Flight & Fixation

Day 3: Window
No Novel November 2019

Black and white photo of a car driving on an empty highway at night under a sky full of stars - Night drive by theedgeofme via deviantart

FLIGHT

The scenery rolls by at a steady clip. During the day, I prop my feet on the dash, letting them bake under the windshield’s magnified sunlight. At night, I tuck them under me in the seat to keep warm. All the while staring out into the desert.

Cacti, mesas, windmills, and piñon pines dot the landscape and leave faint trails as we speed past. Glowing eyes peer from the blue-black night, pretending to be stars dipped too low in the sky.

Nothing unusual.

I don’t know where we’re going, and I’ve forgotten where we’ve been. There’s only the drive, the open window, and the pursuing bright shadow flitting behind each mile marker we pass.


Macro close up of a blue eye - Eye 7 by cantthinkof_aname via DeviantArt

FIXATION

His eyes draw me in, the depth of their blueness unrivaled by Caribbean seas, their golden flecks worthy of Midas’ jealousy. These eyes that have caressed the curves of countless women and now rest only on me. I get lost here, soaking in his unbroken gaze, reveling in being the sole focus of his attentions.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul.

Too bad these eyes aren’t attached to one anymore.

These stories are part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Day 2: Hidden
No Novel November 2019

A dark forest with a bright light at the center leading out - first light by sprocket2cog via deviant art

He emerges from the jungle overlooking a sudden valley and frowns. This isn’t what he wanted to see after three weeks of hacking through vines, subsisting on MREs and a LifeStraw.

The valley below is empty. Lush, green, vibrant with life—but empty.

It takes him an hour to skitter to the bottom where he sits on a boulder to soak in unoccluded sunlight. He’s so tired of being wet. He’s decided to move to Arizona when this is over. Which is going to be sooner than expected, given the utter lack of an ancient temple of chaos where there should be one.

After a few minutes, he sighs and glares at the valley. Might as well look around. Even if the expedition is a bust, he’s still a scientist, dammit.

He starts at the edge of the clearing and works in tightening circles, examining stones and plants. None of it is interesting, but he keeps going, mind wandering. What will he tell the department? The investors? His wife?

He falls down hard halfway to the center.

Rubbing his head, he looks around frantically, but there’s nothing. He can clearly see the rise of the jungle in front of him.

He can also see his own shadow looming over him, cast against a wall that isn’t there.

“What the—“

Before he can finish the sentence, his shadow’s black hands shoot out, clutch his shoulders, and yank him through the invisible wall.

And the valley is empty once again.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

The Dragonslayer

Day 1: Permission
No Novel November 2019

I knelt before the throne with a thousand eyes heavy on my back. The point of a sword touched my shoulders once, twice, then I rose on shaking legs to meet the gaze of the king.

“As the lone Knight of the Flame, you have received this kingdom’s highest honor and also its most dreaded task. Your path leads down a perilous road to a destination from which none have returned. May you be victorious against the dread serpent. Your kingdom is depending on you. I am depending on you. Congratulations, and farewell.”

The king extended his bejeweled hand. I took it with as much strength as I dared given his advanced age, kissed the signet, and forced determination onto my face. Beneath the crown, the king’s expression was veiled, not with the formality of office but with odd tenderness. Pity, perhaps?

Before I could wonder further, he released my grip with pressing fingers. The tilt of his head warned me not to question the tiny parchment he’d left in my palm. Mind and heart racing, I tucked it into my gauntlet as I retreated from the hall.

It wasn’t until evening, loosening my armor beside the campfire after a hard day’s ride, that I remembered the note. It fluttered from my glove, tossed by the wind almost into the flames. I snatched it back, myself burning with curiosity.

I read it once, twice, then sank on shaking legs to weep.

“Dearest Daughter,
You have permission to fail.
Love, Dad.”

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

The State of the Ellie: October 2019

Of more delays, a mental break (and repair), and arting outside the box.

Colorful fairies string power lines in the clouds over a stormy sky with lightning - Lightnings by vladstudio via DeviantArt
The State of the Ellie is my monthly update on what's been happening this side of the screen for the last 30-ish days. It usually drops at the start of the new month, but I'm moving it to the end because it makes more sense and I don't know why I didn't always do it like this.

Immigration, Florida, and another Canadian winter

Welp. Here we are, staring down the barrel of November (seriously, how did that happen already), and despite our rosiest projections, there’s nothing to report here, except that, because there’s nothing to report, we are officially into next year for our big move. Between paperwork delays, the impending holidays, and the idea of driving a 20ft U-Haul through the Appalachian Mountains in winter, Lino and I (and our pastors) have re-re-re-calibrated our plans and are now looking at*giant sad sigh* April. Which means we’re woefully unprepared for the coming winter because this past spring all we could see in December were palm trees and beaches, so why would we need snow boots and gloves?

On the positive side, though, I had a breakthrough with my disappointment about the delays we’ve endured. I realized that Lino and I are on some kind of accelerated spiritual training track that’s growing our ability, capacity, and maturity in the Kingdom; God is stretching and growing us in ways we didn’t know we could (or thought we wanted) during this season. So I’m choosing to be content. I don’t want to miss anything by being impatient or distracted by jealousy or striving. Be here now, eh?

I accidentally facilitated a women’s workshop at our church.

Related to that accelerated training track, I was given an opportunity to lead a small group through the culminating event of this year’s series on dreams in our women’s ministry.

