7/31/11

Tides

Returning tide

I don’t know how things were back then, but I like believing when they lifted me from the warm sea of my mother’s body, they tucked me right into your arms. I like thinking there was a small window of happiness for you and mother, before the tide turned and she slipped away.

I was born in Houston, a city tucked between two rivers and Galveston Bay. My earliest memories are of running to keep up with you in the foaming surf and you swinging me up high to ride in the crook of your arm when the big waves came.

I learned the art of storytelling listening to tall Texas tales while you shaved each morning. I smeared shaving cream on your face, molding it into peaks and valleys, a whitecap ocean for your razor to ride. Your stories always ended on a hook as you splashed after shave, the scent of citrus and cedar riding currents of moist air. We were both too young to envision a day when you couldn't shave yourself.

Galveston was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar, not because I liked it. I practiced for weeks as a birthday present to you, because you said it brought back memories of walking that beach with Mother. I didn't know then that a song could unreel memories like a movie on a screen, breathe life into the past, make it vivid enough to burn -- like a stitch in your side.

My memories unwind: you buckling me into an orange Mae West, me clinging tight to the splintery sides of a rowboat, watching you lean into the weight of wooden oars, the creak of metal oar locks, the chop and slap of the bay against the hull, the wind ruffling your hair like water, the first silver glistening like whitecaps on your curls. You loved watching birds in the wetlands, whispering their names, your voice reverent as if each was a prayer.

Losing you was a punch I saw coming from a long way off and it still knocked me flat. When grief shriveled me, I took to the water. I whispered the names of the birds when they took to the sky: blue heron, egret, osprey, eagle, king fisher. It wasn't the same without you.

The shoreline changes with every turn of the tide. One heartbeat fades into silence and a new heart picks up the tick of life. One winter carried you away and the next brought a new baby.

I don’t know what it’s like where you are. If you are. But I like to believe you watched when I first held your namesake, when I pressed my nose to downy hair, nuzzled a small cheek soft as breath. I like to think you were with us when, for just a moment, time turned back like the tide--the scent of citrus and cedar rode the air, and I heard waves kissing the shore in Galveston.

~~~
Happy birthday, Daddy.

~~~~

The theme for this week's poetry potluck is: love and it's not being there. While this isn't so much about lovers, it's about finding healing and peace after losing someone important. It's still a work in progress. You can see what others have contributed to Poetry Potluck here.

7/29/11

Auto Draft

Night Watch

watching and waiting


Night makes love to me from its darkest heart.
Solitude scalding retro innocence.
Twinkling eyes, a turquoise universe
send chill bumps up my arms.

Owl flute, cricket violin,
spilling seed
haunting notes running over my skin.
Micro alchemy.

Cold breath against the toe
peeking from under cover.
Intrastimulation eating thoughts,
dissolving reality with onyx tears.

~Nara

This post was written as a contribution to G-man's Friday Flash 55. Click here to see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

7/26/11

Lost

Kristen - hands

I get lost
Somewhere between coffee and breakfast
I got lost
I tumbled through cream rendered clouds
into the black caffeinated depths of an all-night diner
And there I was ensnared by the couple making love with their eyes
over juice and toast

I get lost
Somewhere between ordering hash-browns and dousing them in ketchup
I got lost
Before the first forkful found my mouth
A woman extracted herself from a cup of coffee
with a notebook and pen
Inky blue lines curled up from coffee-stained pages to ensnare me

I get lost
Somewhere between the gleam in your eye and the promise in your smile
I got lost
I tumbled into possibilities
Where I might go
Who I might be
If I don't let you take me home.

~Nara

I got lost too. Somewhere on the way to doing what I was supposed to do, my hand wandered to my pen, and the pen wandered to the page. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm trying to tell myself.

This poem shared on dVerse poets Open Link Night. See what others shared.

The Picture In My Head

Alone with the great sky of water

I write to pictures. Sometimes I browse Flickr for ideas. Sometimes it's a picture I see with my eyes shut. This is what I see right now:

A perfect blend of shadow and light rendered the snow leopard invisible as he crept sleek and silent through frosted woods. Where woods broke away to a ball field, he broke into a run, sending powdery snow up in plumes, his lean belly skimming just a feather’s breadth above the ground. Wind ruffled his fur, sang in his ears.

The forest thickened on the other side, but it was like welcoming arms closing around him, inviting a companion. He craved the comfort of a mate’s body, feminine heat and a welcoming purr. He had to settle for the feathery fingers of a fir tree sliding over his back, the cold kiss of snow on his nose and lashes.

There could never be a mate for him, no female to race under the stars at his side. He ran from his solitude, from the unique combination of gifts that set him above and apart from his own kind. Even among the males, ritual protocols of respect kept him isolated, friendless.

Closer to the water he burst through the skeletons of blackberry vines weaving themselves like an impenetrable fence. Thorns raked his fur and pricked his skin—sent the thought of a female’s claws and teeth, the feral abandon of mating, skimming through his mind. He ran faster, as if he could outrun fate.

Solitude was a life sentence no one could change.

