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Cloudy with a Chance of Change – Conclusion

Gusts and lightning, hurricanes
Tornadoes, floods, torrential rains
The Captain lashes to the wheel -
Character – an even keel.

Speaking of the weather,
Let not these words dismay -
Change may be a feather
That falls on who it may,

But each is her own Captain,
Her well marked maps abound.
No feather tells a Captain
Which depths that she must sound.

 

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Cloudy with a Chance of Change

Speaking of the weather,
I think it’s safe to say,
Change is like a feather
That falls on who it may.

It flits, it floats, it falling, flies,
Emits a casual lift of ties,
But not for easy, not for cheap.
Its shoulder queasy wants to keep

The ties that bind, the merry smiles
The hearty find, the traveled miles.
The bearer, weighted down with change,
Does find the passage dim and strange.

And wanting still to hold that place -
The people, friendships, love, and grace -
Doth reach both ways but stands so still,
The future frays the battled will.

And so she knows the change must win,
And freeing courage deep within,
Releases anchors founded here.
Tucks safe the memories held so dear,

And lets the winds of fortune wail,
The goals she’s set – the billowed sail.
So waving, frantic that they’ll see
She cuts the mooring, cruises free.

The sunset forward, history aft,
Heartaches cried and funnies laughed,
A ballast full of lessons learned,
Friendships forged, demons burned -

The Captain sets a course for Then,
Embraces now, begins again.
So Change unfettered, rides the clock
And elsewhere seeks another dock.


 

Tune in for the conclusion of this self-fulfilling prophecy on December 20th.

TakeMeWithYou

Take Me With You

A genius raised, a shroud of mist -
A muse amazed, a writer kissed -
From blue veined structures, lyrics flow.
Into a bloodlet cistern go
The drippings of a mind possessed -
Such humors best to have confessed
Onto the page where readers drink
Transfusions of vampiric ink.
They get their fill; they breath the words,
And bits of meaning flit like birds.
Into their daily highs and lows
A writer’s rhythmic weather goes.

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Personification Loosed

The onion’s protest registered in the air throughout the house.  Its flesh sizzled as it hit the pan and, soon after, it began basking in the sheen of butter.  The metamorphosis began.  Two eggs balked at the corner of the counter before they cracked and were beaten in rapid swirls.  The Organic dill made its appearance from the cabinet above as a new aroma rose from the pan.  The onions were caramelizing.  The egg and spice joined them as the coffee maker hissed its message, “Mission complete.

The tomatoes would probably swamp up the whole thing and the writer doubted they would add much flavor, but she cut one up and threw it in anyway.  They’d go bad in a day or two.  She stirred and sifted the hotbed of shapes and textures and lifted out sections to the waiting plate.  After a sprinkle of parmesan on the concoction, she slid the rest from the pan to cover the cheese.  Her coffee and creamer poured, she carried the muddy mug to the table and downed her morning vitamins.  Rinsing the fork she’d used to beat the eggs, she tasted breakfast and deemed it serviceable.

What to write about, she wondered, as she opened a web browser and began her morning rituals.  The screen stared back at her, still groggy from the operating system update the day before.  She adjusted the brightness and checked her glasses for streaks.  All systems go.  Must have sleep in her eyes.  The fork finally rested on the empty plate, and she moved it out of her reach, purchasing better access to the keyboard.  Her neck pulled at her head and coaxed her to tilt back and stretch before leaning forward once again.  Her fingers reported to their assigned positions but remained poised and still.  What to write, what to write …

Nearly two years of blogging and she’d learned a very important lesson – find your niche and stick to it.  Her’s was “writing.”  Essays, memoir entries, poetry – the style made no difference as long as it had to do with the artistry, romance, challenges, and techniques regarding the craft of writing.  IMG_0175The blog readers had spoken.  So this morning she pondered what sparkling, mystical pool of the art she would dive into.  Candle flames danced. The floor heater whispered a smooth unending exhale.  An unfinished book taunted her from across the room, and still she focused on the blank screen, its face devoid of expression – as clueless as she about what would adorn its space.

An angry truck roared past outside.  huffing as it came to a stop at the sign, and mumbling something about gravel and ice before rounding the corner and grumbling off into the distance.  The coffee pot ticked and popped on its hotplate, reminding her it was there if she needed help.  She went for a refill as the empty breakfast plate caught her eye.  It joined it’s family in the dishwasher.  The icy floor tiles were not interested in her morning routine except to demand that she remove the stray onion skin that had interrupted its stubborn compulsion at order.