I sort of stumbled into it, honestly (which is how you know it’s God). Some folks couldn’t make it to the weekend retreat, myself included, so I offered to host dinner for those of us staying home. I got the green light, but because I’m me, rather than planning a simple night with friends, I wanted to tie our decor and conversation into the retreat material so everyone could feel included. Before I knew it, I was being handed official booklets and teasing out the story of Joseph with our pastor. I ended up presenting a full-blown six-hour workshop for eight women, including message, dinner, prayer, and declarations of the dreams we’ve hidden in our hearts.

And you know what? I LOVED IT.

It’s become clear to me that my path includes speaking, teaching, facilitating—roles that involve holding space and being the one everyone’s staring at (roles that give me nervous poops)—in addition to writing. Running this workshop was 100% a confirmation of that calling. It combined things I know I’m good at with things I’m just starting to wade into, and it felt like everything clicked. I’m not sure where it’s all going, but I do know that I am fully strapped in for the ride.

I had a serious mental health problem, but I got better.

I don’t want to get into a lot of detail about this here because I wrote an in-depth post about it last week, but it was a major deal, so I do want to touch on it.

The TL;DR of that post is that I suffered obsessive, graphic, intrusive thoughts after seeing an Instagram post in which a four-and-a-half year old died in an accident. It got more intense and frequent until I was worried I needed to seek help, but I couldn’t seem to tell anyone about it, either. Thankfully, I was able to scrape together enough resistance to use a visualization technique I learned in counselling to remove the damaging thought and get relief.

If this happens to you, don’t wait around like I did. Find someone to talk to and/or call a crisis hotline (here, in Canada). Please.

Drawing isn’t my forte, but Inktober has been a blast.

I’ve known about Inktober for years but never participated because I’m, you know, not a visual artist. But it turned out to be the perfect thing for my sister-in-law and I to do together as mothers with small children who know they’re still creatives despite evidence to the contrary in this stage of their lives. We decided that rather than bemoaning the loss of artistic expression, we’d art for fun instead of the serious business we’ve become accustomed to. And it’s been hella cool!

I’ve gotten behind a few times (and am still behind today), and my quirk of adding a story to each drawing has made it unnecessarily difficult, but it’s letting me play where I used to only see work and has shown me that there are stories in here yet. 10/10: Will do again.

You can see all my drawings on my Instagram for now. I’ll put up a site page here when they’re all done.

I can’t do NaNoWriMo this year, so I’m doing my own thing instead.

Speaking of challenges! I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month twice before, but I’ve struggled with novels since finishing Mirror of Ashes. As much as I’d love to dive into Apple of Chaos using NaNo as a container, with Mack nipping at my heels all day, it ain’t gonna happen.

But! About a week into Inktober, I realized that daily art is actually possible. (You’d think I would’ve figured that out after all the Noticing posts I’ve done, but I digress.) What if I did the same thing but with tiny stories? I asked a few people and got good feedback, so I ran with it, tweaking the concept to fit my writing needs and to be fun/challenging so other people could play, too. I even made a Facebook group. That’s how you know I’m serious.

Thus, No Novel November was born! We’re starting on Friday (omg tomorrow) writing microfiction from daily prompts, and I am super hype to properly stretch my writing legs after the great warmup from Inktober. I also have this tingle in the back of my mind that this Something Important, but I’m ignoring it so I don’t accidentally smother it with attention like a toddler with a kitten.

I’d love it if you’d join us! Click/tap/focus intently on this link for more info.

Miscellaneous

  • Lino and I are second-generation gamers, and as such, when the Enthusiast Live Gaming Expo came to Toronto, his mom took us as our Christmas gift. It was rad! We got to test so many cool indie games, see some truly incredible art, and I ate half a large pizza. A good time was had by all.
  • Mackenzie was in and out of casts again for toe-walking. We’re doing physio with her at home because money and are hopeful this is the last time.
  • I do not know how to Halloween as a parent. I seriously thought trick-or-treating was the Saturday nearest Halloween if it fell on a weekday, but nooooooo. WHY NOT. It’s supposed to rain like heck here, though, so I might be able to get out of it. This year.

How did October treat you?
(Do I need to have a stern talk with it?)

What are you looking forward to in November?

No Novel November: Daily Microfiction Challenge

Instead of NaNoWriMo, I’m writing one tiny story every day in November. Join me!

No Novel November 2019 - a daily microfiction writing challenge for those not participating in NaNoWriMo

You’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short)? Where you write 50,000 words of a novel in one month?

This is not that.

NoNoNovember is for people who want to write some good, good fiction but don’t have the time, energy, braincycles, or (frankly) motivation to write an entire novel.

Instead, we’re writing one very short story every day in November.

You can use the official prompts or do your own thing.

You can write about anything in any genre (except poetry, sorry), as long as it’s a story—it accomplishes something and arrives somewhere—and clocks in under 250 words.

When: November 1 to November 30
Where: Private Facebook group or email
How much: Nothing, nada, zero, FREE
Who: YOU! And me! And everyone that wants in!

Sign up for early access to the prompt list and the ability to email me directly!

Registration closes October 31 (spoOOokyyy).

Additional Details

  • Sharing your stories is encouraged (but not required)! Post them on social media, your website, in the group, email them to me—or don’t. It’s up to you.
  • Participating in the Facebook group is also encouraged (but also not required)! The group is a private, safe place where we can share our work, frustrations, and encouragement. No critiques (unless asked for) or trolls allowed.
  • Signing up for the email list is optional but is encouraged since it lets me communicate with you privately, and lets you know about future Write Stuff events.
  • In short, this is a free, open daily writing challenge, and it’s up to you how and where and why you participate. What’s most important is that you write.

Resources & Examples