So yes, I am here to present you with more poetry for your viewing pleasure today.  Brought to you by a collection of poets, including myself, and hosted on Stephanie Pearl's blog Yours, In So Many Words.

Check out the poetry on display there, you won't be disappointed.  And if you yourself are a poet, take note of the call for future projects like this and consider contributing some of your own work.  Personally, it sounds like a great idea to me, like a less aggressive, less competitive poetry slam of sorts.

But what do you think?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My First Novel - Mechanical Demons

During the summer of 2003, as a lad of seventeen, I furiously worked on a science fiction novel which sprang forth from inspiration brought on mainly by late-night viewings of imported Japanese anime.  It was a tale of two cybernetic-humans created in a government lab, free from their keepers and on the run, eking out a living through robbery while leaving a trail of bloody destruction in their wake.  Possessing super-human strength and speed, near-invulnerability to gunfire, and an utter disregard for the sanctity of life, the duo came to be known only as Mechanical Demons.

Cyber Ninja from the Playstation game Metal Gear Solid was a definite influence though my cyborgs were less ninja-y and more mass murder-y.

What amazes me today is that I actually completed this work and it came out to a sizable chunk of writing (about 150-200 pages).  I can still remember sitting at the family computer (an ancient Dell desktop circa 2000) religiously each and every day to dutifully tap out another gory fight scene or a dramatic conclusion to a chapter.  Even when I caught a bad flu, I continued to write through the sickness, my fever-fueled hallucinations only adding to the ever-growing flow of creativity.

Set on a future earth locked in some sort of global conflict (I'm pulling this all from memory), where cybernetic implants were acceptable as both replacements for damaged body parts and enhancements for the rich, the novel attempted to ask and answer the question: What truly makes us human?

Heavy stuff.

Sadly I was not able to fit lightsabers into the novel

More of a patchwork of homages to scenes, characters, and set-pieces from my favorite works of media and literature than an actual work of original fiction, this first attempt was, well, pretty terrible, as I'm sure you can imagine.  Of course, at the time, I thought it was beyond amazing.  I thought that this would be my big break into the world of published fiction.

Unfortunately for you, nothing remains of this cybernetic epic (read: I don't want to look for and find the buried away floppy disk containing the novel) so I cannot post an excerpt.  Just imagine the worst piece of pretentious, over-wrought, childish sci-fi/fantasy fan-fiction that you can and that's pretty much it.  All I can think of right now is that one of the chapters involved smoking pot, gang violence, and of course, robots kicking ass.  Also a chapter on the absurdity of religion... 

Yeah.  It was that bad.  So here's hoping my next completed novel (coming to a electronic bookstore near you in the fall of 2042) will be a)complete and b)something that I won't push away to the darkest recesses of my desk drawers.


I completely forgot one of the key agencies that helped me on my journey.  Nothing short of the heart-pumping and head-thumping beatz of Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory and Meteora would work to propel me through an intense combat passage or chase scene.  I know for a fact that I listened to both of those albums on repeat at least twenty times each during the process.  They were my screaming, disc-scratching, guitar-riffing muses and I'll never forget (forgive?) them for it.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This spot of verse today is brought to you by the talented Laura of Literary Legs.  Visit her site for excellent articles of literary insight along with selections of her poetry and prose.  Enjoy!

I think I’m almost healthy now.
I broke into the new year of 2007 as a terminal patient,
Through the clean-hedged doors of January,
The reception area of a quiet hospice home.

I did what the other patients did. I sat up,
Rocked and murmured at the blank walls of my reason,
Screamed and cried and died a little with each
Surreal attempt to define all things in essentials.


I think I’m almost healthy now.
I had almost internalized your verbosity
Of stringent epithets. Your shabby reproofs.
I learnt your brocards well-- too well.

Now I walk the halls of 2009,
I rock and smile. I giggle at the wallpapered
Walls of this, my Summer. My sanitarium.
I’ve learned to draw and play a chord or two on the dulcet.


