Internet-Free Day

What a spectacular day! After a few weeks of oppressive weather, mid 70’s and low humidity was a welcomed respite. There was even autumn clinging to the breeze’s tips promising pumpkins, apples, and the change of seasons.

I adore days like this. It makes me think of sweaters and fires in the woodstove. So I thought, I need to seize today. My hubby was home, and the writing could wait.

We packed a lunch, put on our swimsuits and went to the state park. I haven’t been to Grafton State ParkGrafton in I don’t know how many years. It’s only 20 minutes from my house and as we drove in, I wondered why we haven’t visited this hidden jewel sooner.

There is a sandy beach for the sunbathers, walking trails, and even a boat launch where you could rent canoes and kayaks. There is little to no cell signal in the park and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even check. It was my husband that mentioned it. Why would someone want to check social media or emails when there was so much beauty surrounding them?

Everyone needs an internet-free day. Reaching out and connecting with nature is almost an ethereal experience. It recharges your soul and uplifts your spirit.

As we sliced the paddles through the water and glided the canoe across the 2 ½ mile lake, inner peace descended. Neither of us spoke as we watched a heron take flight.

After the internet-free day, I was ready to get back to work. The scent of the woods and the sound of twigs snapping under my step will stay with me. Let’s hope it doesn’t take years for me to go back. Maybe I need to buy a kayak.

The Slopey Room

The house I live in is old and was built before closets were fashionable. It’s a challenge to find places to store the vacuum cleaner and Christmas decorations or hang up coats. So the slopey room upstairs (named because of the slant of the ceiling) became the catchall. Boxes of forgotten clothes, furniture we no longer use, and things we just had to have is stored here.

Each time I passed the slopey room, I’d tell myself I need to go through the clutter. Well, this week I bucked up and opened the door. The room was hot and the air stale. Staring at the sea of boxes and a lifetime accumulation of stuff, I rolled up my sleeves and jumped in. But after only fifteen minutes, I didn’t think my idea was as brilliant as first thought.

I was about to give up when I stumbled across a box sitting on top of a trunk hidden in the corner. I opened the cardboard flaps and wonderful, fabulous memories stared back at me.

 

Spiderman

Spiderman @ the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade taken by me at Times Square

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at Times Square. New Orleans. Florida. England. Germany. My brother’s wedding.

 

The forgotten pictures from years gone by were a pleasant surprise. I’m not someone who takes a lot of pictures. My friends have albums filled with vacations, parties, and special occasions but not me. Print pictures are nice, and unfortunately, it’s a dying practice. With iPhones, Instagram, FaceBook, and other social medias, our memories are digital and saved forever on the web. It’s sad that we are losing a tangible connection to our past.

After spending the day visiting happy times, the slopey room is still cluttered. I really need to get rid of most of the stuff in there but not today. I have a smile on my face and there is always tomorrow.

Free Writing

Free Writing

One of my favorite writing exercises is free writing. It’s a great way to break through writer’s block. At first, it is hard to grasp but once it takes hold, wonderful things will spill out from the tips of your fingers. Give it a try. It will surprise you.

How to free write

Sit somewhere, anywhere and let your mind wander. Release each cell of your body so it can roam, touch, feel and experience with your mind following close behind. Each thought, sound, and smell becomes a new discovery. It’s similar to meditation but instead of looking for inner peace, you are exploring your environment.

Below is a free write I did while sitting at the kitchen table one night. I transformed it into the beginning of a short story and a poem.

art-1281718_1280 (2)

Lizette’s Free Write at the Kitchen Table

Sitting on a chair at the kitchen table, I watch and listen. Stillness. No, that is not true. There is movement. The clock pendulum swings back and forth. Tick, tick, tick with each arc.

The air doesn’t stir. Stuffy and stagnate. A whiff of toast lingers and reaches my nostrils. It invokes memories of my toasted tomato sandwich I had for dinner.

Humming from the refrigerator is low and constant. A cacophony of night sounds drifts in from an open window. Chirping, trilling, and clicks. Tires rolling over the road pavement from a passing  car.

The lighting is low, only the light over the sink is on. I need to vacuum the floor. I need to wipe the counters.

