Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fare thee well

Fare thee well

Have something to tell you
that may cause anger even (confusion)
though it's not my intent --
I forgive you for not (decision)
finally forgiving me.

Yes, that's the way it is, all
those years of contempt (silence)
you've sent my way end
here, not that you will stop (willful)
but I will no longer care.

You were never willing to shoulder
your share of the blame, (weak)
but no one made you kiss me,
no one made you love me, (wicked)
night after glorious night.

Remember all the pain
if that's all you can choose, (sorrow)
remember the sharp words
and the consuming fear (tears)
all those many years ago.

I let you go from my desire
of closure, of salvaging a sweet (mistake)
from the rubbish heap -- some
things cannot be mended or (never)
remembered without pain.

Just don't waste your life
now hating me. If you do, (wasteful)
I will live in your thoughts,
your dreams, and it's past (past)
time to fare thee well.

for B.A.

Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. No copying in any form without express permission from the author.Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No One Expected It To Happen

No One Expected It To Happen

So they turned their eyes toward the sun
surprised finally that all the mad
old man with the tangled beard had said
would come to pass had come to pass.
The shadow across the sun looked
to be a hand to some, a sword
to a few, and a man's face
to still others. As the last men
and women gaped at their doom, animals
fled to the hills, finding the dark
caves and the deep waters, nature
compelling them to survival,
so that something new would rise to claim
this earth after the rock fell out
of the sky and ice covered the world
and no one was left to read these words.

From EndlesS, copyright 2008 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying of any kind without express permission of the author and publisher. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Joys

Yesterday, I talked about the struggle of writing. How you have to learn to enjoy the struggle of writing to write productively. I would be remiss to not mention the joys, though, and there are many.

The joy of creating a world for a characters. Playing God as it were. The houses go there, the people go there, she loves him, he loves someone else even though she's not write for him, oh let's add in a few vampires and zombies and a flaming sword.

The joy of a scene saying exactly what it did in your thoughts. Of having the emotional impact that you intended for it to have. The satisfaction of the words flowing, and the written words match to the movie in your mind.

The joy of other people entering your world and finding it good. Of them getting excited about your words and your characters. Becoming your fan.

Awesome. Simply awesome. I recommend it to everyone.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Struggle

Part of the struggle of writing is to learn to enjoy the struggle itself. This seems contradictory since struggle implies hardship and grief. And writing certainly has both of those in it, but the struggle is also what gives writing worth. We humans have a tendency to devalue things that come easy.

You can see this when people tell me that they intend to write a book when they have time. I always tell them that they should. They rarely try, but if they do, they learn -- as a friend of mine once said after his attempt, "It's hard!" I've heard variations of that many times. People are always surprised, even shocked to discover the words have to be wrestled out of the ether.

Because we can all write words, it seems that we all have the ability to write a book. What is a book except a lot of words? But when you’re staring at that unforgiving page, you learn that it’s much, much more.

Good authors make books that we read easily. So we think the writing is, too. But it takes practice and time. Like any craft does, you have to struggle.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Truth

I used to think it was uplifting to love more than I loved. That it was noble somehow. I had lofty ideas that loving is more important than being loved. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought that such noble, lofty thoughts would be rewarded by a great love.

I was an idiot.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Unsettled

I feel unsettled tonight. Been one of those days where everything is just a little off, just a bit frustrating, and, by the end of the day, I end up walking around my house picking up one thing and then another, but not doing anything productive or useful.

If it wasn't so cold, I'd go on a walk. The night air might clear my head. Or let me work off this nervous energy.

Well, that's how it goes sometimes. Hope you had a good day.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Minute Romance

As a writing prompt for my writing group, we had the assignment of doing a five minute timed writing on romance. The below is what I wrote:

Romance has always been difficult for me. I think it is for every man. That’s because women don’t know what they want, but they’re not going to be happy until we give it to them. I remember one of my ex-girlfriends wanted me to be more thoughtful on Valentine’s Day. So when the dreaded holiday rolled around, I brought her flowers, chocolates, one sweet card, one sexy card, a vial of her favorite perfume, and 1/4 caret diamond earrings. I also took her out to dinner and a movie. Later in the evening, she expressed dissatisfaction with her gifts. “But why?” I asked, truly baffled. “Well, I wanted something else,” she said. “What?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said. “Just something else.”  She wasn’t sure what she wanted, but she was going to be unhappy until she got it. I ran into her a few months ago. She’s on her third husband and doesn’t know what keeps going wrong in her relationships. I think I know what’s wrong. She’s crazy, crazy, crazy. I may be lonely sometimes without romance, but trust me, lonely is better than miserable.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Working music

