Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: A novice revenges the rhythm.

Flash Fiction challenge for Terrible Minds in which we were to write 1000 words with the sentence "A novice revenges the rhythm" somewhere in the piece.

I haven't written much lately, so I figured I should get started back into the writing habit with some short fiction. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment.

“No, no! Pizzicato! Strings, you must pay attention, just one note off in this section and you will ruin us all,” Conductor Spalvortzia yelled.

The violins winced.

The nobles that paid for the orchestra demanded flawless concerts and so the conductor expected the orchestra’s playing to be perfect. Only a few measures prior Spalvortzia had berated the flutes harshly for missing their beats by the smallest breath. Such high demands were within his rights, yet it seemed he was being merciless. The orchestra had always delivered beyond expectations, without such harsh treatment, so why now?

Spalvortzia had chosen an older piece. Not only had they never seen the piece, but they had been practicing it non-stop for a week without a single benefactor hearing it. It was unheard of. The orchestra believed they had completed it flawlessly, but Spalvortzia required even more. Tensions were high.

“Again! From the top!” Spalvortzia yelled. He raised his baton. He no longer needed to look at the sheet music in front of him. He’d had the music memorized for years. The priceless sheets of vellum held deep secrets in each perfectly placed note. Secrets he never shared with anyone.

The orchestra raised their instruments and readied themselves. He could sense their frustration.

He closed his eyes and took a quick intake of breath. He let out the breath and lowered the baton. In perfect unison the clarinet began. Ah, so sweet. So gentle it started. He tempted to smile.

She was the best clarinet in all the five kingdoms. From birth she had been nestled with a clarinet in her hands. She knew how to play before she could walk. Her fingers had been bent to caress the silver keys. Ah, so lovely.

From the sweet clarinet solo the timpani joined in, so soft it sounded like the faint thunder miles away. Cello joined, a sleepy sound. Then a playful flute, a morning bird. Each instrument joined, bringing their nature and weaving it into one another. The piece was perfectly written and a masterpiece beyond words. He had heard it so many times in his mind.

The sound amplified. He could feel it in his bones. The energy, it was there! His breath quickened. His hands buzzed and he closed his eyes. There, beyond his vision, he could see the light forming. It was so flawless. The magic, the summoning. The aching need to see, the need to feel. The texts were true! Oh Gods, the electricity of it buzzed along his nerves. It was like lightning. Life in his baton, coursing down his hands. He could see it and it was better than love! He needed it more than he needed to breathe!

Spalvortzia’s hands kept moving with the rhythm but his heart beat faster and faster. His ribs were paper thin, his heart was going to rip from his chest any moment and fly into the perfect sound of the orchestra. The crescendo of the music filled his heart and his mind and all around him all he could see was the light the magic the music. It blinded him. The agony was pure. It was rapture. Every muscle in his body felt like it was on fire. It was the torment before release. It was ecstasy!


Then the horns sped up too fast.

The magic fell apart. The whole thing crashed around him in a cacophony of sound. Shards of magic pierced his skin. He felt impaled by the edges, but it was just an illusion. He fell to the ground. Had he been flying? Someone shrieked. Had everyone felt that? Someone in the orchestra broke out into spontaneous sobbing.

He stood and screamed at the horns. A raw sound. “A novice revenges the rhythm! What kind of idiots are you! This is your purpose! Your life has been devoted to this one task and you foul it up like a child? Are you pigs? Were you not raised to make music?” The horn section shrank away from him. “Your lips have been trained since birth to create music, yet you refuse to pay attention to my baton!”

The first chair horn stood up. His right hand cupped permanently to hold the notes from the horn’s bell within his misshapen hand. His mouth was perfection for horn playing, but the long lips looked irregular on his face. “I apologize for my section,” his voice was raspy from disuse. It suddenly struck Spalvortzia how inhuman the orchestra was.

