Sunday, February 22, 2015

Writing Flash Fiction for Tarot Cards Part 3: The Chariot #bravewriting

   This flash fiction has taken on a life of it's own. Did you read Friday's? I'm going to tag it so if you're just catching this for the first time, you can go back here to start from the beginning.

Without further blathering, here's part 3:

 Once upon a time, the legendary Kelan stepped up into his chariot, took the reigns, and stared out at the gathered throng of royals. It was the day before everything that was ceased to be and everything we know, my children, came into existence.
   “I will find the Keys.” His gaze rested on Patrice. “With or without your help.” She met his gaze, arms crossed over her chest, her eyes narrowed.
   “But Your Highness, the consequences—“ Duke Haereo called out.
   “Enough! Are you willing to take the risks if we do nothing?”
   The duke bowed his head. “I have never questioned your father’s choices,” he said, closing his eyes.
   “Yet you question mine.” Kelan’s eyes blazed. “Am I to assume you will question my rule when I am crowned Emperor?”
   “No,” the duke answered without hesitation. “I only question the wisdom of acting before matters are settled.”
   “There will be no matters settled until either my father passes, gets well, or I find a way to keep the Demons in their place.”
   “The Keys may allow you to lock the Gate to the Underworld, but you have no idea the burden you will bear by taking ownership of them,” Patrice called out. “You are not ready.” Murmurs broke out among the royals, the best and most thoughtful that Kelan had requested come to his aid.
   Kelan’s gazed dropped to the black and white pair of horses pawing and snorting with anticipation. When he lifted his eyes, the gathering immediately quieted. He was an imposing man, full of the necessary potential required to charismatically and compassionately rule a kingdom, but some among his court shifted with unease. Something, they weren’t quite sure exactly what, had changed him, turned him slightly to the left. Not everyone noticed it, but those who did couldn’t have told you exactly what it was. Except Patrice.
   Kelan gestured grandly in front of him. “I answer to you, my loyal friends. You came here today at my request, not my orders. I have taken no power, assumed no control over any of you. I ask only for your input and your support. We face death, my good people. We face destruction. We face the end. What would you have me do?”
   All faces lifted to his, some hopeful, some etched with a graveness that bespoke their uncertainty.
   “Long live Prince Kelan!” they shouted in unison, for no matter their doubts, their loyalty was certain. None of them wished for the responsibility Kelan must bare; none of them knew of anyone more capable.
   “Kelan,” the High Priest stepped forward. “Be careful, my liege. I fear you tread where no man should venture.”
   For the briefest moment, Kelan’s grey eyes clouded over, then the light returned with a furious heat. “What would you have me do instead, Gregory?”
   The crowd gasped and murmured at the familiar, informal address of the High Priest, especially while he temporarily ruled during Emperor Conan’s convalescence. The High Priest had taken on his responsibility to handle the daily matters of the kingdom when the Emperor, Kelan’s father, had fallen ill and started raving in his fevered state. There were those who felt the old tradition unnecessarily, but they had forgotten why the law had been written in the first place.
   The High Priest bowed his head, folding his hands over his heart. “I would have you do you what you know is right.”
   Kelan glared down at the High Priest, his own heart hammering madly against his sternum. What was right? It had never been so unclear to him; the choices he’d had to make before his father’s sudden illness were very clear, very black and white. And if it hadn’t been for Patrice planting the doubts in his head—his gaze snapped to her—he wouldn’t be filled with trepidation now. The old Kelan would have already been on his way, not pausing here looking for validation from those who wouldn’t—or couldn’t—give it to him.
   He snapped the reigns in his hands and the horses leaped to attention. “And that is exactly what I am doing.”
   “Hyah!” The reigns whipped up and down as the horses galloped off.
   Patrice shielded her eyes against the golden sunrise the prince rode off in to. “Be careful,” she whispered. No one heard her as they were already going off in small groups, murmuring to each other with bowed, worried heads.
   “I love you,” she whispered so low, so soft, the words were mere air on the morning wind.