He splashed into the ice fringed creek and ran downstream, letting nature’s version of a cold shower numb his hunger. As the stream bed curved sharply and opened on a woodland pool, he slowed. Something faint, desperate, nudged his attention away from himself and opened his mind to the soft stirrings and secretive rustles of life around him.

At the edge of the pool he paused, drawing cold air deep into his lungs, savoring the rush of energy that came with anticipation, using it like a drug to shove cravings that threatened to shred him into the background. His keen hearing tuned to the sound of thousands of tiny flakes touching the earth, the combined voices amplified, shifting pitch to impart a whispered warning--loud enough to prick his awareness, too soft to interpret.

From my WIP, sequel to the Tiger's Tale by Nara Malone

I'm deep in this shapeshifter project getting it ready for submission and I can't get my mind to go anywhere else. I'm even dreaming in revisions. This post was written in response to this week's Carry On Tuesday prompt. Click here to see what others have written or to join the fun yourself.

7/22/11

Stardust

Falling Star

You were around before I was
I never thought you'd be gone before I was
I watched your stars reaching for the heavens
And I mourned with you when they fell
Maybe I took you for granted
Maybe you'll find a way to rise again
Today I mourn again
Watching Atlantis descend
Goodbye NASA

This post was written as part of G-Man's Friday Flash 55. Click here to see what others have written or join the fun yourself.

7/19/11

DNA

cheetah face woman
Cheetah Face Woman by dreamglowpumpkincat210 on Flickr photosharing

She was patchwork
She was
counterfeit
plagiarized
poly cotton
implanted id
She was volatility merged with chaos
She's why
neither borrower nor lender should humans be

She was gourmet blended DNA
She was
germinated
grafted
harvested
discarded
She was manufactured mammal no one had a taste for
She's why
neither borrower nor lender should humans be

She was hope in a hopeless form
She was
too animal to be human
too busy clawing her way into her humanity to care
too human to let our disapproval matter
too full of life to die
She will test our humanity through her existence
She's why
neither borrower nor lender should humans be

~Nara

This post was written in response to this week's Carry On Tuesday prompt. Go here to see what others have written or to join in the fun yourself.

7/17/11

Captivatingly Creative Marketing

Butterflies from side

I had no idea what to write for today's Sunday Scribblings prompt--captivating. I decided to sleep on it last night. I decided to let it keep simmering this morning while I got down to work on my WIP. I still didn't have an idea when it was time to take a break for the morning run. It wasn't until I was posting my word count for #amwriting on Twitter that my attention was captivated by a brilliantly creative marketing tool--a little game.

Now I get paid to solve people's computer problems, so I guess I was a prime target for an invitation to test my problem solving skills. I clicked the tweet link to the game. It looked so easy--guess the password and type it in the box. I nailed the first few pretty fast. So could you. There were fifty levels and I was at level five in under five minutes. Each time I guessed a password the page would reload and display a new image or block of text that served as a hint. The ways in which the hint was delivered were clever and fun. I was stuck for a while at level 8 but made it to 17 before I forced myself to stop and save the play for later.

The most brilliant part of this little game is that it teaches you a bit about computer security, entertains you, and delivers a marketing message in a palatable way. I mean, let's be honest, reading about botnets, scalability, data centers, insert buzz word, insert buzz word, insert buzz word, is about as much fun as having your toenails extracted. The message they deliver about their project is pretty much the same message all their competitors deliver. Here's a sample:

"No matter what TIME it is, Qwest's national network with built-in security ensures that your data is both accessible and protected."

But--and I'm sure you'll see this before I point it out--there's a clue hidden in the text that tells you where to look for the password to the next level. They do that all the way through their game. I scrutinized each line of marketing message, each picture, watched YouTube video worth double yawns and watched it all the way through. I bet you would too. And that's why this is brilliant. If it works to get people interacting with a message this dry, think of how well something similar could work for your message--which, of course, is way more exciting. And I don't think you have to be a programmer to come up with creative marketing that is educational, intriguing, and fun. If you do whip up something let me know and I'll blab about your creativity with as much enthusiasm as I have about Qwest's. BTW, I don't know anyone who works there and have no personal interest in the company.

I haven't figured out how to apply this yet. But I love a good problem to solve, so I will.

You can test your problem solving abilities at Ultimate Problem Solver. See if you have what it takes to earn a place on the Ultimate Problem Solver Wall of Fame. Let me know how far you go in the comments. If anyone makes it past level 17, leave me a hint.


This post was written in response to this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt. See what others wrote or join the fun yourself here.

7/15/11

Friday 55: One-Eyed Wonderings

Kurt Shadow 3
Kurt Shadow 3 by Lil Shepherd on Flickr photo sharing

One house with two waifish cats in the yard.
One named Trouble and he wears the name well.
One one-eyed cat who wears my love well.
One day she was here. And the next, not.
Wondering if my phone's ghost hunter app could find her.
Wondering if it doesn't would that be a good sign.

~Nara

This post is part of G-Man's Friday Flash 55 party. Click here to see what others have written or to join the fun yourself.

7/14/11

Paranormal Activities, Parallel Worlds, and the Evolving Book (via Passionate Reads)

My ongoing search for interesting ways to tell a story...