Rich nobles, bent on the desire for flawless sound, had learned how to breed their musicians like cattle. Winds and brass musicians were designed take a constant input of air through the nose, down to the lungs and out through the mouth without suffocation. The changes made it nearly impossible to speak. Most of them hardly spoke.

Spalvortzia was about to say something else when the harpist’s said softly. “We will do it again, sir, and do it correctly.” She smiled. Her arms were unnaturally long. Like the pianist’s, her fingers were extraordinarily long and had a sixth finger. Like all the others, her shoulders had been altered to take the weight of her instrument. “This is the first time,” she said, “that I felt that before. The magic in the music. Is this why we’ve practiced so hard?” Her voice carried through the hall, tremulous but with a hint of a new emotion.

The anger he’d felt washed away.

“It is why we must play.” He tapped the ancient score. “We must play it perfectly. Not just note, but tone, pitch, emotion. Everything must be perfection for the spell to work.”

“Spell?” The first violin asked. Shoulders were thickened on one side for his instrument to rest against. The opposing arm was thin and delicate for bow strokes. “As the legends say?”

“Yes. The drought, the famine our five lands have suffered from, all can be cured with the magic spells found in these texts. It’s why we were born. Have you not wondered that?” Spalvortzia asked, looking over the orchestra. Few of them had wondered, he realized. “We are not just playthings for the nobles, objects to play their symphonies and keep them entertained while the people suffer. I will show you. We are an instrument of change, of hope. We were born not to entertain, but to change the five kingdoms! For that, we must be perfect. Again, from the top!”

He felt something different in the orchestra. He smiled as he raised his baton. Something different? Hope?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Migraines: Having one

I wrote this a few months ago while I was in the middle of a migraine. I wanted to have something to look back at so I could really describe it to my doctor, in case he needed to know specifics. I have a second one written from a few weeks after this one, which I will post later. At the time I was laying on the couch, waiting for my pain pills to kick in. Feel free to comment or ask questions as you like. I have a lot of experience with migraines, after all.

I stare at the wall, feeling that pain behind my right eyeball. Someone is stabbing my eye. Over and over, it repeats until I have to close my eyes and shift my body out of the lamp light, so my eyes don’t see the light. It hurts less that way. My sinus’ feel tight, like they are stretched out over my face, pressing against my nose. Breathing through my nose feels funny. Like I’m going to break out in a nosebleed any second now.

I close my eyes and for a second, they become so heavy I cannot open them. The feeling passes. Now it just feels like the lashes are glued together.

I try to take deep breaths, to ease the pain, but that thing behind my eyes doesn't stop the unrelenting push and stab. Which is it? Push? Stab? Both? It extends down to my jaw. My teeth feel flattened. My mouth hurts in the back and I keep imagining my molars are going to crack the next time I chew on something. It feels like I could make diamonds out of coal, so tight are my teeth against each other. It feels good to clench my teeth, takes some of the pressure away from my eyes, but it doesn’t last. Seconds later my jaw aches and I have to open my mouth and wiggle my jaw back and forth to relax it.

My eye throbbs. I swear I could lift my eye out and see yellow fatty substances behind it. Like a cancerous growth, pushing on the back of my eye next to my nose. I want to scoop the yellow fatty substance out with a tiny spoon, between the eye and the bone making up my eyebrow. I know if I could scoop this pain out, it wouldn’t be there.

I dig my thumb between my eye and nose, where the eyebrow bone meets and push hard enough to indent the eyeball. It brings a flash of relief, enough to make me feel better and enough to make my head feel worse once the relief is over. I drag my thumb down my eyebrow to my temple. There I can feel the swollen muscle (or maybe tendon) there, resting. No, throbbing. I press it. Oh it feels good. I press it again, harder, grinding my thumb into it. I wonder how hard I can press on my temple before I do some serious damage.

I start pinching the skin together between the temple and my eyebrow. It hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It’s not the pain behind the eyes hurt. I grab a fistfull of hair next to my temple and put on it, hard. Pulling makes the pain go away.