I’m sure I’m healthy now.
I see the glossy calendar pictures, not the black
And white cells. I live in the scenes, not the digits.
I live in the world, not a Styrofoam model City of God.

Nothing is essential in this century.
Motifs of error and an onerous dowry is what we inherit
And pass on. The only pristine logic left to us
Is the beautiful absurdity of compassion.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest - Rotting Banana Bowl

I believe this counts as my first blogfest.  This one revolves around poetry so it's a good fit.

Many thanks to Shelly for hosting this shin-dig.  I'm not much of a poet but I do dabble a bit.  Here goes....

Rotting Banana Bowl

Too soft to eat.
Make bread she says, but you're not a baker
No not at all, but something needs to be done.

In a wide bowl with painted fruit at its bottom
Idealistic setting for the fresh and yet unripened.

Soft and too sweet, a color like disintegrating cream underneath
The darkening, spotted skin.
Don't eat it, don't waste it, save it for bread, I'll make some.

It grew in a place hot and wet,
A seed for a new life.

89 cents a pound at the grocery store.
Throw it in with the rest, someone will eat it,
Not me but someone. 

Black little husks of what was,
Putrid and mushed brown inside,

Can't cook with, too disgusting to look at,
To smell like flowery vomit
Is what I'll do if you try to eat that
Just throw it out with the rest and throw it out in the alley so the whole house doesn't stink up.

We'll get some more tomorrow.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Write EVERY Day

It's a challenge to do and it's something that, while I know I should do, I have never been able to do successfully.  You'll hear from countless sources that writing every single day, whether you have anything worth writing about or not, is the best way to go about creating a flow of ideas as well as acting as a daily exercise designed to continually improve your writing skill.  As you know and, as I have learned over the years, the only way to truly improve that writing skill is through actually writing.  No amount of literature or instruction on the topic will inform you, a writer, better than taking part in the act itself.

by Smile
So ideally, to be a better writer, I need to write everyday, no exceptions.  As I said, this is something that I've struggled with for years, never able to establish an ongoing routine.  Well, that's all about to change.

Thanks to Nina, I have happened upon this very cool site which encourages writers and gives them an outlet to write words every day, at least 750 of them to be exact.  The site tracks each day and how many words you write, compiling a number of interesting/funny stats based on the words written (though no human eyes other than yours can actually read them) as well as handing out badges to those that keep a consecutive streak of 750 word days going.

As it stands, I've only completed one day.  But it was actually pretty helpful.  Having that set goal to reach really pushes you to power through and put some text down no matter the quality.

And that really is the problem.  Even with a notebook, I find myself constantly filtering myself, scratching out more story than I put in.  This compulsive need to create perfection during a first draft rather simply focusing on laying down a basic plot structure and getting ideas out into the open has always inhibited me.  Since the site provides you with only a blank computer screen and a word counter, I don't feel so pressured to create something of literary merit every time my hands touch the keyboard.

It might be too early to tell, but I'm thinking this might be the start of a new early morning routine.  Check out the site for yourself and give it a try, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Return of the Block

Yes, it is back.  After a good string of months filled with varying degrees of writing success, the flow of ideas and the passion for writing has nearly dried up entirely.  I haven't written more than a handful of pages (all of it bad, unusable prose at that) for the last couple of weeks.  Writer's block has again become me.

Self-doubt, discouragement, and general apathy are all culprits of this new development.  However, today I will force myself to put pen to paper, to fill pages, regardless of the quality.  I will remind myself that I am not writing to be rich, not to be the best, not satisfy anyone but myself because I love the act of it.

When I have broken through this malaise, this space will be among the first notified.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Mechanical Politic

Another guest post.  Am I growing lazy?  Yes!  But I assure you, even if I was filled with the utmost blogging enthusiasm, I would still post this excellent collection of words from a good friend and fellow blogger that I'm sure many of you are familiar with.  Without further ado...


