Writing About Not Writing

I’ve been very disappointed in myself this year.  I have not been able to transition to the increased work hours while keeping up with my writing.  I know that it’s a lot for me to handle and not something that i am used to, but I have to get used to it.  I love to write, and I can’t not work.  Something has to give, or I have to change myself to be able to do everything.

And it’s not just writing that has suffered. I’ve had less discipline and progress across the board.  No more daily exercise routine. No more keeping track of my diet.  I’ve put on a good 15 pounds this year. Granted, I’ve had a lot of injuries, but still.  And I think it’s because my mind is so frazzled from all of the stuff that I have to do.

So I am trying a productivity app on my phone. Am I am going to sometimes journal from my phone.  Anything to get all of these thoughts out.  I think that we all know that every person needs an outlet. Writing has always been my main outlet.  When I don’t write, I get very stressed.  I have other outlets too: playing guitar, fencing, various SCA stuff, but writing has always been the key.  I think that if I want everything else to fall in place, I have to get back to what keeps me in the right headspace, and that is writing.

I can feel myself starting to relax already.

doge in space card redux

Upon a Distant Tide (Revised to 3rd Person)

I decided to write a 3rd person POV version of Upon a Distant Tide. I think that it will be more accessible.

While a sailor was away on a voyage, his betrothed, his loving sea, died of a fever. He returned home to the news, and raged that the fire in her soul consumed her body. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and he swore that he would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods, and bring her back to the living.

Three months later, the heartbroken sailor traveled to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druid religion, and where stood an entrance to the Otherworld.

He left and found the Lake of Little Stones, the entrance to the Otherworld, and there he drank the rye-blight tea. He waded into the water and soon all went dark.

crystal ship

When he awoke, he was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, and the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was the God of the Sea and patron of sailors, Manannan Mac Lir. “You should not be here,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” the sailor answered. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And he spun the god his tale, and of his love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day he was not there to save her.

He shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, for that loving sea you dream of has flowed to a distant tide.”

“Please…PLEASE…bring her back to me.” He pleaded, but the god was unmoved. The sailor panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. He looked at the shadowy oarsmen.

“I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her to life. I swear it upon the sea!”

The Sea God smiled for he believed the oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

The sailor stood puzzled at his words and broken at the god’s denial.

“Your offer pleased me,” the sea god said,  “and in these times, I am rarely pleased. So I will explain and share a secret of the gods. We live backward in time. We were born weak as kittens at the Sun’s final death. We grow stronger every day before, and at the height of our might, we will die setting the foundations of the Earth. Your past is our future.

The sailor wept, for all know that Manannan Mac Lir never lies. His loving sea was upon a distant tide and sailing backward would only leave him alone and adrift.

Finally, he said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Three months before now, please visit my love and give her three kisses: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together again in the Otherworld.”

The great god agreed, and the sailor lost my senses once more, awaking on the lake’s shore, alone with his memories.

The sailor returned to his ship and sailed off to a new adventure. And once more he searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And perhaps one day he will find her.

Like this story? Then you’ll love my series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents! Come visit a 19th century New York, where a world of magic and supernatural beings exists beyond the riches of the Upper Ten Thousand and the grim deaths of the poor.

Watchmage black

doge in space card redux

The Day I Took A Piece of the Rainbow

Here’s yet another story fairy tale, this one in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been telling a version of this at SCA events, but I finally wrote it down. Some form of it will likely end up in the Watchmage anthology. Enjoy.

(BTW, The first book in the Watchmage Chronicles is still only 99 cents. If you like these shorts, support your humble writer friend and pick the book up.

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One day, I fell in love with a fair maiden, but she would only marry me if I brought her a present of great worth, one that no one else could ever possess. Being the man that I am, I swore that I would bring her a piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms, or never return.

I sailed to find the end of the rainbow, where I could chip off a piece. Who would miss a tiny piece? I thought.  So, we sailed to the North, the West, the South, and the East. We sailed in the circle…we were all pretty drunk.

But I followed that rainbow. I went by sea and by sail, rode over hill and dale…even over Chip. Finally, I came to the end of the rainbow. It ended at the roof of a stone guard house, and in front of the guardhouse was a fierce leprechaun, armed with a mighty hammer that he held with two hands. Around his neck was a tiny piece of the rainbow.

Leprechaun

The leprechaun growled as he waved his hammer at me. “Ye canno’ have me gold, b’hoy. Leave, afore I squash ye flat.”

“I don’t want your gold, only a piece of the rainbow.”

“Wha’?” He stepped forward to squash me flat, or at least my kneecaps.

“I brought gifts” and I retrieved four bottles of whiskey from my cart.