It lasts a whole minute, then that thing is back, pushing on the back of my eye.

I put my fingers on top of my eye, right below the bone and press gently. It feels like I’m pushing my eye back into my head. I know I’m not, but it feels like it.

I open my eyes, close them, open them again. Everything is bright, blindingly so. Even moving my eyeballs around, looking from one corner of the room to the other, hurts. What causes the eyes themselves to hurt when they move? Well, migraines of course. I swear something is there behind my eye, but I know there isn’t.

The pain is enough to drive me crazy. I want to snap at everything and be churlish, but I can’t. Life doesn’t end just because you’ve got a bad head. My eyes are heavy and gritty. My body is not yet tired, but my head could pass me out at any second. I’ve already taken my meds, they make me tired too, and the only last 6 hours instead of the 12 they are suppose to last.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

But not the Arakins!

Had some birds outside, chattering away. I wrote this while I watched them and the cats.
Brought to you in the style of But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton, one of my favorite children's books.

Binx looked at the birds, sneaking towards the window. One cat was interested!
But not the Arakins...

The birds kept yammering. Smokey came running in, sneaking behind Binx. Two cats were interested!
But not the Arakins...

The birds started a little tiff. Max looked up from licking himself and snuck towards the window, now three cats were interested!
But not the Arakins...

Vivi, hearing the chatter, came creeping in and got up front, peeking over the windowsill. Four cats stared hungrily at the birds!
But not the Arakins!

The birds started flying about, a huge ruckus abounded! Bird calls filled the room! Finally it became too much!
But yes the Arakins! She ran to the window as fast as her legs could carry her, joyously awaiting the chance to watch the birdies!


And they all flew away.

(But not the Cheri-bears, who was too scared to join in the fun.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New background! My bookshelf.

So I updated the look of my blog, as I have wanted to do in a while. The new background is my main bookshelf. Complete with various knick knacks and stuffed animals. Some of them are hidden, so here is the bookshelf in it's entirety. I have quite a few little things. A Sackboy I made myself. A porceline doll I got from my aunt when I was a little girl.

There's a couple of Wall-E figures. Strawberry, my first stuffed bear I've had since I was a newborn is the very not-so-pink bear, and Gimpy is the actually-pink bear. Big Blue Eyed Bastard is next to Snowball, two stuffed animals my hubby gave me soon after we met. Kirby is also a hubby gift. The snail with wings clay figure I made.

Of course Brent Week's the Night Angel trilogy is there. Almost every Dragonriders of Pern book by Anne McCaffery. The Luck in the Shadows trilogy. The entire run of Redwall books in hardcover, which I have been collecting for years... A bunch of cookbooks. First book I ever wrote, which was Beauty and the Beast 2 from 4th grade. Yeah. A lot of books. I should list them all some day!

My main bookshelf

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Some of you know that I have a history of migraines. They are chronic beasts, I typically get them once a week, for a few days. I've been getting them for years, and only since getting health insurance from the job I've had for the past five have I been able to get any consistent care for them.

As one can expect from chronic migraines, they have controlled a significant part of my life.

I don't remember when I started getting them. I know it was in high school. I remember downing way too many ibuprofen one time while working on the set of the high school musical and shaking while trying to use the band saw. I was laughing because the pain was so bad, I just couldn't handle it.

I didn't really understand them for most of my life. They were just bad headaches. Really bad headaches. They got worse under fluorescent lights and around computers. I had a hard time concentrating. I went days at a time where it felt like blood just pounded between my eyes and my temples. I just assumed people had headaches every day like I did. My parents had headaches a lot.

When I started working at my current job, I started getting them almost every day. I worked on the phones when I started. The constant talking wore on my head. My jaw started to click after my shifts. The pain radiated into my temple, then into my eyes. Staring into the computer for long shifts didn't help either. Once I got health insurance, I started keeping track of my migraines.

