Tag Archives: United States

The Rain Keeps Falling – short story 715 words

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I am part of some really grate writing groups on LinkedIn, one of them dose a monthly short story contest, the group is lively with lots of active members.  I haven’t  joined in on one of these monthly contest yet, (mind you its just for fun, and practice our righting, and righting outside our comfort zones.) but I figured it was worth a shot. All the competitions have a different set of parameters, but all are 600-715 words. This one was suspense, it had to start with someone on their day off, and end with them getting news that will change their life.

I have never written suspense before, and none of my other short stories are under 1,000 words, I thinks that’s why this one interested me. So here it is, my entry I didn’t get to enter.

The Rain Keeps Falling

715 words

She leaned against the island in the middle of the kitchen, a fresh cup of coffee in hand, staring out the big bay window, past the dirty glass and out into the gray damp morning. “Of course, it had to rain today. All I wanted to do was pull the weeds, my poor flowers look like they are lost in a jungle.”

Taking a sip from her cup, she nearly drops it as the freshly brewed coffee sears the tip of her tongue. Setting the cup down she slowly scans her home, the thick dust with little paw prints scattered through it, a sink full of coffee cups and spoons, a dead bouquet in a dry vase. “I really have let this place go haven’t I Storm? What am I to do when it’s just you and me?” She says scratching the little gray tiger striped cat under her uplifted chin.

Her cell phone breaks the silence ringing with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 9. She let it play on for a moment before answering. “Good morning, Stacy Smitten speaking.”

“Good Morning Miss. Smitten. Mr. Cotter wanted more copies printed up for your presentation. You know the one he reassigned to Mike Garfield. Any way I need your password so I can get to the files. It’s right on your desktop right?” Stacy’s young and anxious intern Mandy asked in a slightly wavering voice, always the kiss up hiding behind a blocky pair of red plastic glasses, but full of potential, and Stacy’s favorite.

“You always sound like you think you’re in trouble Mandy, try calming down now and then would you. Yes on the desk top you cannot miss it, and the password, it’s ‘come home soon’, every other letter in caps starting with the first letter. I feel like I haven’t been home in ages, is there anything else?” She said sounding only a little aggravated, after all she had given the girl this information several times before she left the office for her week off.

“Right Miss. Smitten, sorry, I know I um… sorry. If I can ask ma’am… has there been any word yet?” The girl asked, more timidly than usual.

“No, nothing yet, but I know he is out there, he has to be. Thank you for asking Mandy, good bye.” she hung up her cell phone without waiting for the girl to respond. “She meant well at least.”

She took a long deep swallow of her coffee, taking in the quiet morning again. “Nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning.”

She looked out the cloudy window once again hoping to see the rain clouds broken and the sun shining bright, but beyond the dust-covered glass all she found was a wall of water. “Now what am I to do? Cleaning really doesn’t interest me, there’s no point when no one will be coming over. I’m talking to myself again. Let’s just say I was talking to you stormy, that sounds better.” She says giving the cat a little scratch between the ears.

“Maybe a little T.V. will help fill the quiet. Some day Max will fill that quiet with the pitter-patter of my grandchildren’s feet. He will make such a wonderful father and husband one day.” She said to the loudly purring bundle of fur as she pet her, flipping through the channels with her free hand. Disappointed she shut the T.V. off, and drank some more of her coffee.

A nock on the door made her jump, “Now who is could that possibly be?” She walked to the door slowly and peered out the tiny window, only the top of a soaked army green hat, and a wet pink cheek visible through the small glass pain.

Her heart jumping she says “Max.”

Taking a deep breath, she wipes a single tear from her cheek, and opens the door slowly.

Standing in the pouring rain she sees three somber faced youths, fully dressed in all there army finery, the one in front holding a folded American flag. Her heart drops like a stone to the bottom of her stomach, slowly she sinks to the floor, as she whispers “No”. Her tears flow and everything fades away, but the rain keeps falling as she sits alone.

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All the masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow. A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine, but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty.

(Billy Graham)

My mother posted this on FaceBook.com today. I haven’t heard this quote before, but I like it, its true on many levels, so I thought I would share. I have been having a hard time with my health as of late, I wont bore you with details, but in a way this made me feel a little better about it all, as the words ring so true to life.