A second cup of energy sparked her neurons into more intense action.  “Action,” she said aloud, and the house responded with awkward silence.  She could write about creating action in a story, or inciting forward momentum in pumping out a daily word count.  “Fat chance at that,” the house seemed to insert, and she had to agree – faced with the still blank page.  Yesterday’s post pulled her to her blog page, and reminded her that decades of writing teachers would surely provide material for her to expound.  “But that feels like cheating,” she replied, “unless I put some kind of spin on it.”

The chair squealed as she twisted in it, staring at the patio-door window to think.  The blinds it wore were those cheap, plastic hanging strips that twisted to open, and shuffled along the track it hung on to open wider or close.  Some of the strips were warped and hung crooked, exposing a striped portrait of the neighborhood.  She let the spaces paint lines of light on her brain as she dissected the art of writing for a specimen that could hold her spellbound long enough to make her fingers twitch on the keys.

Alliteration, hyperbole, metaphors – she stretched her memory for other literary devices.  Imagery, simile, irony – she loved them all and they had always been faithful, except for “hyperbole,” she recalled, that one time in college.  Such friends could make or break a piece, she started to write about it, simultaneously questioning each as to their whereabouts earlier that morning.  She broke their resistance, they started talking; she was making great progress. Some were even pointing their fingers, and just when several had named the culprit (“Personification,” whom she’d forgotten to put into the lineup – the space heater began an annoying incessant beeping.

Death found an author writing his life.. (3517039221)

Death found an author writing his life.. Designed & done on stone by E. Hull. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London, Dec. 1827.

The fuse breaker’s lack of cooperation had incited a strike.  She moved from her seat and headed over to begin negotiations.  The phone rang.  Work was calling.  She would have to finish the article another day.  It was times like these that she was grateful for the MacBook’s battery.  The laptop would protect the morning’s work, safeguarding it until her return.  She had a lead now, she thought.  It was only a matter of time before she could round up “Personification,” and expose its habit of transforming objects,  animals, and even concepts like “death,” into humans.

By Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Writer – After-the-Fact

I am a writer after-the-fact.  My favorite class in middle school was a literature class where our teacher (oh, how I wish I could remember that heroine’s name) encouraged some of the best poetry I’ve ever written, and taught us how to write persuasively through the most horrible song ever made up.  Seriously – it “REECed.”  Specifically – it was a labored rhythmic chant to the acronym she created – “ASPIREEREEREEC,” and if you write persuasive anythings, I’m sure you can fill in the words.  My favorite high school class was Mrs. Amy Leeson’s Literature class where we combined neuvo-geek with drama-chic with half the academic bowl team that she ran also active members of the school’s drama club (Ms. Leeson directing).  I still have the T-shirts – one with a puffy brain on it and the other with a shield that warned our opponents we were either coming home, “With our shields or on them!”  I can still sing all the lyrics to “Guys and Dolls,” and I still remember my first awareness of a transgender person in the form of 20th century artist, Wendy Walter.  Enlightenment.  That’s what the written word meant in my formative years.

But Dollar_sign_(reflective_metallic)only dreamers, those who are impractical from their youth with no good parenting or influence to set them right about financial security, responsibility, and avoidance of embarrassment, only those people would ever pursue a writing career out of high school.  Duh.  So I joined the Army Reserve, went to college for nearly eleven years before settling on a major and finishing it, and had two successful careers into my nearly middle age.  As a woman who observed typical corporate gender roles without question in my twenties, and later became a member of executive leadership in a tax-funded organization, I saw why feminism is still so relevant today.  I experienced proof, in my own journey, that the “American Dream” where your hard work and perseverance leads to success. can be true.  True, that is, if you are okay with the concept that success means upper-middle class but probably not Mercedes or Rolls Royce type of success.

I am a writer after-the-fact, because after a winding path to a place where I recognize the importance of balance, the ability to pay bills and have a roof over my head and still be home spending quality time with loved ones, still reaching out to friends from time to time and enjoying a latte, or hilarious conversation with wit flying at breakneck speeds – after coming to that conclusion, I am taking advantage of a tiny crack in reality that has opened up.  I am walking away from an 18 year career that I love, a great paycheck too, and returning to the land of “hand to mouth,” in order to write.  I find it fascinating that it took me 22 years to lift myself up by my bootstraps from poverty to the “upper-middle class” I mentioned, yet in just 42 days I will be immediately demoted to a level just slightly above that $17,000 annual salary I made in 1997.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy writing about that one day.