Brought forth from the miasma-filled mind of  Uriel the Wayward

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Make and Kill Your Own Bugs

The following is a guest post of sorts, written by my boss and given to me with full permission to spread his gospel far and wide.   Though the concerns of his writings involve matters far beyond my technologically-deficient mind, I still found this to be wildly hilarious and hopefully, you will too.  Enjoy.

I have received several requests asking me what it is like to write software.  Let this serve as a guide.

Step #1: Unless you are writing a really small program of less than 50 lines, writing software is actually the creation of hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of bugs.  The intent of course is to produce code that will accomplish something useful.  Instead, the code you have will only be useful for generating error messages, giving out inaccurate answers, or dying with no explanation.

Step #2: Now that you have an unknown, but very large, collection of bugs, you need to start squishing them, thereby creating more bugs.  In software, any change in one part of the program can, and often will, affect other parts of the program that are totally unrelated in function.  If you are fortunate, the number of bugs you squish will be larger than the number you create.  I find that a good ratio is 1.2 bugs created for every 2 squished.  With this ratio, and given enough time, it would seem that all of the bugs would eventually be killed off.  However, given that the universe is 13 billion years old, there has still not yet been enough time to fully debug any known, reasonably large, software.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Who Do You Write Like?

I wonder...am I the only one who shudders slightly when someone begins to rave about a new author, only to almost instantly begin comparing this author to other established writers?

Never will I forget an early experience on the internet, as I was chatting with a science fiction writer who, upon hearing that I too was a budding wordsmith, instantly asked me "well who do you write like?".  The question confused me at first.  I told him that I write like me, at least I try to.  He was adamant though.  "Well yeah, but what writers sort of write the same way you do?  Who do you look up to?  Who do you try to write like?"

I was dumbfounded.  This invisible person then began to list his literary idols, those who's styles he was attempting to emulate.  Is this normal, I wondered, is it normal for a writer to consciously look to the writing of other successful authors and attempt to copy their form?  Of course, its impossible to write without having the influences of those you admire rub off on your prose.  But is it really common to forcefully fashion one's self-expression out of used bits and pieces?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Abandoned Work

Writers, you know how it goes.  A great idea hits, smacks you hard in the brain, forces you to sit up and grab for the nearest sheet of paper and a pen or for your keyboard.  Inspiration for a short story, the opening passage of a novel, or a poem has struck and you feel the unmistakeable need to let off some of the pressure before the thought implodes and becomes lost to the day.

It starts perhaps with a single sentence, or a word even, running through your head.  You get it down into visible form and it looks great.  You're running on pure creative excitement at this point, fashioning prose and poetry so quickly that you can hardly be bothered to think of anything other than emptying the imagination onto a physical space, releasing you from the burden of it.

At last, you run out of steam.  You stop to breathe, to crack your knuckles, to grab a swig of drink or to take a bite of long gone-cold food.  It is then, as you look back at what has been transcribed, that you realize that something has been tragically lost in the translation from inspiration to the written word.  Still recognizable are the little gems of phrases and lines, remnants of that original lighting bolt that sent your writer hands into their fury.  But the vast majority of the language surrounding these spots of brightness fall dead and flat on the page or screen.  On your lips, the words taste wrong, gritty, as if the batter composing the work had not been properly mixed into a homogenous liquid.

And sadly, try as you might, you are unable to fix the numerous structural and conceptual deficiencies.  You realize that this work was built on a faulty, flawed foundation.  Even complete demolition and a rebuilding process would most likely fail to make good on your once-glorious vision, as the original drive that pushed you in the direction of its creation has, by this point, all but fizzled out.

You are forced to realize that the idea that seemed to be so full of promise within your head, does not have the lungs and legs to survive in the outside air.  Having been scribbled or typed far too quickly for sustainability, the work now lays as little more than an artistic miscarriage.

It is forever doomed to lie as unfinished, abandoned work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Those Damn Coyotes: Act One, Scene 1

The third and final piece done for my creative writing course, the opening scene of a play.  I used to write short, one act plays quite often in high school but have since fallen out of the practice.  Doing this piece was quite eye-opening and I learned a lot about the medium much like I did during the writing of my screenplay.  Enjoy.