To be continued....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Writing Flash Fiction for Tarot Cards Part 2: the 5 of Cups #bravewriting

Did you read yesterday's Tarot card flash fiction? Wanted to know what happened next? Ahahahhaha! So did I, so here's my flash fiction for the 5 of Cups that continues our story of Kelan and Patrice, sort of... ;-)

Once upon a time our own Master Magician stood by the river Dolor, hanging his head,
hiding himself under a dark, heavy cloak. It was a dark time indeed, yet the sun itself seemed to defy even this fact, making promises that our future Master Magician either couldn’t or wouldn’t see. Five vessels rested at his feet, three of them empty and kicked over in front of him, two of them still standing behind him, unnoticed, brimming with the clear, potent liquid that would change everything.
His chest churned with regret, anger, confusion. He'd drank of their bitter poison too often lately.  Lifting his face to the clear blue sky, he wondered why he'd never seen the truth before this day.
"Wescott?" He didn't turn at the clear, sweet sound of Tatianna's voice. "Wescott?" She repeated, softer, more unsure. “Please.”
"Go back to your sisters, Tati. Go home. There's nothing left to talk about."
Defying his order, she moved closer; he could tell not because he was looking at her, but because the fresh, intoxicating perfume that was just her enveloped him. He closed his eyes, wrapping the wool cloak tighter around him.
"I can't stand to see you like this. I never meant--"
He threw up a hand, practically snarling. "Stop! No more of your excuses. I know what you did, I know what you said, I know what you are."
But even as he stalked away from her, his heart argued with his head.
She's in a precarious situation, my good man.
So all’s fair in love and war, is that it?
It’s not that cut and dry, and you know it.
“But it cuts to the quick, just the same,” he whispered to the rushing river.
The lightest of touches landed on his shoulder, and he spun around, scowling. Tatianna gazed up at him with bright, pleading blue eyes, her long, pale hair fluttering in the cool breeze.
“Patrice has her reasons. I cannot honestly say I understand, but I have to take her side, don’t you see?” Her chin quivered, but she fisted her hands by her side, jutting her chin as she made herself look him in the eye. “And you can do no less for your brother.”
Wescott shook his head, releasing a despondent breath. “Tatianna, I…” but what could he say? He was torn in so many directions, he wasn’t sure what was up and what was down, anymore. What was right? What was wrong? What wrongs had he committed, for he was absolutely positive some fault lay with him…and with his brother…and Patrice….hell, all of them. What he did know for sure is that things were changing for the kingdom, for his family, for Tati’s, and he wasn’t sure if they’d survive the cataclysm Kelan had unleashed.
“Why can’t it by like when we were young and carefree? Remember, Tati?” His voice was barely above a whisper. “Remember?” He grabbed her wrists desperately.
Tati’s blue eyes shimmered, but she didn’t let herself cry. “Yes,” she whispered back, curling her fingers around his wide hands. “Remember my 16th birthday?” She laughed nervously, a blush creeping up her delicate throat to her soft cheeks.
Wescott chuckled, tentatively brushing his knuckles over the beautiful color blooming there. “Yes.” He held his breath as she smiled sadly at him. Maybe it had been his own fault, hesitating when he should have grabbed the golden promise…of a life with her. But there’d been reasons, damn it. He’d had his reasons to wait, and hadn't he been proven right? What kind of marriage would they have had under these new, strange circumstances?
“I’m not so young anymore, so I cannot lie to you…or myself. Things will never be that simple….” She swallowed, licking her pink lips. “…or that innocent again.”
He dropped his hand, the dark shadows returning to his brown eyes. “No. Never.”
He turned away, headed back to the vessels he’d left on the riverbank, his apprentice's cloak billowing around him. Kneeling down by the empty ones, he reached out, then jerked his hand back under his cloak.
“No luck?” Tatianna asked, her hands clasped in front of her blue, velvet dress. Wescott glared up at her.
“No.” He felt no compulsion to explain himself.
“What about these?” She pointed behind him.
“What are you talking about?” He craned his neck to look over his shoulder.
“These.” She stooped, then rose with the two full vessels in her petite hands.
Wescott’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “Give them to me,” he groused.
Tati held them out, her brow crinkled up. “Are these new formulas? Why…” she glanced at the fallen vessels.  “Did you dump those?”
“Because they didn’t work, Tati,” he shouted as he leapt to his feet.
Tati stumbled back as he grabbed the two goblets in her hands, cool, clear liquid sloshing over both their hands. Tati gasped, staring at her hands, then hurriedly wiped them off on her dress. “So cold! But…” She stepped closer, peering into the cups.
He jerked them away, splashing the potions all over. “Get back and make sure you wash your hands and that dress when you get home. I wouldn’t want any of you to…” He shook his head. “Never mind. It’s fine.”
He turned away from the river, leaving the empty three where they lay.
“Wes, I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.” The heartbreak in her words set something trembling in his chest. “Please come home.” Tati gestured toward the bridge. “Please.”
He kept walking in the opposite direction not because he was angry anymore, but because he was afraid. He’d learned many things during his apprenticeship with the Master, but apparently not enough. He had so much more to learn. He’d failed his brother; he’d failed the kingdom; he’d failed himself by trusting the wrong people, but why did one of the wrong people have be his Tatianna? His heart clenched so hard in his chest, he couldn't breathe.
“Tell Patrice that Kelan will most likely not keep his word," he muttered as he strode away.