Music helps me get more things done. Fast music to get my blood moving. Get my tasks done to the beat of various pop and rock artists. I have a play list for every book I’ve written. Just something in the background with a beat, Keeps me moving forward. Keeps my energy level up – not as good as caffeine, but it helps.

Do you listen to music when you do chores? Most people do, I think, certainly for routine chores that don’t require much concentration. And if I’m working on something particularly hard, I do want it quiet then. Or I play some Buddhist chants softly. The chants have a beat and low rhythmic sounds, but no words – at least none I know. Keeps me moving forward without intruding.

I think workout music is an obvious example of music that helps us move and sweat and get things done. Perhaps the pyramids were really built to the beat of some ancient Britney Spears.

Something to think about, you ancient alien proponents.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pain killers

I try to not take pain killers. It’s a family thing. We just don’t like taking medication. But lately I find myself reaching for the Advil more often than I’d like. I always seem to have some aches and pains that stretching and movement do nothing for.

I told a friend of mine that I don’t mind getting older, it’s the breakdown of the body that bothers me. I can’t remember the last time I bounded out of bed, excited to be awake and ready to take on the day. Instead, I must slowly talk myself out of the warm embrace of the blankets and ease myself into wakefulness. And of course, my back aches, my neck aches, my shoulders ache – I wish I could blame it on the bed, but it’s the same no matter where I sleep.

Of course, I have a touch of arthritis. Who at my age doesn’t? Sigh. There’s that age thing again. Just can’t escape it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hour Blocks

One thing I’m doing to keep myself on track is using “Hour Blocks.” I set my timer for 60 minutes and then work on one project continuously for that period of time, whether it be household chores, cleaning the garage, bookkeeping, working on Murder by the Mile, filing, the family newsletter, etc. It’s amazing how much I can done that way.

Once I finish an hour on a particular project, then I don’t work on it again that day. Knowing that I only have to spend an hour on a chore I dislike makes it easier to get motivated. I’m not sure I would ever get any vacuuming or dusting done – two chores I dislike – if not for the Hour Blocks.

And naturally, I can spend more time on a task if I choose. For instance, writing can frequently stretch to a couple of hours, particularly if it’s going well. But as long as I put in at least an hour, I feel I’ve made progress. And I have.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Parlez-vous fran├žais? Non, a thousand times, non!

By Stephen B. Bagley

I keep trying to learn French even though it’s obvious to a deaf man that I will never master it with enough expertise to not horrify a Frenchman. I once had dinner in a French restaurant in Tulsa and attempted to impress the waiter with my French. With an expression on his face like he had a severe case of constipation, he attempted  to repeat my order to me in bad English while I attempted to correct him in bad French. I would have gone hungry except the menu had pictures on it, so I was able to point at items and received excellent food. I’m not sure what it was, but it used a lot of cream and butter, and how could you go wrong with that?

I don’t even know why I want to learn French. I have no particular desire to travel to France, mostly because it’s filled with a bunch of Frenchmen who don’t like Americans much. And by much, I mean not at all. To be fair, they don’t like any other nationalities either. They’re quite happy being disagreeable, and frankly, I think we should leave them alone and only send in safari chefs to gather recipes.

What’s making me complain about French today — and by complain, I mean storming around the house and kicking things — are the French indefinite articles. To quote from About.com:

“The singular indefinite articles in French correspond to “a,” “an,” or “one” in English, while the plural corresponds to “some.” There are three forms of the French indefinite article.
un    masculine
une   feminine
des   masculine or feminine plural
Note that the plural indefinite article is the same for all nouns, whereas the singular has different forms for masculine and feminine.”

Did you follow that? It’s like this: Nouns in French have gender. (The only way to know a noun’s gender is to memorize it. Look, if it was easy, we’d all be speaking French. Memorize a couple hundred nouns. And if someone tries to talk about something you didn’t memorize, hit them. They’ll stop.) Anyway, you need to match the correct gendered indefinite article to the gender of the noun.