I focus on the clock, it draws me. The rhythmic movement is soothing and hypnotizing. I feel somewhat anxious and at peace at the same time. My mind is combing through the list of things I need to do tomorrow but the ticking of the clock draws me back.

The Intruder

By Lizette Strait

Sitting at the kitchen table, I watched and listened. Stillness. The light over the sink cast shadows throughout the dimly lit room. De Ja Vu swept over me as the day’s events flooded my mind.

I focused on the mantle clock. Tick, tick, tick.  The rhythmic movement was soothing and hypnotizing. I felt anxious and at peace at the same time. How odd.

The rustle of clothing drew me away from my thoughts. I looked down at the man lying on the floor and watched him stir. It surprised me he stayed unconscious this long. I didn’t hit him that hard, did I?

 

The Kitchen

By Lizette Strait

 

Sitting at the kitchen table,

I watch and listen

Stillness

 

No, that is not true

There is movement

Tick, tick, tick

 

Time slips by

You are not here

Where did you go?

 

The air doesn’t stir

A whiff of toast lingers

Memories

 

Your toasted tomato sandwiches

The taste of summer

Tick, tick, tick

 

The refrigerator hums

low and constant

Why did you leave?

 

Night drifts through an open window

A cacophony of sounds

Chirps, trills, clicks

Past the house, tires fly over pavement

Waiting for you to come back

Tick, tick, tick

 

The clock draws me

Rhythmic, soothing, hypnotizing

Anxious yet at peace at the same time

waiting for you

What to Write….Plot Ideas & Characters…

I love fiction. Paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy stories are my favorite. Stepping into another world, to experience a tale through the eyes of the protagonist will take me away even if it’s for a few hours.

Where do writers come up with their ideas? For me as a writer, it’s easy for an idea to cross my mind, but to get it down on paper is another thing. However, that’s only half the battle. What’s just as difficult is to come up with plot twists, characters, and congealing it into a story someone wants to read.

One way I find ideas is to use generators. Scifiideas.com is a great site for writers and has a brilliant generator,

http://www.scifiideas.com/story-idea-generator/

The ideas will be a sentence or two but it’s enough to nudge you in the right direction. Some of the ideas are strange and bizarre but to find something new, you need to reach out to the obscure.

Another way I get ideas is from everyday life. People watching is one of my favorite past times. It’s amazing the drama playing out right in front of you. All you have to do is be observant and listen. The stories of ordinary lives with a little twist and dark shading can be the next best seller.

Characters too. Everyone has a friend or relative that needs their story told. Even the person on the street has something lurking in the dark corners of their mind. I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for a friend and a little old man walked in. He was short, probably in his eighties using a cane. After getting a cup of coffee, he sat across from me and pulled out a tablet. His smiles and laughter were priceless as he read whatever was on the screen. I would have loved to go over and talked to him but I thought it would have been intrusive. There was a special gleam in his eyes that lit up his face. This man had a story.saipan-703463_1280 (2)

I can imagine him a sailor in WWII. Fighting on a PT boat in the South Pacific was tough and one night on patrol, he and a few others were marooned on an island. At one point the men thought all was lost. What they did to survive is to be revealed by the last survivor, the little old man.

So the next time you read a story, take a moment and think what the author had to do to get the book in your hands. You will be amazed how authors come up with their ideas.

Pink Sneakers in Space

Pink Sneakers in Space

An Interview with Marley

I pass through the white picket fence and take in the big backyard. The smell of freshly cut grass greets me as I walk across the lawn. Sun-kissed ripples glide across the pool. The jungle gym with the fort stands patiently. A tire suspended by a rope slowly swings back and forth from a thick oak limb.

The adventure started here. A once in a lifetime journey few can say they had experienced. Marley Perry had traveled into deep space after discovering a spaceship in her mom’s vegetable garden. The red-headed girl met danger at every turn and rescued the king and queen with the help of her new BFF.

There is a rustling of leaves above me. I look up and see a tiny figure with a mop of red corkscrew hair shimmying down the gnarly oak tree.

“Hi,” the voice drifts down from above.

I grin, not able to hide my amusement for the precocious firecracker. Marley jumps the last couple of feet and lands with a thud. She bends over and wipes the dust off her pink sneakers.

“Hi Marley,” I say, “I thought your parents told you to use the door when you want to go outside.”