SCENE: A pale-colored living room.  The front door stands stage right.  The entryway to the kitchen is out stage left.  A third door stands upstage center, MARTIN’S room.  Next to it, upstage left, hangs a large painted portrait of a calico cat with a dark mask of fur covering both eyes.  Shelves of books and decorative knick-knacks line the walls.  A new looking, brown leather couch covered in throw pillows sits center stage.  A long, glass-topped coffee table sits in front of it.   A window upstage right reveals the dark night outside.

MARTIN sits on couch, grips pillow.  Doorbell rings.

Thank god.
(stands and walks to front door)
Let’s get this done with.

Opens door, ROBERTO enters.  MARTIN hugs ROBERTO.

Thank you!  I know, I know.  It’s weird to ask you here so late, asking you at all.

Hey look, you call and I come running, that’s how it works.

Look, Rob, this is going to sound weird but I have a really big favor to ask.  Don’t even bother taking your shoes off.  Won’t take long.

What’s up? 

It’s Bandit.


A long, high-pitched howl is, followed by several short barks and several shorter howls.  The two stop and listen.

What the hell?  You got wolves?

No, coyotes.  We’ve had a problem with them for years.

Sounds like they’re having a party.

They tend to get like that on warm nights.

I bet that’s what I saw running across the way.  Looked like wild dogs.

Roberto, please, pay attention.  I need your help.  It’s about my mother’s cat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mango Day

The following was written for the Spring 2011 24-hour writing contest.


The fruit vendor smiled at her through sightless eyes, enjoying the warm breeze and salty air. During casual banter with his customers, he seemed to remember the smallest details, even ones they couldn't remember sharing with him in the past. The girl had been coming to his stand daily for as long as she could remember. As she turned to leave, she patted his hand and said, "I'll see you tomorrow morning, friend."

Still smiling, he replied, "No, you won't..."


WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 900 words.

Mango Day

It was finally mango day.  For Ramona, it had been too long since her last mango, months like years, years since getting a mouthful of that yellow flesh, having the sticky, sweet juice drip uncontrolled down the side of her mouth and face.  Today is the day, she thought.  Today the mangoes are back.  The last crop was a good one, that's what the old man had said. He said it mystically, like he said everything, like he just needed to smell the air that day to know that the mangoes were ripening right then in some far-off, tropical, sunny-skied paradise.

Thoughts from the day before touched her mind as she rode through the thin, snaking roads up to the main way through town, the thing he had said to her, the vendor, just before leaving him for the day.  It had been an off-hand comment from him, part of an everyday exchange, "I'll see you tomorrow," was the reflex string of words out of her mouth, but as Ramona rode away with her basket carrying the choice apples and pears, she faintly heard his strange response.

"No, you won't..."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

That Guy

This is the final draft of my screenplay for the creative fiction writing class I'm talking this semester.  It's supposed to be a very short film.  My first attempt at the medium - be kind...


A bright summer morning.  A long, two-story building sits in the background, a large sign on one side reading “Ricos Auto Repair”.  The pavement is heavily cracked and the yellow lines are faintly visible. 

A white sedan with rust spots pulls up, parking near a small booth in the lot with large windows on three of its walls about fifty feet away from the larger building.  The sign on top reads “Ricos Key Shop”

You know all the terrible shit that happens to someone just when things seem to be going right in life?

A man in his thirties steps out of the car, slightly overweight, wearing a blue polo, dark slacks and black leather dress shoes, carrying a small black gym bag.  He walks slowly towards the booth, JINGLING keys in his hand as he approaches the locked door.



A pregnant woman (JEANETTE) is sitting partway up a wooden staircase, her hair disheveled, with hands hanging down between her knees.

                   JACQUES (V.O.)
Everything’s going great with your girl, you’re happy and all of that, then Boom!  Disaster strikes, problems arise.

She watches the man in the blue polo standing near the front door, pulling on his shoes, her expression filled with distaste. 