He hurried his pace toward his workshop. He had promises to keep…he’d had enough of the broken kind.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting Off Track: Writing Flash Fiction for Taort Cards by Accident #bravewriting

I've already got this week's brave writing task done. It was inadvertent, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. I'm not sure what my fellow Tarot course attendees, classmates, whatever you want to call them will think of me, but this is so who I am.

Here's what happened: I was working on the course assignments for Week 2 in my Tarot Foundations course I'm taking online with Brigit of Biddy Tarot fame, and, well, as always, my story muse struck. If you're going to give me an assignment to tell a story for a Tarot card, be prepared. *rubs hands together with glee*

At first, I wasn't going to share with the course group because, well, *scuffs toe on floor*, golly, I was embarrassed. I mean, this isn't a writing course for gosh sake, but after a few thoughtful moments I swallowed the gagging fear and decided this was perfect for the #bravewriting challenge.

The assignment?

For each card below, write down:

• What is happening? (Who, what, where, how?)

• Then what happens? What is the outcome?

• Why did it happen? What is the moral of the story?

Start your story with "Once upon a time…"

This is what I wrote for the 2 of Swords. I will let y'all decide what the moral of the story is...I know what I think it is. ;-)

   Once upon a time, children, our High Priestess sat in this exact spot, right here in front of Claritus Lake with two swords crossed over her heart. A crescent moon floated in the night sky, illuminating the bare surfaces of the Ambigo Islands, looking, I'm sure, just as they do tonight.
   Her burning muscles vibrated with the desperate need to drop the long, massive swords, but she wouldn't--not ever. But she was all too aware the only thing preventing the swords from crashing down was her furious, desperate, pure will.
   At sunset, Kelan had tied the blindfold, letting his fingers linger over her cheekbones.
  "You could simply tell me what I need to know, then this would all be unnecessary, Patrice." His voice was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard, like dark, deep notes of promise.
  "Give you the keys to the mechanism of your own destruction? To our peoples' demise? Never."
    He huffed, tightening the handkerchief with a jerk. Side stepping the sword Patrice held, he glanced at her straining forearm. "You're blinded by your own delusions. Tell me now and your sisters will be returned to your mother."
    "Natalie?" Patrice turned her head, but Kelan had tied the blindfold expertly. The world was black with red mottles morphing behind her eyelids. "Tatianna?"
    "But I am not without a heart, contrary to what you may think. If you can hold the swords until sunrise, I will set you all free."
    Patrice held still, like a rabbit scenting the fox. "I don't believe you."
   "That is not my problem. What you choose to believe or not is entirely up to you." He leaned down, his warm breath on her neck. "Tell me what I want to know..." he let his words fade as his lips touched her hammering pulse. She shivered, remembering how those lips had felt pressed to hers just hours before. His hand brushed the hair from her shoulder...and how that hand had clutched her to him.
    "And you can all leave."
    "Kelan, please. There is more at stake--"
    "Enough!" He yelled, straightening. "You've made your choice, whether you will ever admit it to yourself."
   Time had passed, how much time she wasn't sure, only that it was enough to wear her to the breaking point. A drop of sweat dripped down her back, her neck and shoulders shaking violently. She knew Kelan was watching from somewhere close by; he would never leave without the information he sought. Another bead of sweat crawled down her spine, between her cheeks. The swords were the heaviest thing she'd ever held in her life.
    Something popped in her left shoulder as if a wire on a suspension bridge had snapped free. Patrice screamed as first her deltoid, then her bicep, and then her forearm tingled before fading into nothingness. She lost all feeling in the hand, too, but her fingers were frozen in place from hours of clutching.
    She clamped her other arm tighter against the foreign lump that was once her left arm. Her back groaned, begging for release. Each bone in her spine felt swollen, stiff, but she straightened with inhuman strength, gritting her teeth. The strands of muscle in her neck heated up like steel girders strained to the point of fatal fatigue.
    "Natalie? Tatianna? Are you awake?" But she thought she could hear their soft breathing beneath the sigh of the lake water rolling into the shore in quiet laps. The mind will play tricks, fill in the blanks to support the lies we've chosen to believe. Kelan surely sedated them with some evil potion made by Wescott, she thought. It was the slide of cold metal over her arm that first alerted her to what was happening.
    "Natalie! Tati! Wake up! Run!" She screamed, her voice rattling up the raw flesh of her throat. But it was too late. Even as Patrice stood with the intent of pushing forward to shift the swords weight so they would fall behind her, her right wrist gave out in a searing snap of fire and sparks.
   Driven by pain and terror, Patrice shoved her body forward, falling on her face. Her nose shattered into an electric fire of pain and wet. Pushing herself up proved impossible with one arm useless as a wet towel, the other hampered by the broken wrist.
   "Oh, God, Tati!" She sobbed. "Natalie. I'll never forgive myself. or Kelan." She sobbed into the portico floor, blood and snot and tears pooling on her upper lip and chin, dripping to the porch in wet plops.
    Finally she rolled herself over, managing to pull the blindfold halfway off with the numb hand. She fumbled with the white handkerchief...Kelan's, it smelled like him...until she could see the silver crescent moon grinning down at her.
    The water sighed over and over; no other sound except her bubbling, bloody breath. Patrice strained her neck to force herself to look at what she'd done, but all she saw were Kelan's two swords lying half on the grass, half on the portico.
   "What?" she gasped. "What?" She struggled to her knees, her left arm beginning to tingle with the return of blood.
   "You're a stubborn woman, Patrice," a low male voice said.
   "Where are they?" Patrice asked without turning to see Kelan's approach.
   "Safe, as they've always been."
   "You're a bastard," she whispered.
   He chuckled. "I never claimed to be otherwise."

