Just for Fun – Flamingos

I love flamingos. I’m not sure why.

Perhaps it’s because they are such an absurd bird. Perhaps it’s because they’re not pink at all – that’s just an effect of their diet, which amuses me. Perhaps it’s because of the place they hold in popular culture; simultaneously a symbol of tropical elegance, and of trashy kitsch.

I love the real ones, stalking through the shallows like pink prehistoric predators, scooping up crustaceans with their hooked beaks. Busily consuming the various carotenoids that give them their rosy hue. I love their jerky, time lapse movements, that melt in an instant to smooth fluidity when they take flight. I love to see them standing on one long leg, the other tucked up under their bodies, heads held high. I love to see them flying, long legs stretched out behind, black wing feathers spread, like soaring good-and-plenty candy against the sky.

I love lawn flamingos, too. They are so completely ridiculous, with their pink plastic bodies posed forever on wire legs, wading through grass shallows. I especially love flocks of lawn flamingos, surreptitiously deposited during the night in the yards of the unsuspecting. Can you imagine waking in the morning to find plastic flamingos have invaded your home? Spectacular!

I love art deco flamingos, perhaps most of all. The geometric angles of their legs paired with their long, sinuous necks made flamingos very attractive to art deco artists. Combine that with their flamboyant coloring, and they became irresistible. You can find them pacing gracefully, or cavorting without a shred of dignity, parading through the bathrooms, cafés, and salons of the 1920s. Such fun!

Perhaps it’s that inherent contradiction in flamingos that I find so appealing. They are at once graceful and awkward, stylish and silly, sophisticated and ludicrous.

I just love them!

Plans and Things

Hey! More of a News blog this time.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about the Beauty and the Beast story that I posted on Saturday; saying they liked it, but wondering why I hadn’t veered more from the traditional story.

There are a couple of reasons.

The first is that I wrote it in several years ago for a friend who had no idea what the traditional story was. He was only familiar with the Disney version, and thought the whole story arc with Gaston, Beauty’s father being an inventor, and the talking furnishings was part of the traditional tale. When I said it wasn’t, he said he would like to hear the traditional version, so I wrote it.

The second is that sometimes, we need comfort food. An old, familiar story is comfort food for the soul. I did change it slightly; the sisters are good people, in my version, because I’m tired of stories that tell us to be wary of our sisters. Most people aren’t trying to hurt us, and the sooner we stop assuming that they are, the fewer communication errors there are going to be. But that’s a whole other blog post, and not the one I’m writing now.

The reason that I posted that story on Saturday is that The Plan is to post a new story every other week, on Saturday. I had a brand spanking new one written, but I’ve been sick. (Nothing serious, just the grunge, but it’s left me feverish and not able to focus very well.) That being the case, I didn’t want to put a new story out until I’d at least read it while healthy. My three test-readers assured me it was fine, but still. So, assuming that I get over this bug, you’ll be able to read that one Saturday after next.

And yes, this does mean new short stories every couple of weeks. I hope that’s good news!

So, that’s where we are right now. I’m working on stuff for Second Life, and continuing to write; I’m about half way through the first draft of a novel, and have a handful of new short stories in various stages of editing and test-reading. If you’re interested in being among those who get the stories first, I’m also putting together a Patreon page. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Until then, stay well if you possibly can, and I’ll post more tomorrow!

Image made using Canva and Photoshop.

Stormy Weather – Short Story

I’m trying something different today. I’ve been writing some short stories, and I thought I’d post one here. It’ll be up no longer than a month, because I’m going to put it on Kindle etc., but I’d really like some feedback first. So if you are so inclined, please let me know what you think, in the comments. If there’s a place you think I should put it, besides Kindle, please let me know that too!

It’s been a month, so my short story Stormy Weather, has been removed.

You can find it on Amazon.com now. I put it in KDP Select, so if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free.

If you liked it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review. Reviews help a lot!


Stories – Part 2

I keep thinking of people as living stories. Stories we each weave from we see, hear and are told. We choose which stories to believe, which to reject, which to pull threads from, weaving parts of those stories into our own.