Happy Writing

Quote by Billy Graham

Writing a novel : My improvement on Helix

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Its been almost a year since I started working on my novel. I don’t have much to show for it, at least on paper, but my mind has expanded. I feel my prologue is done, there may be a little mistake here or there, but its done. The emotions, the imagery, I’m very happy with them. I have been using what I have learned to go over  and over my prologue and first two chapters, applying it as I learn it. I still struggle with fight sequences but its a new area for me.

If you want to reed the other drafts, see the improvement in the writing you can check out these links to my other posts about my novel Helix. I found looking at before and after writing can help in your own, the differences in imagery, character development, so on.

https://artfulhelix.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/prologue-for-helix-first-half-rewrite/

https://artfulhelix.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/rewrite-of-prologue-for-helix/

Her is a post I did with some helpful sites for beginning writers.

https://artfulhelix.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/writing-helpful-sites/

So now my new draft for Helix – Prologue

Prologue : The world as we know it comes to an end

Mr. President, may I have a moment of your time?” Mrs. Pickett knows he won’t listen, but grace insists on trying one last time.

Yes, of course. Give me five minutes gentlemen,” the president says to his advisers. “I will meet you in my office.”

The president is very busy these days. Planning a war, making sure as many people as possible are safe in the colonies deep under the earth’s surface. Keeping the peace in a panicked country. His life would take a tole on any man. Mountains of paperwork over run his desk. His food often left uneaten. He would have no time for his family if they were still home, thankful they are safe even if he can’t be with them. Five minutes is a lot to ask of a man in his position.

Mrs. Pickett leads him to an unused office not far from his own.

“It’s Grace. She wouldn’t leave without seeing you.” Mrs. Pickett gave the president a sympathetic smile. She knew how hard of this had to be for him and he didn’t seem pleased.

He opened the door to the cramped office. There she was leaning against the desk, picking at her nails. A nervous habit she had since she was a child. He stood motionless just taking in her beauty. Wearing his favorite color on her, a deep red pant suit accented with black piping. He cleared his throat before speaking, startling her.

“Grace, this isn’t the best time. The Secretary of defense is waiting in my office.”

“I know, that’s why we are here. This office has been empty for months. No one will find us here.”

“Why aren’t you in the Washington colony?” Speaking with authority in his voice.

“I had to come and say good bye, I had to……” Tears welling up in her eyes, her words stop short.

He pulls a handkerchief from his breast pocket, dabbing at the tears tenderly.

In a low soothing voice he tries to comfort her. “I know, I’m going to miss you too. I just can’t go with you, no matter how many times you beg me. My place is here. Our country needs me, we are teetering on the edge of an abyss. I love you with all my hart Grace, but I can’t leave this place. You will be safe in the colony, you will stay in my thoughts and my hart.”

Fighting back tears of his own, trying to be strong for her sake. Holding her close, he presses his lips to hers tenderly. She melts into his arms, both unwilling to let go, wanting this moment to last forever. He can’t help but think of his wife in this fleeting moment, their goodbye wasn’t this sweet and painful even though he loved her once, long ago.

Grace looks at him with deep sorrow in her eyes, she knows whats ahead. With a tear stricken voice she says “If you stay you could die. I don’t want to live in a world without you. I know we may not win the war … I’ll stay here with you. I’ll die, I don’t care as long as we are together.” Desperately she tried to rationalize giving up her life.

Her words ringing in her ears, she realizes she has raised her voice too much. No one is supposed to know she is here. She breaths in slowly, deeply, trying to regain her composer.

“Don’t worry about me Grace, I’ll be fin. We will win the war, and then we can be together again. Just give us some time.”

He lies to her knowing the United States is out matched. Trying to lie to himself, convince himself its true. He will go down fighting, he’s no coward, he’s a leader, a soldier.

“If that’s true why can’t I stay with you?”

Her tears begin to flow black, she can feel them slowly creeping down her face. She doesn’t reach to wipe them. Shunning away from him she doesn’t want to appear week in front of him. That would be worse then dying.

“Grace look at me.” He speaks softly.

He grabs her chin,gently turning her head to face him. Etiquette is not important when the two of them are alone. He can truly be himself with her.

“You know I love you, that is why you can’t stay. Put my mind at ease Grace and get to the Washington colony before the doors close. Time is running out. With you there safe I can concentrate on the task at hand, and when it is all over you can come back to me.”