We can see that the one windowless wall of the booth is covered with key blanks, there are thousands of them, old-looking machines sit beneath the wall of keys.  A glass showcase filled with deadbolt locks and key chains separate the tiny work area from the even tinier customer area.  The man, GREG, locks the door behind him.

I’m talking like Karma or Fate or something like that, but with more of a sinister edge.   


showing Greg preparing to open up for business. 

- From his bag he pulls out his lunch: a sandwich in a plastic baggy and a metal thermos

- He FLIPS the power switches on the breaker box.

- Pulls a thick, raggedy-looking paperback novel from his bag.

- Turns on the register.

- He pulls a large magnum revolver from his bag.

- Turns on the lights, which HUM loudly.

- He places the revolver casually beneath the register on a shelf.

- He unlocks the door again.

Like, if there's a god turning the cogs of the universe, then there’s someone else who exists just to throw a wrench into the machinery at just the right time to fuck our shit up.

Greg stands with hands on the showcase facing the parking lot beyond through the window. 


from up high, exposing his smallness against the vast emptiness of the sparsely populated parking lot.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Green Jeep

This is an experiment in free form writing.  I will give myself roughly half an hour to write freely from my thought flow.  What follows will be the result.

Today while walking to the post office, I passed by a green jeep.

A jeep for sale, 2004, that's what it said in the window.

A Wrangler, two seats and space in the back for something, for things, for packs and tents, for canteens and bicycles.

I'd like to take it somewhere, if I could drive, if I wasn't so terrified of the act.

Whenever I used to get behind the wheel of a care I would feel as if I were moving something too unwieldy, too powerful for myself, like trying to successfully maneuver graceful with a lethal piano strapped to my back, or to my front and back rather.

I see it becoming part of people, an extension of self, the vehicle, as if moving it were as simple as moving their legs to walk.

That's how it is with my bicycle though, is it similar?

I miss riding my bike terribly.

I'd like that green jeep just to take the bike somewhere nice and ride it, somewhere dangerous even.  I'm not afraid of crashing on the bike like I am of crashing the jeep.

I've done it enough times, once fell asleep riding home late at night, just for a moment I think, all of a sudden the world just started tilting, out of nowhere, and everything was tilting and I couldn't do anything to stop it and suddenly there was hard ground, I was sliding, skidding.

It hurt but not too bad, my knees and my elbows were bloodied badly but no one saw, that's all I was worried about was someone seeing.

I still have the scar, on my arm, near my elbow, it's hardly visible, you'd have to be told it was there to notice it, some on my knees too but I hardly think about those because I don't look at them as often.

I miss riding though, ever since that crash the back wheel has been bent out of shape and I've been too lazy, too poor to get it fixed and so I never ride anymore.

Used to ride through the forest preserves, just a few blocks from my house, they had a nice dirt path, went on for miles through the woods, sometimes so far away from the streets that you could almost forget the cars were there always zooming by.

And there was this one part, this one part where the trail disappeared almost completely, just sort of faded into this little secluded meadow, and you would ride through the grasses, through the weeds, through a little path cut by all the bicyclist going through before you, until you got to this log blocking the way and you would have no choice but to pick up your bike and walk over the log until you found the path on the other side.

I used to be able to do thirty, thirty-five miles on that bike.

Used to make it from where I lived all the way north into the deep suburbs, I'd get to that point and then turn around and go all the way back.

The best part was finding those water pumps along the way, where you had to stop because you were so damn thirsty and all your water was gone so you got off and staggered over to the pump and worked it for a good half a minute while the summer heat beat down on you, sweating, and then you felt the water coming, heard it, and then it splashed down from the pipe and you couldn't get your face down there fast enough to drink it.

The water, always full of iron, always tasted like blood.

Reminds me of losing teeth, mouth full of blood, swallowing it because it had no where else to go.

Like the time I had to have four teeth pulled out, yanked on, the dentist was getting tired just pulling on them while I was awake, listening to Kenny G on some crappy headphones while he was working up a sweat trying to pull out that damn tooth.