A book is male so it gets un.

An apple is female so it gets une.

EXCEPT when you have more than one book or apple, and then it would be des livres (some books) or des pommes (some apples.) When the noun is plural, you use des and don’t worry about gender.

EXCEPT in a negative sentence where the indefinite article becomes de meaning “not any” as in “Je n'ai pas de pommes” or “I don’t have any apples.” Nor, at this point, do I want any.

EXCEPT when you talk about a person’s profession or religion. Then you never use an indefinite article.

My college French teacher used to say French is an “exceptable” language because the exceptions never end.

If I ever go to France, it will be easier if I only order multiple items on the menu or only talk about a person’s job and religion. The former would mean I would only use des and the latter that I wouldn’t need to use an indefinite article. Or I could simply stay in the United States and never worry about it at all.

A friend thinks learning a foreign language keeps our minds sharp. It must not be working, or I wouldn’t be trying to learn French.

Excerpted from Return of the Floozy. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying in any form. Thank you for reading. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Report

I want to talk about my many accomplishments last week. I want to, but I can't because there were almost none. Well, that happens sometimes. I guess.

Last week:
- Did household chores.
- Babied my back.
- Fought a cold and sore throat.
- Set up the Author of the Month at the store downtown.
- Filed and cleaned desk.

And that's it.

This week:
- Household chores.
- Continue to baby back and to fight this lingering danged cold.
- Start publicity for Author of the Month.
- Work on Murder by the Mile.
- Restart my diet and exercise program. I've been unable to really pursue my fitness goals since freaking October when I hurt my ankle and hip. After that, it's just been one illness or injury after another. But I'm on the uphill slope from all that, I feel, so I'm going to slowly, slowly, slowly begin again. As for the diet ... yeah, I'm eating less sugar and more veggies and better protein, but I could be doing so much better, and I know it. I eat when I'm depressed, and I've used food to drug me over the holiday season. Well, there are worse faults. I guess. Anyway, this week I will start doing better.

I do believe in that old, tired adage about "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." I believe in the power of new starts and getting back up after being knocked down. I refuse to surrender my health and happiness just because the odds and habits are against me. I can beat the odds, and I can make new habit. Yeah, I'm trying to convince me, too. But other people do it. Why not me?

Anyway, that's what's going on in my world. Hope things are going well in yours.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nonproductive

This has been a nonproductive day. I did some household chores, ran a couple of errands, did a bit of filing, but that is it. It's been the theme of the whole week. Some of it is because I've been fighting a cold and still suffering from back problems, but the rest of it ... I don't know. Spring fever? Or longing for spring fever? Lazy?

Lazy. The worst word in my world. I don't know why. It's always been busy people who are tyrants and despoilers. It takes effort to wage war. Lazy people, though, don't put out the effort. Truthfully the world might be a much better place if hate-filled people were simply too lazy to do much.

Maybe laziness is actually a virtue. If so, I was very virtuous this week. Think this will fly?

No, me neither.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Red Hot Sinner Man, 7

From Red Hot Sinner Man


In his long life, Marcus Ryan had slept with a lot of people. Perhaps it was more correct to say he had sex with them because he rarely stayed the night so there was no sleeping. It was correct to say people, however, because he was equally intrigued by women and men. Their gender didn't matter as much as the chase did.

Naturally he had caught a few STDs, but fortunately nothing lethal and nothing that hadn't been cured with a healthy dose of antibiotics. He liked to say -- but only to those privy to his lifestyle -- that the Lord look care of drunks and fools and he didn't drink. Except he did drink. Not as much as he used to, of course. A man his age had to take everything in moderation. Even his excesses.

At 65, he held the dubious distinction of being the oldest employee at Gallant and Sons. He didn't look it. He didn't look older than 45. Well, 50. But careful application of moisturizer over the years and genetics had given him good skin that he had kept out of the sun. He had a full head of rich, black hair. He drove over to Glensdale twice a month to keep his hair color just so.