“Leave da whiskey,” he said. “Now move yer feet backward.” He slapped his hammer against one hand.”

But I knew a secret about leprechauns. They can’t resist a challenge. I looked at the stone wall of the guard house. “I’ll wager with you that I can knock down this wall with four strokes. If I win, you give me a piece of the rainbow. If I lose, I’ll give you this whiskey, and you can squash me flat.”

The leprechaun laughed. “Wager accepted! These walls have lasted a thousand years. That whiskey and yer squashed head are mine!”

So I went to the wall and stretched as if I was ready to perform some great feat of strength. I raised my hand over my head. “Here goes…”

*knock* upon the wall. *knock* in front of my eyes. *knock* at my waist. *knock* at my knees.

I turned around and grinned.

The leprechaun looked at me dumbfounded, his hammer fell to his side, for he knew I had won. I knocked down the wall.

curing in Gaelic, he snatched the piece of the rainbow hanging from his neck and threw it at me. I left him the whiskey, for I knew that he’d need to drink his sorrows away.

And I returned to my love and presented her the piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms. But she refused me. She instead chose a man with a…bigger charm.

And that is why I wear this chunk of rainbow around my neck. It’s not the size of the charm that matters. It’s how you win it.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Upon a Distant Tide

Here’s yet another tale, told from the POV of my SCA persona and meant for oral presentation. I’m sure that another version will find it’s way into the book of short stories in the Watchmage world. They always do.

When I was away on a voyage, my betrothed, my loving sea, died of a fever. I returned home to the news, and raged that the fire in her soul consumed her body. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and I swore that I would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods, and bring her back to the living.

Six months later, my captain, Cornelius van Corlear, agreed to my request, and he sailed to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druid religion, and where stood an entrance to the Otherworld. He gave me one week to return, or he would leave without me.

I left and found the famed cave to the Otherworld, and there I drank the rye-blight tea. I entered the cave and soon lost my senses.

crystal ship

When I awoke, I was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, and the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was the God of the Sea and patron of sailors, Manannan Mac Lir. “You should not be here, Drustan of Nordenfjord,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” I said. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And I spun him my tale, and of my love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day I was not there to save her.

He shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, for that loving sea you dream of has flowed to a distant tide.”

“Please…PLEASE…bring her back to me.” I pleaded, but the god was unmoved. I panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. I looked at the shadowy oarsmen.

“I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her to life. I swear it upon the sea!”

The Sea God smiled for he believed my oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

I stood puzzled at his words and broken at his denial.

“Your offer pleased me, Drustan of Nordenfjord, and in these times, I am rarely pleased. So I will explain and share a secret of the gods. We live backward in time. We were born weak as kittens at the Sun’s final death. We grow stronger every day before, and at the height of our might, we will die setting the foundations of the Earth. Your past is our future.

I wept, for Manannan Mac Lir never lies. My loving sea was upon another tide and sailing backward would only leave me alone and adrift.

Finally, I said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Six months before now, please visit my love and give her three kisses: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together again in the Otherworld.”

The great god agreed, and I lost my senses once more, awaking in the cave alone with my memories.

I returned to my captain and we sailed off to a new adventure. And once more I searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And I found her.

Like this story? Then you’ll love my series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents! Come visit a 19th century New York, where a world of magic and supernatural beings exists beyond the riches of the Upper Ten Thousand and the grim deaths of the poor.

Watchmage black

doge in space card redux

EKCoP Assembly, and My First Performance

On Saturday, I did a thing. For me, it was one of the bravest I’ve ever done.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I joined the SCA in the fall, and became interested in Bardic recitation and performance. I did a very short story on Novice Day in front of a giant crowd of…three?..Four?.. It might have well been a hundred, for I was terrified. But I did it and I was hooked.

Saturday was an event for bards called the East Kingdom College of Performers Assembly and University. I not only taught a class on story structure (which I’ve done before at libraries so I wasn’t that worried) but I got up on stage and did two separate performances. Both were original pieces. I’ll post them below.

This is the first one that I did. I swear that I was trembling inside, and hoped that I wasn’t trembling on the outside too.  

This was the second one that I did. I felt a little more comfortable, but still nervous.

 

So why is this such a big deal for me? After all, I teach. I get up in front of kids all the time and talk away. I’ve even taught adults.

When I was a kid, I was impossible to understand. My voice was so garbled that no one knew what I was saying until aged 4 or 5. I had years and years of speech therapy and orthodontics (head gear, lip bumper, retainer, braces, the whole thing), to fix my crooked, chaotic mouth. Even then, my voice was still whiny and the target of many a bully.  (I still get mocked for my voice by students. It’s a very sore spot for me). Add in that I once literally froze while giving an oral report in college, and I have all sorts of anxiety problems.