When I finally got to see a doctor about them, I had a lot of data. He sent me to a neurologist quite promptly. I was put on a medicine for the bruxism that developed because I grind my teeth. Later, when my blood pressure became high, they put me on some of those meds too.

About two years ago, I had a migraine strong enough that it ended me up in the emergency room, which is when I found imitrex, the blessed drug that I take when I'm having a migraine. I love this medicine. It keeps the pain at bay. If a migraine is a build up of pressure in my head, then the imitrex drills a hole and releases that pressure. The fluid still flows into my head, but the pressure never builds up. If that makes any sense.

The imitrex side effects are terrible, though. It makes me really sick feeling. My stomach cramps up, it makes me both unable to eat from nausea and extremely hungry. I get really tired, but it gives me a buzz. It slows my thinking, so it takes me a long time to think things through. I get really lethargic. I just don't want to do anything, because the effort to get up and move just doesn't seem worth it. It's almost like a depression, but it's more apathy. If I have to take the imitrex for more than a few days, the effects compound, landing me in a funk. However, if I don't take the imitrex the moment I start to get a migraine, the medicine doesn't work, and I have to take twice the amount.

Anyway. So in the past few months, I've been getting very long migraines, with very few breaks between. I went back to my neurologist (a new one) and he started me on topamax, a medicine that's supposed to prevent migraines, not just stop them before they happen.

I've been on it for about two weeks now and so far I've been pleased with the results. I have been through two weekends without a migraine, which is pretty impressive for me. It's kind of strange. I've been doing a lot more work around the house. I've been more positive thinking. I am tired, but it's not mind-numbing. I want to take naps a lot, but it's not an exhausted tired.

All in all, it will be nice if the topamax works. I'm hopeful so far. It's been rather nice going without a migraine for two weeks. I've gone without one for two weeks before, but never without the general feeling of the doom of "when is it the next one coming?"

Heck, I made it through a movie without a migraine! In a theater!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

G+ flash fiction!

For a L+ flash fiction post we were to write whatever we wanted for five minutes. I'd had a flash fiction brewing, so I decided to give it a whirl. This is what I got written in five minutes. Quick, rough, and unedited.

I'm sorry father, I never expected it to end this way. I swear it's not my fault! I just wanted to do what you always asked. If only I had known... There's no way I could have, of course. I mean, what kind of person could have known?

Father, all you asked was that your ashes end up in space. It was your last request. I made sure of it. I snuck your ashes onto the satellite headed to Jupiter, the one that was going to end up bypassing Jupiter once it's mission was over and head for deep space. No one noticed the extra weight of the aluminum tube I'd made and filled with your ashes and tucked into a little corner of the array.

For years I would just think about that little tube and you, headed into space. Oh, it delighted me. You were out there, where you always wanted to be. Jupiter was a better place with you there. You saw such amazing things, sent back such amazing pictures! That little array was so amazing!

Then years later, when I was old enough to tell my children you were there, we all had fun with reports that you were going into deep space. How exciting!

And then the array vanished. Into no where. What happened to my father? Hit by an asteroid? That was an easy explanation, some deep space object had destroyed the array and that was the end of it.

If only. The truth was far more sinister. Oh, so much worse.


With cloning technology.

With human DNA from your ashes.

Oh father.

If only I had known.

You destroyed us father. Destroyed us because I put you there and I gave them the power...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Making of an Origami Ball

So here's what goes into making one of my origami balls. Here is the design (warning, it's a PDF). It's called the Kusudama Ciclone. I like it a lot!

One of the first things is you have to make a test sheet. This is so you can figure out what kind of design you want to put on the final product. I usually fold three test sheets so I can see how one of the points folds together. For the sake of not taking a billion photos, the test sheet looks like what the normal sheets look like the normal sheets until I get to the design stage. 