As for exercise, he had once worshiped at the gym and still went three times a week, but the workouts were slower and more difficult than when he was younger. He still caught the attention of the other people at the gym, and they would comment how good he looked, but he had a suspicion they were silently adding "for his age." Once a rude young man had even told him that he hoped to look as good as Marcus when he reached his age. Marcus only smiled and thanked the young man. On his way out, Marcus keyed the young man's black Ford truck. Twice.

He could have retired five years ago. Go cruising the islands with arm candy. Maybe finally make that trip to Paris he had often talked about. He had always been smart with money. He could live comfortably on his investments for the rest of his life. But he stayed at Gallant and Sons because he knew a secret. One that bound him to this company. At times he thought it was his greatest mistake. At other times, he thought it was the only thing he had in his life that was worth living for. Even if no one else could ever know.

From Red Hot Sinner Man. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without permission. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy V.D.!

Happy V.D.!
Excerpted from Floozy & Other Stories.

By Stephen B. Bagley

I like several holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course, and who doesn’t love the wild, passionate excitement of Groundhog Day, but I confess I don’t much care for Valentine’s Day. Or, as I like to call it, Passover.

I hope you have a nice day with your loved one, perhaps going to an expensive restaurant and gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes and then you glance out the window at the lovely moonlit night and exclaim, “Hey! What is that guy doing to my car?” Just so you know, I’m letting the air out of your tires, thus ensuring you a night to remember. I hope you brought a jack.

No, no, no, I won’t let the air out of your tires. I’m happy you’re happy with your lovey dovey. I’m sorry someone (but not me) texted your ex-boyfriends/girlfriends that you want to see them immediately to rekindle your romance and they should bring whipped cream, handcuffs, two nuns, and a goat.

Not that I’m bitter that you’re with a loved one while I am alone, of course. I wish you much happiness and joy and perhaps a plague or two. Nothing serious, mind you. Just an inflamed pimple or a hacking cough or say, leprosy.

That might seem harsh, but Valentine’s Day has a harsh history that I will now share with you. I did almost no research on this, but a few facts did creep in despite my best efforts.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All three died in terrible agony, thus giving rise to their remembrance with little candy hearts, expensive flowers, and boxes of cheap chocolate. That might seem odd, but remember most people mark Easter by eating chocolate bunnies and hiding hard-boiled eggs. So it does follow the same bizarre theme.

The most commonly held legend says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. When Emperor “Killjoy” Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s marriages were discovered, Claudius had Valentine thrown in prison.

Supposedly, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. (Why the daughter was visiting men in prison, the legend doesn’t say.) Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine.” He also healed her blindness through his faith. (Her first words upon regaining her sight were, “Who are you? And why am I in this terrible place? Eek! Are those rats?”)

For Valentine’s good works, Claudius had him beaten, tortured with hot irons, beaten some more, more torture, another beating because you can’t have too much beating, and then finally beheaded. They beat him after the beheading, too, but all the fun seemed to have gone out of it.

Some historians say Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to mark the anniversary of Valentine’s death and/or burial. Others claim the Christian church decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to ‘christianize’ celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. Still other historians don’t care and have gone out for a bite to eat.

We do know that, in ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and a time for purification. Houses were cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and wheat throughout their rooms. (This was centuries before the invention of Lysol and those nifty Swiffer mops.) Lupercalia, which began on February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus (the god of agriculture) and Romulus and “Uncle” Remus (founders of Rome as well as the Romulian Empire that bedeviled Captain Kirk so much).

To begin the festival, the Luperci priests would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been raised by a she-wolf or lupa. No, seriously, that’s what they believed. The priests would then sacrifice a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification) and then several lawyers (for fun).

The boys of Rome then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood, and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goat hide strips. Supposedly, Roman women enjoyed being touched with the strips because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile. I don’t know what would happen if you slapped a modern woman with a goat hide strip dipped in blood, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage and sometimes bloodshed and feuds. This is quite similar to the state lotteries of today or winning big in Vegas.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman ‘lottery’ system was condemned as un-Christian and outlawed. The Church tried to replace it with a system where the young men pulled out the name of a saint and then would spend a year trying to be like the saint, but for some reason, the public wasn’t as interested in that as you might suppose.

No one really knows where the tradition of sending greetings to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day started. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting, written in 1415, is almost unreadable but most scholars think it goes: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, The Tower is stinky, I have the flu” or something not even close to that.

