Signs of Impending Winter

Tonight my winter coat was not enough to stop the bite of frozen breezes.  The wind comes only from the north now, sometimes in whispers, often in gusts, but no matter the speed the edge is razor-fine.  Gloves and woolen cap were pulled down from the shelf weeks ago, but still sat on my table most days; now they will inhabit pockets and bags, ready at a moment’s notice.

The first sign arrived weeks ago, a thin layer on windshields, the scraper pulled from my trunk and the dial turned to defrost.  Glorious days of sun and sixty shout an occasional reluctance to leave, gracing us with an afternoon of warmth that is quickly lost when dusk arrives.  Thermostats shifted from cool to warm bring again the crackle of static in clothes and the cracking of too-dry skin.

It is the beginning of the season of layers, of jeans and sweaters and boots.  The months of snow and ice and dark approach, when driving becomes treacherous and even walking the dog has hazards.  This year I am better prepared.  I recognize the signs, know the dangers, and have the tools to make it through.  There are more than two sweaters hanging in my closet now, my winter wardrobe replenished after a decade further south.

Winter is coming, the first waves lapping the shore hinting of the rising tide to come.


Writing Practice

In preparation for NaNo, I am going to give myself specific assignments for my descriptive writing practice.  Tonight the assignment is dogs.

She laughed out loud as the pack came galloping into the room.  They raced a lap around her recliner; the brisk air must have given them a burst of energy.

The four dogs dashing around the room could not have been more different if she’d planned it.  The largest reached just to the arm of her chair, the Lab portion of his lineage evident in his rounded face, short coat and yellow coloration.  He moved in a bounding gait that shouted play.  Two small dogs also pranced about, yipping their joy with every step.  The smallest was white and fluffy, with tiny round ears and a short snout.  She moved her legs twice as fast as the others just to keep up, while her counterpart leapt into the air on every third step.  He was only slightly bigger than her, but his slender legs and delicate build made him appear taller.  His coat was black, and feathering trailed from his tail and ears.  The leader of the race took her running much more seriously, lapping the other dogs as she ran flat-out around the perimeter of the room.  She was nearly all whippet, with skinny legs, a deep chest, and a body so narrow she nearly disappeared when looked at from the front.  The tips of her upright ears tipped down, giving her a ridiculous look, but right now they were pinned back as she bolted around the room in an attempt to show the rest who was fastest.

Fortunately, circling the room several times was enough for the skinny dog.  She quickly gave up and settled into her usual spot on the couch.  The two smaller dogs were happy to find themselves in the recliner with their person; one settled under each arm, between leg and armrest.  The big dog continued to pester her, until he finally chose his ball and brought it to her.  Without getting up, she tossed it down the hall over and over until he, too, had finally had enough.

Writing Practice

In preparation for NaNo, I am going to give myself specific assignments for my descriptive writing practice.  Tonight the assignment is a walled garden.

The slight elevation of the patio provided a splendid view of the garden, and a short staircase gave the viewer passage.  A sinuous path began at the base of the stairs, curving invitingly into the greenery.  Its surface was covered in crushed pale rock, unmarred by even a single stray weed.  Near the patio, the path was bordered with immaculately trimmed grass, but as it continued toward the rear of the garden the height of the plantings grew, creating an elegant gradient.

Next to the trail, the lawn merged perfectly into beds filled with low shrubs, their branches so decadently leafed that the mulch below was nearly invisible.  Deeply green and smoothly lobed, these leaves gave way to waist-high bushes of variegated green, covered in tiny blossoms.  The first were white, shading ever so slightly darker until they reached the deep purple flowers of the next layer of plants.  The rich perfume of these was easy to enjoy, with the flowers hanging near to head height.  Tall, narrow evergreens, closely spaced, were the backdrop for the entire garden.  They concealed the thick stone wall at the rear as well as perfectly framing the wooden door that was the final destination of the path.

Outside of the beds, swaths of lawn held tiny gathering spaces.  To the right, a metal scrollwork table with a pair of matching chairs sat beneath the outstretched arms of an ancient oak.  On the left, where the evergreens continued their march along the wall, the grass led to a serene little fountain flanked by three stone benches identical in color to the path.   Invisible but not unnoticed, the latticework below the patio was covered in vines which held large, fragrant blooms.

The three young women noticed none of it as they took their usual seats on the patio.  With repeated viewing, the garden had lost its ability to surprise them, and recent events held much more urgency at the moment.


Writing Practice

In preparation for NaNo, I am going to give myself specific assignments for my descriptive writing practice.  Tonight the assignment is to describe an outfit.  Clothing and I are not always writing pals.