What brave thing did you do this week?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Exposing Myself on the Open Sea: Speaking as An Indie #bravewriting

I’m a little behind on posting about last week’s #bravewriting task: public speaking as an independent author. *palms sweating* But that’s because I was on a boat, a BIG boat, cruising the warm Caribbean waters for work. Yep, you read that correctly.   So why was this so scary? Well, settle in. This is the tale of a not-so-fearless five day wi fi and cell signal free tour.

Last week I bravely spoke at the Florida Romance Writers 2015 Fun in the Sun Conference. As part of the “Can You Make a Living Self-publishing Panel?”, I faced one of my fears: exposing my thoughts and experience as an indie author. Why does this scare me? Well, once upon a time I wanted to be published, long, long before the internet, actually.

Back then, if I wanted to be published—which really translated into wanting to be widely read—I had to submit myself and my works to the industry vetters. Terrified but determined, I read books, subscribed to magazines, and otherwise sought out the hows and wherefores. I even interviewed several college professors who were widely published to find out what “secrets” they knew about getting published. 

I submitted query letters to agents and publishers, wrote and wrote, but nothing happened. As I look back, I realize I wasn’t dedicated to the writing process and it showed in my works, probably even in my query letters. But not being as self-aware *cough cough* as I am now, the constant rejection wore me down and I stopped trying.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I stopped querying agents and publishers, but more importantly, I stopped trying to write the great American novel. Turns out, it was the best thing I ever did as a writer. Instead, I focused on writing what appealed to me. Most of those poems, short stories, and one-third novels have never seen the light of day. <——(cliche) 

And that’s okay. Those pieces were and are each a necessary, although sometimes brutal, section of my writing trail. Some of them poured out of me like a full body orgasm, some of them I carefully extracted from my flesh with the Exacto knife edge of self-recrimination. Some of it I dug out with the blunt edge of a spoon, then tossed like so much stinky cantaloupe pulp.

It all added up to finally, finally finishing my first novel. Which was crap. Which I’ve since burned. Then I tried again. Another flop. I saved that one, however, and it lies at the bottom of the cold deep (a drawer in the guest room), decaying under 1993 tax files and the waving tendrils of typewriter ribbons. Yes, yes. I need to clean that out…someday.

Okay, I’ve gone a long way down a side trail (sort of) to explain why speaking about self-publishing scares me, or did scare me. The reason? Because writing is who I am, a part of my personality and persona, dare I say psyche? And because somewhere in my befuddled head I retain the notion that in order to truly be an author, in order for all my hard work at my craft to mean something, someone else must validate me and my efforts. Like, say, an editor or agent. You know, someone official and licensed and all that.