In the 17th century, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated in Great Britain. (So it’s really the fault of those dang English.) By the middle of the eighteenth century, friends, lovers, and chimney sweeps commonly exchanged small items of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters, and decreasing postage rates helped spur the popularity. (Postage rates weren’t much of a problem for the royal family due to their tendency to date within the family. Many times they could walk across the room and hand their Valentines to their cousins.) Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland started selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Hallmark maintains a shrine for her with a perpetual chocolate fountain.

The Greeting Card Association says an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. The rest of the world is free, free, free of it.

By the way, have you noticed that the best Valentine’s Day cards are always sold by the time you go to the greeting card store? Apparently the pretty cards are sold by the end of November, and the funny ones by the end of December. When I get there, the only selection left is a few tattered cards that say things like, “Stinky the Skunk thinks you’re grand! Stinky the Skunk wants to hold your hand!” Your loved one will forgive you only once for a card such as that. After that, if you can’t find a good card, it’s better to fake a coma the entire month of February.

Valentine’s Day is also when we remember that terrible massacre where a bunch of gangsters killed another group of gangsters, which upset a lot of people, although I don’t see why. I would think gangsters killing gangsters is a sport we should encourage. In fact, I’ve been thinking we should arm both sides in Congress, seal the doors, and let them fight it out. We could televise it as a Pay-For-View event and use the proceeds to pay down our debt to the Chinese government. Then as the weary, battered survivors come limping out, we feed them to rabid batweasels. Hurrah!

And now I must go. I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day if you’re with someone or if you end up alone, which happens to the best of us and is not a reflection on your worth as a person so put down that gallon of cherry pecan ice cream. Just remember to keep your chin up, particularly if you’re eating soup, and you’ll be okay. And if romantic bitterness is eating your soul, join me outside. I’ll be picking out cars.

Be seeing you in the parking lots.

Excerpted from Floozy & Other Stories. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another excerpt from "Murder by the Mile"

Edwina Rivers turned up in Murder by the Mile unexpectedly. Edwina, the mother of Councilman Benjamin Rivers, has been quite helpful to me, although not so much to the other characters in the book. This scene happens early in the book.

Except from Murder by the Mile    

Edwina Rivers turned over the Tarot card. She drew a deep breath. The same card again. She looked across the crowed living room. Three times she had drawn it and in three different spreads.

Usually her cards weren’t that literal. Oh, they were always correct, as she had told many people who cast doubts on her abilities, but sometimes a person’s destiny was confused and dark. That was hardly the fault of the cards.

And she had a healthy dose of skepticism about Tarot herself. Not that she would share that with anyone, but she knew how easy one could twist events to meet the predictions of the cards. However, she also knew the cards could tap into the greater reality of the universes. Not always, but sometimes she felt ... power ... flow through her. Then she could turn the cards with certainty, knowing the universe had chosen her to be its vessel.

That certainty filled in a way no one else – certainly not her son – could ever understand. She felt she had much in common with the Catholic mystic saints, despite rejecting their parochial-based religion which denied the power of the feminine soul. As she had explained to the odious Father Kramer when she saw him and stupid Bliss Fowler at the Free Fair last September.

She looked down at the table where the cards still lay in the Celtic Cross. She had used a simple three card spread first, then moved to the five card – which she called the Star – and, after pulling that card again, had used the Celtic Cross, her most reliable and trusted Tarot spread.

Her good friend Cynthia Ferryman had called her and told her about Cyrus Fowler about an hour ago.

“I knew you’d want to know immediately,” Cynthia said breathlessly, as if she had run to tell Edwina. That was how Cynthia always talked, but Edwina found it annoying today. “After all the bad things he did to you.”

Edwina decided to chose the better karmic path. “Don’t speak evil of the dead,” she said. “Cyrus is facing his debt on the Wheel of Life now. I will light a white candle and pray he grows from his death experience so that he can return as a better being.”

“Of course,” Cynthia said. Edwina could hear the disappointed tone in the other woman’s voice and grinned. Cynthia enjoyed a good spiteful conversation better than anyone she knew.

“Naturally, he will have much to answer for,” Edwina said. “We must encourage the universe to show him mercy.” But not too much mercy, she thought.

