Wednesday, December 16, 2015

BOTB and WEP: Holiday Celebrations

I'm out of town, and wasn't planning on posting for either the BATTLE OF THE BANDS (hosted by Saint Mac and FAE) or Write Edit Publish: Holiday Celebrations (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Rene) because it will be a couple days before I'm home and able to browse this many link participants.

Scroll down for WEP if this BotB doesn't dazzle you.

For BotB'ers: short and sweet. Vote on your favorites, or just enjoy - or not. Please feel free to vote on all your impressions: visual, auditory, group favorite. Or stick your tongue out at me in the comments and register a "no vote." Ya'll know I'm not one for traditional or commercial Christmas spirit.


Or Starry?

For more BATTLE OF THE BANDS Participants, or to add your own battle, click here for the links.

Want to give me MORE Holiday spirit? Read and comment on my original Write, Edit, Publish: Holiday Celebrations writing. Yep, you read that right, I wrote a near one thousand word excerpt as my last writing and blogging post for the year.

From the WEP Challenges page:

For this challenge, our final for 2015, you will be asked to share your ideas for a holiday that is out of this world, literally. Take us to a new planet, universe, or simply change the one you're on.
Since December is the month of celebration, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve and many more. We want you to take us out of this world. Take a trip to a new planet but use your experiences, memories, or just your imagination to write a holiday celebration that is unique to you and this new or drastically changed location.

Write a story, a paragraph, a poem, show us some artwork, a screenplay or take a photograph. The night sky is always 'out of this world' – okay, sorry for the pun, but have fun!

Remember, anything is possible! You can make it happen!

This month, the out of this world, speculative fiction/sci fi excerpts will be judged by author/blogger and IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click here for further details of this challenge and to read others and/or add your own submission to the linky. Submissions close Dec 19, Australian time.

998 words
All feedback acceptable.

Dag and Fil clipped the mossy skirt to the six meter long metal float, then stood back to admire their achievement. For months the two boys had spent every free moment collecting the glowing, multicolored lichen and embroidering it into the satiny blanket that now surrounded that float’s structure.

“Now what?” Dag asked his brother.

“Now we wait for Sol to place his ice sculpture atop and we join the parade,” Fil answered.

“He’s late.”

“Yep,” Fil agreed, scratching at a down-covered spot on his neck that had begun to molt.

“Don’t pick at it,” Dag warned. “Someone will notice and report you.”

Dag had begun molting again a few weeks earlier, starting between his shoulders and quickly spreading down his back and hips. Just thinking about the changes made him shake involuntarily, causing the rough undershirt to rub against his feathering skin and satisfy the urge to scratch. Two years older than his brother, he’d been through the process once already, and knew a few tricks about remaining undetected; and coping.

Fil looked around the warehouse, taking note of the noise and bustle of the other parade participants for the first time since arriving hours earlier. No mentors were allowed in the staging area as the students put the final touches to their Earth Day projects and jostled for position in the line up. Many of their classmates had already joined the procession – those that decorated with traditional Earth flowers and vegetables grown in special green houses all year, musicians and dancers in colorful costumes depicting the unusual diversity of that old world; bakers and cooks that intended to sell their wares at the banquets and street markets that the holiday encouraged.

None of the other industrial projects looked ready for presentation. Fil was sure they could be next up, if Sol would just get here and uncover his masterpiece.

“We’re all evolving, no one is Pure anymore. I’m not ashamed.”

Dag moved closer, lowering his voice to a level that no Pure Earthling and few Articans could hear. “It is not shame that keeps us hidden.”

“No shame.” The words drifted on the air from many directions, sifting through the artificial warmth.

Dag and Fil glanced around, but everyone seemed busy with their projects. Welding sparks, shouts of enthusiasm, curses and challenges, hammer bangs and ignition booms; nothing out of the ordinary for this artistic apprentice group.

“Trouble makers.”

That whisper was easily tracked, and both boys smiled as Sol strode through a side door. As usual he was wearing only a short sleeved shirt, khaki pants, no shoes, his long blue-black hair looking more like a mammal pelt worn by their ancient Earthling ancestors. Jem followed in his wake, small and mysterious in a deep blue robe that covered her from head to – bare feet.

“Aw come on; this is not the day to make statements.” Dag succumbed to a nervous itch, then he and Fil followed Sol to a locked freezer.

Sol punched in a code, lifted the huge metal lever, and turned to grin at his friends. “We’re going to win today. Grand prize is an audience with the Empress –"

“Only her daughter-”

“ – who is rumored to be evolving just as we are. I say that today is the perfect day for a statement.” Sol opened the heavy door wide and motioned for Dag, Fil and Jem to precede him.