For now, suffice to say that my wife will be paying our bills and bringing home the bacon (in the form of the healthiest food we can afford for meals).  Instead of the “shotgun-style” three room house (in “Crackville”) I rented back then, we’ll be comfortable and happy in our lovely home with a gorgeous view of the Olympic mountains.  Granted – we’ll be paying on two mortgages: this one and the one we rent (thankfully) to a dutiful family in the South.  Granted – we’ll be biting our nails, hoping the skylights in the roof don’t spring a leak in one of the rainiest areas of the U.S., or the septic tank holds up, or the already warping wooden deck in the back doesn’t fall apart.  But we’ll have each other, and friends, and I’ll be writing anywhere from 3000 – 6000 words a day, and isn’t that what dreams are all about?

Amazing too, that it only took 22 years to ponder how it might have been if I’d ignored the corporate plantation owners’ offers to rack up credit card debt, the government subsidized bank offers to accumulate massive student loans and spend the next years of my life in servitude to those debts.  To consider the possibility of being happy with what can come from me instead of how hard I need to work to get things to come to me.  Perhaps the real lesson to be explored is how much I would even be able to write effectively if not for the trip down Al-Anon pain, debt-stress, heartaches, and coming out among the hundreds of other ingredients into the who I have become.  But again, that’s for another day.
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If I had it all to do over, I’d take more classes on writing.  And literature.  I remember thinking how I could cut down on my amount of required reading in college by limiting the Lit classes I took.  Messed up thinking.  At 41 years old, I find myself doing nerdy things like picking up a college literature text for a bargain at a Salvation Army Store and drooling over its variety of content once home.  I pour over the tiny text (and cringing, I admit to keeping a magnifying glass handy whilst reading it) and recall why I fell in love with Twain, Woolf, Poe, and others.

I am a writer after-the-fact, but I do wonder what I might have been if I’d been one of the irresponsible dreamers and become a writer before it all.  Would my children be those books I blush at, and shake my head about the travesty that anyone could make a killing off such base and carnal fruits – so simple and formulaic they don’t require a spellchecker or a care for unique plot design?  Was that a low blow?  The difference is: I don’t care at 41 years of triumph.  Have I read them?  Would I be able to speak with such clarity as to their contents if I hadn’t?  But I wouldn’t pay my hard earned money for them.  I know, I know.  I digress.

Ernest_Hemingway_at_the_Finca_Vigia,_Cuba_1946_-_NARA_-_192660     Would I be a writer of clarity and intelligence, or a rambling idiot who thinks twerking is something worth writing about?  Would I seek to write something with literary value, or be forced to the debt plantations anyway, striving toward a publishing contract that would pay my growing bills?  I will never know.
Kafka
I used to detest the upper classes.  I used to writhe in hatred for the entitled oblivious, the self-interested pundits, and shake my fist at the unfairness of it all.  I looked at writers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and all the others and thought, “Of course she/he can write something deep and meaningful – they can sit around in their ‘writing bungalow’ comforted by their inherited money and just spill words of virtue whenever the mood strikes them, no fiscal or leadership care in the world.”  I connected with the Kafka’s and those others who wrote from poverty or while struggling with the realities of 99 percent of humanity.  Yet, here I am.  In just 42 days I will be able to say – I am a writer, after-the-fact, who can write with limited care, surrounded by friends and family who don’t need me to supervise anything or make any crucial decisions.  I am a writer with stories and time.


 

Featured Image by Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
L. Frank Baum, 1899

Writing & Blogging: Lessons Learned in NaNoWriMo2014

If you are a writer, an author, a novelist, or interested at all in the literary world, you know that November marked the popular National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately (or vehemently) known – NaNoWriMo.  This was my third year participating in the event where writers from all over the world commit to a monthly word count goal of fifty thousand words.  This was the first time I won; I wrote over 50K words and am still going.  But more importantly, I learn a few things from the experience.

1. Keeping a daily writing habit is essential. 

Doesn’t matter if the material is not my best, or even crappy.  Putting my body and mind in the habit of writing something, anything, everyday knocks the idea of writer’s block off its rocker a little.  It means I don’t worry about quality so much as quantity for this exercise.  If you wrap that whole philosophy up into a little stocking stuffer – it means you tend to be looser, more limber, and can step into the ring looking like a buff, energetic writing monster.  It means quality will come easier.

2. Setting a daily minimum keeps me honest. 

Otherwise, I can subscribe to the idea of daily writing and then cheat out a sentence or two and call it a day.  Maybe you don’t have this problem.  I do.  So even if I set a low 500 word count minimum, I can do the math on how much content that gets me in a year and be happy that I’m on board.  With the day job, I think 500 – 1K is reasonable depending on your genre.  I intend on upping that to 3K – 4K when I go full bathrobe writer in 45 days.