His jaw dropped as she walked into the room.

Her hair had been freed from its usual tail, cascading down her shoulders in a profusion of red-gold curls.  A clip adorned with iridescent blue feathers caught just enough of her tresses to bare her right ear.  From the lobe hung a sapphire, a drop of pure blue suspended in a fine web of silver.  The smooth skin of her right shoulder was kissed only by curls.

From her left, shimmering blue silk fell in two directions.  It flowed loosely over her arm, swirling gracefully as she moved.  As it crossed her body, the fabric hugged her closely and silhouetted her curves.  Waves of cobalt fell from her hips, nearly reaching the floor near her left foot.  Delicate silver straps crisscrossed her instep and revealed perfectly painted toenails.  His eyes followed her hem back up, to where the blue silk stopped short of her right knee and exposed her shapely calf.   A giggle drew his eyes back to her face.  Mirth danced in vivid eyes the exact shade of her dress, framed by lush lashes, and a smile graced her strawberry lips.

“Like what you see, do you?” she asked in a playful tone.

Writing Practice

In preparation for NaNo, I am going to give myself specific assignments for my descriptive writing practice.  Tonight the assignment is to create and describe a bedroom.

She stood in the doorway and stared.  The room was not what she had expected.

The hardwood floor was covered with a plush rug worked in a pattern of red and gold swirls.  Where the floorboards were visible, their warm tone was polished to a glossy shine.  The heavy bedframe seemed made of the exact same wood, its honey-colored posts intricately carved with abstract loops and whorls.  A massive mattress was topped by a scarlet bedspread covered in detailed thread-of-gold embroidery and layered with a extravagance of pillows in several complimentary shades of crimson and burgundy.  Velvet curtains hung at the corners of the canopy, standing prepared to enclose the bed when she was ready to sleep.

Despite its size, the bed did not dominate the space, nor dwarf the remaining furnishings.  A stout table stood to either side of the bed, each topped with a small red cloth and a graceful golden lamp in the shape of a tree.  To her left, a bureau reached only to her waist but stretched nearly the length of the bed.  Across the room from the bed, a matching table was flanked by two armchairs.  At first their lush scarlet upholstery seemed out of place, but then she noticed the frames and legs made of the same wood and carved in a similar style as the rest of the room.

Feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of warm colors, her eyes sought the window on the far wall from where she stood.  It too was draped in scarlet and gold, but to her relief the curtains were pulled to the side.  A bench, of a piece with the rest of the room, was placed to encourage one to sit and gaze at the view.  Amazed by what she saw, she was more than happy to leave her luggage at the door, cross the room and oblige.

NaNo Warm-Ups

NaNoWriMo is a writing marathon.  It’s hard work putting out over 1600 words a day, every day, for an entire month.  Your creativity, your commitment, even your typing fingers are challenged.  (And much like a marathon, most of those competing aren’t worried about being first or best; they just want to finish.)

Today I realized that, except for the occasional writing practice and one or two small sections of Mara, I haven’t written in months.  Months.  To continue the metaphor, this seems a little bit like a runner taking the summer off and then deciding to start running again by completing a marathon.  While the goal of using competition and pressure to coerce the activity seems reasonable, it’s maybe not a good idea to go in completely out of shape.

With that in mind, I am now planning to utilize the next three weeks for some training and warm-ups.  Some of my writing exercises will stay scribbled in the notebook next to my bed, while others will likely end up as writing practice blog posts.  Either way, it will be nice to stretch my creative muscles a bit and limber up for the big challenge to come.

How are you getting ready for NaNo?

**Tiny query update!  I got another rejection today, putting Query Count 2013 at Rejections: 9, Pending: 2, Still to Send: 0.

Writing Practice

Her steps lightened as she approached her apartment.  It had been a long day at work, and she was glad to finally be home.  She walked through the door, her keys clanking into the metal cup on the table.  Her eyes caught on the counter in front of her and relief fled like a nervous dog.  Stacked dishes filled nearly every surface, more peeking up above the lip of the sink.  Sighing, she dropped her bag and turned away, only to be greeted by the growing pile of junk mail and unread magazines cluttering her kitchen table.  Her heart sank, the stress that had not yet fully left her returning in a rush.  For a moment all she could do was stand and stare.

Willfully she forced the thoughts of spreadsheets and dirty plates from her mind.  She ignored the mess, opened her fridge and grabbed a can of soda.  She might not be able to silence the rattle of to-do lists or ignore the unspoken demands of clutter, but she was fairly certain that mindless television and inane web quizzes could shout it down for a while.  Work would be there tomorrow, and the dishes could wait for the weekend.  Tonight she just needed to rest.

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