This was a big freaking deal, and I’ve proven to myself that I’m not the unintelligible child that I was. I killed that monster that’s been hounding me as long as I can remember. Yes, my voice is still weird, but it was much, much worse.

I’m looking forward to more of this. I have many stories in my head that need to come out.

doge in space card redux

When Writing Stops Being Fun

Why doesn’t this spark joy anymore? What don’t the words make me happy?

I honestly don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t seem to get the same pleasure out of writing as I used to. Maybe it’s because I’m having trouble with this 3rd book in the Watchmage Chronicles. Maybe it’s because I’m burned out on promoting and sales are showing that. Maybe it’s because three publishers that have owned my novels have gone bankrupt. Maybe it’s because working at something you love means that you never stop working, and that love becomes a chore. Maybe I’m no longer amazed.

I haven’t blogged in a long time, and I don’t understand why. Writing used to be my constant Northern Star to sail the seas by. Now I’m constantly in the dark… I’ll be at the bar.

I need to be inspired again.

Maybe this is why I’ve been so depressed. I’ve been uninspired, so I lose the joy of writing. Without that joy, I’m uninspired, and so on. Wheels within wheels in the windmills of my mind. And while I used to tilt at those windmills, now I fall off my horse onto a dusty spring field. Even creating a trail of seemingly unrelated metaphors that lead into each other in obscure ways gives me only a small amount of joy. It was a happy accident, anyway.

Okay, it felt kinda good.

doge in space card redux

 

The Captain and The Storm King of Dunderberg Mountain

Here’s yet another fractured fairy tale. I hope to include this one in my Watchmage Chronicles collection, as it’s a variation of an old folk tale of New Amsterdam (the name of New York when it was first colonized by the Dutch).

Note: My Captain Antony Van Corlear is not-so-loosely based off of the real Anthony Van Corlaer…or likely real, anyway.

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Peter Blade Cover Reveal

Good morning all. I am lucky to do a cover reveal for my friend Y. Correa’s new novel, “Peter Blade.” She’s a fantastic writer and I hope that you check the book out when it drops.

Peter Blade Cover

Peter Blade
Author: Y. Correa
Genre: Psychological Drama

Release: October 31st, 2018
Available: All major book retailers
Autumn 1970, Manhattan, New York

“♫ Life gives you surprises but Surprises give you life, oh Lord … ♪”

A single night can carry both contempt and horror.

The notorious Peter Blade is on the hunt … just like many nights before. Adhering to his father’s words, “You’ve got to get deep into the gut, that’s how you’ll be able to bleed the animal. It’s the only way to get him clean …” Peter ensures that every hooker he kills is bled to pristine flawlessness.

Dancing with the phantasms of a murky past and the reality of an ominous present, Peter Blade trades places with his victims for the foreboding remembrances which cometh after dark. This night is entrenched in the unexpected and Peter finds himself contending with life and death. From dusk to dawn, Peter Blade is inescapably haunted but to what end? Which could be worse, living the terror or dying by its hands?

The Frog and the Hen: Another Fractured Fable

Once again, I am adding another fable to my collection. I will probably add this one to an anthology I’m working on about stories, fables, and fairytales from the Watchmage Chronicles’ world. Now that The Watchmage of Old New York and Cold Iron are both out, I can work on both these and the third book, The Fiddler’s Bow.

Oh, and if you’d like to jump in on The Watchmage Chronicles, the first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Both books are free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

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The Frog and the Hen

by C.A. Sanders

Once upon a time, though it happens every day, there lived a frog named Bud. He lived in a swampy pond, not far from a chicken coop. He slept all day and spent all night drinking fly-flavored beer (Coors Flight: “the Buzzy Bullet”) and croaking as loud as he could with his frog buddies, Err and Weis. The croaking was so loud that it kept the chickens awake, and sometimes Weis would play his banjo, making the party even louder.

One day, Henrietta the Hen made a racket, clucking away as loud as she could. Annoyed, (because how dare someone keep him awake) Bud hopped over to the chicken coop.

Damn, Henrietta, will you please shut up? Some of us are trying to sleep.”

You’ve got a lot of nerve,” Henrietta clucked. “I just layed an egg and it’s hard work, harder than you’ve ever done. What have you accomplished in your life? You sleep all day and croak all night while drinking fly-flavored beer. Next time you want to complain, bring some proof that you’ve accomplished something in your pathetic, ambivalent, amphibious life.”

Bud hopped away, embarrassed by Henrietta’s tongue-lashing, especially since Bud’s tongue was so much longer. She’s right, he thought. I’ve done nothing in my life except croak and drink Coors Flight. I’m gonna prove her wrong. There’s nothing a chicken can do that I can’t do better.