Paranormal Activities, Parallel Worlds, and the Evolving Book Have you ever wondered what invisible things get dogs so excited when you take them for a walk? Mine will trot along and suddenly his tail will go straight up like an exclamation point. His nose is glued to the ground as if it were a train engine attached to an invisible track, dragging the rest of his body along for the ride. He'll do figure eights and zigzags, climb over a log or under a bush, making this loud snuffling sound the whole time. We … Read More

via Passionate Reads

7/12/11

Rhyme of the Networking Addled Author

Nara Malone - Klout Influence Report

Little I ask, my wants are few...
I just want to write stories for you.

Network! Network! Be brazen. Be Bold.
That's how readers find you, new authors are told.

So I make a tweet here, send a retweet there,
try to collect comments on my ability to communicate with wisdom and flair.

I encourage readers to follow me, stalk me around the web,
adding @'s, likes, and +'s to what I've said.

I have to make my Klout, PeerIndex, and mozRank numbers climb.
Will it earn me more clicks if I write blog posts that rhyme?

I'm not sure I've mastered this networking thing yet.
My listing as a baseball expert (???) doesn't lend my author influence much heft.

Little I ask, my wants are few...
I only want to sit someplace quiet and write stories (that are not about baseball) for you.

~Nara

This post was written in response to this week's Carry On Tuesday Prompt. See what others have written or join the fun here.

7/10/11

Sunday Scribblings: Woodland Homecoming

Blue Heron and Deer
Blue Heron and Deer by hart_curt on Flickr photo sharing


It's a homecoming of sorts, after a long winter away. I turn off the smooth highway and onto the buckled and pocked asphalt of a country road. Asphalt quickly gives way to gravel, which turns into a rutted clay track leading down to the lake's edge. Deer dart from a sun-splotched meadow, into the deep shade of the woods. A pair of doves linger by a puddle until the last possible minute, skimming over the tall grass with a lazy flap of wings.

The guardian osprey has already spotted me by the time I carry my kayak to the lake. He swoops in for a better look when I push the boat into the water. I watch for Old blue and his mate, wonder if the herons survived another winter.The kayak glides through the water and peace glides over me. A light joy bubbles up inside, the kind of feeling you get over a glass of wine with friends.

Word travels fast as the osprey's cry here on the lake. Old friends appear, sending their greetings as I pass. The beaver slaps the water in salute as I paddle by his lodge. Egrets and kingfishers flit through marsh grass and call out. The owl that guards the swampy corner wakes long enough to send its deep bass greeting ringing through the clear, cold air. But still, the herons haven't put in an appearance.

I edge the boat into a shaded cove and pick up my notebook to write, a little sad the herons are gone. A few minutes later, I look up and spot a young, buck watching me from the opposite bank, ears flicking, tail twitching. And there at his side, still as deadwood and not as invisible as he likes to think, Old Blue watches. Neither appears disturbed by my presence. The buck returns to his grazing and the heron watches, a gleam in his eye. Welcome home, he seems to be saying.

"It's good to be home," I whisper back.


~~~
I wrote this in the spring of 2010, sitting in my kayak in my favorite woodland hideaway. I discovered the entry again about two weeks ago when I returned to that little woodland nook for the first time this season and opened my hiking journal to find this as the last entry.

I'm finishing up the revisions on my next book, Snatch Me, this morning and this afternoon I will run through what the game developers have promised is the final version of the Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch video game (a story about a woodland adventure). So, I think I've earned a day out tomorrow. I'm headed to the lake for solitude and writing in this beautiful woodland setting. Work has kept me away from my inspiration too long.

This scribbling was posted in response to this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt. See what others have written or join the fun yourself here.

7/7/11

Don't Get Caught Without Your Beach Essentials

nara_beach

Over at Passionate Reads we're ready to help you stock up on that most essential take-along for Sizzling Summer fun-- Hot Books! We're giving away Amazon gift cards and a Kindle. Hop on over to our contest page and find out how you can play along. It's never too late to get your name in the drawing.

7/5/11

Twice the Burn

Burn
Photograph: Burn by accent on eclectic, on Flickr photo sharing


Two at once
One all heart,
The other all mind

Two sets of teeth to tug and tease
Four hands fanning the flames
Resistance squashed between two rebel hearts

Moonlight spilling over bare limbs
Shadows entwined in an undulating dance
Our breaths a watery song, syncing

You need this says the first
You want this says the second
You are loved they whisper together

I think I shouldn't
One should fill my needs
But two, two are sooo sweet

Two hot tongues
Twenty clever fingers
Twenty sticky fingers

How can I
How can we
How can I not

We go down
Cool sheets under us
Sweat slicked body on either side

Melting between them
Like a candle burning at both ends
Maybe what we have can't last

Fine then
Use me up
Let's go out in a glorious blaze

~Daya, a newly named character from a nameless project

~~~~~~
A new character jumped in to blog this. Daya is from a WIP, a Hawaiian cowboy romance. This post was written in response to the Carry On Tuesday prompt. You can go here to see what others wrote or join in the fun yourself.