Marley’s cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink and a fMarleyluster crosses her face. She gazes up at her second-floor bedroom window and her escape route, the gnarly oak tree. The corners of her mouth twitch up sheepishly. “I forgot.”

I dismiss Marley’s embarrassment and walk over to the patio. “I’d like to ask you a few questions. ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure my readers would love to get to know you.”

“Okay.” Marley’s face brightens as she sits in a folding chair. A pitcher and glasses were on the table with a plate of cookies. “Mom made us snickerdoodles and lemonade.” The little girl leaned forward and poured two glasses.

“Thanks,” I say. “So, what’s your new friend’s name? What’s she like?”

“Ally,” Marley gushes, “and she’s a real princess. Ally is the best friend ever! I can tell her anything and she won’t tell anyone.”

“Every girl needs a BFF. But you’re not sad?  Your friend lives on Lovian, and you won’t see her again.”

“But I will see Ally again,” Marley says with excitement and bubbles, “She is coming to visit soon and going to spend the night.”

“Wow. I didn’t think your parents knew about your adventure.”

Marley cast her eyes downward, and she pushes a stray lock of red hair away.

“Marley, you didn’t tell your parents did you?”

“No. But I’m going to. I’m just waiting until I get married.”

My eyes narrow and I wonder maybe it would be best if Marley’s parents don’t know about her travels in space. But how will she hide her alien visitor, so I ask. “How are you going to explain Ally? Your parents will notice her brilliant blue hair.”

“I have a hat for Ally.”

I laugh. A hat for a disguise. I wonder how long it will take Marley’s parents to catch on. An airplane flies overhead. I look up and watch as the jet leaves a trail behind. I think about how brave Marley must have been to climb into the spaceship and fly to the outer reaches of the Milky Way and face danger with the Blobarians.

“Are the Blobarians as creepy as I hear?”

“Naw, not once you get use to them. I like iguanas and cats.”

“Iguanas and cats?”

“Yes, Blobarians are big and look like iguanas. They have long whiskers like my cat Boris too.”

What an odd combination, lizard people with whiskers. Interesting.

“Marley, is your homework done?” a voice drifts out the kitchen back door.

“Almost. I still have to do my spelling,” Marley answers her mom. “I have to go. Ally is supposed to be here soon. Why don’t I text you when she’s here and you could interview her too.”

“That would be great. Thanks.”

Marley gets up and gives me a hug. “See you soon,” Marley says.

I get up and take one last look at the vegetable garden as I leave. Someone had filled in the hole created by Princess Ally’s spaceship. The tomatoes on the vine were red and ready to be picked. What an adventure. I’m almost envious, though I doubt I would have had the courage to get in a spaceship and travel beyond the stars.

Nanoing

Nano

Nanoing, that’s what happening now. November is National Novel Writing Month and writers in Upstate New York descended on Denny’s on October 31st.  Some even dressed as their favorite character for the ‘Kick-Off Party’ but as 12:00 approached, a hush fell over the restaurant and the tapping of keys filled the air at the stroke of midnight.

NaNoWriMo is where writers are challenged to write a 1st draft consisting of 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a big commitment to write as the holidays approach but any writer worth their weight in books would meet the challenge head-on. Most make it across the finish line but unfortunately some crash and burn. I myself have hit the wall a few times struggling to keep going and get my word count up.

The close-knit community of writers extends far throughout the world and come together for the sole purpose of telling a story. For more information on NaNoWriMo, check out their website, www. nanowrimo.org

Over 30 writers showed up on Halloween at Denny’s. Can you pick me out of the crowd?

Q is for Quagmire

Q

Everyone has a favorite word and mine is quagmire. Well, it is for now until I stumble over my next favored word. It’s like that oldie but goodie tune you hear on the radio and can’t get out of your head. You find yourself whistling and singing even when you don’t remember all the words. That’s me with quagmire.

I was recently reading a book where the heroine was in a quagmire. She had gotten herself into a sticky situation and no matter what she did, there was no way out. Think about it, we’ve all been in certain circumstances where you felt helpless. That’s where the heroine found herself. But of course by the end of the story, her knight in shining armor came to the rescue and lifted her out.

Too bad life isn’t like a story book. So what is your favorite word?

quagmire