And I was drugged, oh I was drugged up good but I could still feel the pressure, some of the pain, tears rolling down as that fucking dentist tugged and tugged.

End of time...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Where Am I Going?

Sorry, please excuse the rather self-indulgent post.  I've had quite a few of these lately but I swear I've been actually working on pieces of writing. Just bear with me, next post will be much better, promise.  Just need to get this out of of my system. 

I know I've talked about this before here, I'm sure I have.  The question keeps coming up though.  

"What are you doing after you graduate?"
Photo by Smile
I don't know.  Not really.  I don't want to teach though.  I know that's everyone's first impulse when they hear my major (English) but that's probably the last thing I want to do with myself.  No, what I want to do is write.  Somehow, someway.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Post, a Plug, and a Poem

I'm back to blogging, for now.  This is the above-mentioned Post.

There was a brief period where I said to hell with it and nearly deleted the thing, actually.  I don't know, I had feelings of inadequacy I suppose, thoughts of "who the hell is actually reading this?" and such.  But I decided, who cares.  Regardless of who's reading, I'm doing this for me.  This is my blog goddammit and I have a stated purpose and until that purpose is fulfilled, I'm going to keep hacking away at that ol' mental block of mine.

Hell, even I did ever somehow do away with my frequent bouts of writer's block, I'd still need a place to ramble and post my work.  Even if no one's reading, posting my writing for the world to see will give it more exposure than if it just sat idle on my computer's hard drive.  Right?

So I'm here, and I'm going to keep this up.  I'm excited.  Onto the Plug.


Day By Day Captures is the brainchild of my ever-so talented and lovely fiancee.  The premise is simple: every post contains a single, unedited picture to represent a single day, taken on the very day the post is made.  Each shot is accompanied by a short passage speaking on the importance or the feelings associated with the subject of the photo.  There are quite a few interesting pictures and posts up already so I definitely recommend you check it out :)

Also, occasionally I will be providing some of the commentary, such as in this POST.

Moving on though...
I once had an English professor tell the class (myself in it of course) that if a man (he was speaking to the ladies in the room but really this applies universally I think) ever writes you a beautifully-written love poem, know that you are in trouble.  The reason being that, any man who would write a well-crafted poem expounding upon the nature of love and beauty more likely than not cares far more for the poem than he ever could for you.

This rang so true with me and it was for this reason that I grew to be extremely wary of writing any sort of love poetry...knowing in my heart that it could only be a)great and insincere b)terribly pretentious and insincere or c)sincere but badly done.  Being of course the uptight perfectionist and closet romantic that I am, I chose to just sidestep that whole murky mess and never write any love poems (although I'm sure I filled quite a few pages during high school with terrible love-sick poetry).

Er, I do have a point.  As you may have noticed, the title of this post promises a Poem.  Well, this is my attempt at a love poem, a poem dedicated to my fiancee. I think it's time I let go of my former reservations and show a little vulnerability.  And in accordance with the unalterable truths laid out by that old professor, I will have to write this from the heart rather than from my poet's brain if it is to mean anything at all.  Here goes... 

To My Bumble Bee

I remember that taste of spearmint gum in your mouth
That first time we kissed, in the car, hours after I first knew
I wanted to have your lips touch against mine.
Even now, tasting that same flavor, when I least expect it,
Will send a quick shiver through me as I remember that moment.

I think of your eyes, their honey color, the way they can simmer,
Burn, when they look into mine, in love, in anger, in laughter.
Sometimes I'll look, stare at them, when you don't know it,
When they're most beautiful, when you lose yourself,
Spacing out in that adorable way you do.

Really it was your smile that first got 
Me, the way it lit up your face, lit up mine,
Even through the computer screen.
The one that can still crack my face open
When it comes through unforced, completely spontaneous.

My Bumble Bee, the name that has no reason,
Same as yours for me, I love you though
I don't say it enough, don't show it nearly enough, so much
more than I've let on, I know.  None of the bad stuff matters 
When I can see you grin and we can laugh and be near one another.

You make me happy 
More than anything else can.