Test Sheet (Or just folding a sheet of paper)
Sheet Fully Folded
Below is the actual test sheet. You can see where I tested the dot pattern a few times, experimenting with how and where I want the dots to be placed. I tried a couple of different ideas. Origami paper is thin, so it's important to mark where exactly you need to put your colors on the sheet when it's flat, putting any design on the page when it's flat where it shouldn't be can result in the pattern showing through the paper when it's folded. I had to make sure the dot pattern wouldn't be visible except where I wanted it. Sometimes it's complicated, sometimes it's not. It really depends on the pattern.

Testing the dot pattern
Once I got the dot pattern where I wanted it, I was able to start folding the sheets of paper. This is one sheet completed with dot pattern.

Final dot pattern on one sheet
Repeat. 30 times.

30 sheets of paper, folded and dotted
Then, after all the dots and folds were done, it was time to start folding! Folding most of the 30 sheet patterns is the same general principal. Three sheets of paper makes up one triangle, and every 5 sheets makes up a star. Three to a triangle, five to a star, repeated for all 30 sheets. It's pretty basic once you get the pattern down. Though the pattern looks like there's four sheets of paper with dots on it between the five star pattern, there's only two. Visually it can look more complicated than it is.

Five star, three triangle. You can see the pattern
Here you can see the inside as the pattern nears completion. This particular pattern is easier to complete than others because the origami papers slide together on the outside of the pattern, rather than the inside. You can see this because the inside of the ball is really simple looking, there's no interlocking pieces, nothing overlaps much inside the ball.

Inside the ball

Outside the ball half finished
Here I was going to take photos of getting the beads into the inside of the ball and finishing the outside up, but I was in a rush to finish it, so I forgot to take pictures. Instead, here's the final product! I'll try to be better about it, and take more photos of actually slipping the paper together. It did end up looking beautiful and full of vibrant fall colors. Hubby helped pick out the beads. The beads colors worked out perfectly! It's up on Etsy, of course!

Finished product!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Gold Star in Origami

Today I gave myself the challenge of making my own modular origami design. I've been doing a lot of origami, all of which can be found on my Etsy store for purchase. I came to notice some patterns in the diagrams, slots and pockets, and creases in the same places for all the designs. Realizing this, I decided to try my hand at doing my own modular design. The below is what I came up with. This is a one of a kind design, made by me.

I will be keeping this cube for myself, but I intend to make a few more for Etsy, and make a larger star ball like the other 30-sheet modular balls I make. I have an idea to paint them, too!

Modular Origami square
The sides of the pattern
Another view of the front, showing the mountain like peaks

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Horses and snakes

I guess sometimes I have a dream with a message to it. This last dream was about ecology and diversity in nature, I suppose.

There was a train. The train really isn't important, except I used it to get to the jungle.

The jungle was small, located inside the train tracks, which wound a large circle around this basin, in which the jungle grew. Outside the jungle was scrub lands. It was very isolated.

Inside the isolated jungle were some native people. They had lived in the jungle for generations. I was trying to live with them, to learn their ways and to keep them safe. There was a sense of urgency about my task. If I didn't prove that these people deserved to live there, big bad companies were going to destroy the jungle.

The indigenous people had one thing they could sell. Horses.

Not just any horses, these were the best horses in the world. They were smaller than normal horses, and they had very long lives, and were more like pets than draft animals. I realized the only way to save the people was to have them produce enough horses for sale that the big companies couldn't destroy the land.

I was determined to help figure out how to breed more horses.

Now, the jungle was full of dangerous things to these horses, things that would kill the horses at any chance. The main killer of horses were snakes. They jungle floor was infested with snakes, but the snakes couldn't climb trees, they were bound to the ground. The snakes were each about two feet long, and each snake could eat a foal if it caught one before the humans could save the horse. I was told that hundreds of horses died from snakes until the people had come up with a way to save the horses.

They raised each horse inside a giant hanging ball. Each ball was just big enough for a foal, and had been made to have a mini-ecology inside it, complete with dirt, plants, and even a little drinking hole. The balls were surrounded by large hides of some long dead jungle mammal, and hung from a tree. The balls would then be suspended about a foot off the ground, which was too high for the snakes to reach.