“I will go my love, just know I leave my heart with you.”

They press into each other, arms locked tight, reluctant to let go. The moment can’t last. He gives her his monogrammed handkerchief to whip the tears from her face. Staring at him, hands shaking she reaches to give it back.

“Hold onto it Grace, you can give it back when I see you again.” A small bitter-sweet smile pierces his lips.

She looks at it for a moment, unable to raise her eyes to meet his. With one finger he lifts her gaze, locking his lips to her’s one more time forceful and wanting, savoring their last kiss. Knowing it’s time they release each other. She pulls down on her jacket, runs her fingers through her hair, and pulls out her little compact and wipes the black smudges from her face. He smooths a stray hair away from her face. She looks at him with eyes full of sorrow and fear, fear for him, for the world. She brushes his cheek with her hand,letting it rest there for just a moment before woefully walking to the door. She pauses for just a moment with her hand on the door knob, but doesn’t look back. She can’t, she knows she has to go. If she hesitates any longer she will stay, no matter how she feels she knows it would be a mistake. She must make it to the colony before it closes; her sister’s family is waiting.

He stands in the hallway watching her leave, his heart pulling at him to fallow. He will never see her again, or his wife and kids, but it’s his duty to stay and fight, to die like a true soldier. walking back to his office he knows it will all be over soon.

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *               *

“Jim, I miss the kids.” Nora said weeping. It seems to Jim like Nora’s crying is never ending these days.

“I know Nora, I do to. But they’re safe with your sister in the colony, we are lucky they got in with her. If it wasn’t for all your sister’s connections they wouldn’t have.”

Jim holds her as they watch the news. Their new routine, watch news about the war as they hold each other, there isn’t much else to do any more but wait. Some call it world war III and all they can do is sit and watch for the end of the world. All factories and businesses have closed, every person left above ground with their loved ones simply waiting and praying the end won’t come.

“Things are worse Jim, I’m afraid we won’t see them again.”

“Maybe not, but it is better for them with Grace. With her we know they will live and have families of their own. If they had stayed with us they wouldn’t be safe. As their parents we had to make the hard choice, make them grow up without us to save their lives.”

“I know. I heard what the President said. What if he is wrong, what happens then? She starts to sob quietly again, without control, covering her face with her hands. She wants her babies home, her life the way it was before the war, her family whole.

“Then they come home and we can be a family again. You should be happier for them Nora, they’re safe. If the President is right our children live!” He didn’t mean to raise his voice, but coming to terms with their fate, their children’s fate has taken a toll on him.

“And if we die Jim, how is that fair? We won’t be there for them, watch them grow. We will never get the chance to meet our grandchildren. We don’t get to grow old together.”

“Its not fair, Nora. There wasn’t room for us, we are lucky they let your sister take the kids. They will have a chance at some kind of a life, and we get to stay with each other till the end.” his voice wavers a little. He has always been a strong man, but fear fills his hart.

Nora stands and walks to the window, rubbing her locket between her fingers. She opens it to look at the photos of her children. Closing her eyes she can see her daughter dancing and singing into a brush in her room upstairs while pop music plays on the radio. Her son practicing baseball with his father in the back yard, covered from head to toe in dirt by the time he comes inside. For just a moment its almost like they never left, so vivid she opens her eyes thinking they will be there. But it’s only wishful thinking. She feels like her mind is slowly slipping away, wishing it would end one way or another. She absently gazes out the window. Looking at this almost still scenery, Washington DC in the background, the grass and trees, even the clouds move sluggishly. The world in slow motion, she thought to herself.

On the TV reporter Thomas Jones says, “The President gave no comment today when asked about a possible nuclear retaliation after today’s failed negotiation…”

Jim shuts the TV off. He stands to walk over and hold Nora as the ground and walls start to quiver, then shake violently.

“Jim you have to come see……”

Jim and Nora where to close to see anything but a blinding white light, taking their sight. They couldn’t see the smoke rise high into the air in the shape of a massive mushroom, dark and looming. Never saw the gray smoke and fire glowing red, orange, and yellow. Couldn’t see buildings falling as the shock waves hit them. Ruble flying as fires ignite. Jim never made it to his wife’s side. He can hear screams all around him, Nora only feet away. Loudest of all are his own screams ringing in his ears before everything gets quiet, dark, and goes blank.

