A-to-Z Challenge: General Motors

The last car my grandfather ever bought my grandmother was made by General Motors. I remember this because the seat belts–which I was required to wear to protect the windshield from my head–were imprinted with the letters GM. I can’t remember the specific model, but it was a deep maroon with red fabric upholstery. Not-quite velvet.

It wasn’t just a grown-up people’s car.

It was a real live, genuine old people’s car.

Old people do not have children. They do not have plastic seats, and their feet go all the way to the ground.

What old people have instead of children is cars, and specifically, this car. Don’t let the fact that it seats six fool you. That extra space is for other old people, and possibly groceries, but certainly not children.

In the event that children are allowed in the Car:

  1. They go in the middle, over the hump… where they will be sitting between two supervising adults, or… where the driver can at least see them. (Rear view mirror adjusted accordingly)
  2. They go to the bathroom before they get in the Car.
  3. They keep their feet off the upholstery.
  4. And they always, always, remember that the Car is very, very important to Grandma. It is the last Car Grandpa ever gave her. There are no other Cars available on this side of Heaven.

Most of my memories of that car involve holding something so that it cannot spill and never, ever eating anything.

Anyway, one day I was sitting in the back seat. On the hump. In the middle, where the driver could see me. Both feet firmly off the upholstery. And holding a bag of Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Because fun grandmothers do drive-throughs, and my grandmother was a fun grandmother.)

As soon as that bag was on my lap–and it was summer, so I was wearing shorts–it began to leak. Hot, viscous gravy slowly burning its way through paper and oozing onto my bare legs.

You know.

Near the Car.

So, I clamp my legs together in hopes that no gravy will escape onto the upholstery. And it burns all the way to the house.

And then… I’m really not sure how you get out of a Car with a lap full of gravy without spilling. Maybe it’s possible, but I didn’t manage. And the gravy hit the upholstery.

After a good scrubbing, there wasn’t a stain, exactly… but there as a texture. A rough patch in the not-quite velvet–that stayed there forever.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Freeborn, Minnesota

I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M-word at a time, and for F, we have the small town of Freeborn, Minnesota. I like small towns, and I like Minnesota, so it’s more or less a no-brainer. Also, the Freeborn bar, TB3’s apparently mixes up some strong drinks, which I’m probably going to need after an entire alphabet of M words.

The town has a population of 297, and rests between 645th Avenue and 656th Avenue on 285th Street. We have a lot in common. The postal service has been assigning nearest large-city based addresses all over the countryside. You know that corner where 655th Avenue suddenly turns into 4th Avenue? Oh, yes. I’m so there.

Reminds me of that time I spent half the night in (Name of Town) Tavern waiting for a tow-truck that was wandering around nearest big city looking for the Name of Town Tavern. Well, the official address was….

Anyway, Freeborn is in southern Minnesota, and there’s a lake, so what am I still doing here? Oh, yes. That’s right. Day job.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Ethniko Apelfterotiko Metopo

There’s some enthusiastic transliteration, there, since I’m starting with something Greek, but more or less, it fits the M-theme for this fabulous alphabetical challenge. So, in translation–via the internet and one seriously old school dictionary–those nifty words add up to “National Liberation Front”.  (Lucky the Greeks speak Greek, or they wouldn’t fit this challenge at all.)

So the E.A.M. was a resistance group during World War II, when Greece was occupied by Nazis. And apparently, I need a note here abouts differentiating it from the current National Front (EM). (They’re different.)

I hit my limit on World War II stories back in high school, so let’s be honest… none of this would be here, if I didn’t need an E-M.

The group hits it’s high note toward the end of the war, when it has gained a sizable chunk of Greece and kept a lot of Greeks out of the forced labor pool, and sets up its own government. At the end of the war, a different government is set up.

The remaining group falls in and out of favor over the course of the next few decades, and the members are eventually recognized as resistance fighters and given government pensions in 1981.