Take, for instance, the thread “Ahmed is a Muslim.”

Our reaction depends on the story we have already woven. Do we fear him? Do we embrace him as a brother? Do we not care at all? The answer is already there, in the fabric of our lives.

Unless we encounter something completely new, that is always true.

We have never met Ahmed, but we believe we know all kinds of things about him, based on a single thread of his story. That’s the root of all bias, all stereotypes, all preconceptions. Any new information is compared to the pattern already woven, and incorporated or discarded.

To change, we need to unpick parts of our stories.

For some of us, the weave is pretty loose. We are content leaving loose ends floating around, and it’s relatively easy to pull out some of the weft, as new threads pass through our lives.

Some of us weave our internal stories so tightly that it’s nearly impossible to pull a single thread. If one thread turns out to be faulty, we weave more tightly around it, so it’s not visible. We “double down” because we fear if we pull a thread, the entire fabric will unravel.

Rather than that, we’ll put up with diametrically opposed, even mutually exclusive patterns in the weave, ignoring the discord. That feels less risky than reweaving.

Because reweaving, while always possible, takes enormous amounts of courage.

Courage that can only come from willingness to examine the inconsistency, which will give us strength to undo the error, and reweave.


Photo attribution: “Sacred Valley NGOs 051 – Awamaki weaving tour” by McKay Savage is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.  The image was reduced 50%

Stories – Part 1

Without stories, we would have nothing but a single fleeting moment, already gone even as you hold the beginning of this sentence in your mind.

It’s the stories we tell that give us context and meaning. It’s the stories that let us understand other people. It’s the stories that build bridges, walls, and footpaths between and among us.

Without stories, nothing has any meaning.

We, ourselves, attribute whatever meaning we want to events. Then we enshrine that meaning in story. We tell those stories, with that meaning, over and over until we believe the stories we have told.

We know that every story has two sides. We tell each other that, and we know it’s true.

So which story do we believe, when they conflict?

Too often, the one that lies easiest in the pattern we have already woven.

If it fits neatly with our ongoing story, we absorb it, and seamlessly add it to the fabric of our selves.

But some stories are different. Some stories demand that we change that fabric. That we cut some threads, that we pick apart our weaving, that we dig down and rearrange the very warp of our souls and lives, to make room for a truth so strong, so shining, so imperative that we cannot ignore it.

If we’re lucky, those changes come from stories we are told, not stories we have to live.

Either way, though, changes will come. It’s part of the story.

Photo attribution: “colorwarp2-060207” by Ruth Temple is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.  No changes were made to the image.


Amazon Author Page Up!

I’ve been working on my writing a lot for the last month. I have a couple of short stories finished, and I’m working on a novel. These are all SF, set in the same world, although I don’t name the world in the short stories. Because I’m not sure I’m going to keep the name I have right now.

The thing is, there’s more to earning your living as a writer than just writing, of course. Especially if you intend to be self-published, as I do.

So I’m starting to work on all that part, as well. The first thing that’s mostly out there is my author page on Amazon.com. I got that up tonight. I’ll probably be working more on it; among other things, I’d like a better photo. But I don’t happen to have one right now. We’ll hopefully be getting that done soon.

I’m also going to be putting up a Patreon page sometime soon. I need to figure all of that out first, though.

Starting tomorrow, I plan to begin posting some of my writing here. I’ll probably start with some 300 word exercises I’ve been doing, or perhaps a retelling of a fairy tale.

Let me know in the comments if you have a preference!

Taking the Long View – Why Blogging?

For most of my life, I’ve  learned in isolation. For many years, it was just me and my books, and then just me and my computer. This doesn’t really make me self-taught; the books (and computer, and videos) help a lot. I’m learning from others, even if they have no idea that I am.

But every now and then I have a chance to learn with others, as part of a group, with feedback and a teacher who is actually there.

Right now, I’m taking advantage of that. I signed up for Blogging 101.   Continue reading Taking the Long View – Why Blogging?