Cynthia and she talked a few more minutes about various town scandals, but Cynthia wanted to talk about Cyrus and Edwina, strangely enough, found herself not wanting to discuss his death. She felt a cold chill every time she thought him hanging himself. Cynthia hung up eventually, leaving Edwina strangely unsettled.

She paced her overcrowded house, dusted a few crystals, re-arranged the books by her computer. She needed to be working on an article for her webpage, but she couldn’t concentrate. Finally, she pulled out her Tarot cards. They often calmed her, but not this time.

The cards aren’t literal, she told herself again. She let her eyes wander over the spread again, the various positions denoting challenges, the past, goals, destiny, and so on, but the 10th and final card was for result. The ultimate outcome.

She reached out and took the card. Three times she had drawn it. Three times in three different spreads. Her hand trembled.

“I deny this,” she said firmly, addressing any powers heeding her words. “I deny this once, I deny this twice, I deny this trice!” The ancient counter charm didn’t comfort her. She could still feel doom slinking around her house, leering at her.

She lit a bundle of sage incense and put on her hematite and bone necklace, which had been blessed by Cherokee medicine man. After a moment, she added several other necklaces and two amulets. She started a CD of Tibetan chants. She tried to meditate, but a terrible thought keep intruding.

Three times she had turned over the card known as The Hanged Man. And she knew – the way she knew gravity existed – more people were going to die.

Excerpted from Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying in any form is allowed. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Riddle 10

All about, but can't be seen,
Can be captured, can't be held,
No mouth, but can be heard.
What am I?

Answer in comments if you can.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Deacon Jones Doubts

Let us speak plainly, Brother.
There are times when I doubt you,
when I wonder what truly moves
you. You spread your arms as spit
gathers in your mouth and spray
your unholy words to the adoring
crowds. You cater to prejudice
and ignorance as you misquote
and twist Scriptures to match attitudes
that would give pause to the devil.

But the crowd amens you on,
content when you confirm
their backward views of the world
and don't challenge the status quo.
How easy it is to rail against other
people's sins while letting those
of your contributors slide past
with a knowing wink and sideways
smiles as the choir sings, rapt
in words you don't truly know.

Now you raise your hand
against me and deliver a bless you
that sounds like something else
because I dared to question
these things and make plain
my doubts. Let us part, you and I,
and make our way to the bright
silver shores where -- if you arrive --
your shocked eyes will behold
multitudes you denied any grace.

Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying in any form. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Overshare

I will confess a great character flaw: I want my work to be appreciated. I know we're supposed to labor for the sake of the work -- and most times, I can do that -- but sometimes I'd like a pat on the back.

At times I've wanted to be appreciated more than paid. My poor bank account sure looks that way.

By the way, I'm talking about creative work. And no, this isn't a call for you to pat me on the back. It's more of a reminder to myself to not be so dang ... needy, I guess.

I think I might be in overshare mode. Just avert your eyes until it's over.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Wrong handed

Sometimes you have people in your life who pretend to support you. They are worse than the people who openly oppose you. You probably have these pretenders in your life, too. Those people who have mastered the wrong handed compliment: "That shirt makes you look so much thinner. I just wish it wasn't so out dated." "You do so well. If only you could do that way at work, you'd be a huge success." "Oh, your book is  good, but have you ever thought of writing something that everyone will like?"

The leading compliment is only to soften you up for the later blow. Frankly, I'm tired of the people who pretend to be subtle, who think they're sly, who think they can keep me down. Support me, and I'll support you. Attempt to tear me down, and buddy, I'm walking away, changing my number, arming the alarms, blowing up the bridges between us. I don't need people like that. I'll be happier without them. They can go and find other prey. Or drop off the earth into a swamp. I don't much care.

These hidden enemies can be friends, family, bosses, co-workers ... the levelers who back-stab and back-bite, who rejoice in your failures behind your back but sympathize to your face. They're levelers because they want to bring you down. How dare you aspire to be more. How dare you raise from the mud to reach for the stars.

And when you find those people, when you realize what they are, let them go. Push them away, run from them. De-friend them, block them, be ruthless. You're in a fight for your life. Don't let them win.