That’s an interesting idea… the question of how to identify people who fought for your country, when your country was occupied and didn’t have an official military. Apparently, the correct response is a lot of political bickering. (Isn’t that always the answer? Or at least, the right answer if 1863 would look stupid in that space.)

A-to-Z Challenge: Bode Museum

You’ll be happy to know I’m taking the high road, today, and skipping the obvious scatological choice.

It took me a lot of effort to come up with a good, clean, Sunday-School B-M word, so you’ll appreciate the Bode Museum in Berlin. It’s also going to take me a lot of effort not to cheat and do all Museums for this challenge, so appreciate that while you’re at it.

So, let’s be honest. The first thought that popped into my head when I saw this place (the picture of this place) was Hadrian’s Pumpkins.  It has that dome-y, latter day Pantheon look to it. **sigh**

Conveniently, the museum has provided a virtual tour via You Tube.

And as if that weren’t proof enough that the Bode Museum wants to be my BM…. er, my M for the letter B, that is…

Here’s a second B… uh… M for the letter B. An E-normous coin called the Big Maple Leaf was stolen from the museum, and they’re still hoping for the 100 kg lump of gold to be safely recovered.

That more or less has to be a sign, doesn’t it?

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

2017 A-to-Z Challenge: Ante Meridian

Morning, in other words. Technically, all the time before noon, but not in my neck of the woods. Around here, there’s morning, and there’s the day’s half over. You wake up in the morning, not in the day’s half over. How do you tell the difference? Well, look around. If the sun’s up when you open your eyes… Congratulations, slacker. You just slept through to day’s half over.

If the sun’s not up when you open your eyes, get on with it. Do you have time to get dressed, feed the animals, milk the cows, get the kids up and dressed, cook breakfast, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed again (city-like, this time), throw the kids on the bus stop, and get some words in on your novel before you go to work?

Good. That would be morning.

Morning can, of course, be delayed through wise career choices, such as not being a farmer, and through the judicious use of birth control.

It will still exist before the sun is up.

However, by special dispensation… During hunting season City-People will be permitted to observe morning at eleven, or noon, or at whatever time there’s enough light for someone without a farm husbandry background to reliably distinguish between a prize-winning Polled Hereford, my cousin’s husband, and a deer.

Yes. This will be on the test.

And possibly the indictment.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

Blogging Ahead

So, in order to get some blog posts queued up and ready to go on the days when I’ll be at the Fabulous Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, I’m taking a quick peek at the A-to-Z Challenge schedule, and I find that if I include travel time, I’ll need posts V-Z while I’m there, and also one more post for the 1st of May.

April 26th also happens to be the StoryTime Blog hop, which means that letter V will have to be a short story in a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction vein. It doesn’t necessarily have to be aimed at children, but it probably does have to avoid sex, violence, and language.

And I believe the theme for my alphabet challenge would be the letter M.

I don’t have the faintest idea what I was thinking.

Oh, well. Too late for buyer’s remorse, now.

The thing is, If I start early and stay ahead of it, I may be able to cram just about anything into my letter M theme.  If I slip behind, it’s going to take more and more time to find today’s appropriate letter. (As opposed to “hey, I can throw that over here.”)

The process might get me ahead of schedule for good.

The Great Theme Reveal

Anybody who’s read this blog for long knows I’m not much of a “theme” person. I have to drag themes kicking and screaming out of my novels, and most of the time, I have no particular desire to build or work with a theme. I’m not someone your tenth-grade English teacher would like. My tenth-grade English teacher(s) spent the entire year hinting about ways to do drugs in class, on the premise that stoned might be an improvement, and ultimately wound up being sainted for not killing me in my sleep.

At any rate, my theme for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge was a Fly-By-The-Seat-of-Your-Pants stroke of brilliance: Whatever the hell happens to pop into my head. It worked well enough. I made it through.