3. First draft writing is important for building confidence.

Before my first 50K on one project, I always wrote as if doing a term paper the night before its due.  I wrote, edited, rewrote, wrote some more, polished that, etc.  By the time I got to the ending, I had lovely content leading up to it and the “grand finale” of finishing and being done at the same time was wonderful.  But facing such a large project, I had trouble.  My first two NaNo years were hell because I couldn’t let go and just type.  I made it to about 3K the first time, and only 8K the second.  I knew that I needed to prove to myself that I could tackle a project as large as a novel before resigning and becoming (for all intents and purposes) unemployed.

So this time (and as many of my blog posts display for all to see) I just threw caution to the wind and made myself ignore aspects I wanted to go back and change after a few paragraphs.  It required discipline to stay committed to that plan.  It also required that I let go of the control I relish in the creative process for the time being and just vomit the ideas and ramblings that came to me onto the page.  The experience was a watershed moment in my writing practice and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go.

I intend to finish the content of the book this way (probably another 50 – 100K) and then revise for the next two months.  Then I will follow the seasoned advice of many successful and published writers and toss the whole thing in a drawer for a few months.  In June or July (right around the time of Camp NaNoWriMo) I will pull it out and begin learning how to edit and develop a third and fourth draft.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be ready for an agent shortly after that.

4. Truth – “Find a niche for your blog and stick to it.” 

In posting my blog since I moved to Idaho for work in 2013, I’ve watched how interested readers/followers are in what I post.  My original idea was to have a daily snippet of writing, just a morsel, that readers could enjoy in less than a couple of minutes with their coffee. I discovered that I don’t do that well.  (Someone who does that really well is – http://myothervoices.wordpress.com/ although the content is not daily.)   I tried serials, but learned writing them “on-the-spot” daily is embarrassing since I didn’t edit them much prior to posting and later wanted to change the storyline or bury my head from all the typos.

I hadn’t learned that lesson until NaNoWriMo2014.  I posted unedited tidbits from my daily word count climb for all to laugh at and/or find amusing.  But since I slid around in the plot arc so frequently, and since there was no character development provided for a backdrop, it was hard to follow any story or stay hooked.  This was the valuable criticism from my lovely beta-reader and wife.  I agree.

Overarching all of this was the countdown theme.  My wife and I have set a goal for my return home once bills are paid and finances in tune for losing my income.  I thought sharing the experience of the countdown would interest some because, who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and writing full-time?!  I learned that to leverage that, I needed much more focus and time than I could provide to the blog.

My point?  The most popular articles on my blog since starting it are the ones dealing with the writing practice, habit, journey, and frustrations.  I love to write about those things almost as much as I like creating fiction.  So I believe I have found my niche.  Expect blog modifications to follow.

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Asrai Blessing: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (The End)

The pilgrims gathered on the bow of the ship as instructed by Larien.  Their traveling things, now much lighter, had been hoisted above their heads to the awaiting dirigible airship above.  Now, they each took turns saying their goodbyes to the Asrai.  To R’Zen and Tboi, Amras said, “Courage and wisdom your honor brings.  I embrace you for certain of times.”  Tboi blushed a pinkish color and R’Zen bowed deeply at the pair.

Larian touched Hoss’s face and cradled it there with a rippling kind of sadness in her face, “So acquainted with loss your strength.”  She turned to Ingrid and said, “A heart must never win where knowledge can sacrifice.”  Ingrid made no sign that she understood, but nodded and hugged the brother and sister.

Each of them taking one of Miriam’s hands, they placed a kiss on both and said, “Stories to tell.  Stories to tell.”  She smiled and shivered, thanking them for their blessing.

Terra felt ticklish again as Larien and Amras both gave her a parting hug.  “Take your care, world woman,” Larien still used the mysterious title, “must needs to find the cure.”  She looked to Ingrid and Miriam for help, but neither had any answers to offer and met her glance only with a shrug or raising of the eyebrows.


This is the last quick read of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.  NaNo conquered.  Next move – additions and revision number one.

 

 

 

Lizard vs Horse: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (29)

Terra was excited.  It was one thing to read about things, even to watch vids on them, but in a short time she was going to actually see, with her own eyes, the beaches of Kepler-Z.  R’Zen, reading her excitement from behind and aching to give his much atrophied legs a good exercise, jogged to her side.  Her horse, startled by the appearance of a fully grown matterhorn gentry suddenly appearing at its side, crow hopped and then calmed back to its original trot.