Jim and Nora are the lucky ones, it was over quickly for them. People further away survive long enough to know what’s happened. Further still, they live to feel their insides die. To get violently sick. Even grow tumors. Watch their skin tern gray as the cells die. But still death comes for them.

The unlucky live for some time their bodies changing horribly before dying. A few small pockets do live, the ones in extremely remote areas. What is to become of them is hard to tell. Radiation seeps deep into the ground tainting everything it comes in contact with. A nuclear winter consumes the planet’s atmosphere. The earth’s future bleak and uncertain.

Starting A Writers Group

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When I first decided I was ready to write a book it was suggested to me that I join a locale writers group. At the time I only found one, and it wasn’t for me. I can’t remember what style they wrote in, but it had to be that one, but I don’t write in their style. So I settled for online groups, but it’s not personal. Yes I got some good advice, and took heed of what most told me. However I also got comments that told me I should not post a thing because I wasn’t experienced enough, my work unpolished. Reading comments like that made me think ‘But How am I supposed to learn from this if all you have to say is I need to learn more before posting. How do I improve without critiques?’. So I recently decided to start my own group in my area, and open to writers of all forms. So I posted an ad on Craigslist. As of now including me there are three members. Our first meeting is Sunday June 2nd at Barnes and Noble in Webster, NY 7PM. I am  proud of my self for taking this step, for putting my self out there and starting this group. I don’t have a name for it, I don’t have a set meeting schedule, and we are few in number, but it is started. I have taken another step forward, a step closer to my dreams. Even if my group stays small, if it fails, or we gain more members, no matter what I know I tried my hardest. I can be proud in the fact that I did my best.

I want to invite all writers in my area to join us.

Barnes & Noble in Webster NY

Sunday June 2nd at 7PM

Every writer needs constructive feedback. I chance to learn what areas they are strong and weak in. The opportunity to converse with other writers. Find their voice. become a better writer.

I have read many blogs, books, and posts in online writers groups. But nothing can beat that personal connection. I look forward to my first meeting with great excitement.

Artist of the day 2/27/12: Graffiti 6: Lady Pink

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Sorry for not posting an artist of the day yesterday everyone. It terned out to be a very hectic day. But I am very happy to say I hit a record yesterday, 99 views for one day! Thank you to all my readers!

Lady Pink

Lady Pink’s birth name is Sandra Fabara. She was born 1964 in Ambato, Ecuador, and raised in Queens, New York.

She started her graffiti career in 1979 after the loss of a boyfriend who had been sent to live in Porto Rico after he was arrested. She worked through her grief by tagging his name all over the city. Soon after she started to use the name Lady Pink. The name was inspired by her love of historical romances, England, the Victorian period, and the aristocracy. She studied at the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan. While attending the school she was introduced to graffiti. This was when she was 15, when she lost her boyfriend, and started tagging.
Within a few years she began running with TC5 (The Cool 5) and TPA (The Public Animals) crews. She was soon well known as the only female capable of competing with the boys in the graffiti world.

Lady Pink painted subway trains from 1979 through 1985. In 1980, at only 16 years old she was included in the landmark New York show “GAS: Graffiti Art Succes” at Fashion Moda, which traveled in a modified form downtown to The New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Young, approachable, quick-witted, and one of the only female graffiti writers, Lady Pink became among the most photographed and interviewed graffiti artist of her time.

In 1983, 19 years old, she appeared in theaters in the starring role in Charlie Ahearn’s fill Wild Style as Rose. That same year she worked on a series of large scale paintings with artist Jenny Holzer, The two have since collaborated many times.

So while she was still in high school she was already exhibiting paintings in art galleries, by twenty-one she mounted her first solo show “femmes-Fetales” at the Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.

After 1987 she took a hiatus from painting outdoors, but she returned in 1993 after meeting her future husband, fellow graffiti legend SMITH, with whom she collaborates on murals and commercial work.

Lady Pink’s studio paintings often incorporate images of New York subways weaving and winding through decaying, POP-surrealist cityscapes. They have been widely exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.

Lady Pink is one of the leading participants in the rise of graffiti-based art. Her canvases have entered important art collections such as those of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Groningen Museum of Holland. She has established herself in the fine art world, her paintings highly prized by collectors.

Today she continues to create new paintings on canvas that express her unique vision. She also shares her 30 years of knowledge and experience by holding mural workshops with teens and actively lecturing college students throughout the northeast.