This year, I thought about doing an upbeat complicated relationships thing, because that always seems to work its way into my stories, but let’s be honest, I’m not really sure all my readers are up for a recitation of A-to-Z relationships, and quite frankly, it would almost certainly devolve into a list of rare and exotic paraphilias. Why no… I just needed something that started with the letter U. Why do you ask?

That could sure get thorny fast.

Do I really need a theme?

Okay, so the one that finally popped into my head was…

Words that begin with the letter M.

That doesn’t seem so unreasonable. I’ll need to add words that don’t begin with the letter M to make it fit the challenge, but with some effort, I think I can make it work.

Words that begin with the letter M it is, then.

If you want to join in the challenge, all the details are here.  Let me know if you’re playing along.

StoryTime Blog Hop: An Invitation

The StoryTime Blog Hop is a hop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative fiction writers to show off their short stories. While it’s not specifically aimed at children, we do avoid adult content for this one. The amazing Juneta Key has been suckered into hosting graciously volunteered to host this month’s hop yet again, and she’s inviting anyone who has a short story that fits the bill to join in.

If you are interested in participating, the rules and deadlines are here: http://www.junetakey.com/posts/rules-guidelines-storytime-blog-hop/

If you’re still not sure what this is all about, I have links to some of the past stories, including my own StoryTime contributions here: StoryTime links so you’ll be able to read what people have done in the past. (It’s possible that needs updating. I’ll look into it.)

We’re also looking into a stand-alone StoryTime website, and some great ideas for promoting and growing the blog hop, so be sure you join in the conversation.

That Morning Non-Routine

I am awake and staring at a blinking cursor. I’ve had breakfast, and I’ve remembered to put my laundry in the clothes dryer so it will be dry in time for me to go to work. I have checked in on the giraffe that is supposed to be having a baby, live-streamed from the whichever zoo it is. (No baby.)

This is what happens, by the way, when people inform the older generation about live streaming video… hundreds of hours of giraffe. Now live in a computer near me.

I have checked in on the forum where I’m a moderator, and answered a couple of questions. This is one of my bigger morning activities. Something I really do need to do on a regular basis. It’s a good forum. One of the best I’ve seen for writers.

And I have checked the news, the email, and a couple of ads, featuring things I didn’t know existed, but now desperately want. Especially at the fabulous prices listed. Closing and deleting.

Part of this is, of course, that I get up early. It was before 3 this morning, when I finally decided it was time to give up on that last chunk of sleep. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that, or to the idea that sleeping til 5 is “sleeping in.” I’m sitting under an electric light, pretending that it is not completely dark outside, and more or less bracing for the day.

If I had my creative, write when I feel like it choice, I’d probably be writing all night, and then going to bed… well, right about now. Last night, I wrote until that MUST be in bed moment, and then finally did go to sleep.

IWSG: So, Do I Still Fit In?

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts on the first Wednesday of the month. More information and the sign-up can be found here.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG will be Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

When I was working on my first novel–the one in my bottom desk drawer–I was working at a bookstore. I was in a writers’ group, and even though my novel wasn’t up everybody’s alley, we all got along. We had fun. It was a community, and I felt like I belonged.

Now, I’m drifting. I’m in a more mundane job, and my real-life creative community? Well, it lacks cohesion. Here and there, I run into people who write. We have a coke, we talk… the structure and routine are missing. And progress? I really don’t know. I guess you can talk about writing whether you’re getting words or not.

I’ve started thinking of going to a writers’ conference. I’m finally at a place where I might be able to afford it, and where it might actually be worth the money. And let’s be honest, the idea of going out and spending a weekend with my own kind doesn’t sound bad, either.

Hello, insecurities!

Absolutely everything, from finishing my revision (I’m not counting it out.) to what I’ll wear, and the general–and terrifying–fact that I won’t know anyone, I’ll get lost on the way to class, and I’ll probably forget my locker combination.

It’s been a long time, and I’m jittery abut the whole thought.

Anybody else in the same boat? When you’ve been away from other creatives for a while, how do you get back in?  Just close your eyes and jump, or wade in carefully? Any tips?