Participant-2014-Square-Button“N’Sa, apologetic for startling dumb animal,”  he smiled his cantankerous smirk and Terra laughed, not missing his intended irony.  “Beach not far,” he trilled, “if Ms. Terra wish to race.”  He was stripping his leggings and tying them around his neck.  Terra smiled, even giggled a little, then played a game she remembered playing with Ingrid what seemed like so very long ago.

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (28)

Tboi hadn’t spoken or paid much attention to Terra after their disagreement.  Now she reflected upon how nice it felt to have been stuck in the same awkward plight with him.  She smiled her recognition of this when she caught his eyes.  His face, a pleasant mix of relief and contentment, now shifted to one of hurt and disdain.  He looked away and she was bruised by his disgust.

 

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The Speaking Tree: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (27)

NEEDANAME was a seventh generation folk-teller.  His stories, when he told them, made young and old sit still and stay quiet.  In the early mornings, when most were stretching their muscles, scratching their itches, and hustling to and fro, there was one story he especially liked to tell.  He called it, “The Speaking Tree.”

“When the moon races slower and the Cimarron week is nearly at an end,” he would say, his raspy voice so quiet you had to stop moving in order to hear over the hustle, “there is a MOGUL that lives in a particular tree.”  He would would stand tall and stretch his arms and hands, then freeze, to imitate a tree.  “If you find this tree, you may still never know of this MOGUL, because for one hundred twenty-one days, it never makes a sound.  But if you find it, or happen to be sitting beneath its dwelling tree, you will hear a song and a word or two, and never will you ever be the same again.”

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (26)

 

“Was there a question somewhere, Bishop?” The Maiden’s voice, less mundane than before and with a bite of disgust, sent ice water through Terra’s veins.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

What is this life?

terzahcain:

Found this from a fellow poet. Time – relentless ticker!

Originally posted on Made of sticks and stones:

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

To pick our nose or scratch our arse,

To wonder at the human farce.

*With thanks for the inspiration supplied by the wonderful poem Leisure by W. H. Davies

View original

Tboi: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (25)

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Tboi.  She liked the sound of his name when she said it.  He’d said her name too.  His words leading up to it had been angry, but not when he said her name.  She closed her eyes, could still hear it, “That’s why we don’t touch the ground, Terra.”  She shortened it.  “That’s why, Terra.”  His voice had softened at her name, had been gentle.  He’d asked her what she was thinking.  She wondered, in the silence that divided them after angry words subsided, what was he thinking.


 

Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

Stagecoach Shootout Prelude: NaNoWriMo BotD (24)

“Right.  Anyway, Nog knows the plans, both this one an’ the contingency plan.  If they come at us this way, he knows t’ scuttle the coach.”  He could tell this confused both Terra and Tboi.  “He’ll derail us, so you’ll have t’ make sure yer strapped in on my signal.  Otherwise, Tboi here will be too busy cleaning yer bloody carcasses off an’ trying to heal ya’ to figure out how t’ aim a weapon.”

Ingrid drummed her fingers on the coach wall in irritation and he took the hint, but before he could continue, Terra asked, “If we derail, how will we get away or get to the Depot?”

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“No get away,” hummed R’Zen.  “Must kill all or else.”

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

The Matterhorn Gentry – R’Zen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (23)

“R’Zen,” said Miriam, “Be nice.  She is the product of Ancestrian teaching, but you will find her a very brave and gifted individual.  Give her a chance.” Terra squirmed and continued to weigh her options.

“N’sa,” he hissed with a soft humming, “what difference between Ancestrian and individual?”

Miriam opened her mouth to speak, but Terra beat her to it.  “Individuals can think what they want,” she stuttered as she dropped onto the bench, and purposely scooted as close as his large frame would allow comfortably.  Her defiant look hadn’t quite made it to his eyes yet; she remembered the flicker of orange that surprised her the first time she’d caught a glimpse of his reptilian face upon entering the coach.

A deep rumble churned from his chest and rolled out as a slow laugh that sounded to Terra like he was having a coughing fit while humming.  “Your heart beats pound at me with rapid pace, N’sa.  When finally you meet me, I count you brave as Miriam says.  But you make laughs – so silly.”  His tongue slithered outside the rounded tip of his mouth/nose as he said these last two words, it curled casually upward and then withdrew back into his mouth.  Terra noticed the scales at the edges of his mouth pull upwards as his jaw muscles beneath formed what looked like a smirk.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.