Indies take a lot of abuse from traditional authors and publishers who don’t like the idea of self-publishing BECAUSE we decided not to get the official stamp of approval by an official industry vetter. Take this disparaging 2011 article written by Peter Winkler, an author, and published on And I quote:

     "The names of famous authors who published themselves are often defiantly asserted by self-published writers attempting to erase the stigma attached to self-published books, the lepers of the literary world."
Yes, our books are the lepers of the literary world. At least, I hope his modifier isn’t dangling and he wasn’t referring to self-published authors themselves. And don’t think this article is “dated”, either. Many still hold that assertion like a badge of honor, never mind that Virginia Woolf and her husband founded the Hogarth Press that eventually published her novels. Oops! There I go, defiantly asserting names of famous authors who self-pubbed.

Apparently there’s all kinds of reasons why starting your own publishing house to publish your own books is NOT self-publishing.

Understandably, the abusers don’t see what they are saying and doing as abusive because they view self-publishing as “vanity publishing”, a term created to describe those who went ahead and printed their own books, usually because no publisher was biting. Once upon a time it was assumed if a publisher wasn’t interested, then your book was not worth publishing.

Turns out—and some will argue with me and that’s okay—that notion simply isn’t true. There are many wonderful authors and books that have become popular through self-publishing, such as Hugh Howey, the author of the WOOL series and Belle Andre, the author of the Sullivan series and many, many more books.

But the fact remains that writers have always taken a lot of abuse, criticism, and rejection from beginning—when they’re honing their craft—to the end--DEATH--and beyond the grave. So it’s either get comfortable with it or get out. Although getting out won't exempt you once you've dared to appear in public as a writer/author.

And so I come full circle back to the Fun in the Sun Conference on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Turns out, it was very liberating for me, this conference cruise. I stood up in front of maybe a dozen folks who came to hear what my author friend Liz Schulte and I had to say about making a living at self-publishing, albeit on wobbly legs that had nothing to do with the sway of the boat, and I talked.

All about my experience as an indie author and how to make a living at self-publishing. No one threw tomatoes, although I think someone did nod off. ;-) Folks asked lots of questions and seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say. I am, however, more positive than ever nothing I can ever say will make those who hate self-publishing, who look down their noses at indies as the lepers of the literary, change their minds about us. 

But that’s okay. I finally put it past me on this cruise. I make my living doing what I absolutely love more than anything else. I am living my dream. I am my own boss; I make 60-70% royalties on everything I publish; I get to choose which editors I work with; and while I also “get” to do all the business stuff (ugh) it also means I am ultimately in charge. Wow.

Now that’s something. 

What brave writing-related thing have you done lately?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cover Reveal: Justice For All by Olivia Hardin


Releases March 30, 2015 - Available NOW for PreOrder!

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashword

Sometimes the road you’re on is just a detour to your heart's destination... Kay Rawley has plans. She might be the second child of an earl, but she wants a life away from her father’s estate in New Durma. She wants a life apart from her family’s name. Becoming a lawyer was a bright, shiny object she just couldn’t resist grabbing. Her classes are complete, and all she has to do is pass the bar to get permanent employment at the Dallas law firm where she’s been interning for the past year. Kay's been on Audrick Van Buren's radar since the day she walked into his classroom two years ago. That admiration only grew when she came to work for his firm. But if there's anything he recognizes, it's a woman who's driven--and Kay is definitely one. It's all he can do to keep his distance and allow her the chance to come into her own. What Van doesn't know is that someone else is watching Kay, too, and if he doesn't step between them, that person might not only derail her career but threaten her very life. Things aren’t always what they seem, and Kay’s about to learn that the best laid plans are so much better when they go astray.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00016]

  And if you haven't read All for Hope (A Rawley Family Novel) you can get it for just 99 cents for a limited time!

FotoFlexer_PhotoAbout the Author:

When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again. Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,”' and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She's also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic. A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

My First Published Piece: The Snow Plow #bravewriting

Okay, sheesh. I can't believe I'm doing this, but here goes. As part of the #bravewriting challenge I wrote about in Saturday's blog post, here is the promised piece.

My first published bit appeared in Volume 11 of the Summer 1990 edition of Penn Statements: A Magazine of Student Writing from Rhetoric and Composition published by the Pennsylvania State University.

It was my freshman year in college, and this was the required Rhetoric and Composition course everyone had to take. As I mentioned, I don't know if the instructor chose it so it could be shredded in future class discussions or because she saw something admirable about it. All I see now when I read it is what I didn't know then.