Lady Pink’s website http://www.pinksmith.com/

Her work

Artist of the day 2/19/12: Dark Art 7:

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Artist of the day 2/15/12 : Dark Art 3 : Angelo Musco

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Angelo Musco

Musco was born in Naples Italy on February 3, 1973. He lives and works in New York City and has since 1997. As contemporary artist he is best known for photographic surreal landscapes built by thousands of nude bodies, where the natural architectures and visionary landscapes are filled with the haunting mysticism of his own origins.

Musco’s Childhood

Musco is the youngest of five children. He spent 11 months in the womb weighing approximately 14.3 lbs at birth.

The normal gestation time is 9 months, and average weight is about 6.5 lbs. Wow, he must have had a patient mother. In the United states they will only allow you to go over by a week maybe two before inducing or giving a C-section. My oldest and biggest son was two weeks early and weighed 10 lbs and 7 Oz’s, and that was a hard natural birth.

Musco was a home birth. A home birth to a child of that size was complicated. Musco became stuck and turned blue as he was no longer getting oxygen, and the midwife panicked. She was determined to extract the child, but caused serious damage to both mother and baby. He was rushed to the hospital in a critical state. At the hospital his soiled clothes where removed, his aunt, uncle, and father returned to the house with the clothing. Upon seeing the clothing Musco’s mother fell into a state of complete shock, thinking her child had died. The extreme stress spoiled her milk. they both survived, but young Musco was paralyzed on his right side for the first years of his life.

Musco’s birth injury is called Erb’s Palsy, a tearing of the neck, arm and shoulder nerves. It causes permanent damage and diminishes the function of the affected side of the body. An operation to fix the damage was scheduled, but when an illness impeded Angelo’s participation on the scheduled day, his superstitious mother translated the sickness as an omen not to have the risky procedure. Instead, Angelo spent the first ten years of his life in physical therapy, to strengthen and restore the injured side of his body.

I have to say he is luck to be alive.

His early years were spent in school or at his father’s grocery store helping deliver the daily orders in the neighborhood Barra, just east of Naples. His parents sent him to a private Catholic school because they felt Angelo would need special attention. The school was situated on the water, and he was often entertained by high-speed boat chases as the police hunted down smugglers with black-market contraband. He would draw the boats not realizing how emblematic it was of the dangerous environment of living in Naples in the 1970s. He started university at the Academia Di Belle Arti in Naples and took a small apartment in the historic part of the city, which was very dangerous at that time. This new home was located next to the Napoli Sotteranea, a subterranean second city. The mysticism, history and legends of this old city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius were an ongoing fascination for the young artist.

For two semesters Musco lived in Granada, Spain as an exchange student. The school was well funded with wonderful labs and equipment for students to use. Musco was not well funded and work serving tea at night in an old Arab teteria to make money to survive since his family could only afford to cover his rent. Because purchasing materials for painting was also expensive, he started experimenting with installations and different materials such as fire, stones and the bodies of his fellow colleagues. This was the first approach towards using the human body to create artistic forms. Musco visited New York City a few times for artistic research, and moved to the U.S. December 8, 1997. This date holds symbolic significance because it is the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a public holiday in Italy.

Musco’s work

Recurring themes relate to his difficult birth, such as confinement, subterranean worlds, and natural architecture. The human body has taken more and more space in his work, often weaving and connecting masses of nude bodies in mosaics creating constructions that are literal or symbolic representations of eggs, nests, amniotic fluid and other inspirations from the miracle of procreation.

Since arriving in the States, Musco has held photo shoots in private and public spaces and are increasingly more complicated (Production Video). A photo shoot can become an event onto itself, involving volunteers, models, businesses and government institutions.

His work and research has evolved over the years. Musco’s investigation into the power of aggregations found in nature such as sperm during egg fertilization, an ant colony, beehive or a school of fish has fueled his most recent works. His visionary translation of such aggregation on a massive scale is not only visible in his work but is also palpable during his photo shoots.

View Musco’s gallery at http://www.angelomusco.com/

I would like to thank http://kylemew.wordpress.com/ for sugesting Angelo Musco for todays Dark Artist.

XYLEM

Looking at this one project I sit in aw of his talent. This one project took a year for him to complete. Layer after layer of human bodies to create a spectacular and complex work of art. It is truly amazing.