Bud first mentioned his plan to Err, who laughed so hard that he fell off of his log. “Bud,” Err said. “You’re an idiot.”

Why? My mom said can do anything I want if my put my mind to it.”

First of all, frog-bro, you’re a frog, bro. You can’t scratch, you can’t peck, you can’t fly. How the hell do you not know this? Has the Coors Flight softened your head?”

Screw you, Err,” croaked Bud. “I don’t need your help. I’m gonna chicken so hard that Henrietta will molt in shame.”

You’re a dumbass, but do what you want.” Err opened a can of Coors Flight, popping the top with his tongue. “It’s your right as a Swamperican.” Err downed his beer and leaped away.

Bud decided that he needed to observe first He went to the chicken coop. First he talked to the hens, but they all clucked in his face and said “bless your heart.” Then he found Earl the Rooster, all decked out in red and white, with long, sharp spurs in case a chicken with other-colored feathers showed up.

Hey, Earl,” Bud croaked.

Hey, Bud,” Earl clucked as he strutted around the coop, full of Big Cock Energy, as most roosters are.

Bud hopped after Earl. “I need some advice.”

Well, maybe I can give it to ya. I’m the smartest rooster in these here parts.”

Bud held in his comment that he was the only rooster. “I want to do what chickens do, and I want to be the best.”

Ba-gawk! What!?” Clucked Earl. It took a while for Earl to stop laughing, but when he finally did, he showed Bud how to scratch, how to peck, and how to fly.

But Bud’s froggy body had no claws, beak, or wings, and Earl laughed him right back into the swamp.

Bud had one last friend to go to for advice: Weis, the wisest frog in the swamp. Weis liked to hang out during the day on a lily pad in the center of the pond, picking his banjo and singing about rainbows and connections. Bud sat down next to him.

I want to be like a chicken,” Bud said.

Weis plucked a string, then turned a tuning peg. “Why do you want that?”

Bud stumbled over his response. Why do I want to do that? Bud thought. While Bud mused on the simple question, Weis played his banjo.

I think I know,” Bud said. “I want to show Henrietta up, and do what she does better than her.”

Weis said, “Instead, why don’t you do what you already do better than her. Don’t try to be the best her. Be the best you.” With that, Weis broke into a song about being green and how it wasn’t easy. Bud had heard it a thousand times, so he hopped away.

Bud thought all day about what he was best at. It wasn’t hopping. It wasn’t catching flies. It wasn’t drinking Coors Flight. He thought and thought and thought until he had a frog-piphany, which is like an epiphany, but for frogs.

I’m the best croaker in the swamp! And that’s what I’m going to do.”

That night instead of croaking and drinking fly-flavored beer with his friends, Bud went by the chicken coop “Hey Henrietta! This is what I can do! Listen to this!” And Bud croaked as loud as he could. He croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked the whole night through.

Weis and Err found Bud in the morning, covered with chicken scratches. He had croaked.

The morals of the story: Don’t complain about other people doing stuff if you do nothing all day long.

Or: Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should be an asshole about it.

doge in space card redux

 

 

Maribell of the Needles: A Watchmage Story

I’m working on a bunch of fairy tales and short stories that take place in the world of The Watchmage Chronicles. I’ll release them in an anthology after the 3rd Watchmage novel comes out (since some of the stories take place after that book). Here’s a variation of the White Lady myth called “Maribell of the Needles.”

I decided to have two endings: A sad one and a happy one. Let me know which one you like better in the comments section.

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Maribell of the Needles

By C.A. Sanders

Once upon a time, though it happens every day, there lived a young seamstress named Maribell. Still apprenticed, she was at that tender age between the pins and the needles, where love takes hold and never lets go. It was a dangerous age indeed.

On a bright Spring morning, a knight and his squire came to her village and visited her mistress’s workshop. But these shining warriors had a secret. They were not men, but the mysterious Sidhe, faerie nobles from across the Veil, where time is not the straight stitch of a hem or seam. Time is the loops, swoops, and twists of embroidery.

They entered the workshop and the knight, with slender sliver sword at his side, requested a new tabard be sewn. The squire, Lutrin, locked eyes with young Maribell, and swore that no woman would ever take the place of the sweet, cherub, brown-eyed, girl before him. And Maribell felt the same, for she looked into his eyes, a soulful shade of blue. No longer was she of the pins, but solely of the needles.

The knight laughed at Lutrin’s stammers and hitches, and the seamstress pricked Maribell on the palm and snickered at the blood. The youngsters shuffled away, stealing glances at one another, their souls sewn together.

That evening, Lutrin rapped on Maribell’s window. It would not be the last.

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