Ah, well. We all start somewhere, right?  Well, without further ado, here it is:

The Snow Plow

by Melissa Baer

Not so long ago, I found myself if somewhat reluctantly, facing the slopes on a cold December evening. Having somehow managed to adorn myself with the conventional, rented ski boots, and then to maneuver the frightening looking skis onto the bottoms of my boots, I was ready, hopefully, to conquer the world of skiing. Little did I suspect that, lying in wait, was the concept of snow plowing, so basic, so influential to my success as a beginner that it could render my attempt limp and fruitless.

Snow plowing, in simple terms, is how you slow down and stop on the ski slope. The application of the aforementioned is not, however, simple. As I rode the lift to the top of the beginner's slope, my friend and instructor briefly explained the technique of snow plowing: "When you want to slow down, turn the fronts of your skis inward, but don't let them overlap." With this advice stored safely for later reference, I felt I was ready.

At the top of the slope, I peered down the sparkling, snow-covered incline, feeling relatively confident, and pushed off with the poles. As the stinging wind began to slap my cheeks harder and faster, I remembered the advice of my well-meaning friend, turned my skis inward, and promptly found myself veering out of control towards a fence post. Rather than risk a confrontation, I bailed out and slid to a wet, rough stop on my backside.

Somehow, I managed to get back on my feet. My friend innocently asked me what had happened, and I proceeded to explain, though these were not my exact words, that his instructions had been somewhat lacking in detail, leaving me wanting in the ability to stop. While we headed toward the lift, he added a necessary detail to his previous instructions on snow plowing: "When you turn the front of your skis inward, remember to also press on the inside of your foot, making the inside edge of the skis dig into the snow. You should see snow flying then. That's why it's called 'snow plowing.'"

With this new information, I proceeded to try again. The once small incline looked slightly steeper, but this time I was positive that I would be victorious. My red gloves covered with sticky snow, I gripped the poles and shoved off. The sound of skis on gritty snow filled my ears. That cold, fresh scent gave me confidence as the wind grappled for possession of my hat. Now, going faster than I felt  I could safely handle, I attempted to use the snow plowing method. Success! I slowed slightly and was able to come to a somewhat clumsy halt near the chair lift. Smiling with approval, my friend suggested a few more trips down the beginner's slope and then he would take me to the intermediate slope. Jubilant in my mastery, I agreed. It seems I had fallen into the experimenter's trap of proof and disproof:  I had accepted the next few successful snow plows as proof of my theory of mastery instead of looking for the disproof, because I wanted to believe that my theory was true. It only takes one failure to throw a theory to the wind.

With my friend, I took the next lift up to the intermediate slope. Being assured that no bodily harm would come to me if I remained calm, I began my descent, this time a little uncertain of my abilities to best the gently rolling powder. I had been versed on how to turn, and I was practicing shifting back and forth when I started to go too fast. Immediately, I attempted, notice I say "attempted," to slow my progress. Careening out of control, I made the rest of the trip down the slope, on my face sampling the flavor of manmade snow.

My friend skidded to a stop quite near to my face and asked, once again, innocently if I was all right. Of course, I knew he meant no malice towards me, but I couldn't help but wonder if he knew what he was talking about. I inquired as to his own education in the field of skiing. Was he positive that this was the correct way of stoping? "Are you bending your knees?" he inquired. Ah.

After a much-heated debate, we resumed our course toward the lift, and I was amazed to find myself facing the intermediate slope for the second time. I was determined, this time, to remain on my feet with dignity. I worked my way down slowly, shifting back and forth across the hill, snow plowing with all my strength. My heart and legs breathed a sigh of relief as the end came in sight around the trees covering the bank of the bend. I came to a somewhat bumpy halt, noticing, out of the corner of my eye, white waves of snow flying to the sides. Finally, I had accomplished true success.

My experience had left me exhausted, achy, and satisfied--satisfied in that I had accomplished the feat of skiing, and subsequently, the feat of snow plowing. I had learned that a simple term could encompass a broad meaning and that complete, precise definitions could save a lot of heartache, and, and in this case, headaches.


*peeks out from between fingers*

So there you have it, folks. Do you know how hard it was to type that without editing???? I wanted to fix it sooooooo bad, but then it wouldn't be what it was, and that was the whole point.

I was eighteen years old when I wrote this and going for a certain type of humor that I would describe as understated tongue-in-cheek.  

I see you staring blankly at the screen. 

Oh, never mind. 

*mumbles* I'm so embarrassed.

I'd been writing poems, stories, and essays long before then and I'm still writing today, 25 years later. Holy crap! 25 years! Damn.

So when did you start writing? Got any bits to share?