“There will be a hundred prize winners Sol. And who wants to sit through all those ceremonies and speeches instead of drinking, eating, and getting it on with the girls.”

Dag adjusted his body temperature as he stepped into the freezer. At three degrees Celsius outside, it was one of the warmest days on Artica, and the scientists had speculated direct sunlight might even reach them later in the day. Dag put as much faith in the possibility of sunlight as he did in a supply shipment from Earth. It’d been over three hundred years since the appearance of either anomaly. Unlike the self claimed Pure Earthers, Dag did not welcome the feel of heat, although he hid his displeasure in clothing that looked layered and warm when in public.

“Its beautiful,” Fil stated, scratching at his neck again.

The sculpture glistened in the frigid air, a perfect replica of the colony ship Pleiadies that brought their first ancestors to the frozen planet named after the coldest region of Earth. The settlement had thrived for a hundred years after it was established, but as supplies and support had diminished, and eventually stopped, the citizens had to adapt to the frozen tundra. Many of the younger generation questioned why the annual Earth Day holiday was still celebrated. Few lived who remembered landing day.

“Its too small to be noticed,” Dag disagreed.

At just under four meters, the replica would be the smallest entry into the parade. The prospect of a dance or three, and possibly more, with his girlfriend later was looking up. He could almost taste the Artican Brew on his rubbery lips.

Sol and Jem laughed, the sound vibrating on the freezing air like the humming notes of a flute.

“Show them Jem,” Sol said, tugging the shoulders of Jem’s robe.

She raised her arms and let him pull it over her head. Fil showed his respect by turning his head, but Dag stared at her nude, multi-colored body. He’d seen her talents before, and the spectacle always fascinated him.

Jem winked at Dag, and suddenly the room was filled with a shifting rainbow of colors that crystalized around and above the Pleiades sculpture.

“Under the lichen blanket Jem will be able to absorb and reflect the natural colors. We’ll outshine even Dar’s electrically generated lights,” Sol bragged.

Dag glanced at his brother, who returned his eager grin. “We’ll be arrested.”

“Making us the biggest winners of the parade, with a private audience with the young Empress for sentencing.”

“Brilliant,” Dag and Fil said together as they lifted the sculpture.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Happy Holidays All

Here in the US it is the holiday season, starting in November with Thanksgiving, which officially opens the SHOPPING SEASON for Christmas. Although I enjoy the lights, decorations and sentiment of peace, love and togetherness, I'm not fond of the shopping mandate, the advertising that implies (and many times outright states) that the LOVE a person receives is dependent upon the price of the gift giving.

Color me a scrooge; I don't need all that advertising - as in constant e-mail spam - to remind me I'm broke. I'll give gifts when I feel like it, which is birthdays and whenever I see something that I think someone I care about would like to have.

Bah Humbug!

I caved into the shopping spirit this year, and have already got a good portion of my list completed. I've even been thinking of buying a four foot tree for the Cat to enjoy. Its early, we'll see about that one. My favorite thing about Christmas is the stockings. I love collecting items to stuff them with on Christmas Eve. Candy, lottery tickets, iTunes/Google Play gift cards, miniature cars and action figures. And of course a book or two for those who love a good read to cozy up to.

E-readers and tablets are making that book stuffing a bit more difficult; the generic Amazon or B&N gift card just isn't the same as picking out a specific book title. Unless the person I'm giving a book to is as difficult to buy a book for as I am. My grand daughter (11) is an avid reader, and she loves the feel of a paper book, but already she is proving difficult to buy a book to her tastes. Today she is into faeries and dragons, tomorrow she might prefer Greek Gods, and then there's the Monster High or zombie books she'll sprinkle into the mix. Like me, she needs to be staring at the book titles and covers before making a final decision about what to read.

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, and for my INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP contribution I'd like to admonish all my author friends to remember their target audience. THE STRANGER READERS, not the fellow authors or critique partners that consistently view the working manuscript before its final publication. Yes, do listen to your crit partners and those you trust to give you honest feedback.

As a frequent critique partner and beta reader, I am often reminded that writers have a tendency to want to please their writing groups as much as their target readers. I am guilty of this fallacy myself. Too often when starting a project, I think of what my critique partners would like to read in the story I'm producing, and I forget that my friends/co-authors are not the purchasing audience I want to entice with the publication. Admittedly, writers are also readers; but I have noticed (for me anyway) that being a part of a story's creation can remove the wonder of discovery that makes that stranger reader so important..

Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo participants that completed their commitment; and for those that started and did not finish, kudos for the attempt. Keep at it, some people write slower than others, but the revision process is in all our future stories.

Be sure to visit the IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts this month: Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell. For more IWSG posts, and to add your own link if you are not already a participant, visit the IWSG sign up list.