P.S. By the way, if you think this post is about you, it is. I probably didn't write it with you in mind, but you know yourself better than I do.
P.S.S. I've removed most of those people from my Facebook, Linked-IN, my life. If you're on there, this post isn't about you.
P.S.S.S. Unless it is, of course, and then you know what's coming, don't you?

Friday, February 08, 2013

Riddle 9

Always hungry, must be fed, touch me, turn red.

Answer in comments if you can.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Bought my books yet?

EndlesS
By Stephen B. Bagley
Poetry - Enjoy more than 50 sensual & moving poems, including the award winning "Non-Communion," "Torrent," & "Endless."
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Lulu

Floozy & Other Stories
By Stephen B. Bagley
Humor - Laugh at more than 80 hilarious tales from the author's decidedly different life.
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy on Lulu

Murder by the Acre (Second Edition)
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the ladies man? Bernard, Lisa & the chief are back! New expanded edition. 2nd in Measurements of Murder series.
Buy on Lulu
Buy on Amazon

Murder by the Acre (First Edition)
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the ladies man? Bernard, Lisa & the chief are back! 2nd in Measurements of Murder series.
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble

Murder by Dewey Decimal
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the librarian? 1st in Measurements of Murder series.
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy on Lulu

Tales from Bethlehem
By Stephen B. Bagley
Inspirational - Have you ever wondered about everyone else in Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity? These charming and touching Tales will tell you their stories.
Buy on Lulu

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Back problems are back

Been fighting with my back all week. It's determined to put me in a walker, and I'm just as determined not to. And I think it's better today. I still can't do much, but there was less pain today. Just have to stay careful about how I move and what I do, do my back exercises as gently as I can, and take my meds.

Naturally, this doesn't mean it won't get worse, but I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Email, chat & phone tag

Spent the morning and part of this afternoon emailing, live chatting, and finally telephoning my publisher to fix a problem. Got it fixed and everyone I talked to was nice, but gee, it look hours to get it fixed.

Yesterday I went on a couple of errands. That was the first time I've been out by myself since I hurt my back. Just me and my cane cruising town! Except my back didn't hold out long so I had to come home fairly soon, but I'm hopeful that I've finally turned the corner on this and soon will be out harassing people all the time.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Chai latte on my back

It's official: I'm addicted to chai latte. Oh, I could stop whenever I want, but I don't want to and I'm not going to. I'd like to thank my Keurig Coffee machine for making it so easy to brew a cup and Staples for making K-Cups available. And of course, each and every one of you who inspire me to indulge. Thank you all. :)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Author's new website

Visit my friend Laura Eckroat's new author website: The Books of Laura Eckroat. Laura writes children's Christian fiction. Here's a listing of her excellent and touching books:

A Simpler Time
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Tate Publishing
Over-saturated with the latest video games and iPhone apps, does anyone slow down to remember A Simpler Time? Join A.J. as she discovers a summer of fun with her mom, finding animals in the clouds, and a trek to find the perfect four-leaf clover!




The Life of BUD
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Tate Publishing
This is the story of life and how important we all are and how hard it is to let go in the end. The story follows Bud, who starts out in life as a tiny bud. He feels insignificant, but Bud grows into a beautiful, vibrant leaf on the Mighty Oak Tree and becomes an important part of the tree. Those who have looked for a children's book that explains gently about the topic of life and death, look no further.
Went Out To Get A DONUT- 
Came Home With A MUFFIN
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Tate Publishing
A charming, whimsical way to engage the littlest readers into the importance of animal rescue. A family goes out for a routine day, then stumbles upon a surprising opportunity: a cute, fluffy  puppy. Should the family take him home?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Treat

I had such a painful and distressing day that I have just treated myself to a delivery pizza.

Okay, it's a thin crust one topping pizza, but it still feels like a treat to me on this low carb diet.

My back really beat me up today. I could barely move, and I have so many things I wanted to get done. Got to lose more weight. That will make my back feel better. It won't fix it, but it will help.

Well, that will happen, God willing, but right now, I just had to endure this until my back decides it will get better.

It's enough to make me want to drink!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Gateway Beverage

I'm feeling a profound gratitude to coffee today. I'm also feeling I shouldn't feel that appreciative. But apparently all my green tea was only a gateway beverage to coffee.

That's how it sneaks up on you. You think you're dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, but then ... you wake up with coffee on your back.

And that's the way it goes.