It was almost like each ball was a pouch for the foals. Inside, the foal would be raised with the utmost care, allowed to wander and circle their ball (they ranged in size from 12 foot diameter to much larger, depending on how I was dreaming of them), and once the foal was horse-sized, allowed to leave the ball as they were then too big to be eaten by the snakes.

Now, they indigenous people had grown trees in a grid pattern to hold up these pouches, they were arranged in perfect order, four by four. It was the largest number of horses they could grow. I went through this scene in my dream, kind of like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, only it was a little horse foal turning into a full grown pony and leaving it's protective ball for the first time.

I thought to myself the people had to raise more horses, but they didn't have the hides to make more pouches, so I decided to try my luck at making a cage for the foals. I found a nice square cave, put some bars around it and grew some plants inside. I thought it was perfect.

I had one of the people come and check my cage out. They told me without even going inside that it was a stupid idea and horses would be killed. I asked why, and the person told me about the snakes. (Even though I had explained to myself about the snakes, my dream self somehow didn't know about them and was shocked.) I looked inside and saw a bunch of hungry looking snakes inside and was horrified. I asked the person if there was any way to raise horses without the pouches. They said no.

I was coming up with some kind of plan to help the jungle, realizing that if I proved to the big companies that the horses would die without these people to raise them because the dangers of the jungle were so varied and so deadly. I knew there were only a few hundred horses left, and the snakes themselves were endangered because they only lived in this remote jungle. The whole thing, I decided, had to become a kind of remote nature preserve or both snakes and horses would die.

It was at that point that I woke up. It was a strange dream, horses growing in giant hide sacks, and snakes littering the ground so numerously that foals would automatically get eaten... I'm not sure what my brain was thinking or what the true point to the dream was.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Writing update!

It's been a while, I decided to post an update on my writing. I've been doing a lot of it in the past month, on a couple of projects.

Finished Writing:
Good cop, Bad cop
7,986 words.
I've done a couple rounds of editing on this one. I want to do one more. I would like to submit it to a lit magazine, though I'm also debating putting it up on the blog. It's a horror/detective story, based off a song I like. It might be too heavily based off the song. I really am not sure, I might put it out for a few more reviews and to ask if it's appropriate to be submitted to a lit mag.

In Progress:
Angels and Demons
35,336 words
This one is about Lisa, a seemingly normal detective, who finally catches up to the person she's been chasing since she was a little girl... only to find out the world is a lot deeper than she thought, and the man who killed her brother isn't what he seems. This one is what I've been working on lately, really pounding out the words. I like the characters, I like where the story is going. I've purposefully kept myself from planning too much.

Old Man and the Magics
14,404 words.
Corbin, the main character, is an old man with magical abilities in a land where magic has mysteriously vanished. He had been given the task to find out why. I'm not very far in this story, it may end up a short story perhaps. I like the world, I like Corbin, but I feel like I need to let this one settle for a while until I decide where to take it. Who knows, I do like the world enough to keep writing it.

112,302 words
Holy bat jeebus, that's a lot of words! This was my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) entry from 2011. It needs massive editing. Super crazy massive editing. It's finished as in I've written The End, but it's not done by a long shot. I'm considering taking a small part of this story and breaking it off into a separate short story, but for right now, I'm leaving it alone.

Good Guy Undead
20,530 words.
Pretty much dead in the water, even deader than the undead main character. I liked it, but then I hated it. I couldn't get the magic system to work, and I morphed some of it into Old Man and the Magics and then decided after that to quietly put it in my "Maybe Someday" folder. I might try to make part of it into a short story to submit to lit mags.

In conclusion:
I need to write more! I want to continue with Angels and Demons (though, rename it...) and I want to get a few more short stories out there. I've been working steadily through the writing process, trying to figure out what fits for me. I have been trying to find someone to read part of my various stories and give me their impressions, but frankly I'm more than a little shy about it, and like most writers, wonder if anything I've written